Welcome back ladies and gents to the most unique journey on FM21! I mean it hasn’t been officially awarded anything but you would be hard pressed to find anyone doing anything quite as unique as The Far East Express. We continue this epic challenge across the Far East and those of you who read episode 1 of Season 9 will know we are currently situated in South-Korea, having recently taken over a very sorry looking Gangwon FC.
I touched on it in the first episode, however the challenge we face here with Gangwon is a massive one. They finished rock bottom of the K-League 2 (South-Korean 2nd division) last season and are in financial ruins. As you can see from the below the club took out 2 bank loans totalling over £16m of debt, and with almost £13.5m still remaining there is an outgoing every month of £155k before anything else is factored in.
Needless to say, it is looking very precarious and it really will be a fantastic achievement if we are ever able to win anything with this club, particularly considering the quality of the other teams in both the K-League 1 & 2, I have a feeling we might be situated here for a little while. The financial situation was brought to light very early on as we had multiple cash injections from the board before the season had even started, just keep the club running. Worrying times that’s for sure!
Anyway, we can only control so much, and my job is to win football matches, which in turn will give us the best possible chance of getting out of this financial mess, so that’s all I am going to try to do. We may not be as strong as the other teams, but when has being an underdog ever bothered DP-FM before? So here we go, another new season ahead of us. Let’s do this!
March had some tough fixtures against some of the favourites for the title and playoff places. However saying that, with the look of the season preview almost every game is going to be tough this season.
Only Suwon FC & Bucheon 1995 are predicted to finish lower than us, but if we end up finishing 8th then I’ll be more than happy with that as an improvement from rock bottom last season. Fortunately, we play Suwon FC & Bucheon 1995 in the opening month so there’s a chance to put some points on the board early on. Come on then, let’s see how we got on in March…
Ok we will definitely take that! We started the season with a 1-2 loss at home against title candidates Gyeongnam, but the boys weren’t embarrassed by any means and that performance gave me home for the rest of the month, and rightly so as up next was Bucheon 1995 who were predicted to be this years whipping boys! Cha Boom’s lads duly delivered with an impressive 2-0 away win to get us our first points of the season.
We then followed that up with a dismal start at home to a strong Anyang team, as we found ourselves 0-2 down inside 10 minutes. However only a fool would think it was over when Cha Boom still had 80 minutes to change the course of the result. He got into the players at half time and they responded to show the manager they backed him and were willing to fight for the Gangwon shirt! A great comeback to draw 2-2 and add another point to the board.
However the next result was disappointing, Suwon FC away from home is a tie in which we have the rare moment of being pre-match favourites. However we just didn’t show up to anywhere near the level we are capable of, and unfortunately we only left with 1 point when it should have been 3. Fortunately the lads bounced straight back in the next match and managed to take a 1-0 win again Seoul E-Land, a game in which I would have been delighted to accept a draw before a ball was kicked.
8 points from a possible 15 is certainly more than I thought we would have at the start of the season so I really couldn’t have asked for more from the boys! However they gave me more, knocking out Hwaseong in the 2nd round of the Korean FA Cup. It was a game I expected us to win as Hwaseong FC are only a semi-professional team, but they put up a good fight and we needed a 93rd minute winner to avoid any embarrassing headlines in the press.
Right a good start in the league, how was the table looking at this early stage?
Well we’re 5 places higher than I thought we would be! Honestly if we finish with the table looking exactly as it is now then I will be delighted. Plenty of football still to be played so expect many ups and downs along the way.
We may have got off to a good start in March but I was expecting April to be a much tougher experience. Almost every team we play are expected to either be title or playoff candidates, so let’s see how we cope…
Ok, not bad at all. I man no win in the league isn’t great but we avoided defeat in some games I would have expected to lose so all is not lost.
The away trip to Daejeon I would have definitely expected a 0-1 or 0-2 loss, so to come away with 1-1 draw and a share of the points was fantastic! However the biggest upset came away to Gwangju, having just been relegated to this division they are HEAVY title favourites at 1-91. Did that stop my team from going out and playing their brand of football? Not one bit, and we even went 1-0 up in the 3rd minute as a result. We couldn’t hold on for the win however but a draw against these lot at their home ground? Would have snapped your arm off for it before the game.
Then came a nice break from league football as we faced Daejeon Korail in the 3rd round of the Korean FA Cup. Another semi-professional team we were expected to beat easily to progress, and this time we delivered in far more comfortable fashion than in the 2nd round as we ran out 3-0 winners. Back to league action as we faced Asan FC at home, and unfortunately we could only take a share of the points following the 1-1 draw. As they are a similar quality of team to ourselves, and we had home advantage, I would have expected a win here but sometimes that’s just the way it goes! This result did mean we matched the clubs unbeaten record.
However unfortunately we could not set a new record as we fell to defeat away at Ansan, who were also relegated from K-League 1 last season with Gwangju. The boys put in a great performance but ultimately couldn’t match the quality of Ansan and fell to a 0-1 defeat. We then followed that up with another defeat in an absolute cracker of a game away at Gyeongnam! They are the form side in the division, still unbeaten and really firing on all cylinders. We did our best to give them a game but their superior quality and power shone through as they swept us aside 2-5. So at the end of that tough month how was the table shaping up?
Ok we’re hanging on in there at mid-table! Gyeongnam are the runaway leaders, still unbeaten and seemingly well on their way to the title at this early stage. Ansan & Gwangju seem to be recovering well and getting used to football at this level following their relegation last season. Overall I am very happy with where we are and feel confident about being able to finish in a respectable position this season.
After that very difficult month I was looking forward to May as we faced 5 teams that are either around our level or slightly worse, so there was the possibility of a perfect month if everything aligned correctly! Let’s see how we got on…
Not perfect but unbeaten! Kicked off the month with a comfortable home win against Bucheon 1995, nice to see the team deliver and dominate a game they’re expected to win comfortably (3-1). However the next result was certainly not expected! After we had to come back from 0-2 down following early goals in the reverse fixture back in March, this time it was our turn to score 2 quick-fire goals, but this our boys timed it much better with 2 goals in the final 6 minutes of the match to come out 2-0 winners away at Anyang. Fantastic result and an unexpected 3 points!
The game against Suwon FC was definitely one we should be winning and we duly delivered with a comfortable 3-1 win. The final 2 games of the month were 1-1 draws away at Seoul E-Land & Daejeon, I can’t complain as both teams are probably slightly better than us, but due to the form the team were showing I felt we could have sneaked a win in both games and brought home the perfect month. As it was we settle for an unbeaten one instead and take 11 points from a possible 15. Let’s see how the table looks at the end of the first third of the season…
Well well well… that was not expected! We currently occupy the final play off place behind runaway leaders Gyeongnam and the 2 relegated sides Ansan & Gwangju. If we somehow can make it into a promotion playoff place I will literally burst with happiness, the team should be no where near where they are but seem to be able to grind out draws when they should lose, and those extra points could be crucial. Lot’s of football to be played though so let’s not get ahead of ourselves!
To finish off the month of May we got a preview of our youth intake this year, let’s take a look:
Intersting! Apparently a terrific group of players coming through who could be a real golden generation for the club… looks to be a better intake for offensive positions rather than defensively but if we can bring through the next Cha-Boom I will be delighted!
The next episode will follow the months of June, July & August 2029 as we look to continue the great start to the season we’ve had and try to cement a mid-table finish. June also brings with it the mid-season transfer window where there are incomings and outgoings galore across the K-Leagues as everyone tries to improve their squads going into the second half of the season.
Make sure you check out the other content creators on the links below;
OffTheBarFM – Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/offthebarfm – Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWTLmf7GIQMgraZxoanKQXg
SadPanda333 – Blog site: https://www.sadpanda333.co.uk/
FMAdvancedPlaymaker – Blog site: https://fmadvancedplaymaker.co.uk/
Until next time, take care all and see you soon!