If I had Chris Darwen‘s knack for creative story telling, there’d totally be an excerpt to some newspaper right here to introduce my End of Season Review… Only it would be in English, not Serbian. But, whatever, the first season is over now! It’s time to delve into the reflections on what has happened in the last nine hours of playing Football manager to get to the end of my first season!
I think it’s safe to say that my first season of the Pentagon Challenge was a huge success, as I did the double with Napier City Rovers FC, by taking the Chatham’s Cup and the Central League title, both of which were actually cake-walks, if I’m being honest.
Napier City is one of only two or three teams with decent finances, as far as the Central League goes (which isn’t much at all, really), and we were predicted to finish in third. Our success was really guaranteed, so long as I kept my head on straight during the eighteen matches of the exceptionally short season and met the board’s cup expectations.
As can be seen in the fixtures list, we had a dominant preseason, despite the preseason being what I’ve dubbed the “Hell Week-and-a-Half”, and we won every game except one, despite having the matches scheduled for every other day. Our only standout loss of the preseason was to our ASB Premiership senior affiliate, who was expected to win against us by virtue of being in the top flight. I’m quite pleased with this.
This is my first time managing a complete season outside of England on Football Manager, so I really didn’t know what to expect as far as competitions go, and I approached the Chatham’s cup nervous that I’d lose right away to some giant before realising that I was the giant myself. As it turns out, I was at the joint-top tier for club football, alongside numerous other regional premier leagues, and I walked across the competition, with the only real struggle being against other strong clubs from other regional leagues, such as when I had to take a penalty shootout to advance against Queenstown.
To sum up the Chatham’s cup, I’m pleased to have hit the board’s target of merely reaching the final, and am pleased to have actually won it, making this my second cup victory in my year and a half of playing Football Manager (the other being a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win with League 2 Oxford in FM14).
The Central League itself was beyond my expectations. I went into the season with only a small handful of loans from Hawke’s Bay and a few free transfers that weren’t anticipated to amount to shit, and with a simple, traditional 4-4-2 that wasn’t terribly fancy, I was a dominate force in the league from the beginning. By my fourth victory I was able to take first place when the other teams started losing and goal difference didn’t matter anymore to break a points tie. From that point on, I never once relinquished first. A particular highlight to the season, for me, was that I had more clean sheets than not, thanks to goalkeeper Jonty Underhill. Now that it’s post-season, I can’t help but think my signing was vindicated, despite the fans hating Jonty from the beginning and saying it was poor business. It’s hard to argue with all the clean sheets I’ve had.
With a dominant streak going for so long, I had been hoping we could have an invincible season to start the Pentagon save, but alas, it wasn’t to be, as right after I got some remarkable regens in the youth intake, I lost 0-1 to Petone. The brief thought of breaking my rule about not reloading came across my mind, but when you have two 15 year olds who are instantly capable of making an impact on your first team, it’s easy to suck up a loss to keep them.
With a 1-0 win against Miramar Rangers, I was able to mathematically secure the title with only one draw and one loss on the scoresheets. From there, I’ll admit that I holidayed the last three games, knowing the title was secure and they were games I merely had to show up for to be polite to the opposition. The results were… Not so great. I had another draw and loss in two of the three games.
The final result, as we can see in the League table, is 14 wins, 2 draws, and 2 losses, for a total of 44 points, compared to second place Wellington Olympic’s 33 points. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself!
None of my transfers were particularly exciting as individuals, though they performed well as a cohesive unit. I won’t go into particulars about each player, but I will leave the player pages for Cameron Broxup and Joshua Stevenson, my strike pair for my 4-4-2 formation. They both had 12 goals in the Central League and 2 each in the Chatham’s cup, and were first and second for highest rated players in the League. I couldn’t be more proud of the young lads.
Now, we have two promising youths from the intake: Webb, an attacking midfielder, and Liam Pooley, a left back. Both of them came into the intake rated to make an instant showing in the first team, and the two both got to see play time in the last many games of the season. I really want to see what comes of the two boys, because from what I can see of them at 15 years old, they could be quite phenomenal players if they are able to start top tier Central League games at their age. It’s really a shame that I won’t get to pay a close eye to them and watch them develop, as the nature of the Pentagon challenge means I probably won’t stick around clubs too long, if I want to get trophies in a decent speed.
Speaking of sticking around clubs, Mr Chairman gave me a one-year contract extension through July 2017, so I’ll be staying with Napier City for at least one additional season to defend my two titles before I decide to look at making a jump into the ASB Premiership. If I want to do the Hexagon variant and win the Oceanic Champion’s League as well, I really need to get into New Zealand’s top league. The other Oceanic sides are always murdered by Auckland City, and having a kiwi team that can take on Auckland City is the only way to go forward really, unless the untouchable Auckland manager decides to resign from his dominating team. But, that’s a goal for another time.