Search
FM Scout is the only community you can talk Football Manager in real time. Here are 10 reasons to join!

The path of an ambitious Scot

Started on 23 February 2020 by Imagine
Latest Reply on 21 April 2020 by Big_Wully_Boly
  • POSTS64
  • VIEWS5137
  • FOLLOWERS1
Pages  



Boreham Wood were to be my one hundredth game in charge of Darlington and overall at this level too. Our form hasn't been great of late as we've picked up just three points from a possible twelve in our last four matches as we failed to win any league games in February. So we had to pick up a win over Boreham Wood to prevent Dag & Red from catching us after we allowed the gap to be closed down to a solitary point. After progression in the FA Trophy Dag & Red will also be our competition in the semi-finals of that competition too. We went in to this game at full strength and fitness, something which we've struggled with of late. The only absentee is that of James Wallace who departed us for Fylde after sixty-four games in two years. Wallace was looking out of his depth of late and it made sense to move his £1k wage on. Sammy Ameobi got this match off to a flying start with a spectacular finish outside the box after just two minutes. He followed that up with a headed goal from Kyle Dempsey's corner as the duo combined for the second time in this match. Yasim Ben El-Mhanni turned provider for Dempsey for goal number three after just twenty minutes of play. Dempsey let fly from thirty or so yards fifteen minutes later after receiving the ball from Ryan McLaughlin and his strike caressed the back of the net, a superb hit. Four nil and cruising at half time, it was looking spectacular.The second half, not so much. After a boring forty three minutes of play Boreham Wood took advantage of a lapse in concentration by our defence to score. Just a minute later and they pulled another one back. An immediate sense of dread set in as our recent woes looked like they could come back on us with a really late collapse. Thankfully, our adjustments to hold out ensured that we got all three points from this one. That was scary when it shouldn't have been though. With Dag & Red losing we managed to extend our lead at the top to four points once again.

I'm not too surprised to see you absolutely flying when you have the likes of McArdle and Baldwin at the back, with players like Kyle Dempsey, Jordan Rhodes and Ameobi all at the club who are all easily League One players.

Well done.


The end to a stressful season


We were flying in the first half of the season and a little in to the New Year as well but things turned sour for us soon afterwards. As we lost a twelve point lead in the title race Dag & Red would go on to take full advantage of this. Dag & Red also knocked us out of the FA Trophy as they beat us over two legs in the semi-final. I can think of many reasons why things fell apart for us at this point. I'm forced to admit that my tinkering with the starting line up through numerous transfers throughout the season affected the dressing room atmosphere. As I was constantly looking to the future I sort of forgot to live in the present and get over the line before planning for next year and it's certainly back fired on me. Secondly I actually believe that our cup wins affected us as we couldn't get a good run at the league in the New Year, as well as that we couldn't get a break in between league matches as we played fifty-nine games in total. Thirdly, I believe that selling Virgil Gomis and replacing him with Jordan Rhodes was a mistake. As I feared, Rhodes never really got going despite our best efforts to get the better of him in the final stage of the season. Fourthly, with four league games left to go I decided to change our system to a standard 4-4-2 formation to suit both our strikers. This got off to a great start as we won our first two games three nil with it. Our last two league games didn't go so smoothly as we struggled to draw both games and Dag & Red blitzed past us on the final day of the season after winning their last five league games in a row. That took us in to the play-offs and after taking the lead after an hour against Wrexham only our third red card of the season was picked up by Kyle Dempsey and again it cost us dearly. JJ Hooper equalised soon afterwards before his team mate Bobby Grant broke our hearts and hopes with a ninetieth minute winner.

Despite the obvious setback to lose out on the final day and then in the play-offs after such a great start to the season I am remaining positive. This could make us in the long run and that is what I'm trying to focus my energies on. David Johnson has agreed to sort out our youth and training facilities in the coming months so we're lifted by that news. With us remaining in the Vanarama National League again this season my plans for the upcoming transfer window have changed as we no longer need to make wholesale changes and I actually believe that we'd be better served by sticking with the core of this current squad.

Results


Awards






Squad



@ScottT: Cheers Scott but it fell apart as you will see. Rhodes was as big a mistake as I feared he was going to be as I was really debating signing him. The other two have been good signings though.
A bitter ending to what would have been a remarkable achievement. Another twelve months at this level should enable the club to catch-up though. You don't want to be under-prepared for the Football League if and when you do make that jump.
Imagine's avatar Group Imagine
1 yearEdited


It's déjà vu as we go again in the Vanarama National League

The prospect of another season in this league after our exploits last time out is a pretty daunting one and something I've had to adapt to after previously planning for League Two football. We crashed and burned last season and we need to ensure that we don't do the same again this year. The problem is, we are at risk of being found out with our tactics as we did in the latter part of the season last year. Our turnover of players wasn't quite as high this summer as we brought in just ten players and let six players move on with Paul Jones also being released from his contract. We had a higher turnover of staff as I set about rebuilding a better infrastructure behind the scenes. Of those leaving I was most upset by that of Andy Collett, Jackie McNamara, Jonathan Walters and Rory Fallon. However, with the problems we faced last season I want to make sure that I have a team behind me that I can trust in and that have the backbone to tell me when I'm wrong. Graeme Hewitt replaces Collett as our goalkeeping coach and he has a great reputation as one. We brought in a designated fitness coach after under 23's manager McNamara left, McNamara was filling in on fitness duties. I'm happy to have David Norris as my new assistant manager and Andre Blackman is my new director of football as both have good experience and/or knowledge of the game with Blackman also having good contacts courtesy of his varied career. We brought in a new chief scout too and he impressed me quickly as we were rocked by the six month lay off for Ryan McLaughlin and before I could even think about a replacement he slapped a report of one on my desk.


I had no intention of letting Dion McGhee go at the start of the summer but with Sheffield Wednesday, among others, chasing him I relented after negotiating a deal that suited us. The finances of that deal really saved our skin to be honest, with all the restructuring at the club with facilities, players and staff plus an increase in wage demands from our targets the costs were mounting. We also spent our first fee on a player, I believe, as we brought Tyler Magloire back to the club permanently for £60k after he had rejected a loan move initially. He wasn't the only returning player as De'marlio agreed to return on loan before last season had even ended and Tom White returned to us on a free transfer after his loan spell last year. I believe that additions we've made this summer can really help the club kick on this year and the one after that too.




With some changes being made over the summer we played a couple more friendlies than usual as we ran the rule over a couple of trialists, like eventual signings Mathew Hudson, Alex Gilliead, Flacre Kelleher and Tom White. Our results during pre-season were fairly good as we beat Middlesbrough and Huddersfield and several other lower ranked sides. Our losses to Watford and Derby were expected so we didn't get too downbeat about those.


Our season kicked off in the worst possible fashion as we threw away a lead at Yeovil and lost the match as a result. We then needed a ninety-second minute equaliser from Sammy Ameobi to rescue a point against Chester and things weren't looking too great after those opening games. However, we went on to win our next five games by scoring fifteen goals without reply as Notts County, Eastbourne Borough, Ebbsfleet, FC Halifax and Dover had no answer to our return to form. Maidenhead brought us right back down to earth again as they proved the more clinical team on the day and stole all three points. We rounded the month of August off with a return to winning ways as a late penalty was converted by De'marlio Brown-Sterling who restored our lead and sealed the win.


That start to the season had us sitting in fourth place which isn't the worst but we definitely need to improve in the coming months. Much like our results, our places in the monthly awards were similarly runner up material and that's something else we'll be looking to change soon. Only Kyle Dempsey and Mathew Hudson really stood out for us this month. An injury to George Miller prevented him from really getting going and Brown-Sterling was only just finding his feet after being dropped to the bench for Miller at the start of the season.



@ScottT: It really was I was gutted, it was one of those rare moments when I felt like abandoning a save and rage quitting. As you said though, it's extra preparation for us as we look to climb the Football League ladder.
Another good crop of players brought in, especially Gilliead. A good start to the season is encouraging.
A gutting way to miss out on promotion having looked so set at getting it, but a a young manager Burns will take these lessons and grow from the, I'm sure. The team is certainly a strong one and with some consistency I am sure that title push can be one of success this season. Good luck!


Building on a decent start


After a decent start to the season had us sitting fourth we had to pull the socks up and set about climbing the table in the following months. Sutton and York were dismantled by us and De'marlio Brown-Sterling whilst our debut run in the Scottish Challenge Cup began with a narrow win over my old friend Barry Ferguson's former side, Kelty Hearts. Unfortunately, Brown-Sterling broke his ankle in the game against York and was ruled out for six months. He didn't start the season as first choice striker as George Miller was given a chance ahead of him due to Brown-Sterling's indifferent second half of the season form last year. After being given some starts due to Miller's average start to the season he started to repay us but we soon had to reinstate Miller. We picked up three wins and three draws in our next six matches but one thing was becoming clear to me we needed a goal scorer. With another goalless match against Stockport from Miller we brought in long term target Juanito Lopez, who rejected us for Blackburn in my very first season. Needing inspiration to overturn the one nil deficit we brought Lopez on against Barnet and it paid off handsomely. He netted a debut goal and set up Ameobi's late winner too. Over the next seven games our strikers failed to score and it was becoming a bit of an issue.

Kian Harrett became our fourth loaned in striker at the club as we desperately searched for an answer to our striking woes. Callum Gribbin and Scott Brown were both added to our squad on free transfers too. Gribbin is a creative player who has long been touted as one for the future but as yet, has failed to fulfill that potential. Brown is an excellent acquisition and when I found out he could be available to us I had to swallow my pride, forget any previous personal judgements on him due to my Rangers affiliation and get him signed up. He is an excellent addition and he's already showing his worth alongside Gribbin.

Brown got his first goal for the club from the penalty spot which rescued a point against promotion rivals Solihill Moors. We kicked in to a bit of form after that with Brown netting a further two from the spot and fellow new boys Gribbin and Harratt chipping in too with some goals too. Our draw and seven wins in October meant that we were unbeaten in eighteen games. We also progressed in to the next round of the Scottish Challenge cup after victory over Northern Ireland Champions Linfield, we will face Scottish Championship side Livingston in the next round. A Kyle Dempsey inspired victory over Altricham ensured progress in the FA Cup was made too and we will face Fylde in the first round next. The games came at us thick and fast in the past month which meant that I was having to heavily manage our players and give them a rest from training in between games when they were really struggling. I am thrilled with our progress in all competitions these past couple of months and even more so given the amount of games we've had to play in such a short space of time. Although we've managed to overcome Solihill Moors and go top of the table it's clear that they are in it for the long haul this season as they maintain an extremely impressive start to the season too.





@ScottT: Aye, further boosted the squad with another couple of good captures too I believe. The form continues, for now....

@TheLFCFan: It certainly was mate! That's it, can't get too down about something you can no longer change.Let's hope so, thank you.
Long may it continue! Excellent stuff lately. Promotion has got to be on the cards?
Broony! Way to save him from going to MLS, Imagine. His leadership will be helpful for your squad.
League is looking very good once again this season, with some incredible form. Scott Brown is a great signing despite his age, he should be a big piece in this seasons success.


Our effort to maintain top spot succeeds


November got off to a bad start for us as we lost to mid table side Kidderminster to great dismay. We were dealt with a massive over reaction to that result as the fans and media jumped on our backs immediately. Our first loss in fifteen games and we were met with public outcry, ridiculous. Now, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't consumed with rage in the immediate aftermath of that game, firstly due to the loss and then the public backlash, it was crazy. I was offered an interview by Macclesfield after that game and if it had been a side a league or two above then some more thought may have went in to it but as it was, I declined the opportunity. I was pleased that the upgrades were made to our youth and senior training facilities finally as well which was a welcome boost.


After the dust had settled on the Kidderminster we got right back to work as we wanted to bounce right back and prove everyone wrong. We were dealt a blow when our starting goalkeeper Mathew Hudson was ruled out for four weeks through injury and we were then left with just Ryan Mullen with no alternative to him either. So got to work on finding a goalkeeper that would provide short term cover but when we failed to find someone suited we went and signed the multi cultural Louis Yamaguchi to be our new number one goalkeeper instead. Louis is a great young goalkeeper and immediately became the best at the club when he joined. So good infact, that Japan decided to call him up to the international squad and he missed three games for us during his first few weeks too, go figure! Kgosi Ntlhe missed the same period as he was called up to the South African squad too. Although we missed them both I am thrilled that we have some current internationals in our ranks whilst playing in the Vanarama National League.

Our squad became that much better just a few weeks later as we signed an additional three players. None other than Rolando Aarons rocked up to Blackwell Meadows to sign on the dotted line. The twenty-two cap Jamaican/English winger never made the grade at Newcastle and after a loan spell with Motherwell two years ago he spent a season in the Toon reserves before being released in the summer. I am thrilled to bring him in and I really hope he can rediscover his promise with us as we seek to climb the leagues. Anticipating the demise of Ryan McLaughlin after a broken leg we brought in Nigerian/English full back Moses Odubajo to displace loan signing George Tanner in the side, Odubajo was released by Sheffield Wednesday in the summer. Finally, we added some quality to the heart of an already strong defence in the shape of Darnell Johnson who most recently played with Plymouth in League Two last year on loan. These have been real game changing signings that can continue with us for a couple of seasons. We have also narrowed it down to two trialists we'd like to sign out of the bunch we've had in over the past couple of months. Josh Windass and Nathan Phillips have been training with us whilst we try to sort out the finances to bring both of them in. We've agreed to sell Jak McCourt to Gillingham for £50k, Fiacre Kelleher to Burton for £40k and Tom White will join Forest Green on a free transfer. We will be looking to move a couple more players on in the transfer window too.

In terms of results over the past few months I've been pleased with what we've come away with in our ten games. We had a busy November across three competitions and we won four games, drew one and lost two in that period. Our defeat to Kidderminster was a low point but our other loss wasn't a major blow I didn't feel as the Scottish Challenge Cup wasn't something we planned to be in at the start of the season so the exit to Livingston didn't cause too much upset. Our strikers indifference continued in November as Kian Barratt didn't impress much as he netted just twice in six appearances but even putting the lack of goals aside he played generally poor as well. So, in December George Miller was once again given a chance to impress and he finally came good as he scored four of our thirteen goals in three games and rightfully staked his claim as starting striker. Progress was made in the FA Cup and the FA Trophy and we will face Liverpool in the third round of the FA Cup which will be a significant financial boost to us and we face Woking in the second round of the FA Trophy.


Further good news was had when we agreed to extend Scott Brown's contract by a further year. He has been a fantastic addition to the squad and has chipped in with key goals from the penalty spot as well as five assists, seven MOTM awards, one player of the month award and a third place in the player of the month too. His leadership, team work, work rate, passing and natural fitness stands head and shoulders above the rest of the squad and it was key that we kept him on. As well as signing a new deal Scott has become our vice captain after Jak McCourt's departure and we've also started putting him through his coaching badges too, with a view to keeping him at the club in a backroom capacity once he retires. George Miller earned the player of the month award for December as his resurgence in from was recognised, Brad Lyons was named in third place. Days before it was revealed that I was the manager of the month in December David Johnson called me in for contract talks and an extension was quickly agreed upon. With some new acquisitions, flying in the league and an FA Cup tie with Liverpool to look forward to things are looking good for us. I just need to ensure that the focus remains as we don't want a repeat of last years performance in the second half of the campaign.



@ScottT It's been good, well we've not got a significant lead at this same stage this year so I'm hoping we'll do the opposite and now go and create an unassailable one.

@Jahendricksi: Spot on, he's been a key cog in the team of late, not quite sure how we managed to get him.

@TheLFCFan: It is, as I mentioned above I hope we can now go on and create a lead which we already had at this point last year and prevent us blowing it again haha!
1
Nothing can stop Darlington now! Well, maybe the Corona virus...
How are Darlington faring, Imagine? You were up 5 points with a game in hand--did you earn promotion to the Football League?

You are reading "The path of an ambitious Scot".

FMS Chat

Stam
hey, just wanted to let you know that we have a fb style chat for our members. login or sign up to start chatting.