The Far East Express: S3 Ep 2 – Reinventing Football

Choo-choo! Oh yes that is the unmistakable noise of The Far East Express chugging it’s way through Indonesia and we are back to give you another update on what is going to be an undeniably epic journey across the Far East.

If you haven’t read Episode 1 from Season 3 then I highly recommend you go and check that out now as it will give you an insight into the sort of season we are predicted to have here with Tiga Naga. To summarise, we are expected to be thrashed every game as the only remaining semi-professional side in the league and we have lost pretty much all of our good players to professional sides offering professional contracts… great.

However those of you who know DP-FM challenges will know that we are not afraid of being the underdog, in fact, we relish it. So don’t count us out just yet, particularly when you see the tactic I have gone with to mastermind our great escape from relegation!

The Tactic – Reinventing Football

Before I get into my new tactic for the season ahead I think we should touch on the tactics previously used by Scott & Lee and why I no longer think that those tactics are viable for our squad.

As Scott was in charge for Season 1 he created the 2 main tactics being utilised so far and from Lee’s videos he states that as Scott had done quite well in the first season he didn’t see any reason to change it, so both tactics below have been utilised at varying points across the 2 seasons so far. Let’s take a look at them:

Now overall I would agree with these tactics as a basis for when you’re a lower to mid table side who will win their fair share of games, but are guaranteed to lose others, basically for a side who is not going to get promoted but equally is not a major contender for relegation. Which so far in this save would accurately describe the squads and situation both Scott and Lee have faced.

However, since Scott handed over the reins the squad has got progressively worse, and again since Lee handed over to me. So much so that we are now expected to be thrashed every game and finish rock bottom regardless of the tactic in place.

So I was thinking to myself that I have 2 options, option 1 is the standard ‘Very Defensive’ with a flat back 5 or maybe even 2 lines of 5 across the defence and midfield, leaving a striker upfront to get the odd goal, basically just trying to hold on for 0-0 draws and pick up as many points to have as respectable fight against relegation as possible. Now this could work, but to me we are that low on quality in all areas that I know we would not be able to keep the other teams out, plus sitting through a whole season of that just sounds painful.

So we move on to option 2… we go full Ian Holloway’s Blackpool in the 2010-11 Premier League season! Basically his squad was not of Premier League quality shall we say, so he knew that they had to go all out, the opposition were going to score 3 so they had to score 4, the only way he could defend was to attack and it was incredible to watch at times, they ended up going down on the final day with 39 points but honestly it was a gargantuan effort as their squad is amongst the worst the top flight has ever seen.

Anyway, channeling my inner Holloway, I created this monster of a tactic:

Don’t laugh… STOP LAUGHING! Look will we get beaten 5-0 at times? Yes. Will we also win 6-4 on occasions? Yes! That is the whole point of this tactic, I could easily set the team up to try to get at best 22 scoreless draws but in reality if we sit back we are just going to get taken apart. At least with this tactic we will ask some questions, we will push forward on to the opposition and see if they’re ready to deal with us!

There is another reason I have gone for this tactic, and it is simply that I have experience managing at this level or similar in FM 2021. In my Unemployed, Unskilled & Inexperienced series I start with Llanelli Town in the JD Cymru South (Wales’ 2nd Division). Basically all of the teams there are semi-professional and the quality of the squads are very similar to this level of football.

What I noticed in my time there was that you can afford to be quite open at the back as the opposition attacking players are not of the quality to punish you every time they breakthrough, so you’re actually rewarded by allowing them to push on to you, missing the opportunities and then utilising the space created with the players you have pushed forward.

The result is basically like watching a basketball match as it goes from end to end, both sides constantly having chances and it’s a case of luck more often than not in terms of who comes out on top… now doesn’t that sound more exciting than trying to get 22 0-0 draws? I think so too.

Pre-Season

Pre-Season didn’t get off to the best start, obviously as highlighted in Episode 1 I had lost all of my players and I had also done some moving around with the backroom staff to try to improve where I could. Unfortunately this meant that the responsibilities got mixed up and basically no one had arranged any friendlies for pre-season.

You’re probably thinking this isn’t an issue as I would have noticed way ahead of time… unfortunately not. I noticed precisely 2 weeks before the opening game of the league season… oops. Long story short pre-season consisted of matches every 2-3 days, and of the 5 ties overall 3 were training games against our U21 & U18 sides.

Less than ideal! Anyway like I always say, pre-season is just for match fitness anyway, but here’s the results regardless:

Not exactly promising that we need a 93rd minute winner against our U21 side is it? Or that we drew and scraped a victory against two sides from League 4 of Indonesian football. However like I said in Episode 1, we are nowhere near the level to be in this league anymore and it is more than likely our journey with Tiga Naga will end with relegation this season. So brace yourselves…

June & July 2023

This was it, the worst pre-season anyone could possibly have imagined leads up to the worst squad this division has seen trying to do the unthinkable and attack their way to safety. I don’t want to be the person to let the team down, however equally with the way it has gone I am now the person who has been dealt the toughest hand… I’m sorry boys, wish me luck!

Just the one game in June against Cilegon United, one of the favourites for the title. It’s time to put our Indonesian Ian Holloway tactic to the test!

Well then. I mean to be fair I did say we would get battered at times and this was against one of the big boys… I made a decision at this point, aside from tinkering every now and again, from this point onwards I would stick to my guns and continue to attack every team possible. The month of July has 9 games to play, with matches every 3-4 days, this month will be make or break in our fight against relegation, let’s see how we got on:

Hahaha YES! I told you this would work! I honestly don’t understand how but we only lost once in 9 games and picked up 14 points along the way… completely ridiculous.

Some of the stats from these games are ridiculous. The month started with a trip to fellow relegation candidates Persip, who I already had a particular distain for considering they had taken 2 of our best players over the summer. It looked as though we would be put to our 2nd defeat of the season as they took the lead in the 83rd minute, before 2 goals in 4 minutes turned the tie on its head (2-1).

We were absolutely battered in the next 2 games against Perserang and PSMS but thanks to our attacking tactic and goals from 41 year old Saktiawan Sinaga (only rated 2 star at this point by the way) we managed to come away with 2-2 & 4-4 draws and more importantly get 2 points added to the table! Look at the stats from the PSMS game:

This might be the most fun I have had playing Football Manager in a long long time! The goals continued to flow as we lost 3-5 to PSKC before what I think will be a very rare sight in this season, a 0-0 draw, away to Persis Solo. We got back to winning ways against Sriwijaya FC with a relentless attacking performance, probably our best of the season so far. (3-1)

Another 0-0 draw against PSPS was followed by a 1-1 draw against PSIM. Honestly in all of these low-scoring draws we have just been incredibly lucky, the other teams have battered us but like I said, at this level you can allow teams to have opportunities, they almost don’t know what to do with it!

We finished the month with another fantastic performance against PSIR (2-0), similar to the game against Sriwijaya FC, we absolutely dominated from the first whistle to the last and it could have easily been a cricket score! Come on then, how does this ridiculous set of results leave us placed at the end of the month?

Apologies the screenshot isn’t great but we are 7th! Not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination but far better off than we were predicted to be. Plus our goal difference is only -1 so the tactic which was planned to try and score as many as are scored against us is clearly working perfectly. Honestly I don’t think I can get across how bad our players are in comparison to everyone else so to me this is just ridiculous to be 6 points clear of the relegation zone at this stage.

August 2023

5 more league fixtures in August mean we will only have 7 games remaining in the first phase of the League Two season come the next episode. We also start our journey in the Indonesian Cup, which Lee had a great run in last season and that brought some much needed income so I am hoping we manage to achieve the same.

Is that some more all important points I see? Indeed it is! We started the month with a comfortable victory in the First Round of the Indonesian Cup against 3rd League side Perseman (2-0). We then had a crucial game against bottom side Persibat, which was a real opportunity to get another 3 points, again to highlight how poor we are, they absolutely dominated us and yet we somehow managed to come away with the win (1-0) which made it 6 games unbeaten for us.

Top spot challengers Cilegon United then put an end to this run as they beat us 0-2 but the teams were not too far apart on the day and they needed late goals to see us off. Another crucial game against a side lingering near the relegation zone followed as we faced Persip, unfortunately we could not break them down to take all 3 points but another point is better than none (0-0). Fortunately another relegation rival was up next in the form of Perserang and we dispatched of them ruthlessly (3-1).

Unfortunately our cup run was ended in the Second Round as we faced top division side Persib Bandung. We were completely dominated in all fairness but still managed to threaten and ask them questions, they were clearly impressed with what they had seen as we received this only a few days after the match:

However I declined of course as our rule on the save is that we can only leave when we have won something with the current club. So we might be with Tiga Naga for a little while but let’s see!

Back to league action for our final game of the month against League leaders PSMS, it was a 1-3 loss but again the teams were very evenly matched and the boys put in a great effort. So at the end of the month of August 2023 15 leagues matches had been played and only 7 remained, were we looking on course to somehow avoid relegation and keep Tiga Naga alive for another season?

Oh get in! 8 points is a big gap to make up in the final 7 league games if the other teams below want to catch us and send us down. However it is far from impossible, it is very plausible that we could lose all remaining 7 games and go down with a whimper so the boys need to continue to be bang at it.

But come on… 21 points after 15 games as the worst team in the division using the most attacking tactic I can possibly get away with? It’s not a bad effort is it. Both Scott & Lee managed to finish mid table on 30 & 29 points respectively, so to me I think 25 points will be enough to guarantee we remain in this division and I can at least hand over the save to OffTheBarFM knowing I have done my bit! We’re so close, I just hope we can get it across the line.

Before I let you go there were some interesting emails coming in as we approached the final 3rd of the season:

Could this potentially be the news we were hoping for? I know he has denied it for now but there is no smoke without fire and if we could avoid relegation and get a new owner who is willing to turn us into a professional club then it could be a completely different situation for the other guys when the save reaches them… fingers crossed!

What’s Next?

Up next we will be going through the final third of the season. I am not going to give anything away but I promise you that you WILL NOT BELIEVE what happens to us. I am still in a state of shock, I don’t really understand how it all changed so quickly, but that’s enough said… just make sure you tune in for the final episode of Season 3 which could potentially be the final episode with Tiga Naga.

Make sure you check out the other content creators on the links below:

FirstEmperorLee – Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/emperor_fm – Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj5uNW6M8qoBpe5sLbu6N6w

OffTheBarFM – Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/offthebarfm – Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWTLmf7GIQMgraZxoanKQXg

SadPanda333 – Blog site: https://www.sadpanda333.co.uk/

FM-AP – Blog site: https://fmadvancedplaymaker.co.uk/

Don’t forget you can subscribe below to have updates sent directly to your email so you know as soon as an episode is released! As always if you have any thoughts, tips or feedback leave them in the comments below or get in touch with us through our contact page or social media (Twitter @DP_FM_) – we’d love to hear from you! If you’re enjoying then make sure you like this post and share with others from the FM Community.

Thank you for reading and supporting us. As always please keep safe during these difficult times and we’ll see you again soon!

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