As many of you will have noticed time has been in short supply over the last few months and I’ve not been able to really write much at all. That doesn’t mean my love for FM has waned at all and I’m very much excited to get cracking with the full game once it’s released next Friday.
It is no secret if you follow me on twitter as to who I’m going to manage this year but for those of you who don’t pay attention I’ll be managing Al Wahda (UAE) and the UAE National team.
Not a South American team you say? Grab the pitch forks! Well after Caracas and Venezuela last version and Deportivo Cali/Defensor Sporting the version before I feel like it’s time for a slight change of scenery. Fear not the South American influence will not be disappearing and my plans for my time in Abu Dhabi will have a definite South American flavour to it.
So why the UAE and why Al Wahda?
In recent years the oil rich clubs of the Middle East have started to attract more and more high profile players and managers. When looking at some of the squad lists of the Saudi Arabian, Qatari and Emirates clubs the names of Xavi, Vucinic, Boussoufa, Lima, Asamoah Gyan (I know, I know but his scoring record in Gulf League is unreal), Seydou Keita, Carlos Eduardo etc. all jump out. Furthermore nearly all of the managers in the big 3 leagues are European or South American and it seems to be a region where football is definitely on the up.
There were however two names that stood out the most and they were Jorge Valdivia and Balazs Dzsudzsak…
I’m not sure which is my favourite but both have been a key part of one of my sides at some point on FM over the years. So to have both of them in the same team was a no brainer when it came to picking a Middle Eastern club to manage. Also a clubs kit is always a big influence on my choice and by playing in a maroon Adidas kit without those bloody side stripes made Al Wahda the perfect choice for me.
I also like a Club & Country save and despite my vocal frustrations of the lack of attention International Football has had from SI over the last few years I have decided that it is still an area that I enjoy and as such will be managing the UAE national side as well.
My decision was slightly swayed by watching youtube videos of this guy:
Messi? No way Lionel could pull off that barnet so i’ll be referring to him as my Arabian Valderrama.
Anyway he’s not the only talent in the squad as there is also the 2015 Asian Footballer of the Year on hand to finish the chances Omar creates.
So two very exciting talents to build a nation around and with both players still playing their football in the UAE something to build the league around as well.
Rather than start with what I want to win (everything), I’ll start with the development approach I’m going to try and implement. I said there would be a South American flavour to the save and my intention is to have South Americans involved in every element of the club alongside young, up and coming UAE players and staff.
I’m allowed 3 foreign players (plus one Asian foreign player) in the first team and as such I will have at least 2 that are South American. I’ll also look to bring in a few veteran South Americans to play with the reserves, tutor some of my youngsters and the long term plan will be to have them join the backroom staff once they retire.
Ideally i’d also like to establish a feeder club in South America to be able to send young UAE players across to learn the South American way.
What I’m hoping then is that some of the South American influence starts to wear off on the UAE youngsters coming through and that we ultimately become the Chile of the Middle East. An Arabian Hugo Ojeda would be nice too, I can but dream.
Trophy wise the goal initially has to be for Al Wahda to win the Arabian Gulf League which is by no means and easy task given the teams around us. Al Ain and Al Ahli are very strong and Abu Dhabi rivals Al Jazira have some great players and will be tough opposition. If you then throw former Champions Al Wasl, Al Nasr, Al Shabab and Al Sharjah into the mix you have got the makings of a very competitive league. If you are interested you can read a real life preview to this season’s Gulf League on the excellent Ahdaaf website.
Perform in the league and then we’ve got the next challenge of the Asian Champions League. I thought the Copa Libertadores was competitive but given some of the money flying around Asia over the last few years the ACL could well be just as competitive if not more. Al Ain is the only UAE club to have ever won the competition and with the players now playing for the Chinese sides it is going to be difficult to overcome them as well as the usual challengers from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Japan, Iran and South Korea.
On an international stage the first priority has to be to try and qualify for the 2018 World Cup whilst looking ahead to 2019 Asian Cup that’ll be hosted in the UAE. Realistically the 2022 World Cup has to be the competition we look to really try and put our mark on the world stage.
I love writing blog posts but the reality of my life these days is that I don’t have the time to consistently produce blog content so as such I’m not going to make any false promises about regular blog content. If I find the time to write about an element of my save in a bit more depth than I will but i can’t realistically commit to regular season updates.
I am however going to be keeping a constant update of my game on twitter. I’ve really enjoyed sharing my day to day thoughts on Caracas and the resulting interaction with everyone that follows my save. I will continue to share my thoughts on my save, tactical conundrums that I consider whilst walking the dog, screenshots of players, stats, moments and any other interesting/funny parts of my save to keep everyone in the know.
Also as most of you know I’m an emotional manager who will always be vocal about the highs and lows of Football Manager. So expect rants about players not being able to finish chances, opposition scoring their 1st shot on target, frustrating 0-0’s and also excitable tweets about last minute winners, wonder goals, and all round beautiful footballing moments. Live tweeting of big games or when Mrs Mendoza is at yoga will also definitely continue.
Good or bad, I plan for my ride on the Al Wahda and UAE roller coaster of emotion to be as enjoyable as Caracas and Venezuela was last year.
I’ve got a few weeks before I can start the save as I need the editor and a few of the league updates from Claessan before I can get started but as soon as they are all in and ready to go then you’ll know about it first on twitter.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Thanks for the opening image Marc Bowen, great stuff.