Welcome back to the Aswijan Assignment, a Football Manager 2020 save in the fictional country of Aswijan – using a database created by @Chilled_Moose.
Khaliza Unidi had just become the champions of Aswijan for the first time, and a little work was required to strengthen for a title defence.
The new season began with the club completing the purchase of our stadium, which took a cool £85 million out of the bank balance of £180 million. They also began work on improving our sub-standard youth facilities.
Luckily, the club’s finances were in much ruder health as a result of a host of new sponsorship deals, which took the bank balance over £250 million. Bizarrely for the reigning champions, the board only wanted us to finish in the top half of Liga Regale next season! That should be do-able…
Strengthening the squad
The 2024/25 season began by selling the club’s all-time record appearance holder as goal-shy striker Ryong Nieminen moved to Hadria for around £5 million. We also sold 19-year-old winger Jonathan, who’d suddenly decided he didn’t like me, for £32 million.
But we made several big-money signings as a raft of exciting new youngsters arrived at the club – including breaking our transfer record for the second summer in a row. And we did so on a new right-back in Goncalo Serra, who arrives for a huge £53 millon from Sporting Lisbon. It’s a lot of money for a right-back but we met his minimum release clause, my scouts were raving about him and it was the one position we needed to improve over the summer.
We also bolstered our defence and midfield depth. First was 17-year-old Belgian centre-back Hugo Vandevelde, who comes in for £12.5 million from Anderlecht. In midfield, comes 19-year-old Mexican David Castaneda, who looks like an excellent backup option.
We also snapped up an exciting young striker and an Aswijani player in Faatih Vukojevic who comes in on a free after his Wabani Athletik contract expired. He’s banged 41 league goals in the last two seasons in Liga Principale and looks like a great prospect.
Away from the playing staff, I also brought in my first assistant manager hire, with former Ukraine striker and all-round legend Sergiy Rebrov coming in. Speaking of legends, Zlatan Ibrahimovic also joins the club as Under 18s assistant manager.
Silverware on the line
The 2024/25 season began with our first outing in the Aswijan Super Cup, which pitted us against our new nemesis, the child poaching Aswijan Malikiy. One slight dilemma was several players being away at the Olympics, which left us without a striker.
17-year-old academy product Priamo Bourdon, who’s scored 42 goals for the youth teams in the last two seasons, was called up for his debut. And the youngster had a debut to remember as he gave us the lead on 12 minutes. Things got even better as Yacine Adli doubled the lead just after half-time only for Kai Havertz to get Malikiy back into it. But we won a penalty on 78 minutes as Ulrich Awono stepped up to convert.
That saw us lift our second piece of silverware to start the season as Aswijan Super Cup champions. Then, just days later, Malikiy did it again! Poaching another one of our youngsters. Now it’s war!
Title defence begins
Annoyingly, Awono was ruled out 5 to 7 weeks with knee tendonitis the day before the season opener, while Adam Hemmingsen was suspended for collecting too many yellow cards on the final day of last season, which seems a ridiculous rule. As a result, two teenagers made their debut in attacking midfielder Ladislav Brezina and new boy Vandevelde.
Regardless, we got off to a flyer as Calvin Stengs scored after 4 minutes. Then Brazina, in particular, had a debut and 18th birthday to remember as he scored on 30 minutes and doubled his tally on 8 minutes. Another debutant left winger Pindaro Gisbert also came off the bench to score. A 4-0 win to begin our title defence.
Gisbert came in for his first start for the club in a trip to Fari as Thaaqib Solar pulled his hamstring in the opener. And the youngster marked his full debut with another goal on 13 minutes! Fari equalised out of nowhere 2 minutes after half-time but Stengs and Michele Mari eased us to a 3-1 win.
Football Manager then had its revenge on goalkeeper Rune Azevedo for daring to have an average rating over 7, which saw him win Tendor di la Mes in August, by ruling him out for 2 to 3 months with a torn hamstring. But no worries, as we made it three wins out of three as a Stengs hat-trick downed SC Marrador 3-0. Then went away to Aswjan Siti and another clean sheet for Azevedo’s stand-in Julian Frontzeck in a 1-0 win secured by Gisbert.
We made it five out of five by sweeping aside Wabani 2-0 with two second half goals. Awono marked his return from injury by scoring a penalty then Stengs doubled the lead with a powerful strike. And another win and clean sheet followed in a 1-0 win at home to Hadria – against record appearances holder and goalscorer Ryong Nieminen – as Awono came off the bench to hit a delicious free-kick winner in the 88th minute.
My 100th game in charge of Khaliza Unidi, and 248th in total in Aswijan, but despite battering them and them not having a shot we somehow drew 0-0. And, after a long break for cup games, we drew again in our next game at Hamjar, for which we somehow had several starters away on international duty. This time they were by far the better team having 22 shots to our 11, but striker Gustavo Collado finally scored his first goal of the season after 8 matches.
And that clearly did him the world of good as he bagged a brace to lead us to a 3-0 win over 3rd-placed Manouza. And two huge games followed against the previous two champions of Aswijan.
Aswijan champions face off
We travelled to 2023 champions Aldaia and Awono put us ahead on 11 minutes, only for the hosts to equalise 10 minutes into the second half. We were lucky to draw given they had 21 shots to our 14.
We then played out a bit of a classic with previous champions and our new child-poaching rivals Aswijan Malikiy. We twice took the lead through Collado and Ilaix Moriba first league goal of the season only for Malikiy to equalise both times, with the second coming in the 86th minute. However, we had the last laugh as Collado scored an excellent injury-time winner – and all three of our goals were screamers! Check them out here:
Champions League group
We got drawn in an interesting Champions League group alongside Atletico Madrid, Hertha BSC and Lyon. And we got the perfect start away to Hertha as a Mari hat-trick inspired a remarkable 4-0 win.
We backed that up with a solid 3-1 win over Lyon, with Moriba’s opener being cancelled out by a close-range Stengs strike and Adli’s wondergoal. Then Moriba hit a delicious half volley to seal a 1-0 win at Atletico to surprisingly make it 3 wins out of 3.
We then absolutely battered Atletico 6-1 at home. Solar scored his first of the season and went on to bag a hat-trick alongside an own goal and goals from Stengs and Zagadou. Annoyingly, Atletico scored their only shot, which came from former loanee Pascual Rondó. Premium FM shithousery. But what a win – and that sealed our qualification after 4 games.
Join us next time as we continue our battle with Malikiy and move into the final stages of the Champions League.
I hope you’re reading about our adventures in the e fictional nation of Aswijan. If you have any questions or want more info on specific players in the squad, just let me know in the comments or get in touch on Twitter.