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FM RedDog

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  1. FM20 – The Journeyman – #6 “Finding our feet” The start of the new campaign was here and Jimmy was happy with the way the new formation worked during preseason, but the real test would soon arrive. It was important to Jimmy to make sure that the players were on board with the process. He needed a happy and strong dressing room. With new players arriving, he knew that he still had some work to do to bring the players together as a team. Jimmy had promised to improve the dressing room atmosphere when he took over. There has been some improvement, but more was needed. The Young Lions faced the Unicorns of Niigata at home in their opening game. Set up in their new formation, the lads looked like a fresh team ready to compete. The anchor provided sound support to the DC and was key to recycling possession. Young Lions dominated for large parts of the game and got the goal their performance merited after 68 minutes. They held on, comfortably in the end. The team ended with 56% possession, for a direct, counter attacking team who struggled to keep hold of the ball last term, this was pleasing. They faced Geylang next who the media predicted to challenge for the title this season. Eunos, who had now been asked to play higher and wider on the right wing, capped a superb performance with 2 very well taken goals. A very late consolation for Geylang made it a little tense at the end. 2 wins from 2 and 2 very strong performances, however Jimmy was keen to keep his players grounded. The Lions had 2 home games to finish the first month. Up first was LC Sailors. A narrow 2-1 loss was tough to take as the Lions created more chances but could only convert one of them. In the next game, a very similar pattern emerged. The defending champions travelled to the Jurong West Stadium. Jimmy was excited about this game as it could give him a good idea of where his side is at. Poster boy Anugrah struck from 25 yards out after just 9 minutes (this would win goal of the month for March by the way) and moments later, he could have made it 2 but skewed his effort wide. Hougang equalised after 21 minutes and ended the first half stronger. The away side scored their 2nd just after half time and despite a valiant effort, the lads couldn’t find the back of the net and would narrowly lose again. The performances across the first 4 matches were very pleasing. The lads were still adapting to the new formation but you could argue that they were the stronger team in each of the 4 games. The chairman agreed to pay for Jimmy to complete his second coaching course. He was pleased with his work so far and was more than happy to accept his request. April arrived and Jimmy’s side faced 2 tough away games. DPMM were first up. A quiet game which was pleasing for Jimmy as he set out to frustrate the home side and limit their chances, a solid point gained. They then faced early pace setters Tampines. The home side took an early lead through a 30 second penalty! Not the best start, however the side matched them blow for blow throughout the first half. The Lions’ efforts were rewarded when Eunos bagged his 3rd of the season with 10 to play. An error from the GK approaching injury time, gifted Tampines a goal and the decisive winning goal. Regardless of the teams’ effort, this was 4 games without a win and the atmosphere in the dressing room was decreasing. Young Lions sat in 6th place and were 7 points ahead of bottom placed Warriors FC. They faced Balestier next who were a place and 4 points behind them. This would be a key game at home against a side that if they knew they finished above, would more than likely not finish bottom. Jimmy received some bad news during a training session and Anugrah had pulled his knee ligaments and would be out for around 4 weeks. Not ideal. Jimmy set his side out in the same way but nothing clicked. They were second best most of the game and relied on 2 goals that came about from set pieces. The first was from a corner that was cleared to Pereira some 25 yards out and he hit a first time volley into the top corner! Just before the half hour mark, Najeeb was left unmarked from a long throw and smashed the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-0. Balestier created twice as many chances as we did and they got a deserved goal after 86 mins. They had 2 very good chances after this to grab another, but fortunately they didn’t take them and the team picked up a very good win. The last game of April was against the magical unicorns of Niigata. A double from Rolfshyan secured all 3 points and continued our good run of form against them. The team stepped up their performance in comparison to the Balestier game and secured back to back wins for the second time this season. April ended better than what it started and Jimmy received news that 5 of his players had made it into the Team of the Month. His side would begin May with an away trip to bottom placed Warriors FC. Jimmy wasn’t wanting to take anything for granted, regardless if their opponents hadn’t won yet this season in 7 attempts. After all, this was the virtually the same position he found himself in when he took the Young Lions role. The first half started tentatively, with neither side really committing. Jimmy made a couple of changes at half time by asking the ‘keeper to distribute to both full backs and also increased the tempo. It didn’t really help. A defensive error by the Warriors RB allowed Rolfshyan a free run on goal and he calmly slotted it home for his 4th of the season. As the Warriors pushed further forward, this left a lot of space for the Lions to play in. They took advantage by scoring another 2 goals to take the spoils in a dull 3-0 win. It doesn’t seem right labelling a 3-0 win as dull. The boys hosted Geylang at home next and was looking for their 4th consecutive win. Rolfshyan bagged his 5th of the season to take them into half time 1-0 up. It was the only chance created in the first half. Jimmys side were very error prone in the 2nd half. A lot of lost possession, misplaced passes, and bad first touches, allowed Geylang to apply pressure. They inevitably equalised with 20 minutes to go and then doubled their tally 4 minutes later to secure the 3 points. LC Sailors were top of the league but had lost their first game of the season last time out. They seemed intent on putting that right against Young Lions and outclassed them 3-0. The performance disappointed Jimmy and he made that clear to the team. He didn’t mind losing as long as the players were committed and attempted to be competitive. Both were lacking in this game. Jimmy got the response he was expecting from the players when they hosted DPMM the following week. Goals from Anugrah and Nasir secured a professional 2-0 win to close the month. At the half way stage the Young Lions sit smack bang in the middle of the table. They’re currently 15 points above the Warriors in last place and just 5 points off LC Sailors in first place. The last piece of news is that Jimmy was able to request an U18 team. At present they’re only playing friendlies but this will help massively with some of the younger players who aren’t getting game time and will also help maintain match fitness across the squad.
  2. FM20 – The Journeyman – #5 “Identify and Adapt” There were still 4 weeks to go until the Young Lions returned for pre-season in Jimmy’s first full season in football management. The young manager still had a number of things to sort out before pre-season got underway. Firstly there was the financial situation and what implications this could have. The club were currently £90k, and counting, in the red. He had decisions to make regarding the players – who would stay and who else could he let go. Lastly, he wanted to develop a club ethos and recruit players with particular attributes to help the way he wanted to play. Jimmy identified 5 key attributes that any current and new players needed to have before taking a closer look at them; Determination, Pace, Strength, Teamwork and Workrate. This will be his ethos, something that he would aim to develop and improve on throughout his career. The quality in the league isn’t the best so he installed an average benchmark of 8 across these 5 attributes. With the league being ranked 37th in all of Asia, he felt that this was a fair benchmark to use. Work began on crunching the numbers within his current squad and also identifying new players through the extensive scouting network he had at his disposal. Jimmy had one scout and one scout only, mindful of the clubs financial situation, employing another wasn’t an option, so he needed to be shrewd with who to target and for which areas. With the squad evaluated, Jimmy was already losing a couple of players who fit into his ethos well and set out to renew the contracts of the players who he wanted to keep. This proved a challenge as his star striker, Anugrah, was earning £400 a week and wanted £775, after negotiations, to sign. This was a similar case with some other players but Jimmy had to bite the bullet and knew that in a few weeks, no less than 16 players would be leaving the club and freeing up approx £2,200 a week in wages. Like a beautiful angel swooping to instill hope, the chairman injected £160k to cover the debt and more. The angel had an accomplice and within days a further £216k came in via the clubs sponsors. What was all the bloody fuss about!? Mr Singh had arranged for Jimmy to meet him at one of his restaurants to discuss next season’s requirements and budgets. With the latest financial developments, Jimmy would have a transfer budget of £35k and a £9k wage budget to work with. This was more than enough for him to improve the squad and bring in the players he had identified. The chairman was still happy for the season’s objective to continue as was and to not finish bottom of the league. The first day of preseason arrived and no less than 16 players had left the club with 4 new players arriving. The squad had been reduced to 31 from 46 and the club was almost £1k under the wage budget. Training schedules had already been set and 5 friendlies had been organised for the team. During his holiday, Jimmy gave a lot of thought to the team’s set-up. He wanted to continue the direct, counter attacking approach but wanted to change the formation from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 with an anchor man and wide wingers. He wanted to get more out of his wingers and also wanted to exploit spaces in behind the opposition. The 3 man midfield would help to nullify the opposition dominating the middle of the park and the anchor would offer valuable support to the 2 centre backs. He began to work on this during pre-season and was impressed with the players’ commitment to learning the new formation. A further 4 players joined, taking the total to 8 new players arriving, 5 on free transfers and 3 on loan with no commitment to paying any of their wages during their stay. Glen Wee arrived to play alongside Najeeb at CB, whilst Iskander and Shafiq will provide good competition to both full backs. Ashardeen was snapped up from Balestier to play in the anchor man role and Azeman will provide some extra quality in midfield. Alsree and Firaf provide the side with options as left wingers and the club swooped for striker Rolfshyan as there wasn’t much back up to Anugrah. The friendlies began with a 1-1 draw with Yeo Keng Hong grabbing a late equaliser. Hong came through the youth intake and looks like he could develop into a very good player. He is being re-trained as a CM (currently AMC). Interestingly, Hong is the 2nd highest rated ethos player. An Anugrah goal secured a 1-0 win against Jalan Dumai and Jimmy saw good glimpses of what this new formation could create going forward. Arguably the lads should have won by a bigger margin but the main focus was building the fitness and becoming more familiar with the new formation. The next 2 games were more of what Jimmy was looking for when his side were breaking forward. A 3-0 and 5-0 win boosted morale and confidence. Hong got on the scoresheet again against Mountbatten and Rolfshyan bagged a 14 minute, first half hat-trick in the 5-0 win. He was keen to not let these 2 results go to the players heads as the standard of opposition wasn’t great. Young Lions wrapped up preseason with a 1-0 win, again the margin should have been more. Despite the positive preseason, Jimmy knows that the level of opposition is much higher than who his side played against during preseason. Confidence is taken from a number of good results last season and he is quietly confident that with the new signings and formation, the side can pick up from where they left off last season.
  3. FM20 – The Journeyman – #4 “Downsizing” There were 6 games remaining in the season for the Young Lions and Jimmy was keen to build on the 2 wins his side picked up at the end of last month. They hosted Tampines and despite taking the lead early on they conceded 2 late goals to lose the match. Next up was a big game against Balestier who they were level on points with at the bottom of the league. Anugrah bagged his 6th goal in 8 games and continues his hot streak. The lads looked comfortable throughout the first half but Balestier came out strong in the 2nd half and were more dangerous. They won and scored a 60th minute penalty and despite some late chances for Young Lions, it finished all square. With Anugrah out for almost the rest of the season, this was tough news to take for Jimmy. The 20 year old was on fire upfront and there wasn’t another striker impressing the manager during training. Jimmy set some of his focus on working on some set piece routines to provide another angle for them to try and take advantage of. He ensured that the team worked on set pieces at least twice a week in training. He explained to the lads that he wanted them to try and capitalise on set pieces during games. The international break meant that the team didn’t have another competitive game for 2 weeks and therefore Jimmy arranged a friendly. A very unconvincing 1-0 win against a “smaller” team didn’t do much to impress Jimmy, the only bonus was the boost to match sharpness. Their next league game was at home against the LC Sailors. The 2-0 loss was by far the worst performance under Jimmy’s short tenure and this included the 4-0 loss to the same team in his 2nd game at the club. The team went into their next game against Niigata Unicorn with a slight tweak in formation. Jimmy seemed unable to get the best out of the attacking midfielder and decided to go with 2 upfront. He employed a deep lying forward who would support the advanced forward and also asked for his left mid to attack more. The plan was for the The team looked more balanced and they picked up a well deserved point courtesy of a penalty that was won when a long throw caused havoc for the Unicorns. A pleasing moment that one of his set piece routines worked, even if in a very roundabout way. The point gained was important as although they were still bottom, they were still level on points with Balestier. Young Lions’ penultimate match of the season was away to Geylang. Jimmy continued with the 2 upfront and it worked well. The team secured a very good 1-0 win and another goal from a set piece a routine as defender Akmal got on the end of Eunos free kick. Balestier also won their 2nd to last game and would host Warriors FC in their final game. Jimmy had the pleasure of welcoming the newly crowned league winners, Hougang, to the Jurong West Stadium. 12 minutes in and Zakri Ee banged in a free kick straight into the top corner; the work on the set pieces was really paying off. Hougang, who were probably hungover still, never got going and in the 34th minute they were reduced to 10 men. The Young Lions were comfortable and resilient throughout the remainder of the game and secured the 3 points. Balestier lost 2-1 which meant the Young Lions leapfrogged them and finished the season in 8th. So Jimmy achieved what the board set out for him and although it was only ensuring that the team didn’t finish bottom, it was an achievement nonetheless. The financial situation at the club could become an issue. When Jimmy took over, the club had almost £120k in the bank but it now stands at just £3k. The club has been over spending on wages and despite him trying to make a dent in the additional £1k a week, they’re still over by £700. Although progress has been made, with 9 players set to leave at the end of their contracts, the players that Jimmy wants to keep are asking for silly amounts to renew. An example is with the team’s best defender, Najeeb. Currently on £350 a week, he wants to more than double that to sign for another year. Of the 9 that are leaving, 5 are defenders so reinforcements will be needed for next season. Jimmy knows that he is hopeful the Young Lions will be a stepping stone to a bigger opportunity but whilst he is the manager, he feels a big responsibility to ensure that the club are not in a financial mess should the time come when he leaves. There are a lot of decisions to be made. The details of the clubs youth intake was released and Jimmy has his eyes on a couple of the Young Cubs who could feature next season. Yeo Keng Hong looks handy and has decent attributes in the 5 key areas that Jimmy wants in his players. The squad are now officially on holiday for almost 14 weeks! Some wont be coming back and some will, hopefully. Expect some new faces ready for pre-season on 6th January.
  4. FM20 – The Journeyman – #3 “The Lion, the Witch and the Boardroom” Jimmy’s first task was to review the squad and sieve through some 40+ players at his disposal. It is a very young squad and it has since been learned that the team can only have 4 players over the age of 24 and are not allowed to sign any foreigners. He had an idea of the way he wanted to play considering the squad, how good the team was and the position they found themselves in. Jimmy wants to deploy a counter attacking 4-4-1-1, with a solid back 4, hardworking CM’s, industrious wingers and 2 advanced players to link up and involve the wide men. The area’s identified which need improvements are LB, CB and MR. The majority of the squads’ contracts are up at the end of the season. Despite having a transfer budget of £40k, the club was overspending on wages; precisely £956 a week. A couple have been moved on already whilst a few more are leaving for other clubs at the end of the season. The RB, Azman, is the team’s best player on digital paper, but his performances have been very underwhelming. There is some decent ability and potential in the side, however in comparison to the rest of the league, they fall short in quality. The club has exceptional youth recruitment which I suppose makes sense on the back of the Under 23’s point I explained in the previous post and although the youth intake preview suggests that it could be a good group of players coming through, Jimmy will wait with bated breath to see who actually comes through. After accepting the job as manager, Jimmy had 2 weeks to wait before his first competitive game. He decided that it would be a good idea to arrange a friendly to take a closer look at his side in preparation for his first game against Niigata Unicorn. The Unicorns, what a name by the way, is a satellite club of Japanese side Albirex Niigata and have won the Singapore Premier League for the past 3 seasons – nothing like a baptism of fire! Jimmy was pleased with the team’s 3-1 win against Tampines Rovers SC but wasn’t sure how they’d measure up against the mythical beasts of Niigata. Match day arrived for Jimmy and despite a positive start, the away side took a 21st minute lead, which you could argue was against the run of play. After 33 mins, this happened… Illiya, the teams GK, who by the way was only playing due to the #1 GK being out suspended, stepped up to take a freekick and smashed it into the top corner from 30 yards out! Jimmy tried to stay calm, but like his name sake, pictured at the beginning of the post, he celebrated passionately. Impressive striker, Anugrah helped himself to 2 well taken goals to seal a dream first game for Jimmy in a 3-1 win. A case for optimism? Jimmy’s Young Lions then travelled to LC Sailors who were 3rd in the league. A red card after 28 minutes didn’t help the side who eventually succumbed to a 4-0 loss. A further 2 defeats followed against Geylang and Hougang who were both 3rd and 2nd respectively at the time of playing. Next up for Jimmy’s side was a trip to table toppers DPMM. In a very even game, Anugrah, who is now Jimmy’s best friend, popped up with 2 goals within 10 minutes to ensure that the Lions came away with a very unlikely 3 points. It was a cracking result and shows that the side can mix it with the better teams in the league. Anugrah has now scored 5 in 6 games. In his final game of July, the Lions hosted Warriors FC who were 2 places above them. A tight game finished 1-0 in their favour and meant that they go into their last 6 games with a very good chance of not finishing bottom. Jimmy was more than happy to have picked up 3 wins from his first 6 games when taking into consideration the opposition and that the team had not registered a win before his arrival. In other news, Jimmy tried and failed.
  5. FM20 – The Journeyman – #2 “Finding Jimmy” Before we start, here’s our Jimmy, sporting that marvellous Winnfield facial hair. Mr Hongthong begins his potential football management career with no coaching badges and a past playing career reaching the dizzy heights of semi-pro football. Well groomed before any interviews Game loaded and we’ve holiday’d for a few months to allow some managers to get the sack – brutal. The job centre starts to pick up pace and we apply for our first job, UiTM of the Malaysian Premier League. Jimmy gets the interview but during it, one of the questions posed was “Are you comfortable managing a team in considerable financial trouble?”. Quickly looking for the “No Comment” button, which doesn’t actually exist during an interview, Jimmy felt best to try and ignore this and attempt to focus on the football. Erm… In addition to the UiTM job, applications were sent to Melaka and Perak, also in Malaysia and the Young Lions of Singapore. Interviews were secured for all 3 and they were all in much better financial positions than UiTM. Jimmy had his choice of jobs as all 4 teams offered him the jobs. He’s always had a way with his words and his general charm could crack a smile from a statue. Despite them sitting 9th in a 9 team league, 4 points below 8th and yet to register a win, the Young Lions role appealed more than the others. A transfer budget of £40k had been offered (less than Perak but more than Melaka) and the board’s vision for the current season was to avoid finishing bottom of the league. Low expectations which Jimmy would like to change. Selamat datang ke Singapura Founded in 2003 and with no honours to speak of and interestingly, the team is under the direct control of the Singapore FA. Another interesting fact is they are one of the few football clubs in the world which place an age restriction on team members while playing in a top-flight professional league. Most of the Singaporean members in the Young Lions squad also represent the country in under-23 international tournaments. Well I never. I wonder if this is why the club don’t have an U19 squad and a first team squad made up of 46 players!? Side note; I was able to offer a contract to a 40 year old (virgin) so not sure if this restriction applies in the game.
  6. FM20 – The Journeyman – #1 “The intro” It’s time for me to venture into a journeyman save as I haven’t played one during this latest edition of FM. I have had some enjoyable saves in Ireland, Austria and San Marino this year, but now I am wanting to expand further and sample some of the other leagues, hopefully. I can honestly say that in all of the years that I have played this game I have never once managed an Asian side, ever. Well, that will change now… My journeyman career could be taking me to India, Australia or even Malaysia; figuratively obviously but I wouldn’t say no if somebody offered to take me. I am looking forward to this for several reasons: – It offers me the opportunity to try out some new leagues I will work with players that, for the most part, I will not be very familiar with The food Time to tuck in For this journeyman career, I will be creating a fictional character to take charge and will be narrating their journey throughout Asia. Meet Jimmy Hongthong. Born to parents of Australian and Thai descent, he spent most of his life in Australia and some of it in Thailand. After his parents split, he chose to stay with his mum in Sydney, but would regularly go to Thailand to visit his family. He was particularly close to his Thai Grandfather who was an ex professional and was the person who got our Jimmy into football at an early age. Jimmy wasn’t good enough to go pro but played at a semi-pro level until injury forced him to hang up his boots. He decided to venture into the coaching and management aspect of the game and is keen to develop his career. With virtually no coaching and management experience, other than his former job where he worked as a restaurant manager, would anyone be daft enough to give Jimmy a job? Could he stand the heat? Could he drop the Pad Thai and successfully implement a tactic without over cooking it? Only time will tell.
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