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  1. EvilDave

    FMS Community Thread / Episode VII / Goalfinger

    I'd be up for this, and I like how open-ended you're thinking. One of the issues with past challenges (although many are worth looking up - I based 'Minnows No More' on one from years ago) is that they've been either too prescriptive (foolowing Manager X's footsteps means managing Team A, winning Trophy B, then moving to Team C for D years etc.) so they end up too similar/boxed in or too long (several steps running to several decades) which makes people lose interest/never finish, given how long it can take to play these days. If the challenge is something like 'an international competition,' 'an underdog story' or 'tactical innovation' then there's enough scope of a multitude of very different stories of very different lengths and styles. I like your thinking Diego...
  2. EvilDave

    [FM17] Trials and Triumphs of a Turkmen

    A long and impressive 2023 season ends with our domestic superiority confirmed. Irtysh Pavlodar were our final league opponents of the season, and after they had taken four points from our first two encounters, it was satisfying to put them in their place with a resounding victory. In the cup, a solitary goal was all we needed to be our place in the final, where the same result against Aktobe saw us pick up the trophy we missed out on last season. The domestic double was secured in a largely uneventful final in Astana, with the top two in the league playing out the showpiece game in a fairly lethargic fashion. Fittingly it was Bogdanov who got the goal that gave us the win, and Aktobe lacked the cutting edge to force their way back from the early setback. A deserved win, a comfortable double, and we are truly kings of Kazakhstan. In the Champions League however, there is still plenty of work to be done. Do not be fooled though - we were never expected to get this far, and the money from our journey will find the club for years to come. A win in our opening game against Besiktas raised hopes to an all-time high, but we failed to pick up another point. That said, we were only truly outclassed in one match - away in Turin, where we were beaten 4-1 - and forced both Juventus and Chelsea into needing late goals to beat us at home. No Kazakh side is able to genuinely compete with the continental elite, but we are closer than you might think. All in all then, a spectacular season for Shakhter Karaganda. A dominant league title, the domestic double to boot, and a run to the Champions League group stages which nobody expected. The bank balance is secure, there are bright prospects already in the side - everything required to rule Kazakhstan for years to come, assuming the club can fend off interest for star men from abroad. That is the big question, especially given the end to a long-running takeover saga. The new man, like President Alemaskin before him, has shown no inclination to improve the infrastructure of the club, and as long as that remains the case there must be cause for concern. The existing squad is by far the best in the country - and will be as long as the lethal pairing of Bogdanov and Balatabekov are not separated - but the future must be considered. The starting XI and subs are superb, but depth needs to come through from youth, and that needs better facilities. Will I be the one to convince President Abdualiev? I don't know. We have little competition on the home front - can I stay for another season with only Europe as a challenge? Is now the time to leave on a high, or would staying put be more prudent? Is five league titles in as many years and across three countries enough to land a job that would be a step in the right direction? Only time will tell... --- Kazakh supremacy assured, Bahtiyar's thoughts now move to the future. His Shakhter side have made waves locally and internationally with their showing in the Champions League, and it may be that our young hero relies on this increased visibility to get the move he desires. However, he seems unsure as to both whether he desires a move at all, and if so where it would be towards. On the other hand, with a year remaining on his contract and the Karagandy faithful eager for him to remain, the temptation to remain for a third year - representing his longest spell at any one club - is also there, especially if the incoming president can be persuading to invest in the club. Saparow's next move will be a crucial one, wherever it takes him.
  3. EvilDave

    FMS Community Thread / Episode VII / Goalfinger

    I think with the advent of FMCU - which is a great forum in its own right, and somewhere I enjoy posting/reading - FMS is going to have a more limited appeal for those wanting to document their saves. I imagine the Venn diagram of people who enjoy FM enough to post on the official forums and those who also enjoying long-form writing is a fairly small one, and that's probably always been the case, however when there's a much easier alternative - take screenshot, upload screenshot with a few words, move on - it's going to feel more pronounced. We're always going to be small in comparison, but it's great to see new names emerging and indeed returning. Would it, for example, be worth mentioning our awards to the FMCU mods when they're coming up and trying to drum up votes from over there? It's a community of people who by definition enjoy reading about the FM saves of others... hat said, I'm not sure how much of an impact the awards have on all that, although I can see why people would be frustrated at seeing the same names time after time. I don't think we had those complaints when, for example, 10-3 was sweeping the board a few years back, but there was at least a bit of variety in the nominations. I think if Chris' estimate of 60 genuine stories per year is accurate, there's reason to suggest that opening up Story of the Year to all of them is a fair thing to do. Half probably don't go beyond half a dozen posts, and the cream rises regardless. If we do have a preliminary vote, and I'd suggest SotY is the only one we need it for, maybe cut the shortlist to five rather than three? The potential issue here is that if there are still only five voters, you could end up splitting the main prize five ways and that seems a bit hollow. Basically @mark wilson27, you can't win! Although I miss Best Story Idea as a category - I think that encourages creativity rather than just focusing on quality of writing, and should come back. In terms of writing styles, the speed of the game is exactly why I've tried to do different things in the way @CFuller mentioned (you're too kind, by the way). I started playing the Owain Williams save on FM14 and I'm still writing it years later, even though I haven't touched the save for probably three years - my notes are sufficient to work off. Going into that level of detail for every match - or even some of them, because it does get mixed up - just isn't something that appeals for more than one story, hence the summary/recaps/different pacing of others. That and ripping off the styles of others from time to time! One thing I would throw out there, and this may be controversial, is that I've embraced the instant result skin. I find that allows me to play in a more immersive game environment (more leagues and players loaded) while also allowing me to move at a decent pace. A lot of people use this over on FMCU, but I think it provides a strong option here too. You get the detail you need in terms of results and scorers, and you can fill in the gaps around it to your heart's desire - either by watching the highlights if you're keen to stick absolutely to the game, or with a bit of creative licence otherwise. I only really play 'big' matches live now when I'm playing to write, and that gives me both the speed to not get bogged down and the space to use my imagination for the rest. It's a shame in a way because obviously the way FM has come on should make the full-fat version more appealing, but I don't have the time I used to and so an IR skin provides an excellent compromise. Just a few thoughts. No answers, but I never claimed to have those!
  4. EvilDave

    [FM17] Trials and Triumphs of a Turkmen

    Three games in the league and two in Europe as our season draws to a close, and despite it being a long campaign we were able to keep winning at home. Ordabasy put up a decent fight but lacked the quality to make it a real challenge, Zhetysu are a shadow of the side they were last season and crumbled easily on home soil, and the final game of the month against our nearest rivals Aktobe was a real end-to-end thriller - we conceded early, led 3-1, let them back into it and then struck late to seal all three points and put another three points between us in the table. In the Champions League, we were far from disgraced in London, and things could have been very different indeed had Baltabekov's first-half header not been ruled out for a marginal offside call. Back in Karagandy, we frustrated Italian giants Juventus for three quarters of the match before one of their many shots made its way past Koshkarov, but while we are now highly unlikely to even make the Europa - Besiktas shocked Juventus on the second matchday and drew with Chelsea on the third - we can hold our heads high. There remains just a single league fixture to play, although we have a trio of Champions League ties and the conclusion of the domestic cup to see out before the end of the year. 17 points underlines our dominance at the top of the table, while both Aktobe and Kairat have put enough breathing space between them and their rivals to confirm their positions. Positions 4-6 and 7-9 are up for grabs but largely meaningless, while at the bottom Ekibastuz are down. The only thing left to determine is which one of Zhetysu and a resurgent Akzhaiyk will have to fight again in the relegation play-off.
  5. EvilDave

    [FM17] Trials and Triumphs of a Turkmen

    Considering we only really played in the second half of September, it proved a busy month. Two days in we edged past Kairat with the first of several late goals over the course of the month, but on our return after the international break we were frustratingly held in Pavlodar, Irtysh taking points off us for the second time this season. A late Sariev strike saw us beat Tobol, before we closed out the month firing blanks in Kyzylorda. In amongst league action were two very different cups - the lesser focus being on the domestic trophy, were another late strike, again from Ruslan Pak, sees us take a draw into the second leg of the semi-final. In Europe however, we got our campaign off to a dream start with Boganov's goal against Besiktas, and although the Turks equalised within 10 minutes, we kept pushing and were rewarded late on when Filimonov's shot deflected in. There is a long way to go, but we can already be hugely proud of our achievements. Off the field, I was finally able to get onto the UEFA coaching ladder - their qualifications are more prestigious than Asian ones, and will allow me to return to it even if I'm managing on another continent in future - and the latest batch of youth graduates emerged, young defender Evstigneev looking like hvaing a particularly bright future. In other news, as sure as the world keeps turning here was another takeover rumour - I won't hold my breath this time. Perhaps the main reason for our less than emphatic league form, aside from the fact that I've been rotating the squad, is that against Tobol we finally confirmed what everybody has known for a long time. Sariev's goal was enough for us to mathematically retain a title we haven't looked like losing at any point, and combined with the riches gained from the Champions League will make us strong favourites for a third success next time - especially if the proposed budgets are anything to go by. However, with our superiority on the home front already evident and our European dreams realised by reaching the group stage, I am beginning to wonder what there is left to achieve here in Karagandy. If the president were more keen on improving the facilities, it would be a place I could envisage myself building a legacy, but without that backing it seems highly unlikely - and there is a great deal of uncertainty swirling around the club as a sale approaches. And so perhaps now, or least the end of the season, is the time to seek pastures new. I have a burgeoning reputation and youth on my side, not to mention a perfect ratio of league titles to full seasons in charge. Without wishing to sound arrogant, I should be able to find work easily from this point onwards, and while that remains the case I would be foolish not to explore my options. -- Two titles in two years, Champions League success and the chance of cup glory - Saparow's star is shining brightly in Kazakhstan, and yet the future is not as clear as you might expect. Far from plotting the beginnings of a dynasty in Karagandy, our young star is beginning to feel the itch in his feet. Could further success beckon outside of Central Asia? The question is, where to? His beloved Spartak are unlikely to be interested just yet, and while Kazakhstan is a UEFA nation, it is still regarded as something of a backwater by those further West. Does Bahtiyar need to sacrifice his salary for the sake of managerial kudos? Or does he have something else in mind as he looks to inch closer to Moscow?
  6. EvilDave

    [FM17] Trials and Triumphs of a Turkmen

    There is only one place to begin this month, and it isn't with the regular fixture round-up. First came the Hapoel tie, in which we discovered that either the Israelis were nowhere near as good as we had made them out to be, or we had been underestimating our own capabilities. Without the injured Bogdanov for both legs, we took a decisive three-goal lead in the away leg before romping to victory at home, guaranteeing ourselves group stage football of some description and booking a play-off tie against Dinamo Zagreb for Champions League qualification. That was a tie that got the heart racing, a last-gasp leveller for the Croatians in the first leg in Karagandy giving them two away goals and a clear advantage heading into our Balkan rematch. After 25 minutes in the Maksimir we were 3-1 down on the night and staring down the barrel of defeat, but a rallying cry at the interval seemed to do the trick. First the returning Bogdanov stabbed us to within a goal, and then with five minutes to go our teenage substitute Pak nodded in Startsev's cross from the left to silence the home fans. 3-3 on the night, 5-5 on aggregate, and for the first time in their history, Shakhter Karaganda are in the Champions League proper. We have arrived. Not only will the reputations of the club and myself increase dramatically, so has our financial power - the many millions coming at a point when the club was otherwise struggling for money. With the president still looking to leave the club in the not-too-distant future, my requests to invest the windfall in the club's infrastructure and facilities have fallen on deaf ears. That may be a deciding factor in my own future. There was a real sense of excitement for the group stage draw, and after its conclusion - FC Basel being the missing team - we were left to reflect on a draw that could have been both better and worse. In Juventus and Chelsea we have two teams who give us absolutely no hope of progressing, but the same is probably true of every group in the competition. Besiktas as a third seed makes it interesting though - if we can somehow get something at home, there's a chance, a slim chance but a chance nonetheless, that we end up in the Europa League next year. That's the aim at any rate. Domestic matters took very much a back seat in August thanks to our continued continental adventures, but the two games that we did play yielded the expected results. Ekibastuz are looking like strong favourites to go back down and offered very little - allowing Baltabekov to break a record remarkably early in the process - and away at Okzhetpes our rotated side did the business with ease. Europe is very much the focus now - expect much more rotation in the coming weeks. The league is nearly done - it would take a collapse of epic proportions for us not to retain the title at this stage. Our lead is 13 points, there are but eight games to go, and only only side harbours any hope of catching up. The moment Aktobe drop any further points the race is won, and even if they keep on winning, four more victories on our part would seal the deal regardless. Elsewhere, Kairat look to have made 3rd place their own, leaving Kaisar, Tobol, Irtysh, Astana, Ordabasy and Okzhetpes to squabble over the midtable spots. Beneath them, last year's runners-up Zhetysu could yet be dragged into the relegation picture, but on current standings and form, it looks very much like either Ekibastuz or Akzhaiyk will be playing second-tier football next year. We, on the other hand, are now operating in an entirely different world.
  7. “Owain, was that the best performance you’ve seen from your Southampton side? I don’t think anybody expected that this evening.” “It’s certainly up there, and given what was at stake and the quality of the opposition, I think if you put me on the spot I’d probably say yes – it was a superb performance all round.” “For the first time ever in a Champions League match, Atletico didn’t manage a single shot at goal – how good were your defence tonight?” “The back four were excellent, there’s no doubt about that – they were first to every ball and stayed disciplined right through to the final whistle. But it wasn’t just their doing – we defended from the front today, and attacked from the back, it really was a team victory out there.” “And an emphatic one at that – did you ever think you could pull off a 5-0 win?” “No, but then I didn’t expect to beat Chelsea 7-2 either and we managed that not all that long ago. We were brilliant today, everybody in a Southampton shirt can be hugely proud of their performance, and we’re looking forward to the next round now. I think other teams will be a little warier of us than they might otherwise have been now.” “If I can pick out one player for a moment, Lucio Escalada scored a perfect hat-trick this evening, just how important is he to this team?” “Lucio is thrilled to bits with tonight, not least because he doesn’t get many with his head! He’s been a revelation since coming to Southampton, and what you saw tonight is what we see every day in training. He’s a brilliant player, and even though we’ve invested in our attack over the years, he’s proven time and time again that he is a top quality striker – he can do it all, and we’re lucky to have him.” “Can you keep hold of him?” “I don’t see why not – he’s at a club where he’s enjoying his football, we’re breaking new ground every season, and we’re competing for trophies at the highest level. We have no desire to sell our key assets, and I’d certainly count Lucio as one of those. I’ve no intention of letting him leave, and we’ve had no bids for his services.” “You’ve booked a place in the quarter-finals with tonight’s win, and Manchester United did the same last night. With Liverpool and Manchester City ahead going into their second legs in strong positions, how important is it for English football to have all their teams doing well in the Champions League?” “It’s obviously a great advert for the Premier League if we’ve got teams regularly in the latter stages of European competition – players will always want to join successful teams, and it adds to the appeal of the competition. Whether it does anything for the national side I’m not so sure – English clubs have done well in Europe for a little while now, and yet the results in the international game haven’t seen much change. I don’t think it hurts, but it isn’t the magic bullet some would think it to be.” “Is there anyone left in the draw you’d like to avoid, or are you confident after tonight that Southampton could give anyone a game over two legs?” “That’s an excellent attempt to put words in my mouth but no, there’s no team we’re wanting to dodge – to be the best you have to beat the best, as the saying going. Personally, I’d prefer not to play another English side – part of the excitement of European competition is coming up against sides you don’t play every season in the league, but if the draw throws us together with City, United or Liverpool, then we’ll give it our best shot.” “Finally Owain, I have to ask you – can Southampton win the Champions League?” “I think at this stage it’s safe to say we aren’t going to be anybody’s favourites, but when you make it to the quarter-finals you’re potentially only five games away from the trophy, so every team left has a chance. Of course we’ll be aiming to win it – there’s no point in competing unless you’re aiming to win – but we also recognise that we’ll be up against teams with a great deal more European experience and a huge amount of quality, so it’s going to be hugely difficult. We’ve had a great campaign, we’ll be back again next season, and in the meantime we’re going to work our hardest to keep this run going.” “Thanks Owain, and congratulations again on a great win tonight.”
  8. EvilDave

    [FM17] Trials and Triumphs of a Turkmen

    Not quite the perfect month in July, but very, very good nonetheless. In fact, our only dropped points in the home came away at our nearest rivals Aktobe, which saw a rotated side take to the field just three days before we began our Champions League campaign. We reached four goals on no fewer than three occasions in the month - most satisfyingly against Astana - and there remains little threat to our domestic position. In the Champions League, we escaped Minsk with a draw, a lucky strike from Baltabekov giving us the vital away goal after we were outplayed for much of the game. However, at home in Karagandy we took the Belarusians apart, limiting them to long-range efforts and netting either side of the break to book a spot in the next round. There, in the early days of August, we will face... Hapoel Be'er-SHeva of Israel, who overcame Lithuanian opposition to earn their place in this round. Hapoel are probably a marginally better side than Dinamo, but according to the results so are we - it promises to be a close one, but if we can make it through then we are guaranteed group stage football of one sort or another for the rest of the year. The stakes are high. In the league, the gap is now up to 13 points with 10 games remaining, and the title is all but confirmed as staying at Shakhter. Our superiority is highlighted by our goal difference - and the fact that only two other teams boast a positive one - and the sheer distance we have put between ourselves and midtable pack, with 4th and 10th just six points apart. We'll leave others to the melee - for now, we can afford to turn our eye to Europe.
  9. EvilDave

    The Boston Tea Party

    Sherm returns! Looking forward to seeing how you get on with the Pilgrims, and especially on 01/02 - I think the first version I ever played. Looks like you're off to a good start, and I'll be following along as you keep going.
  10. EvilDave

    "The Gaffer John P" (FM 15)

    Great to see you back on FMS - your daughter has done us all a favour. An intriguing start here, I'll be following along for sure.
  11. EvilDave

    House of Flying Daggers

    Congratulations on the awards haul Chris - richly deserved, and testament to your talents. It's a shame to know this is drawing to a close in the not-too-distant future, but all good things must come to an end I suppose. I hope you plan on sticking around on FMS though - you can't leave me as the only Arsenal fan in their late 20s! Looks like a bit of a disappointing end to the season for your Daggers, but I'm sure you'll be back with a bang next year. Win the Cup, make a couple of moves in the market and the title will be yours before too long, I'm sure of it...
  12. Thank you once again for voting for Owain as your favourite story character of the past year, and for your continued support for this and my other stories. I'm humbled to be recognised among some truly excellent writers, so thank you for reading, commenting and keeping me going! -- It was not a good weekend for Merseyside clubs. Everton had been rock bottom of the league when we arrived at Goodison Park, and they remained there after the final whistle, two consolation goals in the final 10 minutes doing little to help their struggle to stay in the division. Their performance did little to suggest they would be able to claw their way back up the table in their remaining nine games, but that was none of our concern. In truth, the game was settled just before half-time, more specifically when Adam Bright fired home from just behind the penalty spot for his second goal of the game. 15 minutes into the second half, he completed his hat-trick from the actual penalty spot after Hodge was clearly pushed at a corner, and five minutes later Sidibe made it 4-0 after a jinking solo run that left the last Everton defender on his backside and waiting for the ground to swallow him up. By this point Goodison was beginning to empty of home fans, and you could hardly blame them. Late strikes from Lee Main and teenager Josh Honeyman were ultimately meaningless, but proved to be high point of a bad weekend for local clubs. The following afternoon, with the first domestic trophy of the season up for grabs, Liverpool fluffed their lines against a Manchester City side looking to assert their dominance in the cup competitions with their bad start in the Premier League looking like costing them their league title. Diego Simeone’s men were in charge from the kick-off, taking an early goal through Yu Shuming and never looking back. The one clear opportunity Liverpool fashioned came from the penalty spot in a controversial decision, but Andy Plant swatted away the spot-kick to preserve the lead, and 10 minutes later an own goal sealed the win for the men in sky blue. The League Cup would stay in Manchester, and we could only hope that failure on the big occasion would play on our title rivals’ minds as they looked to preserve their lead. Of course, our attention was only partly on events at Wembley, with our preparations firmly underway for our second leg against Atletico in the Champions League. Our away goal, scored by Adam Bright in Madrid, gave us an excellent opportunity to knock out one of European football’s perennial challengers, and we knew that a clean sheet would be enough to put us into the last eight. It was simple enough to say, but we were under no illusions as to the difficulty of the task ahead of us. Atletico were the only side other than city rivals Real and Barcelona to have lifted the Spanish title since Valencia had broken the duopoly in 2004, and had twice claimed the Champions League crown for themselves. For us to knock out such a team would require a performance close to perfect – something like the 7-2 thrashing of Chelsea would no doubt do the job – and the press had made it clear that many were viewing this as yet another test of our credentials as a ‘top’ team and genuine challenger for major honours. I would have hoped that finishing second in the Premier League and winning the Europa League would have done that, but it was apparent that until we repeated the trick, we would continue to be viewed as a one-hit wonder. That was not a label I, or any of my players, were happy with having given to us, but it was up to us to shake it off. A win over Atletico, progress into the last eight, and continued competition in the league were what was required of us, and that was what we aimed to do.
  13. EvilDave

    [FM17] Trials and Triumphs of a Turkmen

    Thanks! I reckon we can squeeze past Dinamo, after that it's the luck of the draw. I don't have the game open right now, but the tactic looks like this: It's something I developed on FM14, and it seems to have translated to 17 rather nicely (I didn't have 15 or 16). Width comes from the fullbacks flying up and down - they're probably the key players here, we score a lot from crosses - while the central square ensures we're rarely outplayed in the middle. The front two get most of the goals, but the SS chips in plenty too and makes sure we're never short of men in the box. It doesn't dominate possession very often, but the midfield four allow us to play through teams if they sit back, while keeping men up the pitch means we get plenty of goals on the break, long balls from the DLP or fullbacks springing a counter. It isn't beautiful football in the conventional sense, but it's very effective. In terms of TIs I play fluid/attacking, more direct, higher tempo, more closing down, pass into space and play out from the back, and the only PIs I use are turning off long shots wherever possible. Hope that helps!
  14. EvilDave

    [FM17] Trials and Triumphs of a Turkmen

    A quieter month, and yet somehow this one contained our second defeat of the season. Tobol had a solitary shot on target, but it found the back of the net to leave us embarrassed on the way back to Karagandy. To say it was a quiet journey was an understatement. It came at toughly the same time as another suspected investment - this time from my homeland - but that too fell through, with the current president apparently driving a hard bargain. We won the other three though, with clean sheets each time to boot. A knock to Bogdanov meant the goalscoring responsibilities fell firmly on Baltabekov's shoulders, and he delivered well. Of equal significance this month however was the Champions League draw - we know our opponents for my long-awaited debut in the competition, and they are... Dinamo Minsk of Belarus, who are their nation's leading side after years of domination from BATE Borisov. It won't be easy, but if we're still in the tie after the first leg, I fancy us to spring a surprise back on home soil. I'm very excited to finally play in Europe, and I hope my men channel that into something special. In the league, we see our lead cut by a point courtesy of that loss in Tobolsk, but Aktobe are still 10 behind us with more than half the season played. Kairat are the only other side looking like keeping remotely in touch, but we're very strong favourites from here. Only eight points cover the entire bottom half of the table, so there may be more excitement there as things draw to a close, but we shan't concern ourselves too much with that.
  15. EvilDave

    [FM17] Trials and Triumphs of a Turkmen

    Thanks withnail, glad to have you along!