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[FM22] Islanders Challenge - University College Dublin


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The rules are quite simple, I'm limiting possible signings to the players:

1)      Representing a nation fully located on islands (England, Japan, Madagascar etc.)

2)      Born on any island of the world (so Cristiano Ronaldo or Pedri would be available too) 

3)      From own youth intake.

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I chose U.C.D. as the club has great facilities and a very young squad (the oldest player is only 24). In addition, Irish league has no foreigner restrictions, except a minimal wage of 343 euros per week for non-EU players.

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The manager is Aron Snær Þorsteinsson, the legendary striker from my Njarðvík youth academy save who joined the team after first season and scored over 400 goals over his career.

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Colm Whelan (ST) | Liam Kerrigan (AMR) | Jack Keaney (DM) | Sam Todd (DC) | Evan Osam (DL)

The squad may change during the first season but these players are certainly going to be our leaders for now.

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Season 2022 – part 1

Before the start I offloaded several lower potential reserve players to free some wage budget (most of these loaned players won’t return with their contract expiring) and made two signings – Ollie O’Neill (loan from Fulham) to strengthen our midfield and Aaron Barry (free) to add some more experience to the defensive line.

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I certainly didn’t expect this form at start, especially looking at our schedule – Dundalk, Derry and Shamrock were predicted to take three top places but we defeated them all! Whelan’s four goals gave him a player of the month award.

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A free kick from Keaney gave us not only a win over Shamrock, but the sole lead after 6 games, not bad for the team predicted last with odds of 501 :D This didn’t last long as Derry City ended our unbeaten run, but we are still confidently second.

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Third win over Shamrock, this time on their stadium, while none other team could get even a draw from them! Whelan already scored 20 goals (new club record in April!) and was selected as player of the month third time in a row. The problem is his contract expiring after this season and he doesn’t want to extend it, so that can be his only season for us.

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I’m not too concerned about a cup loss as it’s the least important competition for us, and the league form is still excellent.

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Shamrock Rovers finally dropped points against another team, and we can tie them with winning the postponed game. However, things are unlikely to go so well in remaining months as I have to sell our two best players with expiring contracts – Whelan (23+8, 7.86 average rating) and Kerrigan (12+6, 7.49), both to Scottish premiership sides. Replacing them would be extremely hard, but I guess getting half a million in the bank with 50% future clauses is better than losing them for free. And anyway I hope that we won’t blow this huge lead over third place.

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Season 2022 – part 2

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Two already announced departures, and for some reason Shamrock wanted to buy our reserve goalkeeper.

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Alex Bruce – the best striker I could find to replace Whelan, spent all his career in lower American leagues.

Khalon Haysman – a backup option for Keaney with good potential to grow.

Roshaun Mathurin – released from Spurs youth team as well, going to be Kerrigan’s replacement on the right wing.

Will Fish – former Man Utd player, even played for their senior team once. Obviously will be our first choice center-back.

Renaldo Torraj – born in London and started his career in Tottenham, can cover several positions (mostly going to use him as a central midfielder).

George Walters – former Burnley youngster, going to play for reserves so far.

Aaron Maguire and Jacob Knightbridge – two young goalies, from Tottenham and West Ham respectively.

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First matchday after a short break brought a really unexpected result – Shamrock lost to Finn Harps (the team which only had one point in 17 games!) after getting early 2-0 lead. Scoring goals is much harder after departure of two best players, but so far we manage to get results we need.

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Not the ideal month, but we had a much better form than Shamrock and now lead the table with six points advantage! Nine games yet remaining to play.

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Some important late goals let us keep the top spot and advance in the main cup. Shamrock Rovers are seven points behind, but still have a game in hand and will play the remaining head-to-head fixture at home.

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Shamrock finally defeated us, but their previous form was so poor that we already were 9 points ahead and this loss only postponed our title until the next game.  That match against Finn Harps (still bottom of the table) couldn’t be easy, we were 0-2 behind on 16th minute (their left winger scored two direct free kicks, and of course these were his two first goals of the season :D ) but we equalized and celebrated the title! Couldn’t believe in this after we lost two key players in summer and had a mid-table level squad even after incoming transfers.

The first youth intake was quite good in stars, but poor in personalities and skills distribution so I only signed two of them – Latvian DM Klavins and striker Murtagh.

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And we also won the cup! The final was very boring, Behan’s goal was actually the only shot on target from both teams :D

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I thought our season would end after the cup final, but there was one more trophy to contest with the Northern Irish champions, kind of rehearsal before next year’s Champions League :D We gave up a two-goal lead in Belfast, but Brennan saved us on the last seconds and so we finished the season with three trophies! 

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Well, my Icelandic tactics surely worked well for the first season but I don’t think it would be easy to retain the title. Shamrock and several other teams still have stronger squads, so we'll need to improve.

Colm Whelan remained the league’s top goalscorer despite playing only half a season. Our goalkeeper Healy was selected as the best young player in Ireland, and seven players were included into the team of the year.

Squad stats

Apart from the new signings (mostly successful ones) and players I already mentioned before the season, I’d also highlight Ciaran Behan who became our best goalscorer among the remaining squad (though Whelan and Kerrigan still scored more).

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Im going to follow this save, I really like the idea and the loose foreign rules in Ireland definitely makes this more fun!

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1 hour ago, itsCaasi said:

Im going to follow this save, I really like the idea and the loose foreign rules in Ireland definitely makes this more fun!

Thanks, well for now it's just a simple UK/Ireland career, but hopefully with higher reputation and wider scouting range there will be more nations represented.

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Pre-season 2023

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Predicted fifth, which isn’t bad as our reputation is still one of the lowest in the league.

Transfers out

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None of them was a first team player last season.

Transfers in

John Lucero – former Brighton youngster, now called up for Philippines.

Carlos Edwards – yes, 44 years old! And of course, he’s not going to play (maybe a single appearance to set the record), I just remember signing him in my previous career as a coach.

Also I extended Ollie O'Neill loan for one more season, so actually our starting eleven won't change for now.

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23 new fans after winning the title :D 

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Season 2023 – part 1

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Could only be better if we defeated Shamrock in the league, but it’s a good start anyway. Will Fish scored twice from corners and was selected as a player of the month.

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Our defense is still very solid, but attack struggles with injuries of several key players. We also had a record of ten players called up for national teams, including three English youngsters and our first senior international.

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I signed Scottish winger Kyle McAllister to add more depth for our attacking line but so far that doesn't help much. Ciaran Behan returned from injury with two goals, but apart from this our attack is still poor, relying only on long shots and set pieces. Though none of other teams is consistent enough, so we are leading the table with only Derry City able to overtake us with a postponed game.

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Our strikers couldn’t score for almost three months before this win against Drogheda, which also ended a losing run of four games. Four teams are now within two points from top, so the title battle is going to be a lot less predictable than last season.

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We haven't conceded a single goal in June despite playing all four games away from home and without our first choice goalkeeper Healy, who was called up to the U21 Euro (Ireland lost to France in quarter-final). Mathurin recovered from an unimpressive start, finally scored his first goal along with several assists and won the player of the month award.

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So far we are in the race for defending the title, though July is going to be a really hard month – we will play against all other teams in top five and also will make our Champions League debut against Malmo.

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