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[FM22] From Northern Ireland to Infinity: We have arrived in England


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A 26 year old from London has embarked into the world of first team football management.

I had previously Sunday League football and youth Semi-pro football during my preteen and teenage years and managed a 7-a-side football team in my early 20s. But after having a chance encounter with the Moyola Park chairman, Leslie Bell, on the train where they talked football tactics and analysed videos of last seasons Moyola Park matches, I ended up getting the job at The Park after the previous manager Stephen Hughes left the role for family reasons. It's a huge job and risk for both me and Moyola Park, but ultimately it was too good an offer to turn down and I back myself to be a success. Leslie Bell said "After our chat on the train, his passion and knowledge of the game was clear, I was blown away and it just felt right to make him our new manager".

However I did have one condition, I wanted to focus on training and improving the team on the training pitch and matchdays, and have minimal involvement with the financial side apart from hiring my own first team coaching staff. As Moyola Park already have a Director of Football in Gary Boyd, this worked out really well as he will be in charge of hiring recruitment staff, all u18 and reserve team staff, scouting , signing my transfer targets and selling players.

I'm not afraid to admit that I dream of taking Moyola Park to the top league in Ireland and compete for the top honours every year and ultimately end up managing in England and take that team to the Premier League, the best league in the world, but it's early days now. 

The Club

Founded in 1880 we are an old club, but one that is waiting for it's history to be filled. We have won 7 competitions in our history with the most recent being in 207, however we only have one major honour in the Irish Cup which was won 1 year after our formation.

We are currently competition in the NIFL Premier Intermediate League which is the third tier of Irish football and isn't a professional league.

Irish Cup: 1881

Memorial Cup: 2001, 2002,  2003, 2005, 2007

NIFL Premier Intermediate League: 2002

Key People

Gary Boyd, DoF. We will be working really closely to shape our squad.

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Michael Tolan, Centre Midfield. Probably our best player on paper and a top midfielder for this league.

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Tiarnan Rafferty, Striker. Our top goalscorer of all time since we have started recording this data.

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With no assistant manager this will be one of the first hires I make.

My Ethos

I will require each and every player to work hard and be committed and hungry for success. Professionalism is very important to me, but I will always be there for my players and will always talk to them in a friendly but stern manner. As a team we must all be ready to sacrifice for each other. 

My philosophy in football is that when we have the ball the opponent can't score and so this means we will look to dominate possession. Lastly in terms of recruitment I will aim at bringing in specialist players and having a core of players that have been at the club since a young age and know the values of this club.

 

Edited by Platinum
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A great preseason: June 2021 - July 2021

My first steps were to get an assistant manager in to assist me. I put out a job advert and only got 1 response after 2 weeks, which was from David Elbert so went ahead and hired him. David Elebert spent his career in the top leagues in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland and is only 35 years old, so we have a very young coaching team as our goalkeeping coach and first team coach are 34 and 28 respectively. David Eelberts career history is below:

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Squad and Tactics

The team was heavily bloated on defensive players and hardly had any good wingers, we have a few good midfielders but extremely light on numbers. I have also now started my National C License so hopefully me and the coaches can help mould the team to how we want them to play.

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Because of the number of defensive players I have employed a 4-14-1 as our main tactic that takes advantage of our defensive numbers. In possession this tactic changes to a 4-3-3  as can be seen in the image below. The circles with the purple outline are our positions out of possession and the circles with the black outline are our position in possession. We aim to play a slow possession game and wait for openings, we believe that the best form of defence is keeping the ball, and when we don't have the ball we want to press fairly intensively.

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Reserve and Youth prospects

A few reserve and u18 players caught the eye. I ended up promoting two reserve players in Conor Taggart (26 yrs old)  and Declan Martin (22 years old) who were great midfield options, which is an area we are light in. I also promoted Benjamin Agnew (23 yrs old) who is a winger which is probably our weakest area.

Our youth team also has some great prospects but none of them are ready for the first team yet and I have doubts they are actually elite talents.

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Preseason matches

We had a very heavy preseason mainly focused on the Physical side, making sure the players had the endurance to last a season as I will be working them hard. Our preseason matches went very well, as we didn't have any defeats and even beat a team in the league above us. We seem to be very solid defensively and capitalise on having two good strikers who are able to score goals from half chances.

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Edited by Platinum
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  • Platinum changed the title to [FM22] The Head Coach: From Northern Ireland to Infinity

An up and down start to the season: August 2021

Our expectations for the season are to be competitive (essentially not be in a relegation fight) in the league, and make it past the early rounds of the four cups we are playing in. There are only 11 teams in the league so the league season consists of 20 games with the top team being promoted and the second placed team playing in a playoff against the team that finishes bottom in the league above. You can't get relegated from this league.

Our fixture list for August has us starting with back to back games against Limavady United, in the Irish Cup and league respectively, another league game which was against Bangor. A Steels & Sons Cup match against amateur club Killyleagh and if we win the Irish Cup the second round would also be played in August.

Tiarnan Rafferty had only scored 1 goal in preseason and it was a pretty lucky goal so I decided to go ahead with Tom Patchett P as our striker instead and he did well and scored in every game in preseason.

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We won the first of our back to back games against Limavady, winning our tie in the Irish Cup comfortably 4 nil but then lost in our second game against them 4-2 in the league and it was a pretty bad performance as we were never really competitive in the match. Limavady are also predicted to finish near the bottom of the table so it was disappointing. We then played against Bangor and got a comfortable 2-1 win with Patchet scoring his third goal in three games.

It was then on to the second round of the Irish Cup where we were playing against Coleraine who are in the league above us. I went for a defensive 5-1-3-1 tactic and it was a close match but we ended up losing 2-1.  Rafferty really impressed in this game and he showed he can be quite dynamic and scored our goal. We then ended the month with an easy 5-1 win against Killyleagh in the Steels & Sons Cup. I had big squad rotation in this match and Rafferty impressed again.

Benjamin Agnew has been a revelation this month and is playing as probably our best player, he is fast and a tricky winger and adds another dimension to our play. Our left back, Ryan Curry, has also done really well and he has a lot of creative license in our tactic.

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Overall its been an up and down month. We have one win and one loss in the league and we got knocked out of 1 cup. I am encouraged though as we are playing some good football.

Goalscorers this month

Tom Patchett: 3

Michael Tolan: 3

Tiarnan Rafferty: 4

Lee Harkin (30 yr old, decent right winger who starts for us): 2

Benjamin Agnew: 1

Conor Taggart: 1

(P.S. If anyone has tips on the best way to upload videos please let me know as mine are low quality gifs)

Goal of the month

Absolute banger for Lee Harki n in our 2-1 win against Bangor

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Stinker of the month

Our goalkeeper, Marcin Farniok, who is Polish and the only non British person in the squad has been excellent so far but had a real stinker in the 4-2 loss against Limavady.1245390199_2021-11-2321-10-55(1).gif.0879eef1b4eab39bf624470ac2677e67.gif

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 24/11/2021 at 11:39, BadManager said:

"Our expectations for the season are to be competitive (essentially not be in a relegation fight) in the league"

"You can't get relegated from this league."

 

Expectations met :D

Hahaha

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This is more like it: September 2021

It was a great month for the team as we got 4 wins and one draw. This included advancing to the quarter finals of the Steels and Sons Cup.

After Rafferty's form last month I decided to make him my starting striker but and he has paid off my faith in him. Or maybe I was wrong not to have faith in him in the first place!

We've been hard to beat and we still take our chances, keeping hold of the ball very well. I will give a tactical overview of how we have been performing in December.

I've also lost my backup centre back, Danny Heavron, to a team in the division below. He wasn't happy when I changed his expected playing time to Squad Player from Regular Starter and so found a new team to join. As all my players are on non-Contracts they can leave whenever they want.

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I also got a great cup performance from Hugh Hamill in the cup. This was his second match for me as he played in a cup match last month too:

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The Director of Football has been busy bringing in backroom staff and we now have 3 scouts and 1 physio. I also bought in a coach as I am in charge of the coaching staff. Also I juts finished my National C License and have begun my National B License right away.

So now our coaching team is below average compared to the rest of the league but our recruitment team and medical is the best. 

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I have settled on my starting 11 for league matches and it is:

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Michael Tolan has learnt the triat to run with the ball and I have asked him to dribble more often and he can open teams apart with his runs. 

Goalscorers this month

Tiarnan Rafferty: 4

Benjamin Agnew: 3

Daniel McIlhatton: 1

Jack Graham (starting CB): 2Tom Patchett: 1

Stephen Geer (backup RW/LW): 1

Aaron Harris (backup CB): 1

Goal of the month

Graham scores a goal from an impossible angle

 

Edited by Platinum
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Another solid month: October 2021

We had another solid month, notching 3 wins and 1 draw. However only two of those matches were league matches and they were a win and a draw so it was decent form. It's now been 2 months without a loss so I can't complain too much. We also made it into the Steel & Sons Cup Semi Final which has me dreaming of silverware but the semi final is against Crusader Reserves (their first team is in the top Northern Ireland League) so it will be a tough match and one I am expected to lose.

I have a real battle of the strikers as Tom Patchett scored in every game this month despite coming of the bench in the league matches and Rafferty didn't score in any. I will continue to go with Rafferty as my starting striker though as I feel his overall game is better and Patchett is still only 20 years old.

Hugh Hamill has continued to impress and got his first goal and assist for us although he's only a bit part player and mainly plays for the u18s.

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I worry that we won't be able to keep the form up though as we have a massive leadership void in the team and our captain doesn't even start matches:

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Goalscorers this month

Tom Patchett: 4

Lee Harkin: 2

Hugh Hamill: 1 

Craig McAllister (starting right back): 1

Goal of the month

It wasn't the best goal but I was really glad to see a youth player create a goal for us, especially against one of the better teams in the league.

Stinker of the month

A calamity of an own goal by Graham

 

 

 

 

Edited by Platinum
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  • 2 weeks later...

Back to reality: November 2021

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We had a tough month, only getting one win in the league, but our league position isn't shabby at all as we are third and performing above expectations. Unfortunately we lost and were completely outplayed by and knocked out by Crusader Reserves in the Semi Finals of the Steels & Sons Cup. It was really disappointing as I had real hope we could win this cup, however we are still in 2 more cup competitions (Intermediate Cup & Irish Cup).

I've started brining in players my scouts suggest on trial as we need reinforcements in midfield, on the wing and in defence. I've also started to release lots of players in the reserve team as we currently have too many players in the reserves and u18s.

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Goalscorers this month

Tom Patchett: 3

Tiarnan Rafferty: 1

Benjamin Agnew: 1

Michael Tolan: 1 

Daniel McIlhatton: 1

Goal of the Month

Great passing and moving and a lovely finish

 

Stinker of the Month

Conceded this goal in the last minute of the same game as the Goal of the Month and it meant we lost the match after being 2 nil up. Terrible goalkeeping and my keeper just keeps conceding from outside the box

 

Edited by Platinum
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Two match December: December 2021

We only had two matches this month, getting one win and one loss. Unfortunately the loss was in the league. We won in the Irish Cup but that competition has all the top Irish teams in it so I would have traded it for a win in the league.

We were the better team in our loss against Limavady but we just aren't ruthless enough with finishing our chances. Our final ball and finishing needs to be better as we are getting into great positions. Defensively we concede too many long range goals and we will need a goalkeeper upgrade in January or next season.

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Transfers

We were able to agree a deal to bring in talented 18 year old midfielder Dylan Kerr who is very good technically, and as he was unattached to any club he could start playing straight away. He was previously playing for Glenavon in the NIFL Premiership in 2019/20 so he was without a club last season. He impressed me on loan and I expect him to be a starter for us and hopefully make some defence splitting passes. Declan Martin our current young promising midfielder has agreed a deal to leave the club to a team in the league below in January, which I think is a bad decision on his part, so Dylan Kerr will be even more important.

Hugh Hamill has just turned 17 and the DoF, Gary Boyd, has just opened contract negotiations with him.

Rafferty has been getting teams in the league above us interested in him, and I'm not surprised, so I can only hope he doesn't leave.

Elsewhere in the world of Football

Erling Haaland won the Balon d'Or and all of the other World Footballer of the Year awards.

And below is the FIFA/FifPro World X1

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Goalscorers this Month

Benjamin Agnew: 1

Michael Tolan: 1

Connor Lundy: 1

Lee Harkin: 1

 

Goal of the Month

We didn't have a stinker this month so I'm showing our best 2 goals

 

 

 

 

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We lost our all time top goalscorer! A busy month: January 2022

It was a big transfer window for us, a few big things happened:

  • Tiarnan Rafferty left the club to join a club in the league above us (damned non-contracts)
  • We agreed a new contract with Hugh Hamill but he got a promise to go on loan in his contract so we sent him on loan (damned DoF)
  • We got in CB Cameron Scates as we lost centrebacks this month so was light. Scates he was our 7th choice CB but was the only CB the DoF (Gary Boyd) could agree a deal with
  • When we signed Dylan Kerr he made us guarantee we would strengthen our defence. This was secretly a blessing as it meant we bought in a top right back for our league. We bought in Lee Mclaughlin on loan from the NIFL Championship for £85.
  • We got in a replacement for Rafferty, we signed 19 year old Conor Courtney who my scouts had previously recommended. He comes from NIFL Championship team Ballinamallard Utd who he made 5 appearances for
  • We took a risk and signed Johnny Gorman who we hadn't scouted much, as we were in desperate need of a creative winger. His workrate is very disappointing and honestly means he can't start for me
  • We didn't find any good goalkeepers to bring in to the team

 

It was another inconsistent month for us in the league as we drew and lost which is putting us out of the promotion chase. It was a tough month as we got in a few new players and lost our best striker. I'm happy we progressed in both cups though. We again dominated in terms of possession and shots but we struggled to score once we lost Rafferty and we concede goals from outside the box way too easily.

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The sad moment we lost Rafferty

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The happy moment we gave a debut to promising winger Colin McCaffrey who also scored on his non-competitive debut

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Goalscorers this month

Tiarnan Rafferty: 3

Tom Patchett: 1

Benjamin Agnew: 1

Michael Tolan: 1

Cameron Scates (debut goal): 1

Goal of the month

Raffertys last goal for the club

 

 

Stinker of the month

Another goal conceded from outside the box in the last few minutes which meant we drew the match against PSNI

 

 

 

 

 

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Dropping further down the league: February 2022

Another disappointing month as we are now way off the promotion places but to be fair I am meeting the club expectations for the season. We will need something really special to get promoted this season, but it looks like next season will be the important one. I've learnt a lot during the season that will help next season.

We only won one match this month and it was in the Intermediate Cup, so we are now into the Quarter Finals. We got two draws in the league and lost in the Irish Cup to NIFL Premiership team the Crusaders, a 1 nil loss against them is very respectable. Our new striker Conor Courtney hasn't been great but to be fair he is still settling in.

Due to the alarming team form I scheduled a team meeting telling them we have to pick it up and they at least reacted positively to that.

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This is what the league table now looks like and we have 5 games to go.

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I now have a National B license, my profile is below:

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My coaching skills are pretty decent for this level now and I'm proud of my Level of Discipline.

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Goalscorers this month

Tom Patchett: 1

Conor Lundy: 1

Dylan Kerr: 1

Benjamin Agnew: 1

Lee Harkin: 1

 

Goal of the Month

Great header from Harkin

 

 

Stinker of the Month

Terrible defending and keeping for this goal, was really disappointed in the boys

 

 

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Back in the mix : March 2022

It was an excellent month for us as we won all our games and didn't concede a goal.  Our wins also included 3 league wins. Conor Courtney has also started scoring which is great.

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The excellent form put us up into 2nd place which is almost unbelievable, but we will basically have to win our remaining 2 games if we want to be in a promotion place. I had a look at the expected points table and it had us in first place!

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In other news I accepted a contract extension for 1 year

Other news in the world of football

Pedri wins the NxGen top 50:

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Goalscorers this month

Conor Courtney: 4

Lee Harkin: 3

Tom Patchett: 2

Ryan Curry: 1

Goal of the month

McKerr has started giving us some killer through balls, I love to see it.

 

 

Stinker of the month

No goals conceded this month so no stinkers

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In the promotion playoff: April 2022

Somehow we managed to win our remaining two league games and got ourselves into the playoff match which will be against the second bottom team from the league above me. Its a two legged match and the winner gets promoted/stays in the league above me. Unfortunately we lost in the Intermediate Cup Semi Final and we got smashed 3-0 by the team that finished bottom of my league, we conceded all three goals in extra time after we got a red card, and all the goals were set pieces.

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The final league table is below. Somehow Limavady won the league so props to them.

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Goalscorers this month

Conor Courtney: 1

Lee McLaughlin: 1

Goal of the month

 

 

Stinker of the month

Our goalkeeper had a howler. It should be a simple save here

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Youth Prospect

We got our new set of youth players, and they look excellent according to my coaches. We really do have a great youth system.

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Standout players

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Edited by Platinum
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Play off Leg 1: May 2022

The play off match is against Ballyclare, who came 2nd last in the league above me (NIFL Championship) and there are two legs. We lost the first leg 1 nil unfortunately. According to the xG we should have won, but it was  a close match and we just never truly turned up to be honest. Our performance doesn't give me much hope going into the second leg.

Goal

A simple corner goal. Boo!

 

 

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Play off Leg 2. A very tense match: May 2022

This was the most memorable play-off match I remember:

We started the match very well and got the first goal through Conor Courtney in the 33rd minute who scored a great placed shot just inside the box. Once that shot went in I knew it was game on! Tolan then scored a very similar goal in the 39th minute. Now we were cruising and were ahead on aggregate. A third goal would put the game to bed but we couldn't the goal yet.

Just before half time in the 41st  Ballyclare scored a goal which meant we were drawing on aggregate. This put a sour taste in the mouth going into half time and I had some worries.

We started the second half and 5 minutes into it Ballyclare got a red card after there goal scorer from the first leg received his second yellow.

Now we had to win, but the goal wasn't coming despite a plethora of shots. We had 27 shots compared to their 3 shots, it was almost unbelievable that we hadn't scored. Then in the 84th minute another Ballyclare player received a second yellow and got sent off... then 3 minutes later Tolan was the man of the moment as he scored a belter from outside the box!

Finally the match was over, we got the 3-1 win and we will be in the NIFL Championship next season! Unbelieve! What a run we had in the last 6 games of the league season as we won all of them to get a play-off place and then what a come back to win the second leg of the play-off match and win on aggregate! This is what football is about!

Goals

1- 0

 

2 - 0

 

2 - 1

 

 

3 - 1

 

Match Stats

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Edited by Platinum
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Getting ready for the new season: Summer 2022

We had a big season ahead of us, being in the NIFL Championship, and also one step closer to our dream of becoming a professional club and playing in Europe.

I knew we had to have a good summer to prepare for the season ahead.

End of Season Review

It was a great season as we defied expectations and clinched a promotion at the last second after a fantastic run of form right at the end of the season, moving form midtable to 2nd place.

Tolan really impressed for us and was our standout players. Our two young strikers Tom Patchett and Conor Cortney showed they have potential. Unfortunately we lost our highest goalscorer of all time in Tiarnan Rafferty right in the middle of the season.

Hugh Hamill showed great potential out of all our youngsters and even though he had a disappointing loan spell, I fully expect him to push for a permanent role in the first team next season.

End of Season Awards

Tolan won our player of the season award and Tom Patchett won our young player of the season award. Congrats to them both!

See the rest of the awards here:

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Club Vision and Expectations

The club outlined a new club vision based on our performance last season. They now want us to play defensively solid football, possession football, a pressing game and score from set pieces. I tried to budge on the set pieces and defensively solid football as promotion would present a real challenge, but they wouldn't budge. Oh well, at least we have a real identity now, and to be honest it gives me a sense of accomplishment as it feels like I'm really building something here.

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Transfers

I knew we had to make a step up in quality for our team, but also I didn't want to mess up the chemistry of the team as we play so well together.

In the end I only ended up bringing in two players, both right wingers. I really wanted to bring in a goalkeeper as our backup Morgan Moore left the club, but after trials and scouting players I couldn't find anyone good enough, so I risked it and will rely on my youth goalkeepers if we get an injury to Farniok (our goalkeeper). It's a risk I know, especially as I don't think Farniok, our goalkeeper, has failed to impress at times.

The reason I decided to bring in two right wingers is because I think we are severely lacking pace in this team and we need some pace on that right wing. I found two young players who looked like they have potential so bought them both in, also young players can be inconsistent so when one plays bad I can play the other one. Unfortunately for Lee Harkin this means he will likely play less. Here are the players:

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Staff changes

There were massive staff updates/changes at the club.

My DoF offered our captain who just retired, Steven McQuillan, a role as an u18 coach, which he accepted. 

The board didn't renew the contract of Gary Boyd our DoF, I wasn't shocked but was intrigued to see who they bought in. Also I had to get transfer dealings done. They took two weeks to bring in a replacement and in that time I signed two right wingers who I had previously bought in on trial as I couldn't wait any longer. Also the board expected me to make my own signings while we waited for a new DoF.

Anyway here is the new DoF:

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My assistant manager wouldn't sign a new contract for some reason so I had to let him go. I got in a new assistant manager called Glenn Hand and his tactical preferences are more similar tot he way we play so it worked out in the end:

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My goalkeeping coach and coach both refused to sign new contracts with us (after I had put them on coaching courses of course) so now I'm waiting to see if they will stay on monthly rolling contracts once their contracts end. I hope they do

Preseason

Preseason was a breeze as we won all of our friendlies

Tactics

We kept our tactics the same as last season with a 4-1-4-1. If it ain't broke don't fix it.

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Other happenings in the world of football

  • Guus Hiddink retired as England manager (after he took over from Southgate when he got sacked)
  • Chelsea sacked Tuchel and hired Diego Simeone
  • Liverpool won EPL, Bayern won Bundesliga, PSG won Ligue 1, Real Madrid won LaLiga
  • Man City won the Champions League against PSG and won the Super Cup
  • Man Utd won the FA Cup
  • Liverpool won the Carabao Cup
  • Goal numbers of the top players in the world
    • Messi: 25
    • Ronaldo: 31
    • Lewandowski: 33
    • Mbappe: 25
    • Haaland: 37
    • Salah: 30
    • Kane: 26
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A new season: August 2022

NIFL Championship

The league structure of the NIFL Championship is different to your standard league:

  • 12 teams in the league
  • Each team plays each over twice, with the last match coming at the beginning of January 
  • The league is split into two and the top six teams go into the Promotion Group and the bottom six teams go into the Relegation Group
  • Every team plays each other twice in the Promotion Group and Relegation Group
  • The top team in the Promotion Group gets promoted. 2nd and 3rd place go into the playoffs were they play each other and then the winner plays a final against a relegation candidate in the league above us (NIFL Premiership) to decide who plays in the NIFL Premiership next season
  • The bottom team in the Relegation Group gets relegated. The second last team goes into a playoff match against a promotion candidate in the league below us (NIFL Intermediate) to decide who plays in the NIFL Championship next season

Start of the league

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We are predicted to finish last in the league this season, with our odds at winning the league at a whopping 100-1, but despite that we had a great start to the season, winning our opening 4 league matches. Honestly everything that could have went well in those matches did go well as to cap it off I won the Manager of the Month award and our Chairman Leslie Bell told the media that he was proud which was nice. It's the first time I've won that award (including last season). Unfortunately we lost in the Irish League Cup against Dergview (a team who are also in my league), but I heavily rotated the team so I wasnt that surprised - but its a chance at silverware gone.

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Training

Also I started studying for my National A License. Our players aren't improving much and I think its down to poor coaches and poor training facilities. We cant attract better staff and the board won't upgrade our facilities as we aren't really profitable, so my only option is to do my coaching courses.

Tactics

We are playing with the same tactic as last season and also with only one change to our starting lineup with the right winger we bought in, Matthew Kerr, taking Lee Harkins spot as a right winger. Let's see how this develops throughout the season.

Also Dykan McKerr has learnt to play long range passes and we've really seen it play off with him cutting defences open now. Also McAllister is now captain and Agnew is vice captain.

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Goalscorers this month

Benjamin Agnew: 5

Michael Tolan: 2

Conor Courtney: 1

Tom Patchett: 1

Dylan McKerr: 1

Daniel McIlhatton: 1

 

Goal of the month

What a pass from McKerr

 

 

Stinker of the month

Poor goalkeeping for me, Farniok either has to stay in the goal or come out and catch the ball.

 

 

 

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Play time is over: September 2022

It was a really tough month for us as we got no wins - 4 losses and 1 draw. It looks like we are losing due to a lack of quality: bad passes, poor defensive mistakes, disastrous goalkeeping and we aren't clinical enough at all. I've made no tactical changes so far as I believe this is just a blip though. The one shining light was 17 year old Hugh Hamill from our academy, he impressed massively in the cup against Larne and started most of our other games getting 3 assists and 1 goal in total.

We were losing 5nil at 60mins in our loss against Portadown. The Limavady match was also particularly disappointing. Limavady got a red card in the first half but we didn't capitalise and Limavady instead scored to be ahead. We then scored 2 goals in the last 10 minutes and I was delighted. Limavady then scored in the 84th minute and then got ANOTHER red card but we couldn't capitalise on it once again. Very worrying.

I also lost in another cup competition, very disappointing. We still have two more cups left this season though.

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I was also offered a job at a club called Institute who second last in my league. I've got no interest in changing job to a team below me in the league to be honest and I'm still building something here.

Transfers

Farniok had performed so bad this month (and to be honest he has been unreliable in general) that I decided to bring in a new goalkeeper right at the end of the month. I had made a bad decision by not bringing in a suitable 2nd choice keeper during the summer as Farniok just had no competition. We bough in 18 year old Conor Manderson, who I had previously bought in on trial in the summer and my coaches rate as better than Farniok, wheras I think its not a big difference. My main concern is that I think I've got too many young players in the team. Our goalkeeping coach also left the club at the beginning of the season so we have a job advert posted.

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Squad Dynamics

All of the team are in one big friendship group now with us only having 1 social group. It's great to see and one of the only good things about this month. On the other hand I had a team meeting to discuss the poor form and the players didn't like how I handle, a softer approach could have been better, and morale has dropped.

Unfortunately we still don't have any Team Leaders or Highly Influential Players. Ben Mitchell also started complaining about game time and because our defence has been so bad I thought why not give him a chance and promised him he would play more. So far he has played in the 4nil loss against Ballinamallard and he made a mistake which led to a goal

Goalscorers this month

Tom Patchett: 2

Matthew Kerr: 2

Hugh Hamill: 1

Conor Courtney: 1

Goal of the Month

Hugh Hamill, remember the name

Stinker of the Month

Unbelievable, the second of 5 Portadown goals against us

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The rut continues (with a glimmer of hope): October 2022

We started the month with a team meeting addressing our poor form again and gladly this time it was received well, but it didn't change much as our terrible form continued.  We did manage to get an unconvincing win against Newry City, the first placed team at the end of the month. Newry City absolutely dominated us, with 12 shots compared to our 2, our goal being a soft penalty and we couldn't string two passes together. 

Conor Manderson, our new goalkeeper, started all the matches and has been shaky unfortunately, I'll have to hope it improves. Ben Mitchell, who had been complaining about game time, let me down big time whenever he played and I had to revert back to Graham and Scates as my centrebacks.  I have a small worry about not fulfilling my promise come November. I also promises my backup right back, Kevin Keenan, that he will get minutes from the bench and that should be straightforward to fulfil. Lastly our captain and starting right back Craig McAllister, is now our one and only Highly Influential Player in our Squad Hierarchy.

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We are 9th in the league, so two spots away from relegation, our form will have to pick up fast. The board aren't massively concerned as our target is to fight against relegation so I guess this is expected. I think a tactic change will be needed next month.

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Goalscorers this month

Tom Patchett: 1

Dylan McKerr: 1

Benjamin Agnew: 1

Goal of the Month

With only 3 goals and two of them being penalties, this was easy

Stinker of the Month

McAllister gives away a completely needless penalty.

 

 

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On 28/01/2022 at 12:24, BadManager said:

The eyebrows on Liam Canning are quite something.

Oh, and well done fighting into promotion.

Haha yeah they are. And thanks, hopefully we survive and can then push on in the coming seasons.

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Back in style: November 2022

A great month for us as we bounced back from two bad months and have put ourselves back in the mix of getting into the Promotion Group, this happened after a tactic change where I doubled down on my possession style. I also won a Manager of the Month award again which was great and I also got a slight reputation increase! Hugh Hamill also had a great month after disappointing last month. I've had to take him out the team sometimes but it's expected with a young player.

Unfortunately Tom Patchett who has mainly been our backup striker got injured for 2 months, which means Dylon Nixon our youth striker will now be our backup striker. Ben Mitchell also started complaining about his game time and said I didn't fulfil my promise to him. To be honest he never played well enough when he did play so my hands were tied. The two centre backs that start ahead of him Jack Graham and Cameron Scates, disagree with him, and I'm not surprised. Unfortunately this also meant that Graham and Scates are now in a secondary social group by themselves.

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Scouting

I increased our scouting package to cover the Northern Ireland league as we desperately need more players for our scouts to find, it's made a massive difference and hopefully we can bring in some better quality players soon.

I also want to have a better analysis of my upcoming opponents so I requested a performance analyst which the board accepted!

Tactics

We changed to a 4-3-3 to get our wingers higher up the pitch and we also took our slow tempo and short passing game to the extreme to try and stop the opponent getting the ball so our defence has less opportunities to get exposed. We also pushed our players up the field so our players are closer to the goal.

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Other news in the football world

Viera gets sacked by Crystal Palace

The "Goal 50 2022: Best 50 players in the world" Top 3:

  • Haaland
  • Salah
  • Ronaldo

Goalscorers this month

Hugh Hamill: 2

Cameron Scates: 2

Conor Courtney: 1

Craig McAllister: 1

Daniel McIlhatton: 1

Michael Tolan: 1

Benjamin Agnew: 1

Goal of the month

Hamill with the goal of a killer

Stinker of the month

Disappointing from McAllister and Manderson

 

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Player Spotlight: Hugh Hamill

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This is a new section I will be doing every few in-game months that highlights an interesting player either from my team or within the football world.

17 year old Hugh Hamill born in Castledown, the hometown of Moyola Park, is one of the most exciting young players to come from the Moyala Park academy in recent years and has also played the most first team matches by far out of the current crop of youngsters.

The small wingers skills lie in his pace, determination and dribbling ability, with his dribbling probably being the best in the team. His crossing has also been a highlight with some excellent crosses after his mazy runs. 

He made his debut in the 2021/2022 season, playing 10 games, scoring 1 goal and getting 1 assist and impressing in virtually all his appearances. Once he turnt 17 he was offered a new contract and he demanded that he go on loan as part of the agreement, which shows he is serious about making it as a top player. His loan was a semi-success, he played regularly for Wakehurst, but didn't play that well. However it was in the current season, 2022/2023 that he truly broke into the first team. He started the season in the Reserves but after impressing in a cup match in August he became a regular fixture in the first team and then eventually getting promoted to the first team squad. So far he has got 3 goals and 3 assists in 21 appearances.

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Reverting to the mean, no playoffs for us: December 2022

It will be another season in the NIFL Championship as we failed to make the Promotion Group. Conor Courtney our starting striker got injured early in the month which meant both our strikers were injured (Patchett returned for the last match) and we ended up with only 1 win this month which was against a lower league team in the Irish Cup, and Dylon Nixon our youth striker scored on his debut. However our league form was bad, as we lost all our games and we ended up being just 1 win away from being in the Promotion Group. We will be competing in the Relegation Group for the rest of the season but we are so far ahead of the bottom teams that we shouldn't be threatened with actually getting relegated.

Our team isn't good enough for this league and we desperately need new players coming in. Thankfully we made 3 transfers towards the end of the month.

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Transfers and debuts

The cup match against Lower Maze saw youngsters Dylon Nixon (Striker) and Joe Grace (Centre back) get their debuts, a great moment for them.

Our team is not good enough for this league and I've been unsuccessful with getting our training facilities upgrades; and that added to the fact we only train twice a week means our players don't improve much. This means we need to bring in some good quality players in. So its no surprise that I was delighted when I saw I had a recruitment meeting with the DoF and chairman and we identified a few good left wingers, strikers and centre backs.

We weren't able to get all the players we wanted but we were able to bring in one striker, Aaron Canning, and two centre backs, Darren O'Leary and Anthony Dillon. Unfortunately the more experienced players wouldn't join us so we had to bring in two 17 years olds and one 16 year old respectively. Funnily enough Aaron Canning, and Darren O'Leary were were released from Ballinamallard United, which is no surprise as their academy is excellent and they have a few youth players in their first team. They are also both ready for the first team but which is great. Anthony Dillion will join us from Armagh in January and will be in the Reserve team. 

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The team has only slightly improved, not as much as I wanted. The summer transfer window will be huge for us.

Goalscorers this month

Dylon Nixon: 1

Conor Courtney: 1

Tom Patchett: 1

Goal of the month

Debut goal for 17 year old Dylon Nixon

Stinker of the month

Simple over the top ball from the goalkeeper. We should be defending this better.

 

 

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Other football news: December 2022

World Cup

  • Netherlands won the world cup final against Croatia
  • England didn't qualify
  • Scotland got to the semi-finals of the world cup, monumental!

Donny  Van De Beek with the winning goal in the World Cup Final

 

Ballon d'Or

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FIFA Men's Best Player

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Win in the cup and a couple draws: January 2023

An improvement on last month but we are still looking for our first league win in two months. However this does mean we should avoid relegation as we are 10 points clear and we've exceeded expectation in the Irish Cup, Overall its looking like it should be a successful season as we were only expected to fight bravely against relegation, and with our limited squad we've done well.

Our performances in the league were decent, we have been solid defensively but attacking wise we need to more shots as we aren't shooting and scoring enough.

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Transfers

We got busy this month really trying to improve the quality of the squad with a left winger and another centre back. We needed quality, not depth, and we identified some great players to achieve this. Unfortunately though we weren't able to get any of the deals over the line as either the DoF couldn't reach a good agreement or the player ended up joining a different team instead. The only bit of business we were able to get over the line was a loan for versatile defender Ben McKeown on deadline day who can cover both right back and centre back. He should provide solid cover for centre back and challenge for the right back spot. The only downside is his high wages but we did need better quality cover for those positions.

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To get these transfers over the line we unfortunately had to release some players. We ended up letting Ben Mitchell go, who wanted to leave anyway and inexplicably rejected offers from other clubs. We let go of Lee Harkin who was a key player for us last season but barely featured this season - and who complained saying he should be an important player - it was sad to let him go. And finally we released a 19 year old Reserves striker Jordan McFadden who was good but not better than our first team options who are young themselves, regardless though he should have a bright future.

Goal of the month

Banger from Tolan after some good play

 

Stinker of the month

Unfortunately we conceded an equaliser in the last minute

 

 

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A defining few days: End of January to beginning of February 2023

It's been a tense few days. Deadline day ended with us bringing in a player who can provide cover for CB and RB but losing Lewis Mearns our highly rated right winger to a club that are two leagues below us. It shouldn't have happened but we weren't able to offer him a good enough contract due to financial restrictions and our reputation let us down.

Two days later on 2nd February I got an important email. It was an email from Thomas McKnight, the chairman of Cliftonville in the NIFL Premiership, offering me an interview for his struggling side. Cliftonville are a historic club, the oldest club in Ireland and founded by the Irish football pioneer John McAlery. An enticing offer, especially with the financial problems Moyola Park FC are in; they lose money every month and frequently rely on the Chairman bailing the team out with his own money. This has meant our facilities can't be improved and we aren't able to improve our squad with quality players.

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However I have unfinished business at Moyola Park, I've always wanted to take them to the NIFL Premiership before leaving and Leslie Bell the chairman of Moyola Park was the one who gave me a chance at being a manager.

I decided I'll go for the interview so I can learn a bit more about the job, but I'm in no way certain if I'll join if offered the job.

Lets find out what happens next...

 

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Cliftonville: February 2023

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After deliberations with friends and family - some within the community of a video game called Football Manager - I decided to accept the Cliftonville job after my successful interview. It wasn't an easy decision but it's for the best of my career. I accepted a lower wage for this job, but I think the step up in quality is worth it. But make no mistake about it, it will be a tough job, we are expected to be the 'best of the rest' which means finishing 4th every season after this current season which has been a relegation threatened one. We will also have the chance to qualify for Europe each season as their are 4 European spots, with the last spot via a domestic playoff.

Cliftonville are the oldest club in Ireland, founded in 1879 by Irish football pioneer John McAlery. We are quite a successful club, winning quite a few trophies in the 20210s, however we aren't anywhere near the biggest clubs in Northern Ireland.

Our trophy cabinet with our most recent trophy coming 4 years ago in 2019 with the County Antrim Shield

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A beautiful video showing our new home:

Ambitions

I eventually want to crack the top 3 who are the 'best' and are all professional clubs, a big challenge but one I am up for. I've told the staff here that I don't want to leave this club until I've won a league title. I am also not hiding from the fact that at one point I want to travel to England and manage their and hopefully one day manage The Arsenal, which is the crown jewel job for me.

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22 minutes ago, Continum said:

Could I ask how you're finances are when having the DoF in charge of transfers and renewing of contracts?

My DoF has come up with good/acceptable wages for all my players apart from 1 or 2 players. For the players were my DoF failed to make an agreement with a player it's because my DoF didnt want to pay as much as the player wanted, whereas I would have probably accepted the players demands. So the DoF is generally more frugal than me, but it does mean we miss out on some players.

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1 minute ago, Platinum said:

My DoF has come up with good/acceptable wages for all my players apart from 1 or 2 players. For the players were my DoF failed to make an agreement with a player it's because my DoF didnt want to pay as much as the player wanted, whereas I would have probably accepted the players demands. So the DoF is generally more frugal than me, but it does mean we miss out on some players.

I see. I find my DoF putting in a lot of clauses, which I don't like. Especially not the % wage raise each year. I used to avoid that one like the plague. I don't have a very good DoF though. But the chairman seem to like him, so what can I do, lol. Sometimes I wonder how much the stats of the DoF actually makes a difference, like the negotiation attribute. I haven't played with a "DoF mode" long enough to find out. Hopefully I will.

 

Anyways, good luck on your next chapter. I'll be following along.

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1 minute ago, Continum said:

I see. I find my DoF putting in a lot of clauses, which I don't like. Especially not the % wage raise each year. I used to avoid that one like the plague. I don't have a very good DoF though. But the chairman seem to like him, so what can I do, lol. Sometimes I wonder how much the stats of the DoF actually makes a difference, like the negotiation attribute. I haven't played with a "DoF mode" long enough to find out. Hopefully I will.

 

Anyways, good luck on your next chapter. I'll be following along.

My players didnt have clauses tbh. I may have seen a couple % wage increase but not any crazy numbers. My main issue has been his inability at reaching deals.

I havent gone far enough into the game to know how much of an impact an excellent DoF makes but from reading around I think the 'negotiating' attribute makes a big difference in making good deals.

And thanks next update will be today/tomorrow. 

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  • Platinum changed the title to [FM22] From Northern Ireland to Infinity: Training and tactics is our speciality

Cliftonville: Squad overview and season targets

Cliftonville Football Club

Upon taking the job the board informed me that their expectations were that I finish in the top half of the league table and that this was extremely important  - which I interpreted as being fired if I didn't achieve that aim. This is a very difficult goal for the season.

The league splits into a Promotion and Relegation Group in 6 matches time and we are only 1 point away from escaping the Relegation Group with a very real chance of relegation if we end up in that group. The top 6 teams in the league go into the Promotion Group and the bottom 6 teams in the Relegation Group. We are only 1 point ahead of the team that is 7th and 5 of our remaining 6 matches are against top half teams - this will be tough. 

Meeting the team

I met the team for the first time and they were just as excited as I was to get started. I didn't make any promises to them for the rest of the season, which they were a bit disappointed about, but they were still raring to go, ready to reach new heights in the future.

Squad

We have a talented squad, a big step up in quality from the Moyola Park squad.

The standout players I noticed are Paul O'Neill, who I see as being an inside forward in the mould of Salah or Ronaldo. I really think I can make him one of the best players in the league. He's also 6"2 so can absolutely dominate in the air.

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We also have Gormley who is our all time top goalscorer with 168 league goals for the club. He has won the leagues golden boot 5 times and player of the year 1 time; he is now 33 years old but still has some quality and is our best striker.

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Lastly our two goalkeepers look great. Both of them have come from our academy. Declan Dunne, 22 years old, is our first choice and is solid and can improve further. Padraig Linton, 18 years old has great potential. We also have a few players with quality in the youth teams.

Unfortunately we only have 2 quality centre midfielders so I will have to convert some other players into midfielders, starting with Mcnamenm who is a normally a right winger.

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Tactics

My philosophy in football remains the same but how we implement it can change. As long as we have the ball the opponent can't score. We aim to keep the ball, and wait for opening in the opposition defence. 

The formation is largely built around the qualities of Paul O'Neill and our right back McDonagh. McDonagh has almost no defensive qualities to speak of, but going forward he is excellent so will be an attacking wing back. Paul O'Neill is an attacking Inside Forward from the left hand side. To balance this out our right winger is more defensive and our left back is more defensive. With this formation we are a great threat from the wings while our midfielders and strikers can be the workmen.

We've gone for an extremely hardworking midfield three with McMenamin being converted into a defensive midfielder. Hale seems to have some quality in both attacking and defensive phases too.
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Dynamics

We have a good mix of Team Leaders and Influential players in the club which should help us. At Moyola we struggled as we had no Team Leaders, so hopefully this will help us going forward.

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Staff

The board quickly bought in a DoF to help me, as they know I am a head coach that primarily focuses on the tactics and training. The club quickly bought in Gary Cowan for his first job as a DoF.

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Onwards and upwards: February 2023

Cliftonville Football Club » Squad goals

We had a great February that was well above expectations and means we have secured our place in the top half of the table regardless of what happens during the rest of the season. There is a noticeable step up in quality in this league that I notice in this match, players pass quicker and have more skill on the ball.

The first 2 matches of the month I wasn't yet manager, but the rest of month were matches I was in charge of and we got 3 wins and 1 draw in the league, including a great win against league leaders Linfield. Honestly the lads did really well and put in really impressive performances. We have to be stronger defensively though and control possession better, but the lads will learn.

Paul O'Neill delivered like I had hoped and has been an absolute revelation; scoring 5 goals in 3 games with a hattrick in his first match. He is skilful, tidy on the ball, powerful in the air and clinical. He has to work on his fitness though as he hasn't been able to finish any of our matches. I want to make him one of the best players in the league, and get him to achieve 20 goals a season.

One worry I do have is that when we go ahead early on in our matches, the players get complacent very quickly. This will have to rectified going forward.

Transfers

The players are starting to have some concerns about us not having a enough quality in the defensive midfielder position, and they are right. We've been trying to get a defensive midfielder in but to no avail so far, Gary Cowan our DoF has failed to agree terms with two players he suggested. We will have to continue trying next month. 

Goalscorers this month (not including the matches before I joined)

Paul O'Neill: 5

Joe Gormley: 1

Rory Hale: 1

Michael McCrudden (backup striker/inside forward): 1

Goal of the month

It had to be Paul O'Neills hatrick

 

 

 

Stinker of the month

N/A!

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The league split in two: March 2023

As was confirmed last month, we are in the Promotion Group. But we still had some big games this month with 'The North Belfast Derby' against the Crusaders. The Crusaders are one of the top 3 teams but have had a terrible season and might get relegated.

Gromley hasn't been good for us and missed two easy chances against Crusaders. When I took him off and replaced him with McCrudden, 32 years old,  he scored 2 goals to gain us a 2-2 draw with the Crusaders.

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Youth intake

We got a great youth intake, one of the best I've seen. We have some great prospects upfront, in midfield and at right back.

Here are some of the standouts:

Sean Eadie

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Danny Wells

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Reece O'Reilly

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Youth system

Other players we have in our youth team are below, and some of them I hope to give some playing time in the last few games of the season:

Rauri Jackson

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Shaun Gray

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Henry Mellon (played 4 times for the first team before I joined)

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Goalscorers this month

Michael McCrudden: 2

Paul O'Neill: 1

Jamie McDonagh: 1

Chris Curran: 1

Daniel Kearns: 1

Goal of the month

McCrudden levelling us with our great rivals

 

Stinker of the month

How did Gromley miss this

 

 

Edited by Platinum
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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Quiet Month: March 2023

We only had 2 matches this month so it was a very quiet one, but I was fairly happy with the results and we finished 6th in the league. We won the game we were expected to win against the overperforming Carrick and drew to professional club Crusaders who we would be expected to lose to.

Both matches were great games, We hung on against Carrick in a 4-3 thriller were Carrick scored two goals in the last 10 minutes but didn't have enough to get another goal. And against Crusaders we came form 2nil down to draw 2 all, with super sub McCrudden saving the day for us with both goals. He has firmly established himself as first choice striker for me now as he is performing better than Gormley.

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We have been desperately trying to bring in a defensive midfielder but the players have been rejecting us as we can't meet their wage demands. I will admit that we are targeting some very good players though.

Goalscorers this month

Paul O'Neill: 1

Michael McCrudden: 1

Chris Curran: 1

Daniel Kearns: 1

Jamie McDonagh: 1

Goal of the month

McCrudden gets us the equaliser after coming off the bench for Gormley to score his second goal of the game

 

Stinker of the month

Gormley had a terrible match, this is one of a few sitters he missed. He was later subbed off for McCrudden who got 2 goals.

 

Edited by Platinum
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Posted (edited)

Qualified!: April 2023

We continued our unbeaten run since I joined to book ourselves a place in the domestic playoffs which if we win get us a place in the Europa Conference League playoffs. A real highlifhgt was Henry Mellon, a 17 year old youth product who had played 5 games before I joined, got his two appearances under my management and scored his first professional goal in the lalst match in the league.

We also promoted a youngster called Rauri Jackson to the first team. He is a defensive midfielder and our team was in desperate need of one, with some players even being unhappy about it. Rauri made his debut and played 4 games for us this month.

Paul O’Neill has really done well for me and has now ended the season with 17 goals and we still have the play offs left. When I joined I predicted he could replicate a Mo Salah or Ronaldo for our league, and he is living up to that and has scored 8 goals in 9 games from the left hand side.

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I also won the Manager of the Month award for this month which was a great honour. And elsewhere Linfield won the league.

Youth

Our u18s won their league, which shows just how strong our academy is. I'm really impressed with them. Henry Mellon was the u18 league top goalscorer and Rauri Jackson had the second most assists.

Elsewhere in the world of Football

  • Bellingham won the nxGen award for best youngster in the world
  • Bayern Munich won the league and cup double

Goalcorers this month

Michal McCrudden: 3

Paul O'Neil: 2

Joe Gormley: 1

Daniel Kearns: 1

Henry Mellon: 1

Goal of the month

A great first professional goal for Henry Mellon

 

Stinker of the month

Our goalkeeper Declan Dunne had to come out and get the ball here

 

Edited by Platinum
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No Europe: May 2023

The month ended in disappointment as we lost in 1-0 the Domestic European Playoff semi-final against Larne, who are a top team.

However the odds were really stacked against us. We had a great Quarter-Final match against Carrick which we won 3-2 thanks to a fantastic McCrudden hat trick, and two days later we had to play Larne in the semi-final. Larne didn't have to play a quarter final match so they had 3 weeks to prepare for the match. Very unfair in my opinion, but thats how the league rewards teams for finishing high in the league. However 

I also took a ruthless decision, my assistant manager's contract was going to expire after the semi final. However we had an ex Cliftonville player called Mark Holland who wanted to join, he is very very skilled and has a similar philosophy on football as me, so I decided to terminate my current assistants contract and bought in Mark Holland a day before the semi finals. I'm not sure if that backfired for the semi final game but long term I believe it was the right decision. I was sad to see Declan O'Hara leave as he was also an ex Cliftonville player, but we had different philosophies and I don't think he was of the required skill level.

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We've had a great run of games since I joined so I can't complain and I'm excited for next season where I really want to get European football. Also by getting to the semi final we reached the clubs goal of being recognised as the best of the rest, which is great.

Goalscorers this month

Michael McCrudden: 3

Goal of the month

McCrudden completes his hat trick against Carrick with a powerful finish.

 

Stinker of the month

The goal we conceded against Larne in the semi final playoff match.

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ready for the new season, but not enough quality: Summer 2023

End of season awards

The end of season awards are below:

Best eleven, no surprises here

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O'Niell deservedley won our Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards

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Transfers

McDonagh refused to sign a new contract and eventually signed for league champions Linfield on a free which was a big loss. We also lost McClean, our centre back, and McMenamin our defensive midfielder assigning them permanently cost too much money. Daniel Kearns, our starting right winger has demanded to leave but no one wanted to buy him, even for free, so he is waiting until January now. 

We signed Gormley and Curran to a new contracts which is great as they are senior team leaders. McCrudden let his contract run out but he is still with us on a monthly running contract. We also promoted Henry Mellon to the first team and I envisage him being  a backup striker.

In terms of incomings we bought in no less than 7 players, in order to increase competition in all positions on the pitch, which is the sign of a top team, only 1 or 2 of them are expected to be starters while the others will be battling for a starting spot. I like to manage team chemistry so they will definitely need to bide their time.:

Liam Hughes: 21 year old Northern Irish goalkeeper we I expect to become first choice and will bring great competition in this area. He previously played for Liverpool and last season was on loan at Crusaders in our league.

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Sam Denham: Good 20 year old Scottish centreback I've loaned in from St Johnstone as a replacement for McClean, he should slot right into the starting 11. 

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Keenan Ferguson: English right back and centreback who has been bought in on loan from Cheltenham. He is fast and is a replacement for McDonagh, however he isn't as good as him, which isnt surprising as McDonagh was excellent.

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Oliver Shannon: Originally bought in as a right back but he seems to be a great defensive midfielder. He's a tough English 28 year old I got in on a free transfer from Wrexham

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Bobby Carroll: The 21 year old workhouse. I love a hard working player and he personifies this. He should start for us in the centre of midfield. The Engflishman is an Everton youth product and played for Torquay in the Vanarama National last season.

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Kieran McKechnie: Right winger I've loaned from Falkirk, he is a direct replacement for Kearns as Kearns wants to leave

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Armstrong Oko-Flex: 21 year old former Arsenal, Celtic and West Ham Academy product, my scouts and coaches rate him highly. He can play in any of the attacking positions, and I expect him to give O'Neill good competition in the left forward position.

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Overall I have bought in some decent players, unfortunately didn't get in any of our first choices as I think I may have been a bit too ambitious. I wanted to make a team good enough to challenge for the league title, however I think our team this season is slightly worse than our team last season. However we should still qualify for Europe. Speaking of Europe Paul O'Neill signed a new contract but we promised him we will qualify for Europe in two seasons. Just as the transfer window shut our scouting department started to improve and find quality players so next season and possibly in January we should see some better players coming in.  I think I've also seen the value of brining in hardworking players after seeing Bobby Carroll.

Lastly we let some players leave who weren't getting much game time.

Preseason

Our preseason was decent with a real highlight being a 3-3 draw with Rotherham from League One in England. Rory Hale and Paul O'Neill particularly stood out during preseason.

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Personal Goals

I believe our team is slightly weaker than last season so I expect a top half finish, which is in line with what the board want. Also I want to win a cup competition this season, it's very important to me and we will be in 3 competitions so I don't see why not. In my first season with Moyola Park we got very close as we got to two Semi-Finals.

I plan on really giving youth a chance this season and I even told the first team players I would be doing that, which they were happy with.

Also I just started to train for my Continental License C which I hope to finish this season.

Footballing World

League champions: Man Utd, Bayern Munich, PSG

Champions League winners:Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich won a quadruple after brining in Mbappe last summer, a great season for them.

Manager changes: Guardiola lets his contract run out at Man City. Klopp joins Man City and the Guardiola joins Liverpool in a shock twist

Big signings: De Ligt joined PSG, Knate joined Inter

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Steady start: August 2023

We started the season with two wins and two draws, with one of the wins coming in the Bet McClean Cup, which is one of the trophies we want to win.
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In our opening match of the season we made a great comeback scoring 2 goals in the last 10 minutes, with academy graduate Henry Mellon getting our equaliser. Liam Hughes, our new goalkeeper, had a tough first two matches as he made several mistakes and got dropped for the following match where Declan Dunne performed great in goal. He did however return for our cup match where he performed great.

Our other new signings have settled in well. Armstrong Oko-Flex didn't get in the squad until the cup match against Portstewart, but he announced himself with a hatrick of headed goals, and will definitely be pushing for a starting spot now. Keenan Ferguson has performed great, starting every league match and while not as good as McDonagh from last season, he is doing a great impression. Oliver Shannon is doing well as our defensive midfielder too. I'm slowly easing in Bobby Carroll into our central midfield but he looks great in his one performance this month. Unfortunately Kieran McKechnie hasn't looked great for us so far despite starting every league match, but hopefully he is just settled in.

In terms of tactics we have continued with our 4-3-3 from last season.

 

Goalscorers this month

Armstrong Oko-Flex: 3

Paul O'Neill: 2

Henry Mellon: 1

Kieran McKechnie: 1

Michael McCrudden: 1

Goal of the Month

Academy graduate scores a late equaliser against Glenavon. Great stuff!

 

Stinker of the Month

A clanger from Liam Hughes in his first game for us as he concedes a soft second goal against Glenavon. The first goal he conceded against them was also soft

 

 

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  • Platinum changed the title to [FM22] From Northern Ireland to Infinity: We have arrived in England

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