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


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Solid September: September 2023

We had a record breaking great set of results this month as we didn't lose any matches and got ourselves into 2nd in the league. Bobby Carroll has really started to cement himself in the team and is fast making himself a key player, he works tirelessly making great interceptions and making great passes and through balls, He really seems to be the complete midfielder. He is making me really value a hard working player. And to top it off he scored a great free kick this month.

Liam Hughes has started to play much better in goal this month, but still has some unconvincing moments so I will keep my eye on him.

Also we won another cup match in the County Antrim Shield which is great.

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We also gave a debut to 17 year old Steven Burns in our cup match. He looked great and reminded me of a young Ryan Giggs. He is one to keep an eye on.

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We broke our consecutive wins record with 6 wins:

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Lastly Paul O'Neill is really starting to get the plaudits he deserves, I saw the potential in him when I joined this club and he is delivering:

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Goalscorers this month

Michael McCrudden: 3

Paul O'Neill: 2

Rory Hale: 1

Bobby Carroll: 1

Joe Gormley: 1

Goal of the Month

Great free kick from Bobby Carroll as he scored his first goal for the club

 

Stinker of the Month

A crushing last minute equaliser conceded against Ballinamallard Utd

 

 

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Out of a cup: October 2023

We crashed out of the Bet McLean Cup which was really disappointing as Carrick are our the bottom of our league and they scored a winner in the last second of the match. Other than that we had a decent month, getting to the Semi-Final of the County Antrim Shield which is great! Our third semi-final in 3 seasons, and we got a win and a draw in the league putting us in 3rd in the league. We got a great win against league leaders Larne with Pau O'Neill finishing a nice team move.

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Sam Denham, the CB we bought in on loan, has shown himself to be a great CB so far this season, probably the best I've ever seen. The interceptions and tackles he makes are immense. He has made a great partnership with Aaron Donnelly at CB and they are keeping the underwhelming vice-captain Jamie Harney out of the starting 11.

Liam Hughes had a very shaky month making mistakes in 2 games and playing great in the other. His inconsistency meant Declan Dunne played the opening match of the month, however Hughes came to my office complaining about game time so I gave him a chance in the subsequent games where he had mixed form.

Unfortunately Keenan Ferguson is injured for 3 weeks so Mervyn, our 22 year old academy product, will have to step in and replace him and I have faith in him.

This has been our tactic so far (with Mervyn replacing the injured Ferguson):

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Goalscorers this Month

Paul O'Neil: 1

Jamie Harney: 1

Michael McCrudden: 1

Goal of the Month

Great through ball and then goal by O'Neill against league leaders Larne

 

 

Stinker of the Month

Another poor attempt at a save by Hughes

 

 

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Posted (edited)

We are in the final! : November 2023

We only managed one win this month which ended up being a month with lots of problems. The one positive is that we are in the final of the County Antrim Shield which is great!! My first ever final and I am really looking forward to it. It will be against Ballymena United who are in the lower half of our league in January.

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Our form really started to suffer because of unhappy players. Declan Dunne, our other goalkeeper, also became unhappy at a lack of playing time. The issue is that I had them both as First Team Goalkeepers, but which is bad mistake on my side and the reason I did it was because I wasn't sure who I wanted to be first choice yet. I also promised him he would play more but soon after decided to lower his playing time to Cup Goalkeeper, which he agreed to. Both of my goalkeepers form this month was really poor too.

We also had all 3 of our team leaders become unhappy because of their playing time and they also got decent dressing room support. Our team leaders are Joe Gormley (Striker and club legend), Jamie Harney (CB and vice-captain) and Chris Curran (CM and captain). All of them were seen as at least first team regulars but none of them were starting for me, with Gormley essentially being frozen out due to consistently poor performances and the great form of Michael McCrudden. I told Gormley he can leave and he remained really unhappy and I told Curran and Harney I will play them more.

Lastly Ives, my left back, told me he wants to leave for a new challenge and that conversation didn't go down too well with me.

The only other good news apart from the final is that I signed a new contract until the end of next season, May 2025.

Elsewhere in the world of football

Cristiano Ronaldo wins the Goal Best Player in the World:

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Goalscorers this Month

Paul O'Neill: 3

Michael McCrudden: 2

Armstrong Oko-Flex: 1

Goal of the Month

Late winner by Paul O'Neill to get us into the final of the County Antrim Shield!

 

Stinker of the Month 

Unnecessary penalty given away by Denham which meant we conceded a late goal and lost the game to Glenavon.

 

 

Edited by Platinum
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Back on track: December 2023

We came back with a vengeance in December with 4 wins and 2 draws. The unhappiness of  our team leaders persists but our form hasn't faltered. Declan Dunne and Liam Hughes our battling it out for the number 1 shirt this month with them both getting game time and both their performances improving. However at the end of the month Liam complained about still not playing enough given the promise I gave him which I do understand. I will give him a run of a few games next month and if he doesn't impress then I will just have to tell him.

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I also reached a milestone of 100 games as a manager against Ballinamallard which was great.

End of Year Awards

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Goalscorers of the Month

Paul O'Neill: 4

Armstrong Oko-Flex: 2

Rory Hale: 2

Michael McCrudden: 1

Henry Mellon: 1

Kieran McKechnie: 1

Goal of the Month

A taste of the great play that Ferguson brings

 

Stinker of the Month

It was bound to happen at some pint; we made a mistake playing out from the back

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

We won the cup!!! : January 2024

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I won my first ever cup, I can't believe it! And to top it off we won really convincingly and scored our first goal in the 2nd minute. We completely dominated the game and it was a great day, have a look at the stats:

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The opening goal is below

 

Also we had a really fantastic month getting 8 wins and 1 draw and made a new winning & unbeaten run record for the club. This was the most congested month I've ever played, we had 9 games in one month which is way too may games. Its great we have a strong and large squad as it means we can rotate without a dip in quality.

I doubted our signings at the beginning of the season but they have all been excellent.

We also win in the Northern Irish Cup Fifth Round where we played all of our promising youngsters and Jude Coyle an upcoming striker scoring a double with one of his strikes being world class. 

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Transfers

We bought in two players to hopefully push us towards the league title which would be a dream

Fok Ho Man

18 year old winger and striker that has terrorised me since my time at Moyola Park and has also been terrorising me and the rest of the Dankse Premier League this season. We broke our transfer record to bring him in for £7.5k.

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Gregg Sloggett

Great centre midfielder which we have bought in for a bargain and he will be a great role model to the youngsters. He will battle it out with Shannon for a starting role in defensive midfield, but I expect Sloggett to win this battle as he has more to his game and he is a top professional.

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Levi Ives

Our left back Levi Ives agreed to leave for Sutton United in the English Vanarama National which is a shame

Accolades

I ended up winning the Manager of the Month award:

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Goalscorers this Month

Michael McCrudden:  7

Paul O'Neill: 2

Rory Hale: 2

Jude Coyle: 2

Chris Gallagher: 1

Armstrong Oko-Flex: 1

Bobby Carroll: 1

Steven Burns: 1

Chris Curran: 1

Goal of the month

World class goal from academy player Jude Coyle

 

Edited by Platinum
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2 hours ago, deltablue said:

Wow, busy month!

Yep and a few more updates to come today! 

 

(Note: I edited my my recent post with some extra images and info)

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Top of the league: February 2023

We kept our unbeaten run going and we ended the month being top of the league. We are playing so well that there really is a chance we end the season in 1st place. The table is extremely close, but we have done excellently since November and have only lost 2 league games all season. Larne are a great team though and hardly drop points so it will be very close, and we can't forget last seasons league winners Linfield. Also we are now at 16 matches unbeaten in a row in the league which is a Danske Bank Premiership record!

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Liam Hughes has cemented himself as first choice and has been putting in some great performances since January now. We don't concede more than 1 goal per game and often get clean sheets. We rarely score more than 2 goals a game but our defence is so solid that it doesn't matter, and truthfully we completely outperform every team we play against.

Michael McCrudden is doing the business and leading the line at 32 years old. Fok Ho Man is taking a while to settle in with poor performances but he did score a wonder goal for us. On the other hand Gregg Sloggett has settled in very well and starts for us at defensive midfield now

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I was extremely happy with our Northern Irish Cup win over Larne as we have knocked out our biggest competitors in that competition.

Other news in the football world

Moyola Park, my previous club, are struggling badly and are in last place in the Lough Championship. They are far from safety and definitely get relegated unfortunately.

Goalscorers this Month

Michaek McCrudden: 4

Fok Ho Man: 1

Armstrong Oko-Flex

Goal of the Month

Fok Ho Man wonder goal which won goal of the month

 

Stinker of the Month

Its not a stinker because this strike was unstoppable

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Time for the league to split: March 2023

A decent month for us, I cant call if a great month even though we got 2 wins and a draw. The league table is so tight that getting 1 win and 1 draw was very disappointing for us as it meant we are now 2nd in the table. We should have won against Glenovan and we completely outplayed them. We are in the Northern Irish Cup Semi-Final though which is great! And we are playing it against a third division side.

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The end of this month meant it is time for the league to split into two halves and we have 5 matches left to hopefully win the league do the double. That has to be the goal now.

Tactics

We play really great football with clear patterns of attack and a good understanding between all of our players. Ferguson bombs up the pitch and puts in great crosses. Carroll is all over the midfield, always running and making interceptions and playing key through balls, while Hale drives through the midfield on powerful runs. Sloggett has recently replaced Shannon in the sta4rting line up and he does everything Shannon can do but with just a bit more consistency. They both make great crucial tackles and interceptions but Sloggett also dictates the tempo of our play with his passing ability. Our defence plays a high line (unless Harney plays) as they are all fast and intelligent. and Hughes in goals comes off his line to help sweep up and get involved in our passing game. Once our midfield have the ball they know to get it to our magic men out wide.

Depending on who we are playing against O'Neill will either be upfront with McKechnie playing right wing and Oko-Flex playing as an inside forward on the left. Or McCrudden is upfront, with O'Neill as an inside forward on the left and Oko-Flex as a right winger/ O'Neill and Oko-Flex in particular are tall, strong and skilful players who can change games by themselves. Our passing and movement between the midfield, Ferguson and our attack is absolutely superb and a joy to behold.

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Youth Intake

Our youth intake was disappointing this year, so far I disagree with my coaches opinions and don't think they will play at this level.

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Other news in the world of football

NxGen:

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Goalscorers this Month

Paul O'Neill: 1

Sam Denham: 1

Rory Hale: 1

Gregg Sloggett: 1

Goal of the Month

Great goal by O'Neill which won goal of the month. Our second goal of the month in a row

Stinker of the Month

Hughes should have done better here

 

Edited by Platinum
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Champions (Can you believe it?): April 2024

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Im lost for words and I can't believe it. We have won the league and which means we have won the double. And to add to that I'm in the final of the Northern Irish Cup. Truly amazing. These are the first trophies I've ever won and no matter what happens in the final of the Northern Irish Cup this will always be a truly memorable season. And the way we won the league was truly amazing. Get strapped in.

We got off to great start to the month winning our first two league matches and getting a massive win over Linfield to kick them out of the title race which meant it was us and Larne left in the battle. I was still second in the league and 1 point behind Larne. Then came the Northern Irish Cup Semi-Final which was played at a neutral venue. We played against Distillery who are 1st in the Northern Irish third division, so it should have been a relatively simple match. However fixture congestion (which Larne didn't have due to losing in the cup) meant we had to rotate massively and every player that started was a backup player. Henry Mellon missed a penalty but we then went ahead in the match and Distillery equalised in the 90th minute which was a real downer. But we were able to win the match in extra time with Paul O'Neill coming on from the bench to put us ahead and Jamie Harney putting the game to bed.

We then went into the Coleraine game needing to win as Larne and Linfield played against each other, and because Larne had less rest than Linfield I thought there was a good chance they would lose and we could get to 1st in the league. We had a rubbish start to the match giving away a penalty and falling behind 1-0 in the 4th minute. To make matters worse Larne were beating Linfield 2-0 and so if scores stayed the same I would essentially be out of the title race. Amazingly Linfield made a massive comeback and were beating Larne 3 - 2 in the 70th minute, and then in the 74th minute super sub Jude Coyle on his third appearance scored a dramatic equaliser for us against Coleraine and he celebrated like crazy. So the score ended 1-1 in my match and Larne were beaten, meaning that me and Larne were joint on points but Larne had a superior goal difference of +6 goals. We only had two league matches left.

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Jude Coyles equaliser:

 

The next match (and penultimate league match) was against Larne , the title challengers who I am joint on points with and have a +6 goal difference which I wont surpass as I rarely ever score more than two goals in a game. This was essentially a must win now. What happened next is the best moment I've ever had as a football manager. The evening before the match my assistant manager Mark Holland advised me to talk to the players and tell them there is no pressure in this match as no one expected us to win the league. He is a wise man with world class man management skills (this isn't hyperbole) so I listened to him. The team reacted wonderfully and we were ready for the big day. The match started and in the 2nd minute Kieran McKechnie scored a rebound to put as ahead, and what happened next was incredible, over the next 86 minutes we scored 5 more goals and conceded none. Yes we won 6-0, the biggest win in my managerial history and only the 2nd time we had scored more than 2 goals in the league since January. Paul O'Neill turnt up in this game, just like in the County Antrim Final, and he scored 4 goals of supreme quality. This is a top team and I am proud of them. This meant we had completely turnt the table on its head and we had a +8  goal difference advantage over Larne and even if we lost our final match of the season we would likely be champions.

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Kieran McKechnies opener in the 2nd minute:

 

 

2 of Paul O'Neill's four goals:

 

 

 

We ended up drawing the final match 0-0 and being crowned champions. We had the highest points tally since 5 years ago with 80 points. 

This was our first league title in 10 years, truly amazing. 

Other team news

  • Bobby Carroll who has been outstanding for us and our key midfielder has interest from Hull in League One which isn't a surprise but it will be a shame if he does leave.  I tried to offer him a new contract but he isn't interested.
  • Crusaders who are a Professional club ended up being last in the table which is really embarrassing and a massive massive shock, will be interesting to see where they go from here.
  • Moyola Park got relegated from Lough Championship and so are now back in the league they were in when I initially joined them. I think my decision to leave them has paid off.
  • We have organised the transfer of centre back Sam Graham from Rochdale who will be a key player for us next season and increase the quality of the team. I have also extended the loan of Sam Denham for a year. I expect them to be our centre back partnership next season and Donnelly will play left back, replacing the departing Ives.
  • We have qualified for the Champions League first qualifying round. At a minimum I believe we will eventually enter the Conference League group stage, as I think that is guaranteed.
  • I won Manager of the Month
  • Our defence was amazing, we only conceded 25 goals in the league, with the next closest having conceded 38 goals
  • The dressing room hierarchy changed with Rory Hale becoming a team leader and Jamie Harney dropping down to a Highlight Influential Player

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Awards

We swept away the league awards this season

Top Goalscorer - He has hit the heights I hoped he would and is a big game player

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Player of the Year - all my players in the top 3

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Best Young Player - the best CB I've seen

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Seven players in the Team of the Year

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Manager of the Year

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Posted (edited)

Hall of Fame Manager: May 2023

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We won the treble.

Truly amazing and well done to a great club effort, we all played our part. And our summer signing of Sloggett added some extra quality too. Mark Holland gave me excellent advise again for a Team Meeting too. A true team effort.

It was quite a dull cup final but we managed to win the match on penalties against Dungannon. Both of Dungannons youngsters missed a penalty in the final, including Tommy Blair who is a 17 year old with a great future ahead of him (he scored 15 goals last season and 22 goals this season in all competitions). We did deserve to win the match though as overall we had the better chances.

We have performed really well this season and I am proud, we are now on a 30 match unbeaten run in all competitions. It's the first time the club has won Northern Irelands most prestigious cup since 1979.

With 3 trophy wins I have now entered the Hall of Fame in Northern Ireland and I'm a favoured person at Cliftonville as well as our top performers this season. It is truly an honour to be in the Hall of Fame and it motivates me even more to win trophies:

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Season Awards

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Bobby Carroll won the Fans' Player and Young Player of the year award which is no surprise. Liam Hughes really turnt things around and became our signing of the season and broke our clean sheet record.

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Future

It looks the board are more ambitious now with a clearly defined playing style in our vision and aims to consistently challenge for the title year in year out in the next 4 years. I want to be consistently challenging now though and be backed by the board so Ill be asking for better facilities.

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Edited by Platinum
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Posted (edited)

Terrible discussions with the board: May 2023

After the great high of the season and memories I will never forget, my greatest ever achievements, things have gone a bit sour for me. I am unhappy. I want us to push on and improve as a club, we just bought in a lot of money through competition wins, but it looks like we will be regressing.

It started with me finding out our facilities have downgraded as they are out of date. This was disappointing as all season I have asked us to improve our facilities. We only train twice a week so its imperative we have good facilities if we plan on competing at the top. I asked the board again if we could improve our facilities and they rejected it. Our finances are pretty good with us having money in the bank now.

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The next issue is my coaching badges. I decided to wait until the end of the season before taking my Continental B License as I didn't want to disrupt training. However the board told me they wouldn't allow me to do the coaching course out of fear I would leave. This was completely wrong and I couldn't believe it. Every manager in the league has a coaching badge above mine. After I asked them to reconsider they told me there's no chance of me taking my coaching badge.

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My coaching and mental skill is below and I want it to improve. Also you will see my reputation has gone up and I'm now 1.5 stars - this happened halfway through the season.

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The rejection of the coaching course was the tip of the iceberg for me, I want to push on with this club and cement us as the top team in Northern Ireland, but if the board will let our facilities degrade and won't let me take my coaching badges to improve myself then I can't agree with the direction they are going in. I don't want to wait 4 years to be competing again.

My aim was always to disrupt the top teams in this country and then move to England and create a great legacy at a club before moving to Arsenal. I have disrupted the top teams in Northern Ireland, and while I would have liked to manage Cliftonville in Europe as I now have them in the Champions League qualifiers, I believe that if I left the club now they would be in a great state. 

I decided to apply for jobs in England from League 2 to the Championship and Hearts in the Scottish Premiership. It's probably not a surprise but all the teams laughed me off except from Exeter in League 2. I did an interview with them which was a difficult interview, with them worried about me not managing in England before. Exeter is an ambitious team, they are fan owned, want to reach the playoffs next season and want automatic promotion the season after. They finished 20th this season but finished 8th and 6th in the seasons before so they severely underperformed last season. I also told Exeter that I would want to bring some staff with me, with me thinking about Mark Holland in particular as he is an exceptional Assistant Manager and definitely helped me win the treble.

While waiting for Exeter's response and deciding if I even wanted to join, Gillingham in League 2 told me they want to offer me an interview but my compensation will be too high. I spoke to the board about it but instead I told the board that I'm happy to stay as long as you let me do my coaching badge. There needs to be some give and take here. The board refused and after that my mind was made up. I would never resign as I will respect my contract, but I will leave to join Exeter if they offer me the job (as Cliftonville will receive compensation). One hesitation I have is that I will go from being able to play in Europe and being in one of the best teams in the country, to managing a team at the bottom of the professional football league pyramid, however this is what it takes to go from an unknown to a top manager.

Let's see what I decide to do and if Exeter offer me the job.

Elsewhere in the world of Football

League champions:

  • England: Man Utd
  • Germany: Bayern Munich
  • Spain: Barcelona
  • France: PSG
  • Italy: Juventus
  • Champions League: Liverpool (against Man Utd)

Best Player in Europe:

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Edited by Platinum
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  • Platinum changed the title to [FM22] From Northern Ireland to Infinity: We have arrived in England
Posted (edited)

July 2024: The Exeter City Journey

 

Exeter City to donate their FA Cup replay profits to food banks

 

On the 17th June 2024 I accepted a 2 year contract with Exeter City FC. I am delighted to be joining them and I believe it is the right club for me, and one I can be at for the long term. And on a personal level I am happy to be taking a step up and managing a Professional football club full time.

Club background

Founded in 1901, Exeter City FC is based in the city of Exeter in Devon, South West of England, which has a population of 131,000 people. Exeter City FC is owned by the club's supporters through the Exeter City Supporters' Trust and has been owned by them since 2003.

  • Exeter City F.C. was formed from two predecessor clubs, Exeter United F.C. and St Sidwell's United. Exeter United was a football club from Exeter, Devon, that played between 1890 and 1904. In 1904, Exeter United lost 3–1 to local rivals St Sidwell's United and after the match it was agreed that the two clubs should become one. The new team took the name 'Exeter City' and continued to play at Exeter United's ground, St James Park, where Exeter City still play today
  • City changed to its current colours of red and white in 1910. This was after having had a poor start to the season (only two wins out of 11). City abandoned its supposedly unlucky green and white kit, and turned out for the first time in red and white striped shirts at home to West Ham United on 12 November. The result of the game was a 0–0 draw, but five consecutive league wins came for the club in December, and the change of colours stuck.
  • After a tour of South America in 1914 to generate awareness of football in the continent, the club became the first side to play a national team from Brazil.
  • Exeter are one of two Devon clubs who compete in the Football League, the other being Plymouth Argyle, Exeter's local rivals.

 

The District of Exeter including Topsham shown within Devon

We play in a stadium called St. James Park that has a capacity of 8700. Its been our one and only stadium since the clubs inception.

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Our trophy cabinet is very empty, so we will have to create a real winning culture and history.

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Why I joined and why im excited

This club has everything I want in a club to build a real dynasty here.:

  • The board are very ambitious 
  • They have the finances to continue to grow
  • They are in a city without much other competing clubs
  • Using the youth system is part of the clubs vision

So it was a no brainer to join really. I want to take them to the Premier League.

Short term objectives

We are currently in League 2 and the club expect to reach the Play-Offs this season and achieve automatic promotion next season and then maintain League 1 status for a few years. These are high expectations but that's exactly what I want. We also have the finances to back our ambition, we have a whopping £300k available for transfers and £30k available in the wage budget which is very impressive for a League 2 side.

Long term objectives

Long term we have to win trophies and reach the Premier League. With the finances available and the ambition of the board I definitely think this is possible. Also I want to continue the teams tradition of developing players from the clubs youth system. 

Why I left Cliftonville

When I joined Cliftonville my aim was to disrupt the big 4 teams in the league by winning the league, some cups and become Professional. I thought it would take a few years to achieve that goal but I was able to achieve all of them apart from becoming Professional in 1 and a half years. After winning the treble and finding out we would be going backwards as a club rather than forwards from a structural point of view, I decided it was time to leave as my vision and the boards didn't match. Also as I had won everything in Northern Ireland and entered the Hall of Fame it was as good a time as any to move on to England. My goal was always to move to England, build a team up from the lower leagues and stay with them for a while, and then hopefully get a job at Arsenal. The main disappointment is that I didn't get to play in Europe with Cliftonville (next season they will) and I didn't get to establish myself as a club icon or legend. I did however become a fan favourite

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  • 2 weeks later...

Getting Started: June - August 2024

Im delighted to be at Exeter. Last season we finished 20th and this season the minimum expectation by the board is to reach the playoffs so a big improvement is needed, but I think we have bought in some good players this summer.

Staff

I bought my assistant manager Mark Holland and goalkeeping coach David Gurn from Cliftonville who are quality and can coach at the highest level. The board also bought in a Director of Football called Alex McDonald who previously played for Gillingham; he was our second choice and unfortunately was a significant downgrade on the boards first choice. However hopefully we can work well together.

Transfers

When I joined we had some quality players in our squad, particularly in CB and CM, however we have some big weaknesses, in particular we had no depth at CB, and we were missing a quality striker. Despite missing out on a lot of players we wanted (including Ben Cottrell who was a standout in the Danske Premiership last season)  we made 7 signings that should shape us up for getting that playoff spot and potentially challenging for the title this season. We also let many players leave on loan/let their contracts expire as our squad was massive.

Tommy Blair was my first signing. I had followed him since my time in Cliftonville and even tried to sign him while I was with them. He previously played for Dungannon in the Danske Bank Premiership and won 3 cups with them. He is a great player and at 18 years old he has scored 25 goals in 95 games. His goal scorning numbers will definitely improve and its his other qualities that really impress me. His finishing can be lethal as he takes first time shots, he has pace and most importantly he is a skilful player with high flair and has excellent technique. I have great expectations for him this season and I'm really glad to bring him to England.

He was a record breaker in Northern Ireland being the youngest player to score in the Danske Bank Premiership at 16 years and 201 days and youngest player and youngest goalscorer for Dungannon. He was also in the top 5 goalscorers in the Danske Bank Premiership last season with 16 goals.

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Jordan Turnball was bought in on trial and subsequently signed. He is a great player that can play at League 1 level.

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Jon Guthrie is another player that was bought in on trial and subsequently signed. He is also a great player that can play at League 1 level.

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He was bought in to compete with existing goalkeeper Gary Woods who had poor form last season.

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An experienced winger that can provide competition and was delivering the goods in League 1 for the last two seasons. The standards in the right wing position need to be higher and hopefully he can do provide this.

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An experienced defensive midfielder who I expect to be a solid squad player for us this season, we were light in depth for the defensive midfield position.

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A creative midfielder that can also defend that was bought in on loan. I expect him to provide competition for a starting position this season and provide some much needed depth in creativity in our CM position.

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Squad

After the signings we made during the summer we have a very strong squad with no big weaknesses. We have three great centre backs who could play in League 1 in Sam Stubbs, Jordan Turnball and Jon Guthrie. We also have two good goalkeepers competing against each other. We have some talented midfielders with a mix of defensive chops and creativity however I do think our creativity could improve. And in our attacking positions Tommy Blair is the standout but and we have a bit of quality sprinkled throughout. Hopefully Jordan Graham can bring some quality in the wide areas.

A player I'm really excited to manage is Scott Tomlinson who is an 18 year old who was bought in from South Africa last season. I have no idea how they found him but I'm glad they did

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We have two other good midfielders in Archie Collins and Matt Jay (can also play in all the attacking areas) who both came from our academy. 

We have a great attacking wing back in 23 year old Jack Sparkes who came from our academy, he only played 4 league matches last season and had poor form in the seasons before, so I hope I can help him reach his potential.

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Our captain is centre back Sam Stubbs and the newly appointed vice captain is Archie Collins who came from our academy.

17 year old Adilson Furtado has been promoted to the first team from our academy and will be a squad player for us.

Sonny Cox a player from our academy who was out on loan to the Vanarama North last season, but I expect him to be a mainstay in the first team this season in an inside forward position

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We have a great academy with 9 players in the first team squad currently coming from our academy:

  • Matt Jay (CM, 28)
  • Archie Collins (CM, 25)
  • Josh Key (RB, 24)
  • Jack Sparkes (DL, 23)
  • Sonny Cox (LF, 19)
  • Alex Hartridge (CB, 25)
  • Adilson Furtado (CM, 17)
  • Alfie Pond (CB, 19)
  • Harry Lee (GK, 19)

Youth

We have a great crop of youngsters in our academy, some of them are on loan as we don't have an u23 team. Some of our best youngsters are below:

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Tactics
I will be continuing my 4-3-3 formation from Cliftonville as it suits this team. Tommy Blair will be the spearhead of our attacks, both creating and scoring. Sparkes has all he qualities to be an excellent attacking wing back so our attacks from the left hand side should be very strong and Key gives us great solidity at right back. We can afford to play without a ball winning midfielder like a did with Cliftonville and instead play with a deep lying playmaker as our defence should be extremely.

We will play a very patient game, playing at a very slow tempo and making short passes until we find a good opening. This should mean our front three attackers receive the ball in promising positions and I will leave it up to them at that point.

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Preseason

We had a decent preseason, with a big win against Birmingham. Tommy Blair's skilfulness really impressed me and Furtado fit right in.

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 Season Preview
 With the additions we made should be good enough to challenge for the title or a play off spot. At the beginning of the season we were predicted 10th place but after signings have been made our new prediction is 2nd. This season we will be competing in:

  • EFL League 2
  • League Cup
  • FA Cup
  • EFL Trophy

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Tommy Blair at 18 years old is predicted to be the top goalscorer in the league:

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Great first month: August 2024

We had a great first month, avoiding defeat and finishing the month in 5th place. The two draws we got in the league were unfortunate as Tommy Blair didn't have his shooting boots on, but he has been great so far. We also began a great run in the Carabao Cup (EFL Cup), beating Bristol City who are in the Championship. Lastly I was delighted to manage my first professional game which was also my 130th game in management. Im confident we can have a great season and so far we have shown good defensive solidity, but we will have to start scoring more.

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Tommy Blair had a great start to life with us, scoring in 45 seconds on his debut which was also his first touch for us. He is able to stretch opponents with his runs and he is very skilful, he is able to hold up the ball and then beat his man with his excellent flair and technique even though he isn't tall. He is also fairly creative and creates good chances for others. He is comfortably the best striker I have ever managed and I can say that after only 1 month. Also Furtado made his debut and impressed.

One thing we have struggled with this month is keeping the ball - we do lots of poor passes but I put this down to my players still learning the tactics I want us to play

The team Dynamics is below:

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Goalscorers this month

Tommy Blair: 2

Corey Blackett-Taylor: 1

Jermaine Hylton: 1

Archie Collins: 1

Alex Hartridge: 1

Matt Jay: 1

Goal of the Month

 

 

No stinker of the month this month as I want us starting my (hopefully long) time at Exeter with positivity

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Elsewhere in the world of Football

England won the Euros in the summer beating Portugal on penalties. England were absolutely outplayed in the match and Bruno Fernandes missed a 90th minute penalty. Valverde was the manager who led England to glory and he left after the Euros, with Newcastle manager Ten Haag taking over.

Amazingly neither Saka nor Smith Rowe were ever called up to the national tea under Valverde so they didn't take part in the competition and Saka couldn't get his redemption from the Euro 2020 penalty miss.

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14 hours ago, DavidBeckham said:

Tommy Blair has the potential to be a very good advanced forward! Keep up the good work mate!

Thanks! And yeah he is some talent, I had to make good of my knowledge of Northern Ireland.

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Three all: September 2024

We got three wins and three losses in what I would say was a challenging month. Two of our losses came in cup matches against Chelsea U23s in the EFL Cup and Everton the Carabao Cup where we got thrashed 5 nil. The Carabao Cup match was unfortunate as I had to play my second string team due to fixture congestion.

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A worry I have is that we don't score enough goals despite creating a plethora of chances and it means we never end a match without it being tense. Tommy Blair needs to be more clinical with the chances he is getting. Also the quality of our passing can be truly terrible in some matches, I think I need to tinker with our midfield to make sure its a midfield that can keep the ball instead of constantly overhitting passes.

Injuries

We ended the month with two big injuries. Our left back Jack Sparkes who has started playing well recently will be out for 2 months and Jordan Graham our new right winger will be out for 5 weeks.

League Table

We are doing well in the league so I shouldn't be too harsh on oursevles. We are right in the mix, however if we want to keep it up our attackers need to be much more clinical.

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Goalscorers this Month

Tommy Blair: 2

Scott Tomlinson: 1

Corey Blackett-Taylor: 1

Sam Stubbs: 1

Goal of the Month

87th minute winner from Sam Stubbs after we practised corners in training the day before this match

 

Stinker of the Month

3rd goal in the 5 nil thrashing from Rafa Benitez' team

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Brother Ben said:

Great progress Platinum :thup:

Can I ask what you use to capture the highlights?

Thanks! I use OBS studio to record FM which is a free software.  Then I take the mp4 file and compress it using free online software to make it less than 10mb which is the file limit here. Feel free to DM me and I can explain in more detail

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