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Put simply, the structural dynamics of flow refer to the principles involved in moving anything from point A to point B. In this save I will use randomcity.net to generate my starting point and ending point, beginning without a coaching license at the worst club in City A and ending by winning the biggest trophy attainable in City B. To make the save a bit more challenging and realistic, I will be relinquishing control over player and staff recruitment to the director of football/technical director. I will also leave much of the scouting responsibilities to the scouting team, though I will still suggest areas of focus to the scouting pool, oversee scouting meetings, and suggest transfer targets to the director of football based on these findings.
As a city-state, every football club in the Singapore football league system could be considered a part of the greater Singapore (city) area, so I will have to begin my journey with the worst playable club in the Singapore football league system. After setting up the save and checking the Season Preview odds in the lowest playable tier of the mod installed, I have arrived at SG United in the Island Wide League 2 (5th tier).
Based on their website, SG United appears to be a youth club, which would explain my 10000-1 title odds in the Season Preview. Copied from the “About Us” section on their website: “SG United Soccer was curated by experts and supported by experienced coaches. Empowered with unique and extensive sets of teaching resources, we will enhance each individual’s football skills as well as general health and fitness. We specialise in coaching children from ages 6 to 18 years old. On top of that, we believe that football is an ideal tool to build valuable life skills, such as team work, hard work, decision-making, problem-solving, and communication. Here in SG United Soccer, it’s not about being perfect. It’s about getting better and improving; one of the life lessons we hope our children will learn through football.” Based on these values, I will try to coach SG United properly by focusing on player development over results. Every player in the squad is 15 years old, and the club's transfer policy states “SG Utd can only buy players who are under 18 years old.”
Lisbon, Portugal will be my ending point. SL Benfica and Sporting CP are obviously the two biggest clubs in the city, but Benfica is ahead of Sporting both in terms of reputation (in-game) and in current league position. I will therefore make Benfica my favorite club (in-game) and my ultimate goal in the save will be to win a European trophy with them (either the Champions League, Europa League, Europa Conference League). Let the journey begin!
2022 Island Wide League 2 (SGP) Preview
The Island Wide League 2 consists of 4 groups of 10 teams, with the winner of each group achieving promotion to the Island Wide League. As you can see from the Season Preview above, we are the worst of 40 clubs in the division. To get a better idea of the strength of our group, I've created a narrower Season Preview of our group:
Luckily, we ended up in the same group as Etoile (SIN), giving us a decent chance of avoiding finishing bottom of the group. The board only expects us to “attempt to avoid finishing bottom of the Island Wide League 2.” With Etoile (SIN) in our group, we should be able to exceed those expectations.
The squad is severely lacking in pace, height, and technical ability, so I've gone with a very defensive approach. The low block with 5 deep defenders and 2 defensive midfielders should allow us to limit space as much as possible, however it may invite crosses. The average height of our center backs is 5'8, so excessive crossing could be an issue. I'm still debating whether or not I want to use the pressing trap instruction “trap inside," as I do have enough players to really congest the middle, but I don't know what the true knock on effect of that instruction would look like just yet. I am slightly concerned at how many instructions I have set up already because in my experience, simple tactics are better in lower divisions. However, my team is so far below the other teams in this division that I feel the increased discipline may be necessary. Only time will tell.
Cool idea, I´d like to try this myself after my current Journeyman.
Can you choose any clubs or do you also only allow yourself to change to the next country with a border to your current one? (Malaysia in your example)
Thanks! I hadn't actually considered that idea but that is a very intriguing concept. I was planning to work my way up the Singapore divisions before moving to somewhere like Japan to win the Asian Champions League, and then trying to jump to Portugal from there. I don't have databases loaded for Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, or Pakistan, which I'd need to go from border to border, so unfortunately I can't go that route. I'll definitely try that next time though, great idea!
Interesting idea this. Definitely a lot of scope for you to manage a lot of unknown teams
2022 Season Review
Despite my 10000-1 title odds placing us firmly at the foot of the table in the season preview, we managed a respectable mid-table finish with a positive goal difference. Our strict defensive approach created plenty of counter attacking opportunities against often less organized opponents. We also achieved our goal of finishing above Etoile (SIN), who similarly had 10000-1 title odds yet punched above their weight for large parts of the season.
One of my first signings was Malaysian striker Dhia Azrai Naim Rosman. Surprisingly, I managed to poach him from Tampines Rovers FC in the Singaporean Premier League and he duly delivered. Our top scorer finished with 8 goals in 16 league appearances. Though hardly groundbreaking numbers, he was a reliable threat and scored several valuable goals in our attempts to avoid finishing bottom of the table. He's attracted the interest of 16 different clubs across the Singaporean pyramid so he's unfortunately likely to be moving on to bigger and better things (as am I, more on that later).
As I predicted in the season preview, Mohd Arif Jupri proved to be an invaluable asset and our most consistent performer. He maintained an average rating of 7.17 from 16 appearances, conceding 16 over the course of the season while notching an impressive 58 saves. Hopefully SG United can hang onto him for another year or two to give the team a solid base to continue improving.
A fierce ball-winning midfielder, Tan Terence continually broke apart opponents' build-up, preventing them from advancing through to our defense along with his defensive midfield partner, Muhamad Ghazali. Terence was our most improved player by some distance and I think he has a bright future in Singaporean football and perhaps even further.
The Next Step
Having had my request to begin a coaching course rejected by SG United, I selfishly decided to pursue other opportunities in the division above, the Island Wide League. I interviewed with two clubs, Geylang Serai FC and Girls Dream Team (GDT) Circuit FC. Geyland Serai FC is certainly the better team, but they refused to agree to my condition that they fund my National B coaching course. Luckily GDT Circuit FC were more than happy to grant this request. I committed to a long-term project during the interview but I will not turn down a paid opportunity if it arises as GDT Circuit is an amateur club, so I am still working on a rolling non-contract with no pay. I'm not quite sure where the name “Girls Dream Team Circuit FC” comes from. It's certainly not a girls' team, nor a youth team as far as I can tell. My online research didn't provide any answers, though their flamboyantly bright pink jerseys in several photos suggests a strong feminine influence at the very least. Unlike SG United, there are no age restrictions on the GDT Circuit squad which will undoubtedly make my job easier. While SG United's season has already wrapped up, the Island Wide League still has two rounds of fixtures to go and I may have leaped onto a sinking ship that could take me back to where I began.
I'm optimistic about our chances of avoiding the drop based on our current position. With only a week to go to prepare my team for the final two matches, I'll have to work out a simple functional system quickly in order to give my squad the best chance possible of gaining at least 2 points to ensure survival. Wish me luck!
Girls Dream Team, how great is that :-D
2023 Island Wide League (SGP) Season Preview
Lucky for us, the bottom 2 were unable to pick up any points in their final 2 matches and we managed survival despite losing my first match in charge 1-4 at home. We followed that up with a 0-0 draw after I switched to a more defensive approach similar to the one I had used at SG United, cementing our 7th-place finish. This year, however, things will be different.
The bookies think we have a solid chance at promotion this season, with 7-2 title odds putting us joint-2nd in our group (league is divided into 2 groups of 10). This in large part thanks to some excellent recruitment by my Director of Football and scouting team, whom I've delegated almost all of my recruitment responsibilities to. All in all we brought in 14 new faces, significantly bolstering almost every area of the squad, the midfield in particular. The board expects a top 2 finish, and I believe we have the quality to do it.
I've gone with a fairly simple positive 4-3-3 system to begin with, though I may switch to a balanced approach fairly often depending on the opponent, at least until the squad's tactical familiarity increases. I settled on this system after some experimentation in pre-season.
We began our pre-season in the 5-4-1 shape that I used in the final 2 matches of the previous season. Due to our lack of real quality in defense, I wanted to focus on solidity and hitting on the break as I did with SG United. However, we got absolutely battered by the Pasirian Lions in the first half despite only conceding one goal and I knew something had to change. Rather than compensating for the lack of quality in defense with another defender, I decided to focus on getting the most out of our strongest department, the midfield. We have 4 midfielders of very high ability in respect to this league, so I decided to try to dominate the midfield a bit more and play on the front foot in a mid-block with a moderate press. We managed to come back and win 2-1 against the Lions after an awful first half, so I ditched the 5-4-1 and switched to the 4-3-3. A close 1-2 loss to Singaporean Premier League club Tanjong Pagar and a subsequent 3-0 victory over 2nd tier Project Vaults vindicated this system shift, and we're now ready to kick off the 2023 season!
2023 Season Review
It was a frustrating season. We got off to a flying start, picking up 23 points from our first 9 matches (7-2-0) before losing our next 2 against Admiralty Rangers FC and Bedok South Avenue SC. Up to that point, I had been using the positive 4-3-3 approach to great effect, though most of our chances were coming from direct attacks and we struggled for possession against the better sides in the division. After losing quite comprehensively to Admiralty Rangers & Bedok South Avenue, I decided to tweak the tactics to go more direct and attacking. This led to a horrible run of form over the course of the following 9 matches, with a record of 2-5-2 seeing us lose the gap we had made at the top of the table early on. I then reverted back to the more patient, possession-based system that had brought us so much joy before I tinkered too much with it. We recovered our form as a result, picking up 5 wins from 6 matches before facing Gombak United who, as you can see, went on to win the title after beating us 3-2 and subsequently overtaking us at the top. That loss sent us on yet another downward spiral, where a combination of poor form and horrible training ratings led me to begin rotating a bit too much. As you could imagine, dramatically changing the lineup every week made it more difficult to get us out of the rut. Alas, we ended up in 4th, 2 spots below the objective my board had set for me. I don't know whether or not we would have won the title if I hadn't attempted to change the system, but we certainly would have had a better season and been much closer to promotion. I don't blame my board for being “slightly disappointed” with my performance this year, as I am even more disappointed with my decisions. I don't believe they will sack me, though, and I am confident to make a better run at promotion in 2024 with some more squad depth and quality in key areas.
Anirhan Jumadi led the line for us for much of the year, registering 16 goals, 2 assists, and 9 player of the match awards in 20(6) appearances. He was by far our most consistent performer (7.32 avg. rating), however I rotated him quite often with our 17 y/o backup striker Mohd Nazri Ismail for tactical reasons so he wasn't anywhere near the golden boot race. Though Ismail managed an impressive 12 goals from 16(8) appearances, Jumadi's link-up play and ability to hold up the ball proved invaluable time and time again, bringing out the best in the players around him. I experimented with a 2-striker system in a few matches against back 5s, and on the evidence of those matches they could have a devastating partnership if I decide to go that route next season.
As I predicted in the season preview, Sadik Said was a force in our midfield for the entirety of the season. He appeared in all 36 matches, starting 33 times and notching 12 goals and 5 assists, with an average rating of 7.02. There were times when he could disappear during a match and prove ineffective with his late runs into the box, but his set pieces, durability, and creativity made him one of our most reliable players.
Syed Amali was our rock at the back, with 32 starts and an average rating of 6.99. He played alongside a young ball-playing defender for the first half of the season, who I think may have complemented his abilities better than the technically deficient but defensively solid central defender I replaced him with during the summer. While his best partnership is debatable, his position was never in doubt and hopefully he will choose to remain an important part of our squad next season.
The Next Step?
Earlier in the save, I did some research to see if there were any Asian clubs with a strong Portuguese contingent/influence. As my end goal is to win a major trophy with Benfica, managing a Portuguese-influenced club in Asia would be the ideal step towards moving to Portugal. Enter Melaka United FC:
The city of Malacca, Malaysia, was ruled by the Portuguese in the 16th and 17th century who, despite being flushed out by the Dutch in the 1600s, left a descendant population known as the Kristang people. This group speaks a form of Portuguese creole known as the Kristang language. There are two clubs located in Malacca in the game, Melaka City FC and Melaka United FC. However, Melaka City is not part of the Malaysian league system within the game, so I have decided to pursue the Melaka United job at any given opportunity before I reach Portugal. As such, despite my personal investment in GDT Circuit FC, I swiftly applied for the Melaka United job when their manager was sacked. As you can see above, I failed to make the shortlist and it seems I'll have to keep working my way up the Singaporean league system before I can make the leap to the Malaysian Super League. I fully intend to complete the 2024 league season with GDT Circuit FC so I will not be applying for any job other than Melaka United (if it becomes available again), however I will consider unsolicited paid job offers as I am still an unpaid amateur manager. I would really like to achieve promotion with GDT Circuit before leaving, though, so we'll see. Until next time!
Shortly after posting my season review with a fresh optimism about the new season with GDT Circuit, I was offered 3 different jobs in the Singaporean Premier League. Obviously I had to take the offer to leap from the 4th tier to the top flight, particularly as the Singapore Premier League does not practice relegation.
I received offers from Tanjong Pagar, Balestier, and finally Young Lions. Young Lions were marginally better than Tanjong Pagar this season, but it was their youth recruitment that convinced me.
With 5 star youth recruitment, I had to check the FM database to see whether that really meant what I thought it meant. Sure enough, the Young Lions have the maximum youth recruitment rating of 20 in the actual game database. If all goes well, I may have to forget the Melaka United dream. The Singapore Premier League is the 27th highest ranked professional league in Asia, while the Malaysian Super League is ranked 29th. Melaka United would be a sideways step at best, with Young Lions' exceptional youth recruitment far exceeding Melaka United's. I intend to win the AFC Champions League before moving to Europe, so spending too much time in the lower ranked leagues would be unwise. I was only given an 11 month deal at £110 a week, but I'd like spend at least 3 years building the Young Lions into the dominant Singaporean force using players primarily brought through the youth academy.
2024 Premier League (SGP) Season Preview
We go into the new season with 150-1 title odds. Normally that wouldn't bother me much, but LC Sailors are 1-20 to win it and I now feel a sense of futility about my ambitions here at the Young Lions. I planned for a long-term project, however I failed to do my due diligence before signing for the club and it wasn't until I began my squad planning in the off-season that I realized I'd landed in the same situation I started in at SG United. As a development club, the Young Lions cannot have more than 4 players 23 and older registered in the squad. That presented a huge problem as soon as I arrived as we had eight players 23 or older and I had to essentially try to force six of them out as there were no suitors for most of them. I managed to sell one but ended up having to loan two of our best players and keep our team leader and vice-captain goalkeeper despite being unable to register him. As you can imagine this has affected the dressing room atmosphere, though I still retain the support of most of the players. This limitation also obviously restricted my transfer business, though I was able to make a few key signings to slash our title odds in half.
I was originally planning to use a defensive 4-1-4-1 with one central midfielder on support and the other on attack duty. I used the formation for the entirety of the pre-season, with poor results. Thankfully, 2 days before the opening match of the season, my scouts discovered Ilhan Fandi, a 21 y/o attacking midfielder with much higher ability than any of the more attacking-minded midfielders in the squad. I think having another player operating closer to the striker to feed him more through balls will take our attack to the next level, though I may still focus play down the wings as I feel we will need to play on the break more often due to our lack of strength in defense. We have plenty of quality across our attack and midfield but the defense is a real concern.
It was a poor pre-season in all honesty. I tried a mix of cautious and balanced approaches depending on the opposition, and we failed to really convince in any of the matches. The 4-0 victory against PSPP looks good on paper, but the Indonesian club doesn't actually compete in a league in the game and has 0 real players. We lost to my potential future club Melaka United, and were later rinsed by league favorites LC Sailors a week before our opening match against them. Hopefully with the system change we can begin creating more chances and be more competitive in these matches. If not, I may not be in the job much longer.
Nigata Unicorn must've fallen on bad times they're usually the Celtic of Singapore in my saves. Interested to see how this goes for you
I did some research on the real life results of the Singapore Premier League and you're right about that, they dominated the last season while my Young Lions finished rock bottom with just 8 points from 28 matches. 2 wins, 2 draws, and 24 losses with a -69 goal differential and 103 goals conceded. If they're the Singaporean Celtic I guess that makes us the Singaporean Fort William, hopefully that isn't the case for us this season haha
2024 Season Review
The season began well, with our asymmetric 4-1-3-1-1 creating many more chances than we had during pre-season. I then caused a horrific run of form with my tactical tinkering once again before reverting back to the asymmetric 4-1-3-1-1 and recovering our form. Following our best run of the season with 4 wins in 5, I was excited at the prospect of overtaking Balestier and finishing in the 5th spot, 1 place above our expected finish in the Season Preview. However, likely due to our great form, the board then invited me to discuss a new contract. I was happy to oblige but they had already rejected my last request to fund a coaching course several months earlier so I told them I would only sign a new deal if they agreed to fund my Continental A License.
The board rejected this condition, stating they feared that doing so would mean they'd eventually lose me to a larger club. This emergency board meeting left me with two choices: commit to the club with no coaching license progression on the horizon, or tender my resignation immediately. The choice was unfortunately timed, but an easy one nonetheless. With the immense transfer/registration restrictions at Young Lions, I had very little faith that I could ever drag them above LC Sailors at the top of the table, especially without a better coaching license. I am now searching for my 4th club in as many years, although this time I think I'll focus my search outside of the Singaporean borders to test my mettle in another environment, hopefully higher up in the Asian league coefficient ladder and without one club ruthlessly dominating the entire league year-in, year-out (unless that club happens to be mine).
2024 Season Review - Update
Shortly after resigning from my post at Young Lions, I applied to second-tier Malaysian club Kelantan United and was swiftly offered the job. While the second tier of Malaysia is far below the Singaporean Premier League in the Asian league rankings, they were top of the table with a 4 point buffer and only 2 matches remaining. This was a risk worth taking for me to finally get my hands on some well-earned silverware, and I duly delivered.
In winning the Malaysian Premier League through sheer grit and determination, I have now cemented my name among the greats in Singaporean coaching history, apparently. Jokes aside, it was a hollow victory that should have been awarded to my assistant manager, who navigated the waters adequately after the previous manager left for a bigger job. The team's form had begun to slide as they played a relatively standard 4-4-2 for most of the season until the assistant manager became caretaker and switched to a 5-2-2-1 system that didn't suit the players. I reverted back to the 4-4-2 and won the final 2 matches of the season.
We won the title just over 2 weeks after I left my post at Young Lions, and less than a week after I took charge in what was described as “an epic journey in taking Kelantan United from the bottom of the Malaysian pyramid to the very top.” An epic journey indeed. We are now in the Malaysian Super League, which is ranked 29th in the Asian league rankings, 2 places behind the Singaporean Premier League. However, I finally feel that I've found a club that I can build something with. The Malaysian Super League is much more of an even playing field than the Singaporean Premier League and my head of youth development has exceptionally high mental attributes which has fed our squad with mentally strong homegrown players that I can build around. I'm confident with the right recruits we can push higher up the table next season and avoid the relegation battle.
2025 Super League (MAL) Preview
The oddsmakers have us in 11th in the season preview with 200-1 title odds, putting us in a bracket above the prime relegation candidates. We recruited very well in the summer, bringing in a total of 8 first team players, 6 of them nailed-on starters. I coordinated nearly every day with my director of football and scouting team during the off-season until we found the suitable players for each position in my system to avoid needing a drastic change in our tactical approach.
We have made some adjustments to our balanced 4-4-2 system as our board expects us to play defensively solid counter-attacking football and as one of the weaker sides in the division, it made sense to retreat a bit into a more cautious approach. However, I didn't want to commit to a deep low-block at this stage. While I lowered the line of engagement into our own half, I kept the defensive line as standard just outside of our penalty area to try to really compress the space the opposition could operate in during build-up and hopefully create more counter-attacking chances by winning the ball in the mid-third more frequently. This worked like a charm during pre-season, though we were susceptible to through balls into the channels on a recurring basis. I'm considering modifying my defensive instructions but I'm not sure which route to go to fix this weakness. Either we engage the press more and allow more potential gaps to appear, or we drop off more and concede the space I would rather not concede. For now, I think I will stick with the balanced approach and use opposition instructions to try to counter this problem. I have a more defensive approach with a full low-block for playing against the sides towards the top of the table, but I think we'll go with the cautious approach for most games as I feel it gets the most out of our strongest department (our wingers and strikers).
I personally scheduled all of our friendlies to avoid traveling expenses and poor timing, spacing them out to give our players enough rest to avoid injuries. Playing mostly Malaysian and Thai clubs from our division or just below, we went undefeated with consistently impressive chance creation and relatively solid defensive performances. All of our players performed well in the system, with the odd poor performance down to individual output rather than systemic issues as far as I could tell. So for the first time in this save, I actually go into the new season confident in our tactical approach and squad depth!