The Tangerine Dream – S1E1 – The Challenge

Here we go then, the save that should take me through to FM22…unless I end up getting sacked! More importantly, welcome to ‘The Tangerine Dream’ where I will set out to lead my beloved hometown team Dundee United.

It’s a save with a twist though as it will be objective based where each season I set myself three objectives to complete to ensure that I keep the club progressing with the long term view of knocking Rangers and Celtic off their perch but we’ll get more into that later on.

The Club Background

Quite a lot of folk out there pay attention to Scottish football and its slowly becoming more popular. More lower league clubs are becoming professional and divisions are becoming more competitive unless it involves a money rich team like Queen’s Park!

For me though being a Dundee native, I chose to support the real big team in the city – Dundee United FC. The Jim McLean era was when the club got a reputation nationally and across Europe with the club legend bringing the club’s sole Premier Division win (1982-83), two successive league cup wins (1979-80, 1980-81) and also a UEFA Cup runners up medal (1986-87). A fun fact from this era which still stands, Dundee United hold a 100% record versus Barcelona in European ties – four games, four wins – enough said.

After the McLean management era, the club has been up and down in terms of success to say the least. McLean’s successor Ivan Golac won the Scottish Cup (1993-94) before getting relegated in 1995, the club bounced back a year later however. Things went a bit quiet for the next 10 years before Craig Levein took over in 2006 and brought some very good times with the club becoming a staple top 6 side achieving European qualification in the process. Levein left for the Scotland job in 2009 and his assistant manager Peter Houston took the reins and conquered the Scottish Cup in 2010.

The next 5 years was a period of the golden generation of Dundee United young players with Andy Robertson, Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Gauld, Gary Mackay-Steven, Nadir Ciftci & Johnny Russell all featuring between 2010-2015 but once they had all left by the start of the 2015/16 season, disaster struck. An abysmal season led to relegation to the Scottish Championship for the first time in 21 years.

Ray McKinnon took on the Championship venture winning the Challenge Cup in his first season before losing the play off final. Csaba Laszlo took over during the 2017/18 season but fell short during the play off run also before Robbie Neilson came in during the 2018/19 season. Neilson had penalty play off final heartbreak before finally securing the Premiership return in the 2019/20 season after COVID-19 ended the league early, securing the title with a 14 point gap to second.

Nielson then left controversially to go back to the Scottish Championship for his beloved relegated Hearts – the team who tried to block Dundee United’s promotion – a Judas move if you ask me!Tranmere Rovers fan favourite Micky Mellon managed the first season back in the Premiership with a 9th placed finish but the negativity of the football caused discontent amongst the fan base. Mellon has now returned to manage Tranmere Rovers. Now the next part of the story should be Tam Courts taking over but here we take a different direction…

Similar to real life but a good few years younger, a young manager in myself has taken over the club of his dreams as I set out on the long journey to Scottish supremacy!

Coaching stats you’re probably thinking I’ve made a mistake in the setup but this is how I want it to be. It mirrors what I have in real life and I want to replicate that in the game to give more of a challenge.

The Rules

The rules of the save are key to progression which is why there will be three self set objectives to achieve each season. This will help my progression and the club’s progression in becoming that go to team in Scotland. The season one objectives are;

  • Reach the Championship Group at the split after 33 games (top 6)
  • Have a player under 21 make 25 appearances with a minimum of 18 starts
  • Have a 20 goal player within the season

If all three objectives are passed, the next coaching licence can be obtained. In addition, if a trophy is won this acts as a bonus token for a coaching course also on top of the objectives. (If a trophy forms part of the objectives in a season, then this does not act as a bonus).

Once all coaching badges are obtained, objectives will still be used to track performance and if an objective is failed at this point it will be added to the next season to intensify the pressure.

The Club Vision

I think the club vision for the first season is very achievable, despite adapting back to Premiership life, Dundee United do have quality within the team to get to midtable although by my own aims I need to make sure it’s a top 6 finish.

The long term plan of signing young players to develop for profit is one objective I hate as I don’t want this club to become a selling club, at the next opportunity I’ll look to remove this. Working within the wage budget should be doable depending on the financial situation.


The club finances aren’t too bad to be fair for a club who struggled during the pandemic, just over three quarters of a million in there although the wage budget doesn’t leave a lot to get new players in. For a decent player at this level you’re looking at around £1.8k – £3k a week so the business will have to be smart, potentially exploiting the free agent and loan markets.

As a starting point, it is a very good squad and there is quality in each phase of the pitch. Jeando Fuchs is down as a right back however, he will slot into central midfield as he has great versatility. Benji Siegrist has proven in his time at Dundee United what he is capable of in goal and its great to have such quality in the sticks. Further up the field players like Nicky Clark, Lawrence Shankland & Marc McNulty (on loan) bring quality to the attack for hopefully some goal scoring exploits. This should cover our 20 goal in a season target as I’d expect it to come from one of these three.

There are quite a few U21s within the first team squad, players like Logan Chalmers, Declan Glass & Louis Appere should all feature over the season which goes towards an U21 making 25 appearances (min. of 18 starts) in the season. Dundee United are known for their academy and there is some real promise within the reserves so I have picked out three players who may make their way to the first team in the coming seasons.

The Backroom Staff

My first real bit of work at the club was trying to improve the staff, a lot of members were let go on arrival as I tried to improve on what was one of the worst rated in the division.

It’s not the highest don’t get me wrong but we’re on our way at least. Around mid bag in terms of staff standard but I feel as my reputation improves and the club’s stature goes up again, we’ll be able to afford the next level ability of staff. I feel this is a good starting point though and it is an area that always requires constant improvement.

Club Partnerships

Some use affiliate clubs and some don’t but for me I like to try and build a bit of a network around the team I’m managing. For myself, I’d like some CFG vibes and have different clubs as affiliates in different countries but we have to crawl before we can walk so for the club’s benefit, a senior affiliate was brought in.

Very happy with this partnership as Dundee United link up with Benfica! The Portuguese giants have a plethora of youth talent within their squads meaning there could be some useful prospects coming in on loan potentially and who will already be Scottish Premiership standard. The link will remain until I judge us to be at a level where we don’t a parent club.

It was then time to make a link for Dundee United to send players out on loan and have a direct link with club in case of any youngsters that came through their ranks. I kept it nice and local which I believe is key sometimes when you’re using another club to develop players.

Scottish League One club Forfar Athletic link up with us and will provide a good options for U21s to get some first team football under the belt. Like I say its always good to have a local link especially when its only a 25 minutes drive down the road. I will be utilising this link in the coming seasons for sure.

What’s Next?

Well you have the back story and some of the backroom activity, the next episode I will get into pre-season, the tactics, transfers and of course the start of the competitive season as I look to lead this professional side with grassroots coaching badges and playing experience, what could possibly go wrong?!

Whilst you are exploring the DP-FM site, go take a look at Louis’ (Co-blogger/creator of DP-FM) challenge where he is embarking on his series ‘Unemployed, Unskilled & Inexperienced’ which is currently on season 10. This entails Louis starting from the bottom of his management career with no coaching badges and low attributes to add to the fun!

To go from the start –

Or to go from the current season –

As always thank you for reading guys, we appreciate your time! Take care and I’ll be back soon with the next episode.

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