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[FM20] The Iron Curtain


Daniel Evensen
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Introduction

I've been having a lot of fun with the FM21 Ultimate World Cup Challenge - a long, slow tour of the entire world through the lens of football.  So far it's been everything I've dreamt of and more.

However, sometimes an opportunity comes along that is so fascinating that you simply can't resist.  Try as you might, you find yourself drawn to the project through an irresistible force, one that demands that you at least give it a try.

For me, that project has been @Wolf_pd's Iron Curtain.

Now, I know that it's not complete, and I know that I'm likely to miss out on enhancements by starting this now.  However, I don't care.  The prospect of playing in a world with extremely limited foreign players and older rules is simply too attractive for me to pass up.  And so I pulled the trigger today and got right into it.

I've loaded up every country in Europe in the mod, as well as China - just as instructed.  I also couldn't fight the temptation to start my career off in China.  And so here we go:

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You might wonder why I chose Liaoning, of all cities.  I chose it in part because I wanted the challenge of starting from the First Division with a side not really expected to win anything.  I also chose it because I've lived in the city of Shenyang, in Liaoning Province.  In fact, I know where Liaoning's stadium is:

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This is a map of Shenyang.  The stadium is marked with the red number "1," on the east side of Tiexi District (铁西区).  We actually used to live in Heping District (和平区), right down the road from the Tiexi District, not far from Ikea.  Good memories.

Anyway, to keep things interesting, I nerfed my character as much as I possibly could:

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And so it begins!

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The first thing that I noticed is that we are in debt.  In fact, we have so much debt that there is no way that we can possibly get free.  If we were to be promoted this season and finish in first place next year, our winnings still wouldn't come close to denting the debt this club is in.

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Here is our current standing in the league:

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I'll be back next week after playing a few games - and may do some apartment hunting in the meantime.

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Chapter 1

Apartment Search

I'm making about 11,000 RMB per week here at Liaoning FC, or about 44,000 per month.

It might not be much when compared with salaries at bit clubs around the world.  However, for northeast China, we can do quite well with 44,000 RMB a month.

The most expensive apartment for rent I could find in the area was 9000 RMB a month:

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This would leave us 15 minutes from the stadium by car:

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We're probably better off buying a flat rather than renting, but I didn't have the energy to get into the Chinese mortgage market this time around.

Financial State of the Club

As you may remember, we were in dire straits financially.  I had no transfer budget, we could barely make our wage budget, and there was a lot of pressure on me to sell players.

The truth is that we didn't have many good players when I came on anyway.  Selling a few here and there wouldn't have hurt us too badly.  However, you never want to see messages like this one:

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It was clear from the start that ownership wanted to sell.

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And then, in that magical Football Manager way, things started to go into effect.  The drama played out in only a day or two.

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And so, through no effort on my part, I was able to achieve one of the club's long-term objectives. We do still have some debt, though it's nothing at all like the 400 million RMB of debt we had when I came in.  The transfer embargo barely lasted a day, and took place outside the transfer window at that.  We've got money now - most importantly, we have a transfer budget, and are going to be able to purchase good players starting next season.

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Season Results

As you may recall, we were in 7th place when I came in.  We finished in 8th:

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There's not much to say about this season.  Our starting striker, Wang Hao, can also play as a central defender - and will do so from here on out.  He scored 0 goals for me, and wouldn't respond to any threats or cajoling.

None of our offensive players were particularly interesting, as you can see here:

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Here's the game-by-game account, if you care to see:

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My first match with the team was the July 3rd game against BJ BSU.  The big blows were the losses to Zhejiang and Changchun.  Both teams were promoted (in fact, Changchun also won the CFA Cup); however, those heavy losses killed our morale and any hope we had at putting together a respectable end of the season.

Finally, here is my current manager profile, if you're interested:

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More to come next Sunday!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 2

Ich wär so gerne Millionär...

If you've got a good memory, you'll recall that the new board gave me a transfer budget of around 35 million RMB last week.

Well, we spent it - and then some.

The first thing that I did, and the natural thing that you do after such a disappointing end to the season, was to dump out all the trash I could.  And, let me tell you, we certainly did get rid of a lot of players:

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I figured that it's pretty pointless to try to stock up full reserve and under-19 squads while lingering in mid-table in the Chinese First Division.  I'm here to win games, not to entertain the career fantasies of a bunch of washed-up players with poor personalities.

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As you can see, I filled out the first team as best as I could, though it's not easy to get good talent with no reputation.  The fact that we can't spend oodles of dollars on an aging foreign player means that our selection is even more limited.

However, we did manage to find some diamonds in the rough.

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At 14 million RMB, Memet-Ali of recently-promoted Changchun cost us a pretty penny.  I'd like to say that he's worth it, but you be the judge.  So far, he's managed 1 goal in 2 games, causing me to question my sanity.

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Zhang Aokai on the left wing cost us 10 million when we picked him up.  His stats look good, but he has yet to impress me.  I think Guangzhou took us to the cleaners on this deal.

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Zhou MIngyue, who cost us 8 million RMB from Shandong, has performed a bit better - 1 goal in 3 games, plus some very good performances as an attacking midfielder.  I have high hopes for him, as he is only 18, after all.

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Bai Xuesong cost us 7.25 million from Changchun.  I'm hoping that the "Young striker" media description evolves into "Wonderkid" for him over the next few seasons.  Time will tell.  I do think he was a better signing than Memet-Ali, however.

Rather than going through everybody else, I'll note the one other signing of note we had during the winter:

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Chen Ao, of Wuhan, cost us only 1.4 million, and yet has brought fire into the team like I never would have imagined.  He's scored 4 goals for us in 5 games, and is clearly the star of the team.

By the way, we did manage to outspend every other team in all of China during this transfer season:

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I'm wondering if there isn't something hard-coded into Chinese football management that prevents the AI from dealing effectively with non-foreign transactions.  50 million RMB isn't all that much money, especially considering the sort of money you usually see Chinese clubs throw at foreigners.

Schedule and Standings

All that roster movement took up most of my FM20 time during the past two weeks, and, as a result, I was only able to play a few games:

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We did manage to spoil Zhang Xiaofei's testimonial at Changchun among our relatively poor Friendly performances.  The start of the season has been uneven, though I'm hoping we're starting to turn things around now.

I'm most impressed by the attendances at our home games, which indicate to me that we're in the wrong league.

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It probably goes without saying, but I should note that the FM20 Iron Curtain rules mean that we only get 2 points for a victory.  This makes it much harder to make up for lost ground in the standings, as the penalty for drawing is not as significant as it is under current rules.  We don't see ourselves flying up 4 or 5 spots with a single victory the way you do in vanilla Football Manager.  The season is a slog, and, with only two promotion spots, there is a very real chance that we're not going to make it in the end.  I just hope the board will forgive me for spending all its money.

If you were wondering, the odds makers certainly don't think much of us:

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Manager Profile

Finally, here's a glimpse at what my profile currently looks like:

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See you next week!

Edited by Daniel Evensen
Silly mistake
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