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Dan does the Pentagon Challenge


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Mods, feel free to tell me to do one and just to stick it in the FM thread although given how long a save this will (won't) be I fancy doing a bit of a diary of the pentagon challenge which I'm gonna have a proper crack at now.

 

FMT21) My go at the Pentagon Challenge - FM Career Updates - Sports  Interactive Community

 

- Start unemployed with no coaching badges and the lowest possible reputation
- No national teams
- Attribute masking on


The objective: To win the UEFA Champions League, the Copa Libertadores, the CONCACAF Champions League, the AFC Champions League and the CAF Champions League, all in one save, with the above rules applied.

 

Total trophies: 13
Champions Leagues: 1/5

UEFA Champions League: -
Copa Libertadores: -
CONCACAF Champions League: -
AFC Champions League: Gangwon FC (2031)
CAF Champions League: -

 

 

Honours list:

TERENGGANU FC (8) 🇲🇾
Liga Super Malaysia (2) - 2023, 2025
Piala Malaysia (2) - 2023, 2024
Piala Sultan Haji Ahmed Shah / Malaysian Super Cup (2) - 2025, 2026
Piala FA (1) - 2025
AFC Cup (1) - 2025

 

GANGWON FC (5) 🇰🇷
K-League (3) - 2028, 2029, 2031
AFC Champions League (1) - 2031

 

KAIZER CHIEFS (0) 🇿🇦

Edited by Dan
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4 minutes ago, nudge said:

Sounds like a brutal challenge. What do you reckon, how long will it take? 

A long time but I'm quite up for it this time. I think I've done European leagues to death and truth be told I found that Deportivo save a little easy all considered - I'm quite experienced and decent at the game now but I shouldn't be able to make them comfortable champions in seven seasons. Maybe it is just experience, don't know how others feel.

There is the very real possibility that this is binned off within a couple of seasons but I'm really hoping not xD it has been done before.

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I tried to embark on this a couple of years ago. I haven't played any FM in a while, some of you may remember I was quite active in this part of the forum a while back with some of my globetrotting adventures. I think it was towards the time I was getting fed up with FM2017 and was struggling to get into any of the new versions. I tried to start a Pentagon Challenge to rekindle my enthusiasm for it but I never got far with it.

Good luck and I hope you get further than me.

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EMPLOYED

We have our first foray into management, and I really think this is a bit of a scalp. I've landed the Terengganu job in the Malaysian Premier League.

 

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1.5 star in my first job is a right scalp I think, with a side predicted to be near the top of the league so a foray into continental football might not be all that far away. Really happy with this, I thought I'd be working with a real crap club, not one with a bigger ground than Deportivo xD

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8 hours ago, LFCMike said:

How many leagues have you got loaded for this? I've thought about doing something similar previously but just thought everything would run too slowly.

To start off I've loaded all the Asian leagues of which there's about 9, and South Africa which is the only African league so winning that is going to have to be done through there. I followed a couple of tips, easier to get a job out here apparently and then with your horrendous stats, attribute all of your 'points (6 in total)' to adaptability which apparently increases the chance you get a job. I think that explains why I've landed an alright one already. I mean they're no big name, I'd never heard of them, but 1.5 star given I've essentially put real life me in the game is some going.

Which brings me into the first update, and it's not really going very well, but I'm not surprised. I think I overpromised a bit in the interview but you're in such a desperate position that you'll take virtually anything and you'll bullshit your way through.

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My first game was the 2-0 win over LC Sailors in the AFC Cup, who are an Singaporean side of a very similar stature to us. This result meant that we just needed to not lose by 2 goals at home to Bali United in the final group game and hope LC Sailors won theirs (which they were always going to as the other side are god awful) creating a three way head to head which we won. We largely dominated Bali and when they got a red card at 0-2 we piled on them, got the goal back and couldn't grab the equaliser that we didn't end up needing anyway. So we're through in that tournament, I think it's their Europa League equivalent, so there's a chance I could actually win the Asian CL in my second season xD (absolutely not a prayer).

The league, however, has been bad news.

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So I took over with us 6th in the table yet in my interview, agreed to qualifying again for the AFC Cup which you need a top 3 finish to manage. It's just not happening is it? We only had 8 games left of the season and we went and lost the first two. We were a way off anyway but we're now at a point where we could win every remaining game and still miss out, and I think there's a good chance that could lead to a sacking due to my total lack of reputation.

I do think we've been unlucky though. The loss at home to UiTM was one of the unluckiest I've ever seen, I think probably the single worst yet on FM22, the classic case of 'being FMd' but they really were awful, 23 shots to 2 and they score with the very last kick. That game alone virtually did us because I don't really see much of a route back. I've got 5 games to overhaul an 11 point swing. Absolutely not a prayer. We play Johor DT next as well who are by a mile the leagues best side. Could quite easily be my last I think. The Panang game was a bit mad, we scored 5 goals in 12 minutes xD can't really figure this side out. We seem to get a worse result the better we play.

I'm not totally clear if winning the AFC Cup will qualify us for next years, but the expectation is that I probably won't be going on much longer with these.

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34 minutes ago, nudge said:

How's your squad looking? Any potential talents?

Pretty bad but it's all relative isn't it, attribute masking and rubbish level staff in general makes it very hard to judge what I'm actually up against. I do have a midfielder who is far too good to play for us though - albeit a bit of a jack of all trades. David da Silva is also decent.

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It's hard because you can only name 4 foreign players and even one of them has to be Asian, and in what comes as no surprise, I'd say foreigners account for my top 6/7 players so I'm having to leave them out. The aim if I hold onto the job is simply to keep the best 4 and sign Malaysians.

5 minutes ago, Coma said:

Opened this thread expecting some insider tips on sneaking into the American military facility in DC. 

Who knows where this save will end up, honestly.

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League campaign done

So as expected, we did miss out on the top 3, but we put in a respectable showing.

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As you can see, our form after the last update was nearly immaculate and only one dropping of points, quite unluckily I'd say at Kadeh (who were the club that interviewed me and turned me down before I took this job). Beating Johor DT is my first real scalp of the save and I wouldn't even say it was fortunate, they dwarfed our possession but the xG was of a similar level. The funny part of the save is that we actually relegated both sides that went down.

I'm happy with what's been delivered on the pitch bar the slow start. We've never really been out of any game and I don't really think I did a lot wrong. XG isn't the sole judge but it's a quite good indicator and we at worst, narrowly lost on it, but won virtually every game. I think a key reason for our form upturn was opting to use another foreign player in central midfield. Take 'foreign' as 'better' in this instance. I played a flat 4-4-2, wing play (albeit removing the look for overlap instructions as I think they're daft) but the key element in the side was pace.

Nowhere was this highlighted more than in defence. I had a defender from Montenegro with a 4.5 star rating but our performances with him in the side weren't really any better, and what I did have at centre half, were two Malaysians who are pretty crap but both are quite fast, and I think the recovery pace really helped. The pace was the key thing all over the pitch, I think we probably have the quickest side in the division.

But where next? I've ultimately still failed my league objective. I want to keep this job for now, the players don't really respect me so I'm very much on thin ice regardless, but I think things have gone well enough on the pitch for them to overlook the lack of experience. I'm not totally sure on how the AFC Cup actually works, I suppose we just try and go far in that for now.

It's different but it's all about taking those steps up the ladder that you weren't expecting to be able to. If I manage to win the AFC Cup or this other Malaysian cup we're now playing in, then my reputation may start to grow.

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Manager of the month bagged as well. Anything to help the reputation eh!

We're in this cup now called the 'Piala Malaysia', 16 teams coming from the top two tiers, it starts with a group stage which we'll play alongside the AFC Cup knockout game against Persebaya (Indonesia). The board want the final. If we draw fucking Johor DT I'll be livid. I've got a very passable group though and two go through.

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Season 'actually' done - Dan stays

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So we were still in two competitions as stated, it appears in Malaysia you play the league then cup seperately so this was a quite significant part of the season left. We got through our group albeit by the skin of our teeth with a late equaliser at home to Kuala Lumpur, leaving us finishing 2nd behind them. As feared we ran straight into Johor DT but we really did make them work for it. We were hanging on a bit at times but we never felt far out of the game, so I'm glad we managed to push them.

The AFC Cup was a very disappointing loss. Really annoyed by that one, but what can you do, I'm not exactly working with a good side here.

No clean sheets in those games and just two wins was a concern, and proof that we're definitely miles off being good. The good news however is I did get offered a new contract as it turned out I'd passed my objective of 'being competitive' in this cup (rather than making the final, which was in-fact a different competition altogether and settled before I even arrived), and they were happy with just group progression in the AFC Cup, I think the late league run of form probably saved me.

I'm not exactly optimistic for next season though. We'll lose our best player for nothing and there's just no way we're going to get much better. This really is tough. I'm usually confident of strengthening in a summer but it's not the case here. This feels like a hiding to nothing. But we just roll with it.

 

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I forget how short their season is...

I'm 17 games into my league season, but what you forget is that means there's only five games left. It's been quite interesting, largely frustrating, but I have to say on the whole the job has gone better than I thought it would.

When I took over Terengganu they were predicted to finish 3rd in the league, and despite losing key man Makan Konate the same was predicted again. It's hard to gauge how good the others are but I get the feeling that there's little between most of the sides, with the exception of Johor DT who are a cut above the others and actually have a bit of money behind them. I mean they pay somebody in their squad £9k a week, my entire side is on £22k a week.

The transfer business... it's tough. In Malaysia there is a rule that you must have only 3 foreign players in your side, but are allowed a 4th providing they're Asian. I inherited a squad with 8 foreign players and there's just no way you can keep them all happy, especially when a lot of them are your best players as well. Konate's departure was the first of five of them to go, sadly in a couple of cases but one thing I noticed was that, for all that they hold the talent relative to the Malaysians, they don't seem to impact us as significantly as I hoped. They're our better players, sure, but my thinking was I'd try and keep the squad with just 4 foreign players and pad the rest of the squad out with young Malaysians, keep a tight knit and hopefully use some tactical skill to negate our way through. I feel my biggest asset I can have here is probably creating a positive team spirit and I have to say, other than early days where the players thought 'who the fuck is this nobody', the dynamics have been really positive, morale is usually high and I think that's probably going to count for more than appeasing a couple of players who are probably about Ligue 2 level.

Take my defender, Argzim Redzovic, he's Montenegrin and probably a bad example as he's one of my four to stay, but our performances with him in the side, despite being rated as a 5 star defender, were barely any better than those without. I had a Ghanean striker who was decent but just not as good as David da Silva so never got a kick, and he was sold for £20k (our financial trajectory is worrying so we need to take a bit whenever we can sadly). I've been playing a 4-4-2 wing play tactic, width (shockingly) but importantly pace all over the pitch, although I have tried to change my system a bit as we've gone on.

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I expect nobody to have heard of any of those players. They are for the most part just Malaysians, most of them the standouts of the 75ish players (xD) I took on trial, even Kiko Insa, is a Spaniard but has gained Malaysian citizenship over the years, released by Johor and a 34 year old centre half who is left footed. I'm quite fussy about the stronger foot of particular positions and think it's important when considering the likely attacking combinations, although the board were less than impressed that none of them were under 23.

Adam Nor Azlin, my apparent best midfielder, hasn't had a kick because he broke his leg in our final friendly. He's back soon though.

The latest signing, Enaruna, is a 23 year old Nigerian centre half who will replace Redzovic next season as he wants to go.

Anyway onto the actual football. It's been a bit infuriating in parts because our xG puts us top of the league, but we've spent the majority of it bobbling around 4th-6th, and the board want a top 3 finish.

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Just totally inconsistent. Good enough to really hammer a side on our day but bad enough to ship 3 to most sides. It's a slog and the pressure started to come on me a bit after the second Pahang defeat. I changed tactic to an old favourite - a very basic, low instruction 4-1-4-1 which is solely about staying compact then hitting teams on the counter. It's doing the trick. It really is.

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You don't really appreciate how short the season is when you're playing. When you're so used to 38 games or even 46 in England, 22 feels ridiculously short but we've hit form at a good time, and it's made us outsiders for the title.

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It wasn't until their humiliating 1-3 loss to Sabah that I believed Johor's 8 year title run would come to an end but it looks well there for the taking at this point. Selangor, a side who've taken 4 totally undeserved points off us this season, have a real shot, but crucially we do as well.

Our win at Penang was massive and I feel like it's saved the save a bit. I think in this form I'd back us to finish in the top 3 at least, and that'll keep me here for a little while longer. My attributes have developed a bit and I put it down to both experience and undertaking a coaching badge.

I'm really quite impressed with large parts of our play. We've been a bit of a Brighton, albeit with far less silky football and just a lot of lumping it for quick players to run onto, but teams do seem to struggle with it.

The infuriating stats are as stated, xG puts us top of the league, we have the highest expect for and the lowest expected against. I think we have a lot of shots, but a lot of shit ones. You can't really argue with the underlying numbers though, we're top of virtually every attacking stat - I think if this was properly analysed, the players would look more at fault than the coaching set up, but I would say this of course. Genuinely think with a better keeper or if Insa had a bit of pace we'd win the league.

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The question is where does it go? I've had a bit of a think in that would I have a shout of getting the Johor job if it came up? But then do I really want to stay in Malaysia? I think my best shout may be looking at a less fancied Korean or Chinese club. I like what's happening here but I don't think they can go loads further than this, and they're not making any money.

Although really, lets just finish this season and see what pans out. I'll likely finish the league campaign tomorrow.

Genuinely really quite enjoying this though. I've done European leagues to death and this feels like a proper adventure already. Bloody Malaysia. Never would've thought it.

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I've overegged the wage difference with us and Johor mind, having had a bit of a dig they only spend £1.7mil a year on wages while we spend £1.05mil - so actually if they got rid of their high earner (Gonzalo Cabrera, the vintage ageing Argentine enganche playing in Asia) they would have a similar spend to us, though the difference I guess is we could never attract a player like this.

The thing with Johor is they have quite a few like this, they've got a lot of foreign players on bigger money than our squad, but their Malaysians are paid peanuts for the most part. It's got me thinking that they've very much built for continental football and that it will likely backfire on us somewhat should we qualify for the AFC Cup next season.

I'd love to have a proper look through Johor's actual squad but cannot, of course!

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We win the lot

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But sadly, Selangor just have too much and they win the title, in a pretty bonkers end of season which saw us finish with an incredible eight wins on the bounce, it's hard to not be quite optimistic going forward.

I think other than Johor, who naturally will make your work because of their talent, they were all very comfortable for the most part.

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The real amazing part is Johor finishing 4th, after winning 8 straight titles they've had a disaster of a season, and they miss out on continental football altogether.

We go into the AFC Cup group stage, but now it's the League Cup and another 6 group games to follow. I'm going to try and win the whole thing (obviously), and I think based on that form, we're capable.

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The Piala Malaysia, ugh, the Piala Malaysia...

I don't really know what it is about this competition but it really seems to knock the wind out of our sails a bit. Last season we were presented a group of Melaka, N.Sembilan & Kuala Lumpur. This year we are presented a bizarrely similar group, with Melaka again (who've just finished bottom), N.Sembilan again, and Perak, our local rivals who we sent down last season. Given our form I'm expecting us to breeze through it.

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I think 'breeze' would be very kind to us, but it's a group topping and impressively just the one goal conceded. The real surprise was Perak's qualification despite losing 0-5 to us. Melaka seem to have our number a bit, we did beat them twice in the league but both needed late goals, and we couldn't find a way through here despite two ridiculous batterings. Over the two draws, the shot count read Terrenganu 53-11 Melaka, yet we failed to win either game.

The big headline is Johor DT's miserable season continues. They end up finishing 3rd in their group and crashing out, I'm baffled at how it's going so wrong there but again, the window of opportunity is open for a surprise winner. You would have to tip us or Selangor.

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We make hard work of Sarawak United but it is progression, drawing 1-1 away and beating them 1-0 at home via a David da Silva wondergoal. I'm concerned that the goals are drying up somewhat for us but we look extremely hard to break down, and that's what I've been trying to achieve here. I'm a bit of a bore tactically and I don't think my sides would make for great viewing in real life xD I try and build from the back and am never fully satisfied until we're conceding under 2 a game in 90% of games - and we've very much achieved that, in-fact it's 18 games that we've managed this now so I'm really happy, with just 8 conceded in those 18. It helps that I've got a young Malaysian defender who is a giant and actually relatively quick, which is perfect in my system.

So we have PJ City in the semis and I'm over the moon, firstly because they're in the second tier and haven't actually managed to bounce back up, but the fact we avoided Pahang is good news, they've given us many problems and their striker Lee Tuck, on loan here last season, scores a belter past us every time he plays us.

We make no mistake on the road and win 1-2. I'm a little miffed we've only garnered that advantage, we're 2 up early doors and look pretty comfortable. Ex QPR striker Antonio German gets one back but it only ever looks pretty comfortable from us, and nothing really concerned me ahead of that second leg.

And that, my friends, is complacency.

It all goes wrong. We're dumped out. PJ City turn the tie totally on its head and win 0-2 at our place to set up a final with Penang. It's a total sickener. We completely froze on the big stage. The nerves had kicked in and when you're seeing negative body language in the first half you know something is up. We make an error to go 0-1 down and you just... know.

So it's another season of what could've been. Absolutely sick by that one I have to say. We've blown it from 2 goals up against a side we're definitely better than, and these chances don't come around too often. Will Johor be that bad next year? Will we be able to knit together any kind of balanced side?

A little rebuild is coming I think. No overhaul, but there'll be changes - forced somewhat by Redzovic and David da Silva leaving on frees off their own accord. This frees up foreign slots which is good, but they will be missed, the latter in-particular.

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TLOTLEGO PITSO

Broke my transfer record this summer of... £7,000, to sign young South African striker Tlotlego Pitso to replace the outgoing David da Silva. Took a gamble but I liked what little my scouts had presented of him.

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He's made a brilliant start as well. Very fun player with some attributes that should make him outstanding at this level.

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Mini break but we are back

It's been a little while but the game is still alive and kicking, I haven't given it up yet, and I'm not going to - because I think we're really getting somewhere in this save.

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We've definitely found 'the' system. We're top of virtually every attacking metric and every defensive metric. We're objectively the best team in the league. Johor DT have the superior quality, but we are the best organised. We are yet to play them however - and actually will do at our place on the final day!

I don't think we do anything too special. Compact in the middle and pace in midfield, making us both very hard to break down but good on the break. I seriously want to see us tested against some bigger clubs in Asia - I'm talking the Chinese and Koreans here. Most of this league barely create a thing against us.

One big blow sadly is Pitso has broken his leg and he's out for the season. Gutting as he'd been superb.

We've also had our wage bill cut from £22k a week to £12k a week out of nowhere. To be honest I was spending only £14k so I can deal with it. I don't sign good players for the most part and I think the majority are replaceable with similar level. Something had to give. We were losing money and I'd seriously reigned in a lot of our spending. The aim is to win the league, or the AFC Cup, which we're into the regional semi finals of. I'm not totally sure how many rounds there are, but I think there are just eight sides left.

Our results below. We've been so good. Every player is doing their bit.

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The wheels are falling off...

I half expected it to happen as I thought our performances seemed almost too good, but the cracks are starting to appear now.

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Not gone totally wrong, but you can just sense things are going a bit off the boil. We're getting injuries, suspensions, we're starting to concede a few more. Most worrying of all is Johor DT are looking ominously good again, despite our really impressive win at their place.

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This season is feeling like a bit of a now or never to win something. I've just lost my next best striker after Pitso to Johor on a free before the start of next season and our finances really are crap. We need to somehow qualify for the AFC Champions League, but I feel we'll fall just short.

The two routes into that are either winning the league or the AFC Cup.

I'm inclined to say Johor win the league. I'm not ruling us out because we have 5 home games from our 6 remaining and we're still yet to drop a point at home this season, but I just think it's all starting to catch up with us a little.

As for the AFC Cup - I've gotten my head around it slightly. There are 32 teams to start with and they're all drawn into regional groups. We are in a region of teams from Malaysia, Phillipines, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Brunei - and the 'final' round of this region is the quarter final of the whole thing, so essentially, there is only one 'ASEAN' team in the semis every year.

And who do we face? Of course, it's Johor DT yet again. We play them on the final day of the league season then immediately face them in that two legged tie. They could ruin everything.

I do feel like our window is going though and I could do with moving on from these. I think they're only going one way sadly.

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The title race

Just two games remain in the league now and it all boils down to this. Us and Johor have run away with it, but Johor have squandered things somewhat in the last couple of games and it's we who have the advantage.

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In all honesty I thought Johor would have it in the bag, but their surprise draws with Pahang and Kedah have handed us the initiative, with two home games left.

We can seal the title on the second last game if we beat Kelantan and Johor lose to Kuala Lumpur at home - unlikely but it's not impossible.

It's a goal difference league so if we win and Johor draw, they would need to beat us by 4 goals on the final day (or more potentially).

Very touch and go whether we do this. 4 points and we're there. I think that's attainable, even with the injuries, fatigue and suspensions. We've not dropped a point at home yet. That said I think these are two of the toughest home games. Kelantan are no mugs - we were pretty rubbish at their place. I wouldn't put it past them to get a result here.

Edited by Dan
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We both win. It's on the final day. If we avoid defeat, we're champions and if we do lose, we aren't.

I'm not sure I like this. I don't want any inclinations within the team to play for a draw - because we'd lose.

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JUARA

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Just beautiful. What a way to do it as well. A penalty missed on the stroke of half time from us, the tension of that last 10 was mental but I knew we had it when Haroon scored. We deserved it on the day and over the season. The Johor games themselves prove the difference. My reputation grows off the back of this, we're in the AFC Champions League next season and Terengganu have their first ever league title!

We beat a very good Johor to that title. Onwards and upwards.

Now, Johor again xD but that can be another day.

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Oiled machine

I don't know what it is about us when we hit later on in the season but we just seem to catch fire. I've not seen consistent delivery like this in a long time.

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Just look at it. Absolute thing of beauty. The longer this squad plays this game the better they seem to get at it. We are horrendous to play against and I love it.

I'm still not totally understanding how the tournament works but after beating Johor DT in the AFC Cup, we came up against Indian champions Punjab FC and they became the latest to fall on our ever sharpening sword. Now, I think we're into the semi finals of the whole thing but I'm not 100%, it's impossible to work out based on the info given on the tournament page, there's no obvious structure to it but my understanding is it's a tournament played regionally which the further you dive into it, the further it links together.

Anyway, we're in what I think is the semi final and it's the toughest test I have yet had at Terengganu. It's Melbourne City of the A-League, 2.5 star reputation which is comfortably higher than anybody I've faced here. You could make a good case for either side going through - is our gameplan going to fall short after all as we're outclassed, or is it efficient even against a side from a far superior league? Melbourne City won the regular season but blew it in the play-offs. They're going to be a real, real tough game and it might be where we finally fall short, but I have a sneaky feeling we'll do it. We seem to give Johor, a side with superior players to us, hardly any room to work with. It seems to be efficient against 'lesser' sides but even better against stronger teams. We beat Johor four times this season.

Another catch is how many players are a booking from suspension. I feel this is going to hurt us because we pick up plenty, and a side like this are bound to draw a load of yellows from us.

This is before I even mention the Piala Malaysia, which has been frankly a doddle, we got a very kind group and we've made no error.

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No cigar in Australia, but it's a domestic double

It was a big test for us going to play Melbourne City but in the end, their quality really shone through and we had no answers. We lost 1-2 at home and I think by then I knew we were probably going out - we matched them for large parts but they scored a late-ish winner and that put us in a really tough position. We went to Australia with nothing to lose and honestly, the first half is the most impressive stuff I've seen from us, we absolutely battered them for large parts and we did go ahead on the night. Unfortunately though they made it 1-1 just before half time, got another straight after and then had us at arms length for the second half in which they largely controlled it, before really hammering home their superiority with another two in injury time to beat us 4-1, and 6-2 on aggregate. I felt our performances deserved far more but given the level of our players I thought the performances were really good, albeit fruitless and a shame to see our usual sturdiness breached.

However...

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We make it a domestic double by adding the Piala Malaysia - a lovely topping to a fantastic season and the first that I think I've made some real breakthroughs in the game. My reputation has grown to a bit over 1 star now, which isn't going to land me anything significant, though I think if we were to have a repeat season I'd be looking at some better offers. There's a ceiling here and I think we've about hit it, but I really have liked it.

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The title defence, and the first eyes on the prize...

So obviously, the main objective of this whole save is to essentially undertake footballs world tour. The ambitious attempt at winning every Champions League trophy on offer. For the first time on the save, I will actually have an attempt at winning it as our title win in Malaysia gives us a group stage place, which even if it comes to nothing, surely this should fix any financial issues.

Well, seemingly not. It appears that the rewards aren't great until you go quite far into it. I mean there's a bit of money on offer but nothing transformative.

In the AFC Champions League there are 10 groups of 4 split into east and west. 5 groups on each side with 8 quaifying from them - so every group winner and then the three best runners up will all qualify for the knockouts. You cannot meet somebody from the other 'side' until the final.

We are given a horrible group. We're given the holders Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea, Beijing Guo'an of China and Kawasaki Frontale of Japan. Simply, teams from the three toughest possible leagues and one of them that holds the bloody thing! It's a very hard one.

But my god, we are giving them a run for their money.

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We kicked off our CL campaign away at the holders, I game I expected us to get absolutely massacred in and where the superiority would shine through, yet despite a host of unavailabilities and a first half red card, we somehow came away with a point - and yet even then Ulsan needed injury time to grab that. We've shown we can hurt virtually anybody in this continent on this showing, even if we were massively hanging on in the end, I just think we're a very tough nut to crack and it showed here.

We followed that up with another impressive draw against Beijing Guo'an. We did hang on a bit again but we'll take that result all day, before a sensational turnaround victory largely fuelled by a superb display from new striker Sheriddin Boboev put us 2nd in the group at the half way mark.

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A group I thought we would get absolutely tossed aside in and we're in the race to actually qualify. We've already surpassed my expectations and yet I feel if we can come this far, then why can't we get through it? I think with two away games to finish it'll be extremely difficult, but we're clearly a decent side. Limited talent wise, but a real tough unit to crack.

The league, well, too early to say in all honesty but we aren't quite scoring as many. We lost the super cup on the opening day (this is actually a thing in Malaysia where you play the super cup as your opening league fixture), and we did also lose our run of 17 straight home wins in the league due to a last minute penalty from Selangor, but nothing's really concerning me yet. I've definitely found the formula with these.

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One last battle in Malaysia?

As feared , we didn't go any further in the Champions League following two defeats in our last two games. Slightly annoyed about losing at Frontale who'd lost every game until that, but we did have a very early red card (which is becoming a bit of a problem). We finished 3rd in the group, a very respectable showing for the most part against vastly superior sides.

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I do want to wrap up in Malaysia after this season though and don't think I'm going to sign a new deal if (when) offered because I don't want to get too bogged down in one club. I also see things going a little wrong in future as my favourite player is going to leave for nothing too.

So the battle is in Malaysia where we have three trophies on offer. The Piala FA, the Piala Malaysia (League Cup) and the league, of which we are the current holders of the last two.

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League: We lead the table after 16 games, so just 6 left, but Johor DT have a game in hand so there's a lot of pressure on it still, but we do still have to play them. You'll see below how tight it is again. It's a very good title battle and one that's going to the wire again I think - Selangor are involved as well. I have to go away to both of them but I do think it's a big ask this time. We're not quite as convincing and a situation that's cropped up on the right wing is sickening, as I went from four options there last season to having to draft in a 16 year old from the academy due to expired contracts and long-term injuries. We're trying but it's difficult.

Piala FA: We beat Johor DT in the quarter finals and have a two legged semi against local rivals Perak, who are now in the second tier. We have a great record against them so I'm confident of making the final, but I expect Selangor to beat Sarawak Utd in the other semi, and they've given me more issues than anybody on this save.

Piala Malaysia: Weirdly, I've gotten 2 of the same 3 teams from last years group which has happened to me twice now. We won the whole thing last season. This is a competition where 16 teams from the top two leagues go into 4 groups, the top 2 go through then play two-legged knockouts to the final, but this happens after the league has concluded. My group is Sabah (1st tier), Projek FAM-MSN (2nd tier) and ATM (2nd tier) so I'm confident of progression, it's actually the latter two we had last season and we got 12 points from them both last year without conceding.

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I'd love the treble but think it's a very big ask. I'd take two of the three if offered it. This, combined with my new coaching course which I should have completed by the end of the season, would boost my reputation enough to land probably a 2 star job in Korea or China, which is my next aim.

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2024 FINALE

So the season is completed and here's what panned out.

Piala FA: We made no problems of rivals Perak and we were into another final, but it was against Selangor who are for me, the team who've given us more problems than anybody. It was the most painful episode of this yet - Selangor won 1-0, in a pretty tight game, but I didn't feel robbed, I thought we struggled and had no serious answer to them on the day. One trophy gone and the only domestic one I didn't yet have.

League: Of our remaining 6 games, we won 3 and drew 3. We drew away at both Selangor and Johor DT, but most damagingly, we drew at home to N.Sembilan and in the end, Johor went on a pretty mad run at the end and pipped us on goal difference. We went into the final day knowing if we won 6-0 we were champions but we don't really score many, we only won 1-0. Two trophies gone. It really was sickening. We were so close in both as well.

Piala Malaysia: The final chance was probably the least important of the three as we already had it, and we also had the most distance to travel as it hadn't even yet kicked off. However, we did it. The other two didn't deliver in this competition whatsoever and we ended up winning it, beating Sabah away in the final, meaning we retained the trophy.

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So it's 1/3. I can't lie - I'm disappointed. We were so close to being able to bag all three of them, but one is disappointing. I think there's a big of a 'big 3' in Malaysia now of Terengganu, Johor DT and Selangor, and we split the domestic trophies one each this season.

My reputation has grown a little, largely helped by undertaking a the National B license and another trophy. I'm at a bit of a crossroads here knowing what to do next - so I've played safe and signed a new two year contract (on slightly more money as it happens) and agreed to undertake the National A license.

It's tough to know what to do, I'm constantly feeling like I've maxed a lot of these players out and with one of my key players, Habib Haroon leaving on a free it's tough to see how we compete, but I think this season it's going to likely be a case of keep your eye out for better jobs.

Edited by Dan
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