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  1. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    Dollingstown F.C. Season 2023 / 2024 Season Expectations The bare minimum would be retaining the league title but I'd like a money making run in Europe given the precarious state of the clubs finances and the change to professional status. League Table - I was a little bit concerned early in the season as Ballymena United was giving us a good battle but once the European commitments had stopped we pulled away and broke the most wins and most points record. UEFA Champions League - We came so tantalizingly close to the group stage but were denied by some bad luck and poor finishing. At this stage of the career however this is a great achievement and the run has set the club up for the next few years and allows me to start building the club. UEFA Europa League - This was actually a far better campaign than I expected with us having realistic hopes of making the knockout stages on the last match day. We needed at least a point and Dinamo and Maribor to draw. We ended up losing and Dinamo beat Maribor to clinch 2nd but 3rd in our first European group stage is pretty good. Domestic Cups - We are the best team in N. Ireland but just can't seem to show that domination in the cups. Reserves - The league went well but they seem to be falling further back from winning the Intermediate Cup. Under 18s - A much improved performance with a deserved double. Squad – We're stronger than we have ever been and the professional status allowed us to attract a quality of player which I feel ensures our domestic dominance for years to come. Now comes the challenge of getting the quality required to get into the Champions League group stage which will take the club to the next level. In order to do that I will have to aggressively look to strengthen the weakest areas of the team. I've identified the goalkeeper and right midfielder as positions that need improvement with priority. Areas such as right back and striker will need more depth in order to maintain a strong challenge on all fronts. Transfers – As the development of the club has happened over a shorter time period I have been able to get in top quality players before they have retired. My acquisition of Mesut Ozil being the marquee signing that stands out. His physicals may have gone but his technical and mental attributes are almost perfect for the role I want him to play in the team. I'm retraining him as a Deep Lying Forward and I'm hoping that the highly influential team leader will hang around for a few more years before hanging up his boots. Player Of The Season Daryl Smyth – ST - Average Rating : 7.88 The N. Ireland international is just a goal scoring machine who now has 146 goals in his career from only 183 appearances. The concern is that he has peaked but even if that is true he will still be a prolific goalscorer for us domestically. I like that he is considered to be fairly consistent and also that he relishes big matches. Young Player Of The Season (U21) Shane McCabe – ML - Average Rating : 7.70 He was doing really well before Lazaar came in and stole his thunder but he will be sticking around as I need to have a decent core of N. Irish players for European squad registration and as a player to bring off the bench he can be pretty useful. Finances – This is a nice comfortable balance which shows the situation after all the investments in infrastructure have been taken out. I managed to sort out the scouting budget issue during the season as I asked for an increased wage and transfer budget which the board were happy to grant given the money we had in the bank. I'm going to try and keep the wages sensible though as the wage bill has rocketed to nearly £1.8M per annum. I think if we maintain it to around the £2.5M per annum at this early stage we should be okay. The clubs revenue generating capability has improved but I'm still waiting for the ticket prices to max out before we see any appreciable increase in attendances. The only thing that would really supercharge the clubs growth now is Champions League group stage football. Facilities – Everything except the stadium has seen an improvement. Youth Intake – I've yet to see much in the way of progress here even after the increased investment in this area. We are producing players which aren't anywhere near the standard we need if they are to help us in future. League Reputation – Steady progress which is all I want to see at this point. The league is still some way off 2.5* but hopefully consistent performances in Europe will speed up the climb. Club Domestic Reputation – Almost at the summit, it's a little concerning that Bangor still haven't dropped down the list. Club European Reputation – Up to 174th which is an improvement of 174 places, the most of any team in Europe. We were also considered overachievers in the Champions League, what would they have done if we actually made it into the group.
  2. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    Season 2023 / 2024 THE DRAW There are no easy draws at this stage so whoever we get it's going to be a real challenge for us to beat them. Who did we draw? The hardest team we could have drawn but we'll give it our best. Our squad Their squad I think it's clear to see that we aren't at their level and it's going to be a struggle but then again the same could have been said about Club Brugge last season when we were part timers and we destroyed them. If we can come away from Glasgow with a respectable result and an away goal or two we could have a chance. 4th Qualifying Round 1st Leg Here's how the two teams lined up: Understandably, an attacking looking formation but once again we should have the advantage on the flanks. Result Glasgow Celtic 2 Dollingstown 1 This was a real heartbreaking result in the end. They dominated the ball as was expected but we defended well and had a fair few chances of our own. We then took the lead in the 22nd minute which filled me with optimism that wasn't dampened even when they equalized 4 minutes later. That remained the way of it, them controlling possession and us posing a threat on the counter until the 80th minute when Hunter stupidly got himself a 2nd yellow card forcing me to change my system. We looked like we might just escape with a draw but then in the 92nd minute my central defender turned his back and allowed substitute Serbest an unchallenged shot on goal which flew into the bottom right corner and left me and the fans crestfallen. On the positive side we have an away goal and just need a 1-0 win to clinch an historic Champions League group stage spot. 4th Qualifying Round 2nd Leg Here's how the two teams lined up: I think Brendan Rodgers has been very clever here by playing a counter attacking 4-3-3. We are going to need to be very careful not to over commit ourselves as I can see them tearing us apart on the break if were not. If I had an ideal game plan it would be that we keep the game to a dull 0-0 then grab a late winner so they couldn't recover, let's see how it goes. Result Dollingstown 1 Glasgow Celtic 1 Glasgow Celtic win 3-2 on aggregate This was an even harder result to take than the defeat in the first leg. We hit the woodwork twice in this game and created some unbelievably good chances but couldn't take them. The game plan was working perfectly, we scored in the 68th minute and looked capable of adding to it but then an unmarked header from a wide free kick from them gave them the equalizer. I threw everything at them to get back on level terms in the tie but just couldn't do it. A valiant attempt by the players but it just wasn't our day. EUROPEAN SEASON REVIEW With that run we now have Europa League group stage football and over £5M in the balance so I can start pestering the board for upgrades. Here is the group we drew: I'd say we probably wouldn't get anything out of Marseille but as for the other teams I'd say we have at least a chance of nicking a point or two. That concludes the in depth analysis of the qualifiers although I may bring this back should we make the quarter finals of a European competition. The results of this seasons Europa League group stage will be in the next season review.
  3. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    Season 2023 / 2024 THE DRAW Approaching the business end now with just one more round of progress needed to play group stage football. We are unseeded and there are some pretty hard teams entering the draw now so we might need a bit of luck if we are to go even further. Who did we draw? I'm thrilled with this draw as when we played them last season we destroyed them 8-0 on aggregate so I'll be disappointed if we don't win. Interestingly they bested Dinamo in the last round to get here so maybe they are a lot better than last season. Our squad Their squad There doesn't appear to be much they have changed from last season so I'm expecting a comfortable win. 3rd Qualifying Round 1st Leg Here's how the two teams lined up: A little bit defensive so maybe they remember last season and have decided to show us a bit of respect this time. Result Ferencvarosi 0 Dollingstown 2 No more than what we deserved I felt, could have been even more convincing but a nice cushion to take home. 3rd Qualifying Round 2nd Leg Here's how the two teams lined up: They need to get back in the game so have lined up accordingly, if we can be more clinical we should be able to punish them on the break. Result Dollingstown 3 Ferencvarosi 2 Dollingstown win 5-2 on aggregate A much more even game than the first leg but still comfortable. We were 2-0 up within the first 15 minutes so it was a relaxed stroll through to the next round which brings group stage football at the first time of asking.
  4. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    Season 2023 / 2024 THE DRAW We have been seeded so I'm hoping that will provide an advantage. Who did we draw? They are actually a decent side but I wouldn't say they are so far ahead of BATE Borisov that we shouldn't be able to at least compete with them. Our squad Their squad They have a few dangerous players among their roster and I'm thankful that their star central defender appears to be injured. I think they can be got at so will be looking for a positive result in Cyprus. 2nd Qualifying Round 1st Leg Here's how the two teams lined up: Well you can see what's on their minds!! They want to attack us and overload our central defenders, we again have the numerical advantage on the flanks so we need to capitalize on that. Result APOEL Nicosia 1 Dollingstown 3 I'm delighted with this result as we battered them in the game and probably deserved a greater margin of victory. It took until the 47th minute for us to score our first goal and they equalized through an own goal in the 56th minute but once we scored again in the 60th minute we controlled the game adding a 3rd late as they had to commit more men forward. 2nd Qualifying Round 2nd Leg Here's how the two teams lined up: I can't understand the thought process of the opposition manager here at all. They need goals and I can't see how such a counter attacking system is going to help them, once again I want us to attack the flanks and overload their fullbacks. Result Dollingstown 0 APOEL Nicosia 1 Dollingstown win 3-2 on aggregate I was quite disappointed with the 2nd leg performance and our level of domination of the game isn't reflected in the scoreline at all. We are however through to next round and that's all that matters.
  5. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    Season 2023 / 2024 EUROPEAN SEASON EXPECTATIONS The board expects us to reach the 2nd Qualifying Round which means winning one tie. I think it's possible but whether we can do that will depend on the team that we draw. I'd like to go as far as possible in the qualifiers so let's see how this adventure goes. THE DRAW There are some draws that I'd want to avoid like the plague, FC Copenhagen, Steaua Bucharest or Rosenborg being especially menacing. The rest of the teams in the seeded section look beatable however and there are far more of them than the really big sides so our odds of avoiding them are decent. Who did we draw? This is fairly good draw for us and I think we should have a decent chance against them, additionally they seem to have a good coefficient so if we can get past them then we would be seeded for the next round which is a great incentive. Our squad Their squad After looking at their squad my confidence of winning the tie has increased. 1st Qualifying Round 1st Leg Here's how the two teams lined up: It looks as if they want to attack us and will be looking to grab an away goal or two, hopefully we can pose a threat of our own against them. Result Dollingstown 2 BATE Borisov 1 We won the game but it was hardly convincing and I feel we suffered from the lack of fitness you get at this stage of the season. The away goal was scored late and they could have even got the equalizer had it not been for them getting a player sent off in the 85th minute. I tried desperately to get that 3rd goal but we couldn't manage it so going to Belarus could prove tricky especially if they score early. 1st Qualifying Round 2nd Leg Here's how the two teams lined up: A slightly strange formation but I guess the idea behind it is that they want to control the middle of the park and pass their way through us. Hopefully my numerical advantage on the flanks should help us take them down on the counter attack. Result BATE Borisov 2 Dollingstown 5 Dollingstown win 7-3 on aggregate When they scored early I was seriously concerned as they were going through at that point when we equalized before half time my mood became more calm. They then scored early in the 2nd half which would have meant extra time which I was dreading but then we scored 2 in quick succession and with that I knew we were through. The scoreline perhaps flatters us as they pushed to get back in the game but I'm happy with the performance.
  6. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    As I've qualified for the Champions League I'll as usual provide in depth reports on the qualifiers until I make either the Champions League or Europa League group stages.
  7. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    Dollingstown F.C. Season 2022 / 2023 Season Expectations The board expect us to clean sweep all the trophies available to us in N. Ireland. I'd like to think we are capable of that but winning the DBP is the only one that matters especially given that I've convinced some of the clubs best players to stay on the back of promising to win it this season. League Table - We won it with consummate ease with surprisingly little resistance from Ballymena United. After we hit the summit on the 13th match day there was no stopping us. UEFA Europa League - This was an incredible campaign which saw some results that I didn't think was possible. The manner in which we destroyed teams which we shouldn't have had any chance against was remarkable. West Ham proved to be a step too far but for part-time players who weren't 100% fit it's quite an achievement to even be on the same pitch as them. Domestic Cups - Glentoran did a fine job of ruining our clean sweep but they might as well rename the Mid Ulster Cup to the Dollingstown Cup as we seem unstoppable in that competition. Reserves - They just can't clear that final hurdle in the Intermediate Cup to go with their domination of the Reserve league. Under 18s - Winning the league is fine but they really need to get their act together in the cup. Squad – I managed to strengthen 2 of the areas that I wanted to with the central defence and striker positions being added to. I did however struggle to find a decent left back and central midfielder which is worrying going forward because of a bug which I'll mention later which has affected my wage budget. I'm confident that these players could bring home the league again next season given that we won the league by such a large margin but other teams in the league are beginning to close the gap in player quality so I could be in for a far harder battle next time. Transfers – The free transfers into the club were all class acts and played a large part in helping us to the title. Ballymena United seem to want my players but they appear to be unsettling and going for the wrong ones as I was happy to sell all those players to them given that I had better options at the club. The Johnston DC transfer to Arsenal was taken out of my hands by the board which was rather annoying as he left for just cash without any clauses which I feel was a bad move. I couldn't protest the move as Tottenham also came in with an offer meaning that it would have been pointless for me to protest given that successfully protesting one move would have meant he went to the other club. Player Of The Season Shane McCabe – ML - Average Rating : 7.80 One of the highest average ratings I have ever seen which shows just how good he was this season. He was the 2nd highest provider of assists and chipped in with a few vital goals along the way, he has become a critical member of the squad and is considered influential at the club. Young Player Of The Season (U21) Aaron Curran – ST - Average Rating : 7.46 The highly influential striker was top scorer and netted an incredible 40 goals this season. If he can continue with this form I can sense a first international cap not being far off. Finances – This is the section I'll use to talk about the bug that I mentioned earlier. Firstly, given that the option was there and my job status was 'Untouchable' and the club had a couple hundred thousand in the balance I thought I'd throw in a cheeky request to the board and ask to turn the club professional. To my complete shock they agreed to do it and the club is now professional which floored me at first but also was great because to go from non league amateurs to professional within 5 years was way ahead of schedule. They also provided me with a nice transfer and wage budget which I thought was good as it would allow me to get in the players for the positions which the club is weak in, all positive so far. Given that I could only scout N. Ireland before turning professional and had pretty much exhausted all the talent I could find within the country when the board announced that I could now scout the UK & Ireland I was happy because I could then widen my search, I asked to expand to all of Europe but they rejected that. Now we go to the bad part, in order for me to be able to see the players in order to scout them I knew that I would need to get the scouting package for the UK & Ireland which comes in at £360K per year for both the senior and youth packages. The board only allocated me £8K per year so in order to afford the new packages I needed to allocate my transfer budget to my scouting budget which I did. This wasn't great as I had to transfer all of my wage budget to my transfer budget using the slider in the board room in order to afford it but I thought that even if I didn't have any wage budget available that I could get in some high quality loans for no wage contribution which would justify doing this as temporary measure. This was working fine and I was beginning to scout players in Scotland but then something really annoying happened. The board decided to allocate to me their scouting budget of £8.5K per year which I thought was annoying as it would mean that I'd have to set it up again and transfer over the wage budget to the transfer budget then transfer that over to the scouting budget. That's not what happened at all though as that money which I allocated to the scouting budget didn't go back into the transfer budget and has instead disappeared into thin air. As a result I'm now over my wage budget as I had to switch my players and staff over to full time deals, I have no transfer funds at all and my scouting budget is £8.5K per year which has meant that I've had to downgrade back to the N. Ireland only package. This really p****d me off and I had half a mind to just reload to before I allocated the transfer funds over to the scouting budget but then I would have to go through the rigmarole of having to offer full time contracts to everyone again so I'll just roll with it. I'm going to need to be very careful with the finances now that we are a professional club, hopefully we can earn a lot of money from a good run in Europe. Facilities – I managed to get the youth recruitment upgraded but the board didn't allow me improve junior coaching, hopefully if I earn a bit in Europe they might reconsider. Youth Intake – My HoYD is always excited by at least one player in the intake but I can't figure out why as these players are terrible. The number of poor personalities has increased and the attributes of the players aren't anywhere near good enough for a starting point, the club really needs the junior coaching to improve. League Reputation – Clear and substantial progress is being made as the league now has a 2* reputation. The N. Irish clubs also seem to be faring much better in Europe than with FM17 which should help build the league up even quicker. Club Domestic Reputation – We are now considered to have a 'National' reputation which is great but also another team has become professional in the league. Glentoran after winning the title last season and getting the money from Europe decided it was time so now 1/4 of the top flight is professional. If it has become much easier to turn professional that could mean that we end up with a fully professional top flight before too long which will be great for building up the standard of football in N. Ireland. Club European Reputation – I'd like to hope we would be able to break into the top 300 with a good run in Europe next season.
  8. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    It could...although the odds must be really long. Below is the list of players which bought home the World Cup The national team actually doesn't have any regens in the squad. Bailey and Aarons are the best players but they don't possess any players which the game considers world class. They did get a little bit of luck along the way if I'm being fair but no more than any other team which has gone on to win a World Cup. They lost to Paraguay 4-0 in the first game of their group. They then went down to 10 men against Montenegro in their second match but still managed to get a 2-2 draw. It was only due to a 95th minute winner against Australia (ably assisted by an Australian player getting sent off in the 87th minute) that they qualified in 2nd from their group. They then met Germany and that's when it started to really get bizarre, they held them to a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes and then went down to 10 men in the 105th minute but held on to beat them on penalties. After that they met Spain who they beat 2-1 after extra time scoring the equalizer in the 85th minute and the winner in the 119th minute. After doing away with Spain they then comfortably beat Croatia 2-0 going 2 up within 5 minutes and battering them throughout the game dominating possession and creating chance after chance. Then the pièce de résistance came when they scored a 68th minute winner against Argentina who had gone down to 10 men in the 64th minute. I'm going to enjoy the moment though as rarely do I get strange things like this happen in any of my saves, I'd probably have to reload thousands of times for something like this to happen again though!!...
  9. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    Thanks noikeee, yeah having one country open really allows me to whizz through the seasons quickly although I can see that slowing down in the near future. The 4-4-2 has proven surprisingly stable in this version although I've got to get to grips with playing the right players in the right roles otherwise it has problems. In other news.... Albania, Montenegro & Serbia all joined the EU. I've had Brexit which has led to no changes what so ever. Also this happened... Even more shocking was the fact they beat Germany, Spain & Argentina on the way so it was definitely deserved. I'm speechless...
  10. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    Dollingstown F.C. Season 2021 / 2022 Season Expectations The board would be happy with a top half finish but I'd like to think that we could be capable of mounting a title challenge. League Table - On the face of it I should be delighted that we overachieved our objectives but I'm not. I'm frustrated with myself as the title was won and lost before the Christmas period and I can only look into the mirror to understand the cause. Our form was so erratic during that period and it was down to me not fielding the right players, I was foolishly playing central midfielders without a defensive thought in their head in the Central Midfielder (Defend) role which caused us to ship goals like it was going out of fashion. Once I started using the right players our form was practically impeccable but unfortunately for us it was too late by then. We made Glentoran wait but handed them the title when we lost the 36th match at home to Linfield which plunged us into a morale dip which allowed Ballymena United to overtake us. Overall, it was a very valuable learning experience and next season if we can start better I make us favourites for the title. Danske Bank Premier League European Playoff - I don't think this is working in game as it does in real life. We shouldn't have even been in this competition as the winners of the Irish Cup were Ballymena United. The rules state that allocation of European spots is done in the following list of priority: 1) League Position 2) Irish Cup Winners 3) Playoff Winners The problem is that the Playoff in game is more significant that league position and instead of having the playoff compete for 1 place in Europe instead it seems that both berths are given to the playoff making league position irrelevant. It's all a mute point given that we won the playoff so comfortably but I would have been furious had we lost in the semi-final and missed out on European football. UEFA Europa League - I didn't expect much from our first European adventure but am left with a tinge of disappointment. We were in the games against Young Boys and created so many guilt edge chances but failed to capitalize on them. Hopefully next season I can get a slightly easier ride as Young Boys was about as difficult a draw we could have got at that stage. I was however pleased with our ability to bounce back against Botev Plovdiv. Domestic Cups - We seem relentless in the Mid Ulster Cup at the moment, the Irish Cup semi final proved to be a turning point. If we had beaten Glentoran well and caused their morale to plummet perhaps we might have been able to catch them in the league as we won our first two post split games where as they drew theirs. If they had lower morale perhaps they might have lost them which would have reduced the gap to 4 points instead of 6 which was hard to make up with only 3 games to play, ah well. Reserves - They blitzed the league again, I thought they were going all the way in the Intermediate Cup but their double dreams were scuppered at the last. Under 18s - Great in the league to claim their first title but dreadful in the cup. Squad – I believe that this team with perhaps a couple of additions should be more than capable of winning the league. I think we could do with another central defender, left back, central midfielder and perhaps another striker. I've been given another increase to my wage budget to raise it to £6.8Kp/w so have should have some room to bring in those players. I don't think Ballymena United will remain as poor again next season so I'll have to keep an eye on them to see who they bring in as this season they seemed content in just hoovering up my cast offs. Both Arsenal and Tottenham were interested in my star central defender Johnston but slapping on a £2.5M asking price seems to have made them look elsewhere. If I can keep the quality we do have at the club then we have a great chance of fulfilling our ambitions of winning the title. Transfers – Some real quality entered the team this season with all players having a positive impact. I've decided not to loan players into the club as I didn't like how decimated we became at the start of the season. The fact that I don't need to do a massive rebuild next season should help us to start more quickly and hopefully make progress in the Europa League. Player Of The Season Daryl Smyth – ST - Average Rating : 7.40 Once again he was top scorer in the league and almost got his first cap for the N. Ireland senior team, he was called up but the manager didn't play him. If he continues like this surely its only a matter of time before he gets his first cap. I've had to promise him that we'll win the league next season in order to keep him here but if he can keep banging in the goals and allow his strike partnership with Devlin to flourish he can help to make his dream come true. Young Player Of The Season (U21) Shane McCabe – ML - Average Rating : 7.36 He had a great season and was the second highest provider of assists behind Smyth. If he could add a bit more in terms of goals next season it should help relieve some of pressure on Smyth. I have added a bit of competition for him on the left flank to keep him on his toes in the shape of Peter Quinn. I'm hoping that the competition for places will spur both players on and help their development. Finances – We did receive a nice windfall from the Europa League but as you can see it's completely gone. We still are spending ridiculous amounts on scouting and even with a much increased wage budget and outlay of £233K we still managed to surpass that by spending £287K on scouting. I will still have to persist with it however as without the scouting I would have been unable to unearth some of the gems I have and probably wouldn't be anywhere near competing for the title. Facilities – I got both junior coaching and youth recruitment upgraded which I'm hoping will start to yield fruit. I also managed to get the pitch relaid which is great as visiting team managers can now shut up about it! Youth Intake – This is worse than the last batch!!...I can't see any of them making it here to be honest but I'll give them time to prove themselves. If there is any aspect of the club that needs to start producing the goods then this is it as I can see the poaching of talented youngsters from other N. Irish clubs becoming increasing expensive which is a big problem when you're broke. League Reputation – So close, still on the rise which is great. The rise was probably aided by Ballymena United once again reaching the playoff round of the Europa League where they beat Rosenborg along the way which I thought was fantastic. I can't see Glentoran managing similar exploits but you never know. Club Domestic Reputation – What is up with that? Still have a Regional reputation with Bangor behind me. I sense we'll only become recognized nationally if we win the DBP. Club European Reputation – We're on the list!...Given our dreadful coefficient we are going to need to get real lucky not to draw a nightmare opponent early on.
  11. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    Dollingstown F.C. Season 2020 / 2021 Season Expectations I'd just be happy to avoid relegation but the board seem convinced that we should be finishing in mid-table. They haven't given me much of a wage budget (~£2Kp/w) to work with so I'll have to really work smartly in the transfer market if the team is to meet the objective. League Table - Does that class as mid-table? I suppose it does. We started the season really well and were in the top 3 until late October but then some really abysmal form sent us back to earth. By the time we had recovered our form it was way too late to make the top 6 and our chances of making 7th place and the Europa League Playoff were ended by Glenavon in the penultimate match of the season. Overall, I'm relatively pleased with our first season in the top flight as relegation was never a threat at all and this gives us a good foundation to build on next season. Domestic Cups - Absolutely brilliant work from the team to capture the Irish Cup and retain the Mid Ulster Cup once again. Our run to the final of the Irish Cup was one of the hardest we could have got where as Crusaders had a relatively easy ride. It took a penalty to win it but the trophy and place in the Europa League that comes with it is all that matters. Reserves - They destroyed the league finishing a massive 18 points ahead of 2nd place in a 22 game season. They were pretty poor in the Intermediate Cup though and I don't think they participate in the Steel & Sons Cup. Under 18s - A pretty poor season from them but gradually the really poor non-contract players are being weeded out of the club. Squad – As can be seen by the number of loans the wage budget didn't give me much mileage in terms of players I could bring in on a contract but next season that should be much better as the board have given me a much more generous £5Kp/w wage budget which should mean that we can get a better standard of player into the club. Even though I did strengthen the spine of the team I still feel that it remains the weakest area of the lineup. I'm sure there are many losses we suffered throughout the season that can be attributed to the poor standard of defending and lack of ability to control the midfield. We were 2nd best when it came to goals scored but also we were 2nd worst with goals conceded in the league which I think highlights the problem most clearly. I had expected that the departure of Kee would hamper our attacking potency but it didn't happen as the brilliant Smyth stepped up to the plate. If I can bring into the club a few quality defenders and midfielders I can definitely see the team challenging at the upper end of the table next season. I'm really pleased with the personality of the squad though as it is now considered Professional which I hope will start to permeate throughout the whole club and turn some of those unambitious and low determination players around. Transfers – It was a mixed bag with respect to signings, some were great and cheap like Smyth ST, Salley ST and Hunter MC where as others like Kane MC, McCallum DC & Hanna MC were expensive and didn't justify their wages. I'll be busy once again in the summer with an eye towards getting in younger players given the philosophy I agreed to with the board. Player Of The Season Scott Grant – ML - Average Rating : 7.64 The DBP Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year has taken to the new level like a duck to water. He has improved greatly as a player and if Newington were feeling bad about letting him go before they must want to cry now. I want to hold on to him for as long as possible but I know that in order to get the best out of him I'm going to need to get some better players around him. Young Player Of The Season (U21) Daryl Smyth – ST - Average Rating : 7.41 I plucked him from Institute for an insultingly low price of £35 and he has been brilliant. He not only broke all the goal scoring records at the club finishing with an incredible 46 goals he also was top scorer in the DBP finishing 5 goals clear of 2nd placed Joe Gormley who is a seasoned DBP striker. I'm excited to see how he performs next season now that he has a season of top flight football under his belt. Finances – Can this board stay here forever!! Anytime we look to be going a little bit too much into the red they pump in money. The fund raising initiatives have also been great as they have helped keep us afloat. I'm quite disappointed with our income though, this season we made £186 through merchandising, £11,860 through season ticket sales, £48,142 in gate receipts, £17,650 in match day sales and ~£100K TV revenue and prize money. Altogether we made around £180K that only really covers our staff costs. I think while the board remains here now is the time to push hard and speculate so I will be fully utilizing the new wage budget and hopefully I should get a bit of money from being in Europe to put into the pot also. Facilities – I asked for improvements to both junior coaching and youth recruitment once again but I was only granted junior coaching this time. The pitch really needs sorting out but we just don't have the money to make it happen. Youth Intake – It's better than before which is a positive, maybe McKee ST in time could get a chance in the first team. League Reputation – Yay, we're better than the Vanarama, next target our neighbours to the south. Club Domestic Reputation – Still don't have a National reputation even after winning the Irish Cup, I don't really get why non-league Bangor are still above us. Club European Reputation – Here is how the rest of the teams in N. Ireland fared in Europe: Ballymena United - Knocked out of the UEFA Europa League 4th Qualifying Round 5-1 on agg. by Rosenborg - This was a great money spinning run for them which had consequences which I'll highlight later Coleraine - Knocked out of the UEFA Europa League 1st Qualifying Round 6-1 on agg. by Slovan Bratislava - They were embarrassed Glentoran - Knocked out of the UEFA Europa League 1st Qualifying Round 2-1 on agg. by Slavia Prague - No shame in losing like that as they put in a good effort Cliftonville - Knocked out of the UEFA Europa League 1st Qualifying Round 3-1 on agg. by Vardar - I feel they could have done a lot better here Next season will see the following participants from N. Ireland: Ballymena United - League Champions - UEFA Champions League Cliftonville - Finished 2nd in DBP - UEFA Europa League Dollingstown - Finished 8th and won Irish Cup - UEFA Europa League Dungannon - Finished 4th in DBP and won DBP Europa League Playoff - UEFA Europa League Professional club watch - As I mentioned earlier Ballymena United had a good run in Europe and made a lot of money and as a consequence have now turned professional. I can see this putting a massive obstacle in the way for the club in terms of conquering N. Ireland. If we consider how dominant they already are this is just going to make it much worse. At one point during the season Linfield and Cliftonville both had 'Secure' finances which had me concerned that we would end up with the league going from 0 professional teams to 3 but they remained at semi-professional status which in a way is actually worse because Ballymena United could have that uncontested advantage for quite some time. As the team qualified for Europe this section will be replaced by the usual screenshot next season.
  12. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    Dollingstown F.C. Season 2019 / 2020 Season Expectations The board demands that we finish in mid-table, I'm hoping to be a bit more ambitious than that and try to break into the promotion picture. League Table - This was a great effort from the players to finish as high as they did. The season started fairly poorly and we were as low as 9th but soon after then we picked up and found ourselves in and around the promotion playoff spots for the rest of the season. We were even in contention for automatic promotion until Carrick Rangers decided to put their foot on the gas and pulled away from everyone. Portadown were surprisingly poor which worked in our favour and allowed us to clinch a place in the promotion playoff. Danske Bank Premier League Promotion Playoff - Two very tense ties which really put the team through its paces but we prevailed. The away game against Tobermore United was fantastic with my talented young striker Brian Kee choosing the game to grab his first hat trick of the season. Premier League here we come!! Domestic Cups - We actually managed to retain the Mid Ulster Cup which I thought was impressive, especially since the team that played the final was a team of Reserve players. The other cups weren't great but my attention was focused elsewhere. Reserves - They were placed in the Reserves league to my surprise and they did quite well finishing as runners up. Hopefully now that the team is in the DBP the reserves will also play in the lower league cup competitions. Under 18s - Another squad given their debut in competitive games and they did fairly well finishing a creditable 3rd. All the more remarkable given that their ranks kept getting decimated with players leaving on a free as even the youth players are given non-contracts, next season that should change. Squad – I'm satisfied with the squad as I consider them to have overachieved, I will still need to get busy in the transfer market in the summer to ensure we have what we need to stay up but they should enjoy their moment in the sun. It's funny because once again experience seemed to trump youth in some departments with my strike partnership only working well when I had some combination of a young striker such as Kee with the more experienced Hillen. Similarly, my central defence only worked well when I brought in experienced heads such as Ferrin as before that we were leaking poor goals all the time. For next season I'll be looking to strengthen the spine of the team as the only players that are considered good for the DBP are my wide players. Transfers – I picked up some fantastic players for free and on loan which helped the team to promotion. Rooney MR, Kee ST, Grant ML, O'Neill MC & Doherty DC were all brilliant this season. Player Of The Season Scott Grant – ML - Average Rating : 7.40 The teams top provider of assists was magnificent and is more than capable of making the step up. Newington will feel gutted to have given him to me for nothing, he'll be one of the first which gets offered a part time contract if he wants one. Young Player Of The Season (U21) Brian Kee – ST - Average Rating : 7.20 Top scorer for the team who is a top talent. Limavady United didn't know who they had on their hands and was a contributing factor to their relegation. I'm a bit concerned that he doesn't appear interested in signing a new contract considering my assistant thinks he is our best player but I'm hoping that will change when we are able to offer part time deals. Finances – I have to give tremendous credit to the board who have continued to pump money into the club at regular intervals to keep us afloat. The scouting costs were even higher this season at £124K but at least the board seem like they will be sticking around for a while which should give us time to increase our turnover which has more than doubled but is still only a measly £14K. Facilities – I decided to ask for improved youth coaching and recruitment and after a little persuasion they granted both which is great. Given the generous mood I might ask if they'd relay the pitch but I doubt the finances will allow that. Youth Intake – They're crap, if you haven't got 5* potential at this point you are of no use to the club going forward as they'll never be good enough for the level of football I am aiming to bring to the club. League Reputation – I suppose staying in the same place is better than a fall. Club Domestic Reputation – We're still only recognized on a regional level which might make player acquisition more difficult Club European Reputation – Here is how the rest of the teams in N. Ireland fared in Europe: Cliftonville - Knocked out of the UEFA Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round 4-1 on agg. by IFK Goteborg - Not bad at all for them Crusaders - Knocked out of the UEFA Europa League 1st Qualifying Round 3-1 on agg. by FC Inter - Not great against the Finnish team Glenavon - Knocked out of the UEFA Europa League 1st Qualifying Round 3-2 on agg. by Valarenga - They gave it a decent try winning the 1st leg at home 2-0 but fell apart Norway Ballymena United - Knocked out of the UEFA Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round 3-2 on agg. by Viktoria Plzen - Like Glenavon they won the first leg 2-1 in the Czech Republic but then threw it away by losing 2-0 at home Next season will see the following participants from N. Ireland: Ballymena United - League Champions - UEFA Champions League Coleraine - Finished 2nd in DBP - UEFA Europa League Glentoran - Finished 6th and won Irish Cup - UEFA Europa League Cliftonville - Finished 4th in DBP and won DBP Europa League Playoff - UEFA Europa League Professional club watch - Both Linfield and Ballymena United both have Secure financial status but neither have turned pro.
  13. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    Dollingstown F.C. Season 2018 / 2019 Season Expectations Start as I mean to go on by getting promoted as quickly as I can League Table - This was a really hard battle for the title exemplified by the fact that the top 4 were only separated by 3 points. I thought we didn't have a chance after 22 games when we were sat in 4th but brilliant from during the post split period propelled us to the title. Domestic Cups - I'm thrilled that I was able to get a cup win in our first season and the manner of the victory was very impressive as we beat 3 DBP sides along the way. The Irish Cup was a disappointment and the other cups were fairly poor but perhaps that was a blessing in disguise as it allowed us to focus on the league. Reserves - We didn't have any fixtures for the reserve team so I scheduled a friendly every Tuesday to keep players fit. Under 18s - We also didn't have any fixtures for the youth team which isn't particularly good as when the youth intake came in they didn't play any competitive games, I'm hoping that this isn't the case next season Squad – We were in decent shape throughout the season but I often found that I got better performances out of players which my assistant considered inferior but whose attributes were better for the role they played in. I'll need another rebuild next season though as only 3 players are considered even decent for the Championship so I'll be hoping that some DBP level players with expiring contracts might be willing to drop down a level to join us. Transfers – A massive amount of transfers were necessary but interestingly it didn't do too much to damage the dynamics of the squad. I lost a few talented players to teams in the higher leagues such as McKee & Kenneally but that is just par for the course when playing in the lower leagues in N. Ireland. Player Of The Season Jordan Thompson – ST - Average Rating : 7.35 I don't think we would have been able to get anywhere near promotion without him, that's how important he was to the team. It'll be interesting to see how he adjusts to the new level Young Player Of The Season (U21) Paul Campbell – GK - Average Rating : 7.01 The Dergiew youth player came to the club for free initially on a youth contract and did really well considering his tender age. I'm not entirely sure whether I'll be able to depend on a 17 year old goalkeeper against championship level opposition though and will be looking for a more experienced pair of hands between the sticks Finances – The screenshot might be somewhat misleading as you could be lead to believe that the club is doing well financially. The reality is the club is only slightly in the red because of the board who injected £75K and fund raising which raised just under £62K. The next natural question would then be why was all that money needed to keep the club afloat, in a word...scouting. We spent £116K on scouting which was on a par with the staff wages (£41K), player wages (£39K) and all the other costs combined (~£40K) which seems completely crazy to me considering that the clubs turnover is only £6K. My scouting packages are free and my 3 scouts are only scouting players within our scouting range. I just hope that the board continue to be supportive and pump money into the club otherwise we could be looking into the abyss. Maybe I need to abandon setting scouting assignments altogether . Facilities – I asked for improved junior coaching and youth recruitment during my talks for a contract extension and both were resoundingly rejected. My youth system is only costing the club £670 a season but owing to ridiculous expenditures elsewhere I can understand why they wouldn't want to invest. Youth Intake – I hired a HoYD with a Model Professional personality which seemed to have an impact as he chose fairly professional and ambitious players. The intake wasn't great though which is to be expected given how little money has been invested into it. I really hope that they get to play competitive games next season. League Reputation – The DBP is on the rise which is nice to see, hopefully we can overtake the Vanarama before too long Club Domestic Reputation – We had a slight improvement but won't be much more of an attractive destination for players as a result. Cliftonville won the DBP with ease with Linfield finishing a pathetic 8th. The Championship is going to be really difficult to get out of though as both Portadown and Ballinamallard United got relegated and Carrick couldn't bounce back. Club European Reputation – I'll take my customary look around at the other N. Irish clubs in Europe until we begin to register on this list. Ballymena United - Knocked out of the UEFA Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round 3-0 on agg. by FH - Quite a respectable run, the ability to drop down from the Champions League at the first qualifying round really helping here Crusaders - Knocked out of the UEFA Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round 5-1 on agg. by Braga - Did well to get past professional Armenian outfit Banants but Braga are a different class Linfield - Knocked out of the UEFA Europa League 1st Qualifying Round 5-4 on agg. by Dudelange - Humiliating and looking back now was an omen for the terrible season that was to follow Glentoran - Knocked out of the UEFA Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round 4-1 on agg. by AEK Athens - Dispatched Valetta easily but were outclassed by the Greeks Next season will see the following participants from N. Ireland: Cliftonville - League Champions - UEFA Champions League Glenavon - Finished 2nd in DBP - UEFA Europa League Crusaders - Finished 3rd and lost Irish Cup final to Cliftonville - UEFA Europa League Ballymena United - Finished 7th in DBP and won DBP Europa League Playoff - UEFA Europa League Professional club watch - No worries here as to no team is anywhere close
  14. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    Trophy Cabinet Career Overview
  15. Dilly-dallying with the Dollybirds

    Tactics This time I've decided to take a rather minimalist approach to tactics. In addition to these instructions I have given certain player instructions as follows: Goalkeeper (Defend) - Distribute to the Full Backs Central Midfielder (Support) - More Risky Passes Wide Midfielder (Support) - Sit Narrower & Dribble More All other roles have been left with the default player instructions. The Idea WHEN OPPOSITION HAS POSSESSION The strikers should press the opposition central defenders forcing them to launch long from the back. If the opposition are regularly able to play it out from the back then that is a serious issue given our numerical disadvantage in the central midfield. I want my left midfielder pressing the oppositions right flank with support from my left back and tucking in when needed. I want my right midfielder pressing higher up the pitch with my central midfield working closely together to block passing lanes and be combative for the ball when in the air. WHEN TEAMMATE HAS POSSESSION I want my players to move in between the lines freely and offer themselves for passes and play with a creative mindset. I want a higher tempo game with the ball fed into the forward line as quickly as possible and am happy for my players to take risks with the ball and am not too fussed about having high possession. I expect to see my left back storming down the wing with the left midfielder sitting narrower facilitating regular overlaps and also creating space. When we regain possession I want to see my right winger bombing forward as quickly as possible in order to create width and also opening up the channels for my Advanced Forward by pulling opposition fullbacks wider. I want my Advanced Forward constantly testing the back line and looking to get on the end of creative passes from the Central Midfielder (Support) or Deep Lying Forward (Support). I also expect to see my Deep Lying Forward drop deep into midfield to act as another attacking pivot. WHEN PLAYER HAS THE BALL Goalkeeper (Defend) - Give it to the full backs or failing that pump it long for the more advanced players to compete for Central Defender (Defend) - Play it into midfield and don't dawdle on the ball Full Back (Support) - Move the ball down the flank but mainly look inside for passing options or if significantly far up the pitch cross the ball rather than dribble with it Full Back (Attack) - Get into advanced areas and get crosses in the box as soon as possible. Look for the pass rather than attempt to dribble with the ball Central Midfielder (Defend) - Pass the ball to either of the players which should be in close proximity. Don't take chances and always look to release the ball to the more creative players Wide Midfielder (Support) - Dribble the ball forward and take opposition players with him. Be unpredictable, sometimes dribble the ball wide creating an overload down the oppositions right flank with the fullback and on other occasions dribble the ball centrally creating an overload on the oppositions centre right with the Deep Lying Forward. Dribble into whatever space is available Central Midfielder (Support) - Look for the creative pass, balls over the top for the Advanced Forward to run onto being especially important Winger (Attack) - Dribble the ball wide and pull opposition players wider. Cross from the byline where there should be at least 2 targets to aim for Deep Lying Forward (Support) - Play killer passes through to the Advanced Forward or if needed hold up the ball and wait for a better opportunity Advanced Forward (Attack) - Dribble the ball into the channels and as soon as feasible take a shot at goal