Former New Zealand international, Eric Ashton, a speedy and aggressive right winger in his day retired in 2011 as a result of a series of serious injuries which curtailed his playing career. After disappearing from the football scene for nigh on ten years, he reappeared with his UEFA A license, money to burn and a desire to buy into a club and begin a hopefully long and successful career.
When asked what he was hoping to do with the money, he answered with a telling statement “I expect any club I coach at have the most up-to-date facilities, and if that means I need to pour my own funds into development, I will.” Ashton also made it clear that he would abide by the financial arrangement imposed by the Board, and any financial injection made by him would be used solely to improve the standard of the facilities.
Probing further, Ashton agreed that he held international coaching ambitions, but was likely to first cut his teeth, in either Europe or the Australian A-League.
Jan 2021, four coaching posts were vacant.
Solomon Islands U-21
Derby County (currently 9th in League One)
Leyton Orient (currently 12th in League Two)
Aston Villa (currently 12th in Championship)
Waiting now for any approaches to be put on the table for my consideration......
Derby have offered a two year contract with a transfer budget of 1.5M, and a wage budget of 93K (currently 98K), with nearly 20M in debt and 5 loan players, it would certainly be a challenge!
What do members think?
Nice idea starting in the future it makes it a whole new playing field. I'd go for Derby, clearly a challenge but they also have good potential and fan support.
Derby, ah what a challenge! A challenge it would be difficult to pass up.
Once the feet were under the desk, a quick look at the books told me that we had FAR too many players on our books, we relied too heavily on loan players, played out of formation , and had been far too careless with our wage budget.
Favouring the 4-4-2 formation, with variations playing either an anchor man or an attacking centre midfielder was preferred, and Derby has previously been attempting to play a 4-2-3-1, with the three midfielders being tasked with attacking the centre of the park. This was going to cease during my tenure.
Looking at the squad, there was nothing starting in my reserves or the under-18’s so they have all immediately been put under the hammer. Friendlies have been set for the month of January to bring in some cash, and the facilities have been upgraded as much as money can buy.
Close attention now paid to the run on squad. Not wanting to continue with the hybrid formation, but also noting that one of the loan players can only play left wing back, made me reassess the situation.
Wanting to get as much out of the squad, in an attempt to keep them competitive and also lower the wage budget, a 2-3-3-2 formation was settled on, balancing attack with defense and allowing the usage of the best players at my disposal. It also allowed me to send two loan players home, saving me GBP11,000, while I try and offload the average, and elderly Tomasz Cywka, who is sucking GBP12,500 per week.
Problem as I see them:
We lack a quality goalie;
Limited firepower up front
The Board only allowed scouting of UK, Ireland and France….but ask and you shall receive, they had expanded the areas in which I can scout; now I just need to look around for a decent scout and back room staff.
We are sitting reasonably well, 24 games played, with an 8-10-6 record. Goal difference of +4 for 34 points, and only 3 points adrift of the teams sitting in the promotion zone, so there is an awful lot to play for.
We had been dumped out of JPT in the North Semi, getting smacked 2-0 by Barnsley;
Also out of the FA Cup, losing 2-3 away to Walsall
The death knell for my predecessor was more than likely a 4-1 away whipping by Charlton.
Strengthen finances for the club
Sell off as many U18/reserves as possible
Cut deadwood from starting team
Strengthen key positions
Challenge for promotion to Championship
Longer term aims
Stop reliance on loan players
Develop younger talent, even if it means poaching from other teams
Sell off anyone who disrupts the harmony of the team (ie anyone complains, they are shown the door)
First game up
Working through the transfer market and doing all manner of deals in the darkest of alleys, in an attempt to firm up new blood and talent, my first game in management also handed Scunthorpe a 7-0 lesson.
It was a perfect way to demonstrate the squads talents to the home crowd, with the supposed best player in the team, left footed striker Jimmy Barton, scoring four times. My defenders look solid at set piece time, the loanees lil Michele Baldini, from parent club Everton and Dutchman Vissers from Hotspurs scoring along with CB Leon Cook.
We now move into 8th place on the ladder…..
Crikey.....we were pre-season favourites to win the League!
It'll be interesting to see where we are at the end of May, but I am now thinking that is why I am now managing the team.
Now for the juicy bits:
Transfers In (thus far):
Wayne Doherty (15, CB, Irish): One for the future, but was happy to come to Derby with 275K comp from Sligo Rovers.
Marcus Carlson (22, D/ML, English): Solid physical attributes and will be able to cover the defensive or offensive lines. Paid 180K comp from Bournemouth as he had a higher league clause.
Sigurður Magnússon (19, CB, Icelander): Solid attributes with great mental stats. Future captain, once he has learnt the language. Bought in from Breiðablik for 35K.
Carmine Tummiolo (18, ST, ITA): Young striker who can use both feet, as I audition strike partners for Barton. Transferred in from Lumezzane for 35K.
I am still scouring around for a quality keeper and wide defenders.
Great away 3-1 win against Shrewbury with Barton, Baldini, and new signing Carlson scoring. Couple of tense moments when they pulled it back to 2-1 with nine mins to go.
Still have left defenders and a quality goalie on my radar, but have also been impressed with the caliber of scouts I have attracted, and am still working through coaching staff.
Moving on up to 5th on the ladder!
13 January 2021
5-1 win against Cardiff. Barton scored 4, Tummiolo opened his account, and my young Irish CB got carded for a vicious foul bang on half time. Slotted Spaniard Rios into defense from midfield and kept it quiet in the second spell.
Can now revert to 4-4-2 formation, and send two more loanee players home. Will keep right winger Baldini, as he is best value for money at no cost, as he was loaned from parent club Everton.
Have picked up two wide defenders, and a midfielder and bought in my own back office staff. Contracts pending on a right defender from Arsenal (150k) and a superb keeper (80K). It's beginning to feel like home.
On the rise to 4th place....
16 Jan 21
4-0 away win against Wycombe. Record is now 28 played for a 12-10-6 and a GD of +21 with 46 points, we slip in 3rd, a point ahead of Charlton, whom have a game in hand. Luton on 55 and Crystal Palace 53 are still a way out out in front. But we are chasing...
...Hard on the legs, but the momentum they generate is…..pretty damn amazing. Second game in three days.
Slotted in the new keeper, but had Doherty (CB) and Bencheena (LB) suspended and injured respectively, and also sent another loan player home. Pressed wily vet Lewis Stevenson into service, and it was a night for the wingers, were both Stevenson and Baldini (2) scored and ran freely. Captain in waiting Magnússon also opened his account from a well taken corner.
23 Jan 21
3-1 win at home against Colchester, with that man Barton scoring once, setting up the opening goal for new boy Binks, and getting caught in the tackle which allowed new resident tough man Navarro to slot a penalty in a white hot pressure cooker environment.
We had managed to agree terms with Arsenal’s Spanish RB, Navarro for 150K. He’d been loaned out for the previous couple of years, and only played 2 games for them after signing from Bolton for 2.3M.
I was concerned about the team’s reliance on Jimmy Barton to score the bulk of the goals, and had to set about rectifying the issue on the cheap. I’d bid for three players, all available on free transfers; Stephen Binks, (23, ST, Northern Ireland) Attila Goretich (19, ST/AMR, Hungary) and Petter Nieninam (19, L/CB, Finland) were all former youth players who had been released and whom came into the starting lineup. Details of the comings and goings will be detailed at the end of the month, when the transfer window closes.
With a central midfielder coming in to the squad at the end of the season to help share the load with the talismanic captain fantastic, Dale Stephens, and a youngish centre back in place to learn the language and inherit the mantle, the puzzle was starting to fit together.
30 Jan 21
Couple more moves made in the transfer market, contracts pending at this stage. All English, all off contract in June, so nothing to break the bank. I am just waiting on final confirmation now. The club has managed to lighten the deadwood, just not as much as I had hoped.
On the pitch, against the last placed Barnsley (and bearing in mind that they knocked us out of the JPT 2-0 prior to my tenure), it looked like a bad case of history repeating when they were up 1-0 at home after their sole striker broke through on 11 mins. We thought we struck back when Binks whistled one into the back of the net, only for the ref to call offside…and everybody else to call BS.
A dour affair ensued, and we broke just before half time when Binks fizzed one through the goalie from the edge of the box. Relief, as the riot act was read to the team in the dressing room.
After the break, it was still pretty unattractive footie, we through we’d have to settle for a draw, when Burton placed a shot into the midriff of the opposing keeper, it was blocked and pushed away, but luckily Nieminen was on hand to tap the rebound in. Certainly not pretty, but pretty effective nonetheless. A hard fought 2-1 win, certainly the most nerve racking of my short career.
We now own third place on goal differential (52 points, GD +24) as Charlton (52 points, GD +17) could only draw their last away encounter. Luton (61 points GD +28) and Crystal Palace (57 GD +9) are still out in front.
We meet Luton at home in March, and then have Crystal Palace away in April, and happy final pool play match versus Charlton at home in May. 16 more matches means maximum 48 points for the taking.
1 Feb 21
The end of the transfer window, and yes, Derby spent 1.5M, on 14 players, with one arriving at the end of the season.
Wayne Doherty (15, CB, Irish) 275K
Marcus Carlson (22, D/ML, English) 180K
Sigurður Magnússon (19, CB, Icelander) 35K
Carmine Tummiolo (18, ST, ITA) 35K
Rob Pochet (17, DRC, Belgian) from Germinal Beerschot 375K
Signed to give options on the right, and strength in the mid-centre, expert at long throws.
Ameur Benchenaa (18, DRL, Algerian/French) from Acadamie Paradou
Solid all-rounder. 200K comp
Koldo Arregi (17, GK, Spanish) from Hercules 80K
Gave me the quality keeper in goal, this young fella has a bit of x-factor about him. I am genuinely excited about his prospects and can’t believe he was this cheap.
Francisco Narravo (20, DR, Spanish) from Arsenal 150K
Another young Spaniard from Hercules, via the EPL track. Signed by Bolton and then to Arsenal for 2.3M, played two games and spent the rest of this career on loan in the lower leagues, without much success. Offered to us for 150K, and I hope I wasn’t too eager in accepting.
Petter Neminen (19, DLC, Finnish) FREE
Released by Tampere in 2020, where he spent 2 years and gained 13 youth caps, Petter brings grit and determination to the last line of defense.
Stephen Binks (23, ST, NIR) FREE
A right little gem of a player standing 187cm tall. Strong attributes and looking like the perfect partner for Barton. Released by Shamrock Rovers, and career wise, is striking a goal every two games. Brings some experience to the table, having played 120 odd games over six years.
Attila Goretich (19 ST/AMR, Hungary) FREE
Bought in for cover on the right flank, he also represents a potential target man, standing at 189cm tall.
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