Dec 22, 2009
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Zambo vs The Home Nations Challenge

After a few long term games have recently lost their appeal to me, I've decided to come back and try my hand at another FM13 story, this time embracing my own little challenge. I've devised something called The Home Nations Challenge, which is loosely inspired by the 'Pentagon Challenge', but a whole lot more British!
I'm hoping this will become my new long term save file, and to be honest, the challenge looks (at this stage anyway) quite tricky and will most likely provide me with plenty of material to write with!

I'd like to just encourage everyone to post some feedback in this topic, good or bad it's all well received. There's nothing worse than putting effort in to a story and not getting any feedback at all.... I'd like to know people are reading what I've typed up!!


The Home Nations Challenge

The goal of this challenge is fairly simple, to manage one team from each of the 'home nation' countries and guide them to Champion's League success in a single save file.
The execution of this challenge will be more tricky, as you will have to rely on being so successful in some of the lesser known footballing nations (Wales, Rep of Ireland and Northern Ireland, for example) that you increase the status of their leagues high enough, or increase your bank balance astronomically to enable you to attract the right calibre of player to assist you in lifting the coveted Champion's League trophy.

The Rules
  • You must load each of the five 'home nations' in your setup (England, Northern Ireland, Rep of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales).
  • Each of the 'home nations' should be loaded and include the lowest divisions available. (England: Blue Square Bet South / North, Ireland: First Division, Northern Ireland: Second Division, Scotland: Third Division, Wales: Corbett Sports Welsh Prem)
  • You can load any additional nations, to whatever depth you want to.
  • You must start off unemployed, with the lowest possible reputation (Sunday League Footballer).
  • You must begin your game in July.
  • No database edits.
  • No external tools or databases (FM Scout, etc).
Additional Challenges

For an additional challenge, you might want to try and adhere to some of the following rules, of course, these are all optional and you can ignore as many as you please.
  • Use only players from the 'home nations'.
  • Lead each of the 'home nation' national teams to World Cup glory.


ClubSeasonLeague PositionCup ResultsEuropean Cup Results
Athlone Town2012-2013

So after booting up my game, my first task is to find a job.
There are a number of vacant positions amongst the Home Nation lower leagues, including AFC Wimbledon in the Blue Square Premier League, Brechin in the Scottish Second Division and Athlone Town in the Republic of Ireland First Division.

There are some higher positioned vacancies, but I know my non-existent reputation means that I will not be able to land any of those jobs. I decided to apply for the jobs at Brechin and Athlone Town, as I figure that it will be easier to guide an English team to glory, so I'll try to save them for last.


A few days go past and I soon receive a couple of mails back, the first informing me that I have been successful in my application to take over as Athlone Town manager, the second informing me that Brechin have rejected my application. Of course, I accept the Athlone Town offer with open arms, but the terms of my contract don't exactly make for a pretty sight.



I'm set a whopping wage budget of... £85 per week and a transfer budget of £0. Anyone got any mates that want to play for my club for free?


After accepting the job with Athlone Town and getting the formalities out of the way, I can get down to business and start evaluating the team and deciding on tactics. I decide to utilise three formations, two variations of a 4-1-2-3 and a sort of 4-5-1 come 4-3-3 formation. The squad seems large enough and deep enough to be able to cope with both and I'm hoping my tactics will suit the players I have available.


I get a team report from the backroom staff (which is good, because I have no idea who any of these players are!) which paints an okay picture. The team is not filled with talent, but it's deep and resilient enough to hopefully withstand the pressure of meeting our pre-season expectations.


Central Midfielder Damien Rushe is highlighted as the star of the first team, he looks decent enough, but he's out of contract and wanted by three clubs, so it'l be a challenge to keep hold of him.

Amongst the youths players, Shane Dunne shines out as a potential talent on the left wing, Jordan Conroy is earmarked as our leading striker of the future and Val Feeney has all the apparent hallmarks to take over from Damian Rushe when he eventually moves on. They look good enough, but our facilities are terrible and will need improving if I'm ever going to see youngsters come through the ranks that can be world beaters.


I start off by asking Damian Rushe to tutor Val Feeney, maybe that way Feeney can go on to step in to Rushe's shoes!


Our season is already underway by the time I take charge, results have not been too bad prior to my arrival and we find ourselves in an okay position in the table, but we have a massive gap of seven points to overcome to try and get those lucrative promotion spots.


My first match in charge happens to be a local derby against rivals Longford...just what I need...not! I set my training to focus on Tactics, hoping that the few days before the match will at least help the boys learn a little bit about my new approach to the game.


I pick a fairly attacking looking line up and formation. We're at home, so I hope that will carry some weight and help our performance. I don't know anything about the Longford team, aside from the fact that they're well above us in the league and we've already played them twice this season, winning once 3-0 at home and losing 2-1 away.


We start the match badly, conceding a lot of early possession, but the first half ends with only one or two opportunities created for either side. Mark McGoldrick appears to be having a lot of success in the wide right attacking position, so I hope to exploit that in the second half.

I leave the team unchanged (I'm still getting to know who can do what after all!), but use Tactical Shouts to try and amend the problems I'm seeing. I encourage the boys to pass to feet to reduce the sloppy passing, encourage them to Hassle Opponents to keep the pressue on Longford and ask them to Play Wider and Hit Early Crosses in an attempt to exploit the space Mark McGoldrick is finding on the right. My tweaks appear to pay dividends in the 57th minute when some nice team play from a throw in sees the forwards Sherlock and McGoldrick exchange passes in the area and McGoldrick slot the ball home, but the referee judges the goal offside and it is disallowed.
The game eventually finishes 0-0, but we definitely looked the better team with more possession and a lot more attempts on goal.

My next match is against Waterford United, another team that is placed above us in the league. This could be an opportunity to gain some valuable points in our push for promotion, but I have to be weary as it is an away match and we have already lost twice to Waterford this season, losing 2-0 away and 1-0 at home.


The game starts badly as a goal kick from Waterford United is picked up on the left wing by their star striker Sean Maguire. He easily outpaces my fullback and hits a cross in to the box that is slotted home by Willie John Kiely in the 4th minute. Things go from bad to worse in the 14th minute after a miskick from my keeper leads to possession being lost to Waterford United. They switch the play well, hitting a cross from the right to the left, then back from the left in to the middle of the box, my defender gets on the end of it but doesn't clear the ball properly and it's fed back in to the box where Willie John Kiely slots home for his second goal of the game.
At half time I introduce some subs. New signing Thomas Crawley joins the attack in an attempt to freshen it up and Sean Skelly comes in at right back after a truly shocking performance by Neil Harney. I again use the following shouts, Retain Possession, Pass to Feet, Play Wider and Hit Early Crosses. I want to reduce the sloppy short passing, but encourage more balls across the face of the opposition box. After all, if we hit enough balls in to the box, one is sure to go in eventually....right?

In the 46th minute we concede possession in our own half, leading to Kiely being through on goal, he looks to have been forced out of play, but manages to knock it back in for Sean Maguire to pick up the tap in and score, making it 3-0 to Waterford...things are looking bleak.
In the 51st minute, a goal kick sees a long pass heading up to my forwards. Some nice interplay follows before Mark Sherlock slots one in, making it 3-1...perhaps we're in store for a comeback?
The 78th minute comes and this time Waterford United concede possession in their own half, a miskick from their centre midfield in an attempt to pass back to the keeper sees new boy Thomas Crawley through on goal with nobody around him. He coolly slots the ball home under the keeper making it 3-2!
We keep pushing, but to no avail. The game finishes 3-2 to Waterford United, we've managed to get ourselves back up the possession chart, but our errors lead to us conceding two sloppy goals. All in all, we deserved to lose this match.
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Transfer deadline day comes and we sadly lose out, losing our Right Back Niall Scullion to U.C.D on a Free Transfer. With such a limited wage budget, I was powerless to prevent him leaving, but he'll be missed all the same.


Damian Rushe also leaves on a Free Transfer to Shamrock Rovers. Again, I couldn't offer him any wages, so a move to one of the biggest teams in Ireland comes as no surprise. There had been constant speculation about him leaving since I arrived here, for once I guess the paper's have got it right!

My third match in charge is one I hope to win. A home match against Wexford Youths, who sit in 7th this season. We've played them twice and won once 2-0 at home and drawn once 1-1 away, so we have a good shot at picking up some points in this one. The loss of Scullion and Rushe however, is sure to be felt across the team.

I stick to my guns and pick an attacking formation again. The Wexford team lines up in a fetching pink kit....surely we won't get beat by a team in bright pink shirts!?


I start off by selecting the Pass to Feet shout, hoping that it will reduce the silly mistakes from the onset this time around.
The first half goes by without any event at all, it's literally a bore draw at this stage with not so much as an attempt on goal. I try to give us a bit of a cutting edge by bringing on Thomas Crawley after Half Time.
Things go terribly wrong in the 80th minute, a throw in on the right leads to an unchallenged cross being put in by Wexford Youths, the ball is smashed in to the net by Tom Elmes and we find ourselves 1-0 down.

Of course, it's too late to make any wholesale changes and we run out losing to the boys in pink shirts after all. I hang my head in shame and try to console the team, but truth be known, I'm seething at this result.


The season hasn't started out how I had hoped it would thus far. I've come in to the team and introduced three attacking style formations that are, perhaps, a bit too technically advanced for the level of skill the team possesses at the moment. With no existing wage or transfer budget, I won't be making any changes in the near future and I can't really plan to bring in any new faces and I'll have to try and rely on free transfers or on the youth system hopefully producing some gems.


During the transfer window, on deadline day I managed to lose two of my best first teamers to other teams on free transfers. Damien Rushe leaves to Shamrock Rovers, probably one of the biggest teams in Ireland and Niall Scullion leaves to U.C.D, another club in the Irish Premier League.

My only transfer in is an unknown 20 year old striker named Thomas Crawley. He doesn't really have the stats to be any sort of revelation, but he offers enough quality to provide a bit of depth in our attacking positions.


On the results front, we haven't had much success either. Looking at the squads of the other teams in the division, I think we have enough quality to win the games, so perhaps it is my new approach and tactics that are causing the problems with the consistency of the team. We lost two of our best players on Free Transfers in the deadline day transfer chaos and that will also effect the team badly. We've secured one point out of nine for the table, which is not doing our pre-season expectations of a top half finish any favours. We are 4th at the moment, which is just top half, but our ten point lead over the 5th position team is slowly being ebbed away. We'll need to turn this around if we want to keep hold of our position.

Draw [H] Athlone Town 0 - 0 Longford

Loss [A] Waterford United 3 - 2 Athlone Town

Loss [H] Athlone Town 0 - 1 Wexford Youths
nice to see someone pick up this challenge and add some more structured rules to it, good luck, will definitely follow