FM16: The Pentagon Challenge

I started my fmdamon WordPress with the hopes that I’d be making semi-regular postings as I played various classic Championship and Football Manager games, and I fully intended to go through with it, however real life, my job that I had gotten shortly before the first posting, and my excellent Oxford United Football Manager 2014 save had prevented me from being focused enough to write posts, despite having all the desire to eventually get back to doing so.

In what will hopefully be a series of more frequent posts – or at least more often than once every six months – I’d like to being a Pentagon Challenge on Football Manager 2016. For those of you who don’t know, in the Pentagon Challenge, which is considered one of the harder challenges to do on the game and is one to separate men from managerial gods, you start as an unemployed Sunday League Footballer with no coaching badges, and you need to win all five continental Champions Leagues (Europe, Asia, North America, South America, and Africa).

I’ll be quite honest up front: I’m a mediocre player. I’ve only got the most rudimentary grasp of tactics, and most of my successes rely on luck more than actual skill. I also am not patient enough to do a lot of micromanagement, and I have a bad habit of just delegating various tasks to staff until I have a lot less to do. This is something I recognise as a pitfall to my way of playing at times. This challenge will be the very peak of difficult for me, although I am excited to try it nonetheless. After all, it’s all a learning opportunity, and I’ll be able to use this save to try to do more with Football Manager 2016 and become more hands-on with managing a club.

In this save, I’ll also be employing Chris Darwen‘s “Searching the Stats” method for recruitment. In Darwen’s Football Manager saves, he takes technical attributes with a grain of salt, and looks more for actual performances by the player, by taking a deeper look at statistics, such as passes completed/intercepted, mistakes, etc. The kind of details you have to seek out and look at. In theory, according to him, this leads to value for your dollar, as you can find a player who’s got only average technical abilities, but data from matches shows his head is in the game and he can perform. I envy this mindset and methodology, because I find it more realistic. A scout wouldn’t necessarily know or rely on precise numbers and take a punt straight off of that. He would look at a player’s actual performances in a game, and determine if a player can be a part of the team based on match performances, instead of numbers alone.

I am optimistic that as a fanatical student of Darwen’s exploits in the game (his Higher Tempo Press blog has been an invaluable resource to me over the last year and a half of playing Football Manager, and his blog, amongst others has taught me a lot about the game and how I could improve as a player), I should be able to improve my own performances if I use trial and error and his meticulously detailed and explained thought process and lessons (whether he intended them to be so or not).

Now, as I was saying before I went off on a riffing… The Pentagon Challenge! I’ve set an artificial limit on how long the game will last. I’m twenty-three right now (22 at the start of the first season when I use my real birth date), and I’ll end the game in the 60s or 70s when I feel like I’m an old man who’d be ready to retire. I could run the game indefinitely, but I just want to go for the realism thing and accept that if I can’t do it before I’m 107 years old, I’m probably not the managerial god I’ve thought I am. Still, that’s a good 40-50 years or so, depending on when I decide to call it quits, which allocates me about a decade per continent.

It will undoubtedly not take me 10+ years for all the continents. There will be a harder beginning where I have to take small jobs that lead nowhere merely to gain the experience and badges to be credible in the higher leagues, and those will burn time away, but once I can put my name into decent sides just by saying I want the job, I’ll be able to move at a quicker pace (hopefully…. I did say I was a mediocre player). Still, I’m not going to set that as a hard limit, I was just laying that 10 years figure out there for perspective.

As for updates to the blog about the Pentagon Challenge, I’ve settled on yearly reviews. I considered monthly reviews, but for a lifetime’s worth of management, that’s a lot of posts coming out every several days that I just wouldn’t be able to manage in real life. I’ve also considered half-years, but decided not to. A yearly review of my performance, signings, job offers (accepted or declined), thoughts, interesting activities from other teams, etc would be sufficient, although it would reduce posts down to once every two weeks or so. Or more or less, based on my enthusiasm at the time and how much I play or don’t play.

I’ve already started the challenge and have been doing it for a couple days now and am in Fall 2015. My first team is Napier Town Rovers, a team in the third division of New Zealand’s football pyramid, using the Hexagon variant of the challenge to get basic lower league experience before moving to Africa or whatever to go higher in the world and complete the actual Pentagon Challenge.

Here’s to a hopefully good save that will last a while and not stress me out too much!

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