Iggy Shubz
2 months ago
4 hours ago
11

The fun begins

Iggy Shubz
2 months ago
4 hours ago
11
A landscape image of a black South African couple arriving in Thailand for a holiday, wearing summer clothes
Our arrival in Thailand

This story was inspired by another user, @Zebramanii , on his save called Stranded: Zeb's African & European Adventure

 

The day we left Johannesburg, South Africa was filled with excitement. My wife and I were embarking on our honeymoon, a trip to Thailand that promised adventure, relaxation, and unforgettable memories. Our itinerary included the stunning beaches of Phuket, the serene beauty of Krabi, and the bustling streets of Bangkok.

 

An Unexpected Start

Phuket was our first stop. We soaked in the sun, explored the vibrant nightlife, and savored the local cuisine. Krabi offered us tranquility and breathtaking landscapes, while Bangkok dazzled us with its chaotic charm and cultural treasures. The days flew by, and soon it was time to head back to South Africa.

On the morning of our departure, a simple yet significant hitch occurred. Our high-tech Airbnb, equipped with automated doors and smart everything, refused to let us out. We quickly realized there was a network outage. Frantic calls to the landlord went unanswered, and we were effectively trapped. Hours passed, and our flight departed without us. It took 12 long hours before we finally regained access to the outside world.

A New Beginning

Stranded and broke, we faced a tough decision. My wife, resourceful and ever-optimistic, began looking for English teaching jobs. Within days, she secured a position, and we managed to rent a modest apartment. She then suggested I apply for a physical education teacher and football coach position at the same school. With her encouragement, I applied and was accepted.

An Unexpected Opportunity

My coaching skills soon caught the attention of the parents. After a few matches, Jim, a parent and a shareholder in Thap Luang United F.C., approached me. He inquired about our plans and, after learning of my background and passion for football, offered me a position as the assistant manager of the club. Thap Luang United F.C. had just been promoted to the third tier of Thai football, and the opportunity was too exciting to pass up. After discussing it with my wife, we decided to give it a shot for 12 months before returning to South Africa.

Rising to the Challenge

Pre-season training had just begun when disaster struck. The manager resigned, having been offered a job in Thai League Two. An urgent board meeting ensued, and later that day, Jim called me with astonishing news: I had been promoted to manager.

A New Chapter

The next morning, I stood before the local media and board members as the new manager of Thap Luang United F.C. It was a surreal moment, a mix of excitement and nerves. I had dreamt of managing a real football team ever since playing Football Manager for the past 12 years, but this was real life. The journey from Johannesburg to Thailand had taken an unexpected turn, leading to a dream I never thought would materialize.

 

Our honeymoon in Thailand turned into an adventure far beyond our plans. From being trapped in an Airbnb to becoming the manager of a football club, life had thrown us a curveball. Embracing the challenges and opportunities, we embarked on a new chapter filled with hope, ambition, and a touch of the unexpected.

Zebramanii
14 years ago
1 week ago
171

Good luck with this save, sounds like it could be a very interesting journey. I actually managed in Thailand on FM21 and really enjoyed it, did one season with Inter Pattaya, two seasons with Samut Sakhon and then two with Muangthong Utd, it was a great country to manage in and it seemed like there was a lot of potential there.

Iggy Shubz
2 months ago
4 hours ago
11
By Zebramanii 20 May 2024 - 23:45 PM UTC 

Good luck with this save, sounds like it could be a very interesting journey. I actually managed in Thailand on FM21 and really enjoyed it, did one season with Inter Pattaya, two seasons with Samut Sakhon and then two with Muangthong Utd, it was a great country to manage in and it seemed like there was a lot of potential there.

That's really awesome! I actually went for an interview at Samut Sakhon but I wasn't successful.

 

Iggy Shubz
2 months ago
4 hours ago
11

Starting out in this league was quite the challenge. The board had unreasonably high expectations of making the playoffs and offered me ridiculously low wage and transfer budget. There was no other employment fort coming, so I took the plunge and signed up for 220 pounds per week! 

 

Board Expectations

My best player:

Mid-season transfer Window:

 

I found myself with in negative wage territory, even though I had not signed any new players since my arrival.

The board could not budge on the purse strings and the team blew hot and cold as we found ourselves in a respectable 7th position on the log.

The top 2 teams, had 3 times our budget and much better crop of players. 

 

All my key players are on contracts that expire in 6 months and I cannot sell nor extend them.

This was turning out to be a nightmare!

 

Mid-season sack!

Safe to say, the board thought I was doing a horrible job and gave me the sack, right at the halfway line of the season.
Its time to pack my bags and perhaps go beg for that school job!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Job Hunting

 

Down and out, I started applying at higher league clubs. I really would like to stay in Thailand and manage a team that will at least give me 2 seasons and probably have much more realistic goals. Like mid-table finish or avoid relegation. Even though there are plenty of jobs….they are all in the 3rd tier and I really do not want to be in a hopeless sitaution where i can't make any squad improvement nor extend contract of valuable players. So I'll be holding out for something in the 2nd tier at least or any f the neighboring countries like Cambodia, Vietnam or Malaysia.

 

Iggy Shubz
2 months ago
4 hours ago
11

After a few weeks of seeking for another role in a higher league club, I was invited to multiple interviews and rejected some offer because it was not in Thailand and it was a much lower ranked league.

 

I've decided that I'm going to try find my way back to South Africa, by moving from one country to the next bordering country, until I get back to South Africa.
There are quite a number of routes that I can take, but I've always wanted to visit Japan. I may just take the route to China>South Korea>Japan> Russia. However, I am keeping an open mind.


A New Opportunity in Vietnam

My patience paid off when I landed a job with Song Lam Nghe, a team in Vietnam's V League 1. Although they were battling relegation, the club had good potential to be turned into a mid-table team and eventually dominate the league. 
My salary tripled to 600 pounds—a significant upgrade from my previous stint in the 3rd tier of Thai football. The V League 1, ranked 18th in Asia, offered a much better platform to showcase my managerial skills and ambitions.

Turning the Tide

I arrived just after the transfer window closed, but I was able to sign a few free agents who made an immediate impact. Despite the challenges, I managed to steer the team away from relegation. My efforts pleased the board.

The journey from being sacked in Thailand to finding a new opportunity in Vietnam had been tumultuous, but it taught me resilience and the importance of seizing opportunities. With Song Lam Nghe, I had a chance to build something meaningful, aiming for stability and future success. This was just the beginning of my quest to make a mark in Asian football. I am looking forward to having a full season here, especially since I had started doing my coaching badges. This will come in very handy when I try and apply for job in bigger leagues in a few seasons.

 

Iggy Shubz
2 months ago
4 hours ago
11

 

Mid-Season Success

It’s mid-season, and against all odds, we’re topping the V League 1 standings. We've only lost one match and drawn another, an incredible achievement considering where we started. The new signings have adapted to the league brilliantly, transforming our squad into a formidable force.

Strategic Signings

During pre-season, I invited numerous free agents for trials, assessing their skills through a series of friendlies. This approach allowed me to build a solid team without breaking the bank. Most of our new players came from Africa, bringing a blend of raw talent and determination.

Among the standout signings was Robert Luthuli from South Africa. Originally an attacking midfielder, I started training him as a roaming playmaker in central midfield, and he quickly became a linchpin in our formation. Alongside him, we signed Jallow, a promising youngster from The Gambia, and Bagre from Burkina Faso. These players brought fresh energy and skill to the team.

 

 

 

Coaching Overhaul

Realizing the need for better coaching, I made the tough decision to fire the entire coaching staff. I brought in a new team, including a competent assistant manager who shared my vision for attacking football. This overhaul has been crucial in our transformation, ensuring the players are well-prepared and motivated.

Tactical Mastery

We’ve been playing a 4-2-4 formation, which, in my opinion, functions more like a 4-4-2. Our wingers have been exceptional, frequently delivering dangerous crosses into the box. This tactic has overwhelmed our opponents, reflected in our impressive scorelines.

Enthusiastic Support

The board and fans have been treated to some wonderful, exciting football. Our attacking style has won us many admirers and, more importantly, vital points. We aim to finish in the top two, securing a place in the AFC Champions League. This would be a significant milestone, boosting my reputation and opening doors for future opportunities.

Looking Ahead

As we push towards the end of the season, my focus remains on maintaining our top position and securing Champions League qualification. A successful season here could be my stepping stone to managing in the Chinese Super League, where the resources and competition would present new challenges and opportunities.

This journey, from a tumultuous start in Thailand to leading a Vietnamese team to glory, has been nothing short of extraordinary. I’m determined to keep this momentum going, proving that with the right strategy and a bit of daring, anything is possible.

Iggy Shubz
2 months ago
4 hours ago
11

Dominating the League

As we entered the second half of the season, our focus was on extending our lead at the top of the league standings. Our closest rivals, Da Nang and Ha Noi FC, were formidable opponents, consistently pushing us to our limits. These matches were tough, but our team, stacked in all positions thanks to shrewd recruitment, managed to hold its own. My strategy of inviting free agents for trials had paid off, particularly given our limited scouting department. Most of our signings were under 23, allowing us to develop them and potentially sell them for a profit, thereby enhancing the club’s stature and reputation.

 

The Penultimate Challenge

We were one win away from clinching the league title when disaster struck. In a crucial match against Ha Noi FC, I held a meeting with the team, expressing my expectation of a victory that would crown us champions. Unfortunately, this seemed to have a negative impact. The pressure got to the players, and we suffered a defeat. This result brought the title fight down to the very last match of the season.

The Title Decider

Before the decisive game, I held another meeting with the team. This time, I told them to relax and play without pressure, emphasizing that we should focus on our game and see where it leads us. The change in approach worked wonders. The team played with freedom and confidence, securing a convincing 3-0 victory. SLNA were crowned Vietnamese champions!

Celebrations and Continued Success

Fresh from our celebrations, we carried our momentum into the league cup final. The team delivered another stellar performance, securing a cup win and completing a remarkable double. Our triumphs earned us a place in the AFC Champions League, setting the stage for even greater challenges and opportunities next season.

 

Personal Accolades

To top off an incredible season, I was honored with the Manager of the Season award. This recognition was a testament to the hard work and dedication of not only myself but the entire team and coaching staff. It was a true honor and a fitting end to a successful campaign.

 

This season has been an extraordinary journey. From the uncertainty and challenges at the start to the joy of winning the league and cup double, it’s been a testament to resilience, strategic thinking, and team spirit. As we look ahead to the AFC Champions League, the future holds exciting possibilities. My personal goal remains to continue building my reputation, with aspirations of managing in the Chinese Super League in the future. For now, we celebrate our victories and prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.

Iggy Shubz
2 months ago
4 hours ago
11

A Season to Remember

As I enjoyed a well-deserved break at the end of the season, I found myself replaying all the memories of our incredible journey. From the highs and lows of each match to the ultimate triumph of winning the league and cup double, it had been a season like no other. The beauty of Vietnam’s tourist destinations provided a perfect backdrop for my reflections.

A Touch of Home

During one of our tours, a chance encounter with a couple from South Africa brought a refreshing touch of home. Their familiar accents and stories of Johannesburg made me nostalgic and contemplative. It was a stark reminder of how far I had come and the distance that still lay between me and my homeland.

Contemplating the Future

This encounter stirred thoughts about my next move. The allure of managing in the Chinese Super League was strong, but the journey back to South Africa seemed long and winding. Perhaps a stint in Russia, South Korea, or even Tajikistan could be a stepping stone. The next few weeks would be critical as I casually browsed the job market, weighing my options and considering what would be best for my career and family.

The AFC Champions League

Meanwhile, there was the tantalizing prospect of the AFC Champions League. With the draw set to take place in the coming weeks, the opportunity to test myself against some of the continent’s biggest teams was enticing. It would be a chance to showcase my abilities on a larger stage and potentially attract offers from more prestigious leagues.

Weighing the Options

As I pondered my options, the excitement of what lay ahead mixed with a sense of gratitude for what we had already achieved. The decision to stay and compete in the AFC Champions League or move on to a new challenge would shape the next chapter of my career.

Conclusion

The journey so far has been nothing short of extraordinary. From unexpected beginnings in Thailand to triumph in Vietnam, each step has been filled with lessons and growth. As I look to the future, the possibilities seem endless. Whether it’s staying to conquer the AFC Champions League or moving to a new league, one thing is certain: the adventure is far from over.

For now, I’ll enjoy the break, take in the beauty of Vietnam, and relish the victories we've achieved. The next steps will soon unfold, and I’ll be ready for whatever challenges and opportunities come my way.

Iggy Shubz
2 months ago
4 hours ago
11

Deciding to Stay

Despite the lure of new opportunities, I decided to stick around at SLNA for another season, driven by the chance to participate in the AFC Champions League. This prestigious tournament promised to test our mettle on the biggest stage in Asian football. We were drawn into a challenging group with Ulsan of South Korea, Kobe of Japan, and Ryomyong of North Korea.

 

Early Surprises

The first surprise of the campaign was the schedule. The AFC Champions League kicked off before the V1 League even started, forcing us to play two AFC games without the rhythm of regular league matches. The second shock came from the AFC's stringent rule limiting the matchday squad to a maximum of five foreign players or six non-Asian players. This rule hit us hard as the V1 League had no such restrictions, and I had released many underperforming Vietnamese players. Consequently, I had to rely on a few subpar, computer-generated players to fill our bench.

Learning the Hard Way

Hoping to cause a few upsets, we played with determination against Ulsan and Kobe. Despite creating numerous chances, the higher level of competition proved too much, and we couldn't capitalize. However, we managed to secure two wins by beating Kobe and Ryomyong, showcasing our potential despite the limitations.

Dominating Domestically

Back in the V1 League, our campaign mirrored the success of the previous season. We achieved big-margin wins and looked poised to take the title once more by midseason. However, the limited transfer market and nearly non-existent transfer budget constrained our growth. Most of our players came as free agents, and selling our best players for significant sums proved challenging due to the league's reputation.

Realizing the Need for Change

Realizing that the AFC Champions League limitations and the league’s constraints would hinder our progress, I decided it was time to move on. The only reason I stayed was to test our team in the AFC, but progressing past the group stage seemed impossible under the current circumstances. So, I resigned midseason, hoping to make the jump to a Chinese team.

A New Beginning at JX Lushan

After two months of applying, I landed a job at JX Lushan, a team in the Chinese First Division. The difference was stark. With a sizeable transfer budget of £1.2m and a wage budget double that of my previous staff, my salary jumped from £600 per week to £4000 per week. This new position offered plenty of room to strengthen the squad and coaching staff.

Recruitment Challenges

Despite the improved resources, recruiting players proved challenging. Many potential signings were unwilling to play in the league or for the club. I scoured the African markets for talent, but none were willing to move. Even my former players from SLNA were hesitant.

Key Signings

Nevertheless, I signed Mery Traore, a Malian striker, on a free transfer from a local Malian club. He took the league by storm, scoring 24 goals in 25 games and providing 4 assists. I also signed a Malian defender, hoping he would be a solid addition, but he didn’t quite live up to expectations.

Overachieving

With a limit of three foreign players in the squad, we had to make the most of what we had. JX Lushan’s goal was a mid-table finish for the next three seasons. Exceeding all expectations, we finished as runners-up and earned promotion to the Chinese Super League. This was a surprising and remarkable achievement.

A Familiar Face

In the midseason transfer window, I managed to sign one of my former Vietnamese players, Dinh Xuan Tien, from SLNA. He proved to be a valuable asset on the right wing, providing 8 assists in 7 matches and playing a key role in our second-half surge up the league table.

Personal and Team Success

Mery Traore won every individual award available, proving to be one of my best signings to date. With promotion secured, we were now set to compete in the Chinese Super League. The future looked bright, and I was eager to continue this exciting journey.

 

The decision to stay at SLNA and participate in the AFC Champions League provided invaluable experience and set the stage for greater opportunities. Now, with JX Lushan, I was ready to tackle the challenges of the Chinese Super League, continuing to build my reputation and aim for even higher achievements in the world of football management.

Iggy Shubz
2 months ago
4 hours ago
11

Reflection on China

As the season drew to a close, I found myself reflecting deeply on my time in China. Despite the allure of the Chinese Super League, the appeal for footballers to come to China was minimal. One of my greatest joys in management was making smart transfers, signing free agents or securing cheap players. However, the lack of interest from players, even with the potential for higher salaries, proved to be a significant limitation.

Decision to Move On

This limitation was a deal breaker for me. Realizing that I couldn’t build the squad I envisioned, I decided to resign and look for new opportunities. My goal was to move to a neighboring or bordering country, taking a step closer to returning to South Africa.

The Job Hunt

After a few months of applying, I received three interview invitations from the Russian Premier League. The first interview with Sochi ended in rejection, but the second interview with Arsenal Tula was successful. They offered me the job with the expectation to help them survive the relegation playoffs. With the transfer window already closed, I knew I would have no opportunity to sign new players. This would be my biggest challenge yet.

Taking the Job

The team was 13th in a 16-team league, with media predictions placing us at 16th by the end of the season. Despite the daunting task ahead, I accepted the job. The only reason I took this job was due to the lack of interest from South Korean clubs, where I had hoped to manage.

A New Beginning

With no new signings possible, I would have to work with the existing squad, instilling a new mentality and tactical approach to avoid relegation. This was my chance to prove myself in a top European league, even if the circumstances were far from ideal. The pressure was immense, but so was the opportunity to make a significant impact.

Conclusion

Moving from China to Russia marks a new chapter in my managerial journey. The challenge of keeping Arsenal Tula in the Russian Premier League is significant, but it's a step closer to my ultimate goal of returning to South Africa. With determination and a strategic approach, I’m ready to face this new test head-on. Here’s to hoping I can pull it off and prove my worth in the Russian Premier League.

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