Season three has the potential to define how I feel about the early part of this save. If we regress and slip into a relegation battle then I’ll feel that a few things I’ve implemented will need to be reviewed. If we do well, it’ll feel very much like we’re on the right path to be at the right end of the table. 

No pressure then.


Ryoya OgawaD/WB L, 40(1) apps, 2 goals, 16 assists, 7.00 avg rating.

Ryoya was a player we felt we couldn’t pass up on once he was offered to us by his agent. A free transfer for a full Japanese international full-back was not only a sign that we could now attract a higher calibre of player, but also a quality addition at left-back. Goal contributions at a rate of almost one in two was very impressive in his debut campaign, and I’ll look forward to more going forward.

Imanol GonzálezD LC, 32 apps, 0 goals, 0 assists, 6.85 avg rating.

Imanol felt like another statement signing, and although he was another free transfer, his massive (for us) £10k per week wages were confirmation of how badly we needed a solid left sided centre-back. Unfortunately, Imanol has not been able to bring the level of performances we expected from him. He hasn’t been awful, but he’s been very underwhelming.

Thomas AmangAM RL, ST C, 45 apps, 30 goals, 10 assists, 7.50 avg rating.

Thomas f*****g Amang. So good he got his own blog post. If you haven’t read that yet, go and check out his blinding start to the season. He was unbelievable all year, winning us countless games almost single handed. His scoring rate did slow down slightly as the year wore on, but he managed to replace it with a creative spark, ending the season with 10 assists and a total of 40 contributions in 45 games. In the conversation for my best signing ever on Football Manager.

Katsuya IwatakeD R, 33(4) apps, 1 goal, 0 assists, 6.86 avg rating.

Katsuya is an interesting signing to evaluate. He was brought in for £240k in an attempt to finally put to bed our issues at right-back. He started really well, and remained solid throughout the whole season. However, his average rating and pizza chart suggest he offered practically nothing defensively. He’s very safe on the ball and offers good progression in his passing, so maybe the issue is the role rather than the player(s)? Much to ponder for next season.

Noah FloresD C, 17(6) apps, 0 goals, 0 assists, 6.77 avg rating.

Noah is an unbelievable prospect, and I wish our scouts had found him just a month before. If they had, we wouldn’t have signed Imanol González. For £100k, Noah was too good to not sign, despite the fact I broke my own self-inflicted guidance on signing too many foreign players. Getting him into the side often meant dropping Imanol which I resented due to the wages I’m paying him, but I had to try and get Noah some game time to help him adapt. He did okay, not great, but he’s only 19 and in a new country, so adapting will take time. At 6’4” and with elite jumping reach, I expect this man to dominate next season.

Victor WanyamaDM C, 12(3) apps, 2 goals, 0 assists, 6.92 avg rating.

Victor Wanyama needs no introduction, the former Spurs player is comfortably our highest reputation signing to date. He was brought in on a short term deal until the end of the season to cover an injury crisis, with both Taichi Fukui and Shuto Minami succumbing to multiple month injuries. He did the job we needed him to do at the base of the midfield and offered an aerial threat, chipping in with a couple of goals. I’ll remember his short spell fondly, but it was never the plan to extend it beyond this season.

Yousef QashiDM, AM RC, 6(3) apps, 3 goals, 1 assist, 7.16 avg rating.

Qashi is a similar signing to Noah Flores; he was available on a free and too talented to pass up on. Again, he should have got more game time than he did, especially since he settled almost instantly. However, we were hamstrung by the foreign restrictions and I had to pick and choose his opportunities carefully. Yousef is only 20 and very versatile, he’ll find his place next year I’m sure.

Shoga AsadaD LC, 10 apps, 0 goals, 0 assists, 6.85 avg rating.

Towards the end of the July transfer window I decided to have a look and see if there were any other left sided centre-backs available, as I was becoming more disillusioned with Imanol González’s performances. Shoga is a player I’ve had on the shortlist for a while but hasn’t been interested in a move, so when I saw he would be willing to discuss terms I struck a deal for £575k, rising to a potential £1.3m. The fee feels high, and it probably is in truth, but good left-footed Japanese centre-backs seem to be like gold dust. Asada was solid enough this season, but I’ll expect him to kick on.

Again, there were a few signings of young players who haven’t featured yet. Jack Bradley is an 18-year-old Australian goalkeeper signed for a bargain fee of £750! Li Sai Kit is a Hong Kong international holding midfielder who is again 18 and was signed on a free, and Daisuke Doi is another 18 year old holding midfielder, but this time we splashed the cash, signing him for £325k potentially rising to £750k.

Notable sales are Naoki Otani (£450k), Yuji Kitajima (£220k), Héctor Quiñónes (£80k), Michel Douglas (Free), Koki Sugimori (£240k), Kaito Chida (£375k), Kohei Yamakoshi (£60k) and Takayuki Mae (£80k).

League Performance

We weren’t in the relegation conversation at all last season, and I was confident that we wouldn’t be this year either. The board weren’t quite as convinced, as their aim was still to avoid the drop. The season preview had us in 15th, which I felt was a bit low, but as all of the sides above us have a higher reputation I guess it makes a bit of sense. 

It wasn’t explicitly stated in An Instant Impact, but it was implied that Amang’s incredible performances were fuelling strong form from the side.

Click image to enlarge.

As the games ticked by, I just expected that we would regress to our mean; I was happy with our squad but in no way considered us a top 4 side. I’d earmarked top 7 as an optimistic aim at the start of the season, but we didn’t regress to the mean.

Click image to enlarge.

We continued to hold our own, and with a particularly strong run of form from April through to June (W10, D3, L2) we remarkably found ourselves top of the league with 10 games to go. At this moment I couldn’t help but be inspired by the ultimate man motivator…

We get ourselves a promotion, which looks great on any resume, and then we come back to this league and do something nobody believes we could ever do; win the whole f*****g thing!


The Run In

It was essentially a two-horse race, ourselves and Kawasaki Frontale. All we had to do was hold our nerve. Except we didn’t. Sloppy defeats to Kyoto Sanga and Machida Zelvia, plus a tight defeat against reigning champions Shimizu S-Pulse saw us fall to second, three points behind Frontale. Next up were two huge matches – FC Tokyo, our biggest derby of the season, at home, and Kawasaki Frontale away – a true title decider in every sense.

Click image for full match report.

A huge victory in the derby kept us in the hunt. It was a tense affair, but when we needed some magic Yousef Qashi grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and bagged a brace to secure the win. Bragging rights are nice, but we had bigger fish to fry.

Click image for full match report.

An absolute heartbreaker.

The first half was even, although if pushed I’d probably say we shaded it. In the second half though they stepped it up, and we just couldn’t compete. Once they went ahead we pushed forward to search for an equaliser and from there they punished us with two more late goals. 

Defeat left us six points behind with two games left to play, but also with a seven goal deficit when it comes to goal difference. Kawasaki had all but sealed the title, and I was resigned to it. I was even going to rotate in our final two games to give some academy players some minutes. However, there was a twist in the tale.

Click image for full match report.

Before I could face V-Varen Nagasaki, Frontale went to Kashima Antlers and s**t the bed. A win for us suddenly put pressure on them to turn up and perform on the final day, and Yokohama F. Marinos wouldn’t be pushovers.

Click image for full match report.

We got the win we needed, but my god did we leave it late. Amang can rightly be pleased to have won us the game, but it can’t be understated how important that second goal from Qashi could be for the goal difference swing. 

Going into the last game the equation was simple. We had to win, they had to lose and we needed a three goal swing in goal difference. We faced Cerezo Osaka away from home, but we had an excellent record against them thus far. 

We held up our end of the bargain, and then some.

Click image for full match report.

Now we just needed to see whether Marinos could do us the biggest of favours, and bring home the most unlikely title since… well, last year, when Shimizu S-Pulse won it.

Click image for full match report.

We didn’t get the miracle we needed, but it was close. One more Marinos goal and we would have been champions, but in truth our form in the second half of the season, especially the last 10 games, wasn’t good enough to maintain the title challenge we had managed to put together.

To fall short after being so close, and having our destiny in our own hands, hurts. However, that shouldn’t take away from what an unbelievable season this has been for us. We’ve been able to take advantage of the fact that sides still see us as relegation fodder and counter attack to devastating effect all season, but I anticipate that changing next year with sides surely more likely to show us a bit more respect and sit off us slightly. Can we mount another title challenge? Why not? For now though, we can look forward to an Asian Champions League campaign, where we’ll enter at the Group Stage.

Cup Performance

We were a mixed bag in the cups last year – poor in the Emperor’s Cup, but really unfortunate not to win the J.League Cup. I think it’s fair to say that the cups aren’t our main focus, but I was still keen to do well this year.

Emperor’s Cup

Click image to enlarge.

Another pretty poor showing in the Emperor’s Cup in all honesty. A rotated side got a very comfortable win over J2 side Omiya Ardija, most notable for a first career goal for academy striker Akinori Shimizu. After that, we were dumped out of the competition by Vissel Kobe, a side who have flattered to deceive in the last couple of seasons. Of course, to lose on penalties will always be slightly unlucky, but in truth we were second best throughout the game and were probably lucky to take it there in the first place.

J.League Cup

Click image to enlarge.

The J.League Cup wasn’t as impressive as last year, although once again we were dumped out by a decent outfit.  We had a pretty routine first couple of rounds against lower league opposition once again, and then faced Cerezo Osaka in the Round of 16. We ALWAYS score goals against Cerezo Osaka. It’s uncanny. A good second leg performance got us through, before two really lacklustre performances saw Yokohama F. Marinos get the better of us.

Youth Intake

Another year, another strong intake. It’s safe to say that my concerns at the start of the save about homegrown rules are dissipating quickly. 

Yuma Nakamura is the pick of the bunch. A very creative player who can play anywhere down the right hand side or in the centre of midfield, I did originally consider turning him into our very own Trent Alexander-Arnold. However, I’ve instead opted to try and mould him into our next Regista, a role I’m now looking to utilise. Yuma is already rated as a 2* CA player, and may find himself seeing a few first team minutes as early as next season. 

Suguru Someya looks like he could be our left sided centre-back for years to come. A brave, aggressive, determined young defender but also possessing good pace, composure and technique, he has a lot of positives already, but of course at 16 there is plenty to work on.

So Kobayashi is the most raw of our ‘elite’ talents, but at 15 already looks threatening as a quick, direct winger. A very one dimensional player who we need to be patient with, but he looks like he has all the potential in the world.

We have also signed six more players as we look to backfill the under 18’s while players are promoted to the reserves, but I don’t expect any of them to really make a mark at the club. What I would like to do though, is develop them to the best of our ability to allow them the best career possible.

The ‘Danny Birchall’ List

Once again, we have two players who I deem interesting enough to be added to the fabled Danny Birchall list. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I explain all at the end of this post.

Thomas AmangAM RL, ST C, 45 apps, 30 goals, 10 assists, 7.50 avg rating.

How could I not take a look at my beloved Thomas. I have a pretty good idea of what to expect – exceptional physical attributes and technicals mostly around 8-10. However, I think actually seeing it will make me appreciate more how he was able to adapt to a new country and instantly raise us to a level we didn’t know we were capable of.

Junma NishihataAM RC, ST C, 2(10) apps, 2 goals, 3 assists, 7.11 avg rating.

Akinori Shimizu was the first intake player to get his chance at first team minutes (not including Miyazaki’s enforced debut), but he wasn’t the best. Early in the season Shimizu would come off the bench and struggle to look up to the level. His time will surely come, but as the year progressed Junma Nishihata became the youngster to get some minutes, and towards the end of the season he became a trusted rotation option. I’m intrigued to see whether with the ‘blessing’ of attributes I’d have given him the same opportunities.

Well it’s safe to say that season three exceeded all expectations, next on the agenda is to see whether we’re one hit wonders, or real contenders. Oh, and the small matter of the Asian Champions League! Until next time…


  • adam_otbfm

    Adam, known in the Football Manager (FM) realm as @adam_otbfm, is a fervent gamer and content creator. With a penchant for football simulations, Adam delves into the intricacies of FM, sharing his findings on his blog "On the Break." His creative ventures include replicating football legends like Kaka in the virtual pitch, showcasing a blend of nostalgia and modern gameplay. Adam's musings extend to social platforms like Twitter, where he actively engages with the FM community, sharing his gaming journey with @SJK_Seinajoki. His insightful content and avid participation enrich the FM community, making him a valued member in this virtual football world.

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1 thought on “Tokyo Verdy – Season Three Recap

  1. Wow! What a finish that was. Why is it the seasons where you over perform and come up short are the ones which hurt the most! Nice little throwback seeing Wanyama come into the fold too.

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