Welcome to another post by The FM Newbie! This time, we take on the hexagon challenge!
As you may know, I’ve been flitting between playing FM15 and FM16 for two reasons 1) not being able to get myself into a save on FM16 and 2) my machine is so crap that it can’t run FM16 continuiously. However, I have now found a way to run FM16 which meant I was looking for a new save to have. However, I wasn’t particularly interested in doing a long-term save. As previous readers will know, I am not very good at lower league saves. I don’t really understand why, but I don’t enjoy lower league saves as much as I do top tier teams. But at the same time, I didn’t want to be tied to one team. It was also mixed with a want to try out different nations/leagues. So the idea for a hexagon challenge came about. So read on and find out about my first season in my hexagon challenge…
I’m hoping to do the challenge in a specific order (Oceania, Asia, Africa, North America, South America and Europe), but I understand that it may not be possible. However, I’m starting in Oceania, the lowest ranking continet of the six. I’ve used Claassen’s 100 leagues megapack on FM Scout. To keep my machine happy, I’m only having leagues from the continent I’m managing in loaded. After winning the Champions League in that continent, I’ll be loading the leagues from the next continent. It might mean a bit of dead time between continents, but that’s the price I pay for a crap machine. Our starting continent will be Oceania…
Much as I know people will complain about it, I started my challenge in Auckland, New Zealand. I took control of Auckland City. I’ll be honest here. I genuinely had no idea about the standing of Auckland in Oceania. It was only when I went on the Oceania Champions League page that I saw how many times they had won the Champions League. However, by that time, I was enjoying the save too much to stop it. I’ll make no apologies for that.
When I first went into the Auckland squad, I was slightly underwelmed. They were a few players short of a decent squad, but nothing to suggest they were dominating Oceania football. I knew they needed a couple of signings. I signed a couple of kids for future (a couple of who turned out to be crap) but I did sign some first team players. I’ll take you through the important ones.
Amazingly, I managed to pick up Harshae Raniga on a free transfer. And as you can see from his stats, he was amazing for me. Aside from being rested in a couple of Champions League group games, he played in 90% of our games, missing just one league game in the process. Initially signed as a versatile player, I put him in the first team for the second league game and he stayed there all the way through. Picking up a few assists and even fewer yellow cards, Raniga was voted the signing of the season in the New Zealand Premier League.
I also picked Daniel up on a free transfer. I had worked with Daniel in a previous FM when I managed in Australia with Melbourne Victory. Looking at his current ability, I was hoping Daniel would be a class above most players in the New Zealand league. Sadly, it hasn’t proved to be the case so far. Daniel suffered from a loss of form and quite a few niggly injuries and struggled to get going. I’ve given him another years contract as I felt he needed a chance to rpove himself again. He has decided to retire in 2017 however, so it could be seen as a swansong for him.
It’s official: I love Ian Hogg. His performances were so impressive when you consider that I only signed him in January. My first team left back, Takuya Iwata, suddenly decided to retire mid-season (I know right?) which left me short of left-backs. But thank fuck for Ian Hogg. Hoggy came in and immediantly impressed, giving the team another attacking option, this time from left back. Now I’m not saying it was a coincidence, but it took us six games to concede from when Hogg made his debut. It was beautiful to watch.
New Zealand Charity Cup
After a procession of pre-season games, we opened the season with the New Zealand Charity Cup, basically the Charity Shield in England. I won’t bore you with the details, but we won 2-0 against Hawkes Bay. More about them later. However, we comfortablely beat them, thanks to an Emiliano Tade double. The first after a horrific mistake in the Hawkes Bay defence. But we all watched as the captain Ivan Vicelich (and my assistant manager) lifted the Charity Cup
New Zealand Premier League
Well that was a rollarcoaster. Having experimented with different styles of football in pre-season, we settled on a fairly direct style, utilising our good wingers in Ryan De Vries and Daniel. We also had a couple of decent backups in Clayton Lewis and Micah Lea’alafa. We had three good strikers in Emiliano Tade, Joao Moreira and Sanni Issa so we knew we could score goals. And after 7 games, we were unbeaten having ammassed 4 wins and 3 draws. The Club World Championships followed, but I will talk about that later. More than anything else, the World Championships taught us how we really needed to play. We changed to a shorter possesion game, with lots of passing. And the team suddenly came alive. We stuttered a little bit to begin with, but then we exploded. However, it looked too late as we was 9 points behind the leaders with 9 games to go. Hawkes Bay had a dream season, winning the majority of their games. With the passing game, Moreira and De Vries really shone, both scoring over 10 goals in just 18 games. We managed to beat Hawkes Bay in their own back yard to narrow the gap to just 2 points. In the last game of the season, we were still two points behind. Hawkes Bay only managed a point away from home. However we managed to win three zip away from home and complete an amazing turnaround. And of course we comfortably won the end of season Playoffs beating Hawkes Bay in the final. Happy days…
Club World Championships
To be honest, I didn’t even realise we were in this competition until the draw was made. We were drawn against FC Hiroshima in the Playoff and pulled off a major upset by scoring early and taking them all the way to penalties. And it was Dylan De Vries who was the hero in the shootout after Rivas had saved a penalty.
In the quarter final, we drew AL-Ahil (UAE). We were magnificent as we beat them 2-1, after Natheniel Hailemariam came off the bench to score the winner. Then the realisation of what we were facing hit us hard. We drew Barcelona in the semi-final. A club in a minor country (compared to Spain) was about to take on possibly the biggest club in the world.
I wasnt expecting much, but at the same time, I wasn’t going to ‘park the bus’. It went against all my instincts so I set up to defend but also to play on the break. And whilst we didn’t disgrace ourselves, we did get tanked 5-1. I was immensely proud of my players as they gave everything they had and more.
Our final match was against River Plate in the 3rd Place Playoff. Once again, we battled hard but eventually came up short losing 2-1. We dominated for spells but was just unable to make the breakthrough. Dylan De Vries once again scoring for us and giving us hope.
Oceania Champions League
And here we are. The whole reason I came to New Zealand. Drawn in a goup with Nadi (Fiji), Madang Fox (Papua New Guinea) and Western United (Solomon Islands). The only game we had trouble against was Madang Fox as they held us at 1-1 for a long period before Tade dug us out of trouble again. But we comfortably qualified from the group to play Lasaba from Fiji in the semi-final. We cruised through 3-0 thanks to goals from Angel Berlanga and two from Emiliano Tade. In the final we played Hawkes Bay (again???) and we prevailed, but only just. Berlanga once again nodded us into the lead which was one we held this time.
Playing in New Zealand has been a completely new experience for me and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed. The football is really simple and the games are nicely spaced out. There’s quite a few local rivalries and local derbies. The leagues rules are a bit too strict for my liking, but you have to work round these things. It has been a wonderful experience and one I would do again in a heartbeat.
I have loaded up the leagues for the Asian leg of the tour. I have added China, Japan, South Korea, Qatar and UAE. I was going to load Australia, but I dont think i could take the current layout of the A-League and all its financial constraints.I’m not looking to go anywhere in particular but they’re all leagues I haven’t managed in before. If there is somewhere you readers would like me to go, please tweet me @TheFmNewbie or find my page The FM Newbie
Until next time…