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[FM10] Sun, Sand and Soccer

Jason the Yank

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Yes, it's me with another crack at an FM career. This one is because I'm a bit inspired by the likes of acidburn trying to win the lot. Whether or not this career proceeds in a similar path is unknown.

The following SI leagues have been loaded to the fourth level (so no Nationwide Conference):


South Africa





South Korea

North America


United States

South America















The following XML files have been added as well



United Arab Emirates


New Zealand

North America

Canada/United States expansion from FM North America (lower divisions got scrambled again, but I'm plowing through).

I have set myself as the manager with same name and birthdate, and a reputation of Sunday League footballer

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[[b]League Play[/b]
Season	Club			Nation	League		GP	W	D	L	GF	GA	PTS	Result
2009	Fort Lauderdale		USA	PDL		16	6	4	6	16	19	22	5th (of 9), Southeast
2010	Fort Lauderdale		USA	PDL		16	6	5	5	14	16	23	4th (of 9), Southwest
2011	Fort Lauderdale		USA	PDL		16	3	6	7	14	15	15	6th (of 9), Southwest
2011-12	Al-Himriya		UAE	Division 1	6	1	2	3	5	10	5	15th
2012-13	Al-Himriya		UAE	Division 1	30	6	15	9	35	34	33	11th
2013-14	Al-Himriya		UAE	Division 1	30	15	7	8	38	27	52	4th

[b]Cup Play[/b]
Season	Club			Nation	Cup		Result
2009	Fort Lauderdale		USA	US Open Cup	Lost 1st qualifying round (2-3e to El Paso)
2010	Fort Lauderdale		USA	US Open Cup	Lost 2nd qualifying round (1-0 to Philadelphia)
2011	Fort Lauderdale		USA	US Open Cup	Lost 1st round (0-1 to Richmond)
2011-12	Al-Himriya		UAE	NA		NA
2012-13	Al-Himriya		UAE	President's Cup	Lost 2nd round (0-1 to parent club Al-Nassr)	
2013-14	Al-Himriya		UAE	President's Cup	Lost 1st round (2-0 to parent club Al-Ain)

[b]Club history[/b]
Club		Nation	League	GP	W	D	L	GF	GA	Conclusion
Fort Lauderdale	USA	PDL	52	16	15	21	48	55	Resigned following board ultimatum
Al-Himriya	UAE		69	22	25	22	78	74

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I've already played two seasons (making sure I was actually into this before starting another thread), so I'll just summarize them together.

Having completed my coaching badges, I found myself a manager in search of a team. I didn't have to wait long though, as a couple of days later I received an offer from Premier Development League debutants Fort Lauderdale Schulz Academy. The offer was for 2 years at $110 week, which I accepted.



Fort Lauderdale Schulz Academy is an American soccer team based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States. Founded in 2009, the team plays in the USL Premier Development League (PDL), the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid, in the Southeast Division of the Southern Conference.

The team plays its home games on the Main Event Field at Central Broward Regional Park in nearby Lauderhill, Florida. The team's colors are blue and yellow

The team is part of the larger Schulz Academy soccer organization, a nationally recognized USL SYL club which won a league national championship in its first appearance in 2004 with the U14 Boys title, and went on to three-peat as U15 and U16 national champions the following two years.

Notable players that have been developed within the Schulz Academy club include Matt Luzunaris of Austrian Bundesliga side FC Magna and Jozy Altidore of English Premier League club Hull City and the US National Team.


We had a healthy wage budget of $4900/week, but the squad size limits in the PDL mean I was nowhere close to that level. Throwing together a bunch of players who'd never played together had the expected abysmal early results, as we were winless in our first 7 matches. However, that overlapped with an 8-match unbeaten run (following a tactical tweak to a 4-3-1-2 formation) that took us to a midtable finish, though we were never a threat to challenge for the title.

The board were disappointed at our performance, but praised me for the "extremely tight control on wage expenditures," as we were using only about half of the budget.

After the season, I was linked to a vacancy at Virginia Tech in the college ranks. I declined to comment, and the job was offered to someone else.


(The game scrambled the US divisions here, so we got moved to the Southwest Division)

Board decided that since I wasn't using all of the wage budget, that it would cut the budget to about $2400/week. Which was fine, that was basically what I was spending. Couldn't go much more as the board is keeping a tight rein on individual contracts as well.

Anyway, we played out a similar season as 2009, with a rough start before finishing in midtable thanks to a 6-match unbeaten run to conclude the season. The highlight was a gutty perfomance in the cup at MLS side (but unplayable in the game due to MLS being hardcoded by SI) Philadelphia in which we kept the match scoreless until the 66th minute. It also helped add a few dollars to the bank balance which, though not terrible, has a slow leak as we're having a tough time convincing people to come to matches (we have the lowest average attendance in our division at about 330, and only 45 season ticket holders).

I was linked with a few other jobs in the close season, and turned down a 1-year amateur offer from college side UC Santa Barbara. I ended up agreeing a new 2-year deal (still at $110/week) to stay with Fort Lauderdale.

Despite signing a new deal, I was asked about another college vacancy, this one at the University of Maryland (which actually would not be a bad side to go to. They're traditionally a good team in the US collegiate system IRL). Again I said nothing, which the board delightedly took as a sign of my commitment to Fort Lauderdale. The job was offered to someone else.

Pre-season 2011

Appears it will be a bit more of a challenge, as the board now expects a top-half finish. On the other hand, our reputation appears to be growing from the players my staff is recommending, and by the staff that are applying for jobs here.

Here's my new goalkeeping coach (note his contract!):


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Welcome back Jason and have fun in the sun in Florida! Is there still a blank Conference in the NCAA file you downloaded from FM North America?

Not that I recall. But like the PDL/NPSL divisions, they're getting scrambled after the first season.

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Not that I recall. But like the PDL/NPSL divisions, they're getting scrambled after the first season.

And another 'bug' I found out were the some of the Conference tournament winners from the smaller conferences weren't getting selected in the NCAA Tournament. My team, Belmont, lost in the Atlantic Sun (don't remember the exact conference) final to Jacksonville, but another club (not Belmont, who won the regular season title, or Jacksonville, who won the conference tournament) went to the tournament. That's the main reason I never loaded the FM North America file onto my latest career game.

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Fort Lauderdale - 2011 season


The lesson of this season may have been better players don't mean a better team. We were able to sign some fine (for this level) players, but they never really meshed. There were a couple of games they provided glimpses of what they could do (3-0 over Albany in the home opener, a 3-0 win over table-toppers Portland Phoenix later in the season), but more often it was a case of blown marking and abysmal passing.

We finished the season on a 5-match winless run, going without a goal in 4 straight. And the final match in which we did score, well, that was a penalty. Limping to the finish line plagued with some injuries, we could manage only a 6th place finish.

The only real highlight of the season came in the US Open Cup, in which we finally won a tie: 2-0 over amateur side AAC Eagles in which we really never got out of second gear. That got us into the first round proper, where we met third division side Richmond Kickers, who had stunned Los Angeles Galaxy in the previous round (yeah, I know. Just go with it). We fought hard to spring our own upset, but succumbed 0-1. (Richmond ended up making a run to the semifinal, defeating Seattle Sounders on the way).

The board were slightly disappointed in my performance, so when Charlotte Eagles' manager decided to retire following their capture of the USL Division 2 championship, I applied for the job. This was discovered by the media and a "seething" board issued me an ultimatum to apologize or resign. I chose the latter.

My assistant was immediately promoted to manager. So, hey, I guess I know how to pick staff. :D

Perhaps not surprisingly, I was passed over for the Charlotte job. Months of unsuccesful applications are sure to follow. :D

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March 2012 - Customs confiscates my Blackberry

Well, it took a few months and getting knocked back for several jobs, but I finally have a new challenge. The club is Al-Himriya in the UAE First Division (second level), currently mired in an 8-match losing run, and my contract is for the princely sum of $500/week through June 2014.

Al-Himriya are a professional Emirati club currently playing in the Emirati First Division.

With no real competition history of note, Al-Himriya are a club with a trophy cabinet waiting to be filled.

Wage budget: $8,750/week

Status: Professional

Chairman: Will listen to offers

Finances: Okay

Corporate facilities: None

Training facilities: Basic

Youth facilities: Minimal

Feeder club to Al-Nassr (UAE)



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Al-Himriya 2012 - Playing out the string

With only 6 matches left, and no relegation from the UAE First Division, I used the time to run the rule over the team.

And my assessment is thus: We're terrible, and the table doesn't lie.

With no left-sided defenders anywhere in the squad, I opted for a 3-5-2 formation. This left us a bit exposed at the back, and it didn't help that the 3-man backline couldn't handle. For example, our 33-year-old Mauritanian defender regularly posted performances along the lines of 5.2, 4.8. 5.5, etc. There were a couple of positives though, a 1-0 win over the bottom side in the table, and closing out the season with a 2-2 away draw that knocked our opponents out of promotion. We went 1-2-3 in the my first six matches in charge.


To be fair, when I arrived, there were only a scout and a physio, so I've had to assemble a backroom staff on the fly. I have managed to draft in some pretty decent staff, and the setup at the club allows me to have a fitness coach (which we badly need) and a youth coach (hopefully helping to overcome our minimal youth training facilities).

As we see out this season, my scouts are busy scouring the Middle East for talent, and I presently have a handful of Saudis on trial. Given the foreigner limits though, they'll have to be pretty good. A number of players' contracts are expiring, but by and large they look no better than anyone else I could bring in off the street. So that will open a few places in the first XI.

One thing that could complicate my tenure is that the chairman has announced he wants to step aside, probably for one of the other board members.

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Al-Himriya 2012-13 pre-season

'Twas a busy off-season for us. Fortunately, most of the crap players had expiring contracts, so they were all allowed to leave. That left us with a squad of about....5 players. :D

Needless to say, I would be scrambling to fill out the squad. It didn't help that the sale of the club to one of the current board members went through, and he promptly cut the wage budget down to about $6700/week (or, about as much as we were paying the players already under contract). There were also no plans to provide additional investment. It also doesn't help that he took out a $60,000 loan to pay for the acquisition (which just goes to show how massive a club we are :D), and that has to now be paid back at $1,000/month.

I did manage to offload a couple other high earners to free up some wage space, and landed two very good foreign players:

Fodil Hadjadj - A 29-year-old defensive midfielder with a handful of caps for Algeria. With him, I plan to play a 4-man diamond midfield with him shielding the defense.

Abdul Mohsen Al-Balawi - A young Saudi striker who has some caps at the U-21 level. He represents a massive upgrade over what I had up front.

I still have room for 3 more foreign players, but only 1 of them could be in the first XI under league rules (since Hadjadj and Al-Balawi will be in there as well). So, I'm going to be patient and make it count. Although, trying to put together a remaining team with some cover has me exceeding the wage budget already.

Anyway, the big turnover in personnel means everyone is rubbishing our chances. The board expects only a season of consolidation, while the bookies have us as rank outsiders at 80-1. The punters don't seem too thrilled either, as our season ticket sales dropped to 47. From 49.

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Good Luck at Al-Himriya, to say you took over at a tough time would be an understatement,

It will be interesting to see how well your comletely new squad will do

One positive is that it would be pretty hard to disappoint anyone given that the Board and bookies don't rate your chances :D

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Al-Himriya 2012-13 midseason update

We're through the first half of the season, and it's been a rough one.

We're in most matches, but our small squad has battled long-term injuries. Al-Balawi only got in 4 matches before suffering a damaged Achilles tendon. Hadjadj managed to make it 10 matches before suffering a hip injury. And with us have already blown through the wage budget (and bleeding cash at an alarming rate, not helped by attendance having cratered - we're off about 100 punters per game this year), I've had to make use of the loan market, which has kept us afloat.

At the moment, we're sitting in 14th place out of 16, but only 3 points off of 11th and 4 points out of 10th.

I switched tactics after our opening day defeat, and have been using a 3-1-4-2, with the wide midfielders man marking their counterparts. We're pretty tough to break down, ranking middle of the pack with 15 goals conceded in 15 matches (have conceded more than 1 goal in only 5 matches), but we're pretty pedestrian going forward with only 12 goals in the 15 matches (and 5 of them came in a second-half outburst against bottom side Ras Al-Khaima). Balawi and Hadjadj are just about ready to resume full training, and once they get a few reserve games to build up match fitness I have another tactical tweak in mind that would make better use of our midfielder Ahmed Ibrahim who has a goal, 2 assists and 2 man of the match performances in 11 games (and missed a month on duty with the UAE national team that finished runner-up at the Asian U19 Championship)

The highlight of the season was probably the 5-0 league win, but we also put in a good performance in the Presidents Cup, defeating current First Division tabletoppers Bani Yas on penalties (I played for 0-0 and got it), and putting a credible fight in the second round before losing 0-1 to our parent club Al-Nassr.

And I now have basic command of Arabic. :D

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Al-Himriya 2012-13 wrap up

It actually turned out fairly decent.

Oh, sure, we were never a threat for the title, but we did challenge for the top half of the table. My tactical tweak (in which I went to 2 defensive midfielders, 2 wide midfielders, and an attacking midfielder) opened up our attacking capabilities a bit. We did get a little bit leakier at the back, but nothing too troubling. The bottom line is, we exceed the board's expectations, and while they still want me to cut back on the wage bill (we're about $1000/week over budget, after drafting in another Saudi youth team striker) they're "very pleased" with our performance. We exceeded our point tally of each of the past 2 seasons, and just missed equalling our total from 3 seasons ago.

We did have a bit of a hiccup in form at the end, going winless in our final 7 matches, but 5 of those were draws, and our final 3 matches were against teams that finished in the top 6, including both teams to gain promotion. (though a 3-3 draw at bottom side Ras Al-Khaima was cause for grumbling, at least in my office). That said, the season did see us gain 2-2 draws home and away against the First Division champion, so I think we've got a good team to build on.


Still plenty to work on in the close season. My left-sided midfielder returns to Al-Nassr from his year-long loan spell with us, and our right-sided midfielder is decent, but not good enough. I already have my eye on a couple of free transfer possibilities that my scouts have found and that I've had on trial, but we'd probably end up bumping against the 3-foreigners-on-the-pitch limit. It may be a case of waiting to see what Al-Nassr sends me next season (though I'll probably have the board look for a new parent club; Al-Nassr are in the Asian Champions League, but one loan player is a little stingy for us, given our wage limitations).

The finances continue to be troubling, as we've required a couple of board injections to deal with running costs, as we're regualrly losing $30,000-$40,000 per month. I'll have to lock down my backroom staff before the board starts cutting coaching positions.

EDIT: Or not. The bulk of my backroom staff are telling me "it would take a large contract offer" to agree to stay on.

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Al-Himriya, 2013 close season

Just a quick note. Last season's performance apparently was viewed favorably by the board, as they offered me a new 2-year deal (through 2015) to replace the one expiring at the end of the coming 2013-14 season. The offer includes a pay rise to $900/week (currently $500/week). I accepted the offer.

A couple of weeks before that, I had an offer to go back to the US with a 1-year (amateur) deal at St. John's University, but I rejected it.

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Interesting career you have taken on here Jason :thup: I'll be following to see what wacky place you end up next.

And I'm going to a little off topic and ask what XML files are really good and worth a use because I never really played with them and want to.

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Welll, the FM North America US/Canada file needs some work because it scrambles the lower divisions. But I use it for realism purposes, just because I think a manager with American nationality would start in North America and not somewhere else (as very few places outside North America have ever hired an American. Steve Sampson managed Costa Rica, and Fernando Clavijo managed Haiti, and Tom Dooley had a stint with Saarbrucken, and Tim Hankinson had a short tenure with SC Goa. But Clavijo is Uruguayan by birth, and Dooley is half-German. So Sampson and Hankinson are pretty much the only ones to get a job outside the US or Canada. And they had previous experience in the US)

The UAE, Qatar, and New Zealand XMLs I grabbed from the Editor's Hideaway "Completed Competitions" sticky thread. It lists how long the file has been tested, so if there was more than one I went with the longer-tested one.

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Al-Himriya 2013 pre-season

Another busy close season for us, both personally and for the club.

Things started with me rejecting another opportunity to return to the US, this one a 1-year amateur offer from St. John's University. That was followed by the board offering me a new deal. I still had 1 year to run on the current deal, but they apparently have seen enough to give me a 2-year deal with a pay rise from $500/week to $900/week.

I did have to replace pretty much all of the backroom staff though, as all of them said it would take a big offer to sign a new contract. We haven't been able to sign a new fitness coach, so that post may remain vacant until one of the new coaches recommends someone who would fit in that role.

The close season also saw a new kit sponsor, signing for 3 years. Unfortunately it's for $1500/year less than we were getting. But we made up for that by severing our affiliation with Al-Nassr, and becoming a feeder club to Al-Ain (2003 Asian Champions League winners, and the most successful club in the UAE). We'll get loan players (just one this season), a pre-season friendly (which really boosts the coffers; we average about 350 attendance for league matches, but the friendly drew almost 4900), and $15,750 a year. It's less money than we would have got from a similar tie-up with Al-Dhafra, but they're not as massive a club as Al-Ain.

Despite our good second half to last season, the supporters aren't yet convinced. Season ticket sales remain at 47.

And few others are convinced either. The board expects only another season of consolidation, and the bookies have us at 50-1. (which, at least, is quite a bit shorter odds than they had us at last year)

We've signed some other players, and let others go. I rejected an inquiry for Fodil Hadjadj. The best of the incoming players is Ahmed Khamis. With the players in hand, I experimented with a 4-2-3-1 in our final preseason match, which ended in a 2-0 home win over top-flight opposition. I don't know if this will become my default tactic, but it might give us a new wrinkle to surprise our opponents.

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At the halfway mark of the season. Went back and forth on whether or not to give a midseason update, but since you're interested... :D

(I'm skivving off at work atm, so what I'll tell you is off the top of my head)

Everyone is rubbishing our chances our chances again. The board again expects only a season of consolidation, while the bookies established us as 40-1 longshots (which, hey, is much shorter odds than they gave us last season).

We're doing much better than that though. Early on, we got as high as 4th, but we've settled back into a comfortable midtable (7th, IIRC). I'm almost exclusively using the 4-2-3-1, and it's working out pretty well (aside from suffering a couple of 3-0 beatdowns) though we could use some better play from the left wing.

Al-Thaid (?) came in with an offer of $3,000 for our Algerian DM Fodil Hadjadj, and while I wasn't looking to sell, I figured we could use the money and so accepted it with an additional 20% of next sale clause. He's been replaced by a young Jordanian international who, when he hasn't been injured (thanks, Asian Cup qualifiers), has looked good in Hadjadj's deep-lying playmaker role. I've also signed the Guyana national team captain on a free transfer to try to bolster the right wing.

We're already out of the cup, having been drawn away to our parent side Al-Ain in the first round. We didn't roll over, but we also didn't trouble them too much (lost 2-0, IIRC). But we got a nice haul of cash out of it, at least.

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Having just taken a look, it doesn't look like there's a lot of money splashing around the UAE. Most expensive transfer this season was $100,000.

Al-Ain did splash out the cash a couple seasons ago, buying Omran Obaid from Al-Sha'ab for $1.9M, and had other purchases totalling around $900,000.

They currently have the most expensive player with Jose Sand pulling down $39,000/week.

There's more cash splashing about in Qatar. Lehkwiya is paying Aruna Dindane $80,000/week.

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Al-Himriya 2013-14: The very nearly men

What can I say, it's been a fantastic season.

As I posted above, we got off to a good start and had ourselves in the top half of the table. We were able to keep up our form in the second half, and even made a hard charge at gasp PROMOTION!

It didn't come to that though, but we made a good run at it. With 4 matches left, we were (still) sitting in 5th, 6 points off of the second (and last) promotion spot. But we won a couple of games, and other results went our way, and with 2 matches left we were only two points off of promotion.

Our penultimate match of the season was also our final home match of the season, and it was against Ahli Fujera, who had already claimed the title and a return ticket to the top flight. I expressed praise for their manager in hopes of deflating their drive.

And it appeared to work, as Abdul Mohsen Al-Balawi (who had battled his way back into the first XI, after being relegated to the subs bench much of the season with our switch to a 4-2-3-1) got on the scorer's sheet only 2 minutes in. At halftime, we were up 1-0. Could we really pull off a stunning end-of-season run to get promoted?

Well, I think you know how this goes. I must have said the wrong thing at halftime, as we huffed and puffed and couldn't extend our lead. It proved costly as Ahli Fujera equalized in the 54th minute. So now we were looking at only getting a point out of the match. With other results, we would be 3 points off of the promotion spot with a worse goal difference, and having to leapfrog 3 teams on the last day. So I'm saying there was a chance.

Alas, it was not to be. Our center back Bader Yaqoot -- who had been a steady presence for pretty much the entire season -- went back into our defensive end to collect an Ahli Fujera clearance....and stopped running. His moment of indecision (and to be fair, he was playing with a knock picked up in the match) proved costly, as an opposing forward picked his pocket and proceeded to cooly slot the ball past our goalkeeper for the winner in stoppage time. Promotion dream over.

Despite all that, it proved to be a brilliant season for us. A (frankly lucky) win in the last match against Al-Ramms would be enough for us to finish the season in 4th place. Not bad for a team whose own board doubted its ability to compete, and started the season at 40-1 with the bookies.

Along the way, we set club records for highest finish (4th), longest winning streak (3), longest unbeaten run (9), most consecutive matches without conceding (5). Our AMC Ahmed Ibrahim set a club record with 10 assists, despite missing about 3 months with a torn hamstring.


There will be some minor housekeeping in the close season. Our backup keeper and a backup defender are retiring and going into coaching. I'm set at goalkeeping coach, but it appears there will be a coaching vacany, as well as 2 scouts, as the incumbents (again) say "it will take a large offer" to agree to return. The backup defender has some pretty decent coaching stats, so I may offer him his first coaching gig.


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Coming up....the World Cup

Get yourself ready:

Group A: Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Tunisia

Group B: Germany, Ghana, Japan, Switzerland

Group C: England, Iceland, Mali, Peru

Group D: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Trinidad & Tobago

Group E: Italy, Romania, USA, Uruguay

Group F: Austria, Cote d'Ivoire, South Korea, Spain

Group G: Australia, Cameroon, Chile, Portugal

Group H: Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Iran

Group B definitely appears to be the Group of Death, though you could also make a case for Group E. England gets one of the ****-easiest group draws you will ever see. Though Iceland definitely deserved to go: they finished 2nd in a qualifying group that included Romania, Holland (3rd) and Denmark (5th), then beat Croatia in the playoff on away goals (won 3-2 in Croatia, then lost 0-1 at home)

EDIT: And for rancer, Canada reached the playoff stage also. Only to get buried 7-2 by Chile. They did also make a run to the Gold Cup final, beating the US on penalties in the semifinal before losing 3-1 to Mexico.

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So close JTY! You did well to push the other teams all the way, just a shame you faltered at the final hurdle. Some good progress though considering your last couple of seasons in UAE :thup:.

So, to push on next season what are you thinking? A new striker or are funds still limited? Tighten up your tactic? No more job offers lately?

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So close JTY! You did well to push the other teams all the way, just a shame you faltered at the final hurdle. Some good progress though considering your last couple of seasons in UAE :thup:.

So, to push on next season what are you thinking? A new striker or are funds still limited? Tighten up your tactic? No more job offers lately?

Fund are still limited. Our biggest source of income every month (other than when the board injects funds) is fundraising.

If possible, I'd like to get a ball-winning midfielder to work alongside my Jordanian international Abdullah al-Khatib (who is in a DLP role) The 4-2-3-1 seems to be working really well, but could use a little extra bite there in the holding midfield. I could use a better left wing, but the incumbent is only 20 and this was his first full season, so I'll take a look at how well he's improving before making a move there.

The striker situation is a little fluid. I'd been playing Mohammad Hasan in a target role, but he's 31 (will turn 32 at the start of next season) and in the second half of the season it looked like Father Time was starting to catch up to him (his training stats are starting to drop, he's only getting 5.8, 6.1 match ratings). Al-Balawi does abysmally as as a target man, but when I set him as a poacher he responded well. So the lone striker may just require a minor tweak in the assigned role. Hasan usually did decently coming off the bench (grabbed an injury time winner during a match in our late charge), so I may keep him in that role.

No job offers lately. I guess working in the UAE is the definition of toiling in obscurity. :D However, my manager profile lists me as "talented manager" so maybe the word will filter out.

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The striker situation is a little fluid. I'd been playing Mohammad Hasan in a target role, but he's 31 (will turn 32 at the start of next season) and in the second half of the season it looked like Father Time was starting to catch up to him (his training stats are starting to drop, he's only getting 5.8, 6.1 match ratings). Al-Balawi does abysmally as as a target man, but when I set him as a poacher he responded well. So the lone striker may just require a minor tweak in the assigned role. Hasan usually did decently coming off the bench (grabbed an injury time winner during a match in our late charge), so I may keep him in that role.

Well, change in plans. Al-Balawi has decided he needs to leave to further his ambitions, and has demanded a transfer.

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Summer 2014. Sponsored by Bad Idea Jeans

I agreed a 1-year extension with Al-Himriya. Al-Ain's manager decided to retire, and they promoted youth coach Luis Boa Morte. Then sacked him after 2 days on the job. I put in for it, but didn't get.

Later on, I cheekily put in an application for a vacant position with Tigres in Mexico. The board showed no mercy, and issued me my walking papers.

So after 2+ years in the UAE, it's back to faxing my CV to all and sundry.

I take some comfort in the idea that I (probably) took Al-Himriya as far as they could go. The training facilities aren't good, there's no money to improve them, and the lack of corporate facilities means there won't be any money to improve them.

EDIT: Naturally I did not get the Tigres job. And now that I'm a free agent, I'm almost immediately linked to about a half-dozen (edit2: make that about a dozen) college and PDL jobs back in the US. :D

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August 2014-November 2015: "I'll tell you what, Alexi..."

A long, barren spell. I'm pretty sure I've never gone this long in any FM game without being able to get a job. But so it was, application after application being rejected at pretty much all levels of football. I even lost out on the Central Connecticut State University job to - would you believe this? - Ronaldinho. WTF, you can't manage in your own country? :D

So I spent much of the time getting my Alan Shearer/Alexi Lalas on by providing fact-free punditry.

Until, finally, somebody decided to give me another chance.

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November 2015: South Pacific

In the course of my job applications, I came round to the idea of tackling international management. I certainly didn't expect to get the France or Brazil jobs, but I targeted some of the smaller nations that came up. Unfortunately Guadeloupe and Martinique decided they didn't need my services, but finally a small island nation decided to take the plunge on a relatively unknown American.



And that is how I came to be the manager of Vanuatu.

It's a low-pressure job. The FA asks only that we not get embarrassed in qualifying for China 2018. No problem. We're already bottom of our group that includes New Zealand, halfway through the qualifiers.

I take over just before the start of the preliminary group stage for the OCE Nations Cup. We're in a group with Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga. We need to finish in the top two to reach a group stage that includes the top two sides from the other preliminary group, plus New Zealand.

It was known as the New Hebrides national football team until the New Hebrides became Republic of Vanuatu in 1980. It finished fourth in the OFC Nations Cup in 1973, 2000, and 2002. In the 2004 Oceania Nations Cup, Vanuatu beat New Zealand 4-2, preventing the regional powerhouse from making the final and, consequently, the running for the 2006 World Cup.

Vanuatu caused another shock in the 2007 South Pacific Games by knocking out the Solomon Islands for bronze medal and also enable to enter the second stage of qualification for the OFC nation Cup and consequently a chance with a playoff for the FIFA world cup in South Africa 2010. The last time they had won against Solomon Islands was back in 1998 and had since been on the receiving side of many losses save for one draw against them. In July 2008, Vanuatu faced two national teams from the Solomon Islands during the inaugural edition of the Wantok Cup. Vanuatu lost 1-2 to the Solomons' team A, but defeated their team B by two goals to one

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Vanuatu - Oceania Nations Cup

My international career did not get off to a good start. We started with a 1-0 loss to Tonga, but rebounded nicely with a 2-0 win over Samoa. 4 points from our remaining matches with Fiji and Papua New Guinea would likely be enough for us to go through to the next round.

Alas, Fiji dominated the second half against us en route to a 2-0 result, and we needed a late penalty to get a draw with PNG. So a not very good 4th place in the group.

That said, a couple of players I gave their first caps did step up to the challenge.


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