Welcome back to the Football Manager 2020 story Taking on the World. This FM20 story is a classic journeyman save as we attempt to travel around the world and ticking off as many countries as we can.
The aim of this FM20 story is not to stay at the same club for more than one full season. I am not allowed to accept a job offer from another club in the same country if I am already managing a club in that country. There are no limits on how many times I can manage in one country – but I cannot return until at least two seasons later. The only exception is I am allowed to return to one country once straight away if I get sacked – this rule can be used once only.
From Australia to Scotland or even South Africa – we’re covering the globe!
Last time we met I had just became the boss of Luton and the Uzbekistan national team. In this update, we will take a look at how both the World Cup and the Asian Nations Cup went for my national side, whilst we also take a look at my first full season at Luton. Furthermore, my contract is coming to the end at The Hatters, should I stay in England or move?
2022 Qatar World Cup
To start with, we’re going to talk about my efforts with the Uzbekistan national team. Starting off with the 2022 World Cup, which was held in December 2022 due to being hosted in Qatar.
This was the first ever appearance of Uzbekistan at the finals. Realistically there was no expectations to get any further than the group stage.
We got drawn into Group B alongside Italy, Scotland and Uruguay. I wasn’t expecting anything from the group at all so I was pleasantly surprised when we managed to take a point from the Scotland match. We finished fourth with a record of 0-1-2, scoring two goals, conceding 6. We also finished on a negative goal difference of 4 along with a single point.
Sticking with the same tactic I have been using for both my club and national jobs since I moved to China a few years back, albeit with a few tweaks in order to adapt it against better quality oppostions such as Uruguay and Italy.
I changed the mentality from ‘Positive’ to ‘Cautious’ in order to limit the amount of attacks we would have in order to reduce the chance of giving the ball away. There was also changes to some of the instructions commonly during my match including distributing to centre backs to long ball tactics. I felt this was the best method of trying to win games, scoring a freak goal and then defending the lead.
Here is the twenty-three men squad I took to both the World Cup and the Asian Nations Cup. The lineup for every World Cup game remained the same, due to a lack of quality outside the starting XI.
When I told the guys at Dictate The Game that I had took the Uzbekistan job. They were so confused so I explained I was only taking them for the World Cup. That was until I noticed that in just a matter of weeks, they were playing again in the Asian Nations Cup. A chance to win my first trophy as a manager!
We were drawn into Group F alongside Iraq, Jordan and Qatar, the latter being the reigning champions of the competition. I was hopeful of topping the group, so I was delighted when we did so. We finished with a record of 2-1-0. We scored six goals, conceding two, therefore a goal difference of four. The final points tally was 7 points.
Reigning champions, Qatar didn’t even finish second.
Following topping of the group, we were drawn to play UAE in the second round and we comfortably beat them by 3 goals to nil. In the subsequent quarter-final, we managed a hard fought 2-0 win over South Korea, a team that included Son heung-min.
After that came a very hard Semi Final battle against the favourites, Australia. We managed to crawl back a 2-2 draw after going behind twice, before winning 7-8 in the penalty shootout. The final was against Saudi Arabia and I was confident of a victory. I was right as we won 2-1 to win the Asian Nations Cup.
We’re taking on the world – slowly…
Luton Town 22/23
Now back to some club football, I began my first full season at The Hatters with some major transfers. In both the incomings and outgoings.
Starting with the outgoings. Demeaco Duhaney and Kazenga LuaLua both left the club after handing in transfers requests. They left for Derby (£4.6m) and QPR (£2m) respectively. A number of other fringe players also left. The only other major sale was in January as Francis Benjamin departed to join MLS side, Colorado Rapids for £800k and a pre-season friendly.
Moving onto the incomings, I spent a total of £11.25m. The majority of this chunk going on Tom Naylor, Idris El Mizouni and Martin Alvarez. I also resigned two of my former SH Shenhua players. Tiago Cameta joined me for the start of the season for £1m, matching his foreign release fee. Whilst Mohamed Konate joined me in January for £3.2m.
Despite being predicted to finish 20th and in a relegation battle, we had ensured our safety in the league in early March. We finished eighth in the league. Twelve places higher than was predicted for us at the start of the season by the bookies.
Our final record was 22-13-11. We scored 74 goals, conceding 53, which means we finished with a goal difference of 21. Our final points tally was 79, which was thirty-one more than last season. We were in contention to qualify for the Play Offs until the final game of the season and finished just two points off 6th place. Not bad!
Part of the reason we were so successful was due to some amazing individual performances throughout the season, especially James Collins, who put in his best ever goals return in his professional career, scoring 29 goals in total. Quite a distance off him in 2nd was Pawel Cibicki with 15, as Kwame Poku was just a few behind in 3rd with 12.
Appearances wise, James Collins again tops the charts, playing in 51 games in all competitions. This is followed by keeper Simon Sluga on 48 in second. Finally new signing Idris El Mizouni and Sonny Bradley both take third place on 47.
It was a fantastic start for Tiago Cameta in England as he topped the assists chart with 14. George Moncur, in his first full season at the club, wasn’t far behind the right back however, as he got 13 and took second. Third place goes to Pawel Cibicki who also laid on 11 goals for his teammates in addition to the 15 he scored, taking his goal contribution over the season to 26.
En route pour la France!
Oui c’est correct. J’ai déménagé de Luton en France … légère mise à jour. Je gérerai Dijon. Il est temps d’attraper l’Eurostar!
In the next installment of Taking on the World, we’ll complete another season in the journey. This time, as we head to France, can I keep Dijon FC up in Ligue 1 or should I have stayed at Luton?
Find out in the next installment of Taking on the World on 1st June at 6PM BST.
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- The Football Philosophy Index
- Total Football Journeyman: Jogo Bonito Benfica
- Aswijan Play Guide (Part 2 of 6)