FM23 Journeys: Pentagon Part III: We’re in Europe…uh…Asia!
Hi there, I’m doing a Pentagon Challenge in FM23 and after grinding through two seasons at Terangganu in Malaysia, we’ve qualified for Europe! Wait, we’re not in Europe. We’ve qualified for Asia! It doesn’t sound right. Even more exciting news though…
I have a full star reputation! Wave goodbye to the half star forever, I’m a full star kinda guy. Me, my National C licence and my one-star reputation are ready to take on the world. While I’m scrapping around looking for free transfers, Johor are out here making £1.4M bids for players. How are they so damn rich? Speaking of rich, seeing as we’re now solvent again, I think I’ll do my National B training.
Also, speaking of money, when you’ve got none at all the transfer windows are very boring on FM. Literally months of waiting. Especially in Malaysia where no one really has any money apart from Johor. They could sign my entire team and ruin me if they wanted to. Total spend in the off season is £57k after two months. Not me, the entire league.
In order to make my game look better, I’ve downloaded a skin. It’s the Tato skin. If you need the link let me know. From now on, all the screenshots will look 65% prettier. Another update is that FM have patched the game. Which means instead of being a fucking mess with every long ball causing problems for our central defenders and Mud Sad looking like a complete clown…it actually plays much closer to real football. Defensive clangers are rarer and make more sense.
The season is barely 9 games old, and I get this little notification down the bottom. He got 46 in 38 games last season. If he stays fit, what numbers might we see this season? He’s averaging over two goals a game. I’m not fudging these figures, here’s the screenshot. 13 in FOUR in the Cup.
I thought mentioning his goal record might jinx it but in the next game he bangs in a hattrick (no pens) and eight in three, leaving him on 28 goals in 12 games. No wait, I also said “if he stays fit”. He’s carried off with a groin injury and will miss a month. In Malaysia a month is a long time. We play eight games in May.
The injury comes just before the half way point of the season and we’re killing it. We drew with Johor in the opener and have won every game since. Johor have slipped up a bit, so we’re six points clear. All we need to do to secure a title is get better results than Johor until the end of the season. At the other end Selangor, the third best team in the league, have had a fucking shocker. They only won their first game of the season in game week 11.
I have somewhat broken the narrative that Johor are unbeatable. I mean, we beat them in the cup twice last season, but the league felt beyond us in general. Now we’re cooking them. I won’t count my chickens before they’ve hatched though. I have no doubt those scumbags have something planned. Probably buying players and loaning them to teams we’re playing.
However, look at May! A perfect month and it was insanely busy. Speaking of busy, didn’t we qualify for the Asian Champion’s League? Well…funny story. Our season runs from March to November. The Asian Champion’s League runs from August to May, like with major European leagues. So, we won’t enter the Champion’s League that we qualified for until the end of August. By which point there are only TWO games left in our league season. We may have already qualified for the next Champion’s League before this one even starts.
Just as we start breaking win records, the injuries begin. Attram is first, followed by both wingers and then both full backs. Thankfully I’ve got enough cover players to bodge together a formation but we’re playing Johor. It’s the only hard game of the season. Our Invincible Season, rests on not getting battered by Johor away, with lots of players missing. We get 20 minutes in against Johor and Ahmad gets himself a straight red after two-footing a defender. Not a red card all season and here we fucking go. We hold on until 53’ and then get an absolute pasting. 4-1. Invincible Season fucked.
Luckily the fallout is an 18 day wait for the next game where some of the players return from injury and we can proceed with slapping every other team in the league. In the very next game D Kugan gets a straight red after two footing a defender. Zero red cards all season and two stupid ones in back-to-back games. We bounce back by thumping Negeri 4-0 in the second leg, ironically a second leg I was protesting when the fixtures were drawn claiming “we’ll play you away, we don’t need a home leg” and book our place in the Piala FA Malaysia final. The most prestigious cup competition in all of Malaysia.
See! There we face the almighty Johor, who walked all over some shit team from the second division in their semi-final. The final doesn’t really go according to plan. We’re outplayed for most of the game. Ilja Kirsch gives us the lead from a corner, but we immediately collapse after that. It goes to extra time and Mud Sad makes two mistakes that lead to goals. 3-1. We didn’t deserve anything, and we don’t claim our second trophy in as many years. Sad face. Oh, and Ilja Kirsch, who’s been amazing, has injured his ankle and will miss most of the rest of the league season.
Chance continues to shine upon us though, in the shape of Johor’s league form. They’ve persistently drawn games they should have won all season and after drubbing us in the cup final they go two games without scoring. With six games remaining, we have a 7-point lead. A reminder that Terengganu have never won this league and Johor’s streak of league wins goes back to 2013. We proceed to win three in a row and a victory at home to PJ City will secure Terengganu their first league title, ever. Just to make it tricky, Attram gets injured and so does Esteban Baretto, my Colombian goalie. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, all Malaysian keepers are pants.
Before the crucial PJ City game, we’re drawn into our Champion’s League group. We’ve got Abahani, Seoul and Kawasaki Frontale. Are any of these teams any good? Abahani, the “Blue Pirates”, are from Bangladesh. I know nothing about the Bangladeshi league but I’m going to say they are not good. Seoul play in the K-League and have a reputation of ***. That’s double our reputation. They have some good players and also, a Madagascar forward called “John Baggio”. Is he as good as Roberto? Time will tell. He’s on £9k a week, which is almost as much as our entire team. Kawasaki are from Japan and I think it’s fair to say they’re also better than us. Only one team can escape the group stages. We’re in trouble here boys. Onto the PJ City game then…
As if it was in any doubt! Johor drew with the team bottom of the league. They full on bottled it.
Take THAT Ron Smith! Best Englishman to ever manage in Malaysia. I’ll take it.
We enter into the Champion’s League for the first time and our opening game is against a decent Japanese team from Kawasaki. We are really good, although George Attram is noticeably less effective against defenders with stronger physical stats. Instead the two smaller forwards torment the Japanese back line with their running late on and Abdul Halim slots one home two minutes from time for the deserved win!
An ongoing issue for Terengganu is a lack of available foreign talents. Which is why I’ve hung on to Habib Haroon for dear life. The club’s reputation, and indeed my own, are not sufficient to attract talented Asian players. Of which we have room for one. Instead I find myself taking Jack Rodwell on trial. Is he part Chinese maybe? No? Second game in the Champion’s League is Seoul (A). This isn’t as close and they blow us away 3-0. Seoul are the best team we’ve got in the group and that shows where we are overall. Simply not able to compete at this level.
Back in domestic football, I won manager of the year, along with four manager of the month awards. A cracking haul that bumps my reputation rating up to *½. Yes!
Three games down in the CL group and this happens in match day four. An amazing comeback against a much better performing Kawasaki team. I’m taking all the credit for it as I subbed Abdul Halim on at 3-2. Despite this heroic performance, we still need to beat Seoul to progress. Abahani, the other team in the group, are Bangladeshi cannon fodder but, in spite of this, both board and supporters only expect a draw in a home tie against them? We won the away game 4-0. Something doesn’t add up there.
With one game to go in the Champion’s League group stage it looks like this. We’re one point behind Seoul and playing them at home in the final game. We win, we’re into the knock out stages of the Champion’s League! However, I’m aware Seoul are significantly better than we are.
Well, that’s a real kick in the teeth. Thanks for that Football Manager. We played superbly for half the game and then ran out of steam. Their winner came when we’d pushed forward to chase the win. A draw was no good for us. A first Champion’s League campaign ends in brutal fashion. It’s been a wild ride though. We’ll be back next year. My biggest concern remains the gulf in class between Malaysia and the bigger Asian nations. I need to be in China or Korea ideally. The other ‘big’ leagues aren’t playable like Iran, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia.
Just as I’m eulogising our season, this information comes into my possession. We’re still here baby! 12 points is enough to qualify as one of the best second place teams. The six best second placed teams qualify for the knockout phases. We’re going to play Yokohama Marinos! I’m happy to play a Japanese team because their league isn’t loaded and they’re not as good as they would be IRL. I won’t even be mentioning that game in this season review because it’s technically into next season for us! February to be exact. We’ve made it into the knockouts though, tremendous work. One of the top 16 teams in Asia.
All that’s left to round out this season is Piala Malaysia. We coast through to the semis where we draw Johor but win over two legs despite losing 7 players to the South East Asia Championship. To be fair, they had a few missing too. Mere days after winning that, we have the final against Negeri. Since they won their semi, they’ve released their best player on a free. We have lost Habib Haroon. He refused a new contract and has fucked off.
This is how season three finishes. Two trophies, still in the Asian continental competition and George Attram scored…wait for it…56 goals this season. FIFTY SIX. I’ve DM’d the man on Instagram to point out how fucking awesome he is.
NEXT: We continue in Asian competition. How far can we go? Do we need to move to another country? Will I ever get that fucking National B licence? Join me next time as we continue on the Pentagon Challenge!