The Tangerine Dream – S1E2 – Zig-Zag Form

Welcome back to the second episode of the new project – The Tangerine Dream. Episode 1 provided all the information you needed to know as to why this save was chosen and a bit of history about Dundee United but now it is time to get into the summer then autumn months and get the team ready for this season’s adventures.

The Rules

A reminder for the rules of the save, which 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). I will continue to set objectives after all coaching badges are complete and any failed targets will be added on to the following season to put the pressure on!

All that is left to do now is to get stuck into the tactics, pre-season, transfers and the start of the league campaign so lets get on our way!

The Tactics

Tactics at this kind of club have to be absolutely right to stand any chance of competing in the area of the table that I want to be. There are two tactics, first up is a 4-2-2-2 (FM reads it as a 4-2-4) which will be used in games where I feel the team should be winning.

Yes, that is a new player at the back but we’ll get into that…

It’s a very direct tactic as I want the team to get the ball forward as quickly as possible but the main aim is to make chances inside the box. I have set the mentality as ‘cautious’ as I don’t believe the squad is at the required standard or have the creativity to play positively at this moment in time. However, in seasons to come and with squad improvements in the playmaker area, this should allow me to progress the mentality.

Now the second tactic is a 3-4-3, this will be used in the tougher matches which for me is against the Old Firm clubs, Hibernian and Aberdeen.

This is more of a ‘take your chances’ tactic, as upon losing the ball the team regroups with the aim to win the ball back and counter attack. I’ve had success using shoot on sight in the past and it’s a great way to shock the opposition…if your players can hit the target. This should be awkward for the top clubs in the league to face and it will hopefully unsettle them in matches.

Pre-Season Results

I’m not usually too fussed about pre-season but with Dundee United I want to get it right so I was laser focused on everything happening in the matches. I will say I was running a 4-2-3-1 in the first two matches but it just looked terrible which is why the 4-2-2-2 was created.

Very mixed bag, not so great against the Portuguese sides but we loved playing the Belgian clubs! One thing of having no reputation, low badges and experience the players don’t give you the time of day in team talks. I ask them to prove they deserve a place in the squad…no reaction. I’m sure a couple of players were still scrolling through instagram.

There was some promising signs in the last four fixtures, the Espanyol loss does not show the full story as we made chances but did not finish. The last two games showed more familiarity with the 4-2-2-2 tactic.

Summer Transfers

Ah the summer window, something a lot of us enjoy to bring in the type of players we want and putting our own spin on our own very squad…well not for me, it was frustrating to say the least.

It all started when ex-Man United academy player Aiden Barlow spent 3 weeks on trial to then turn me down for less money and a lesser squad role at Shrewsbury?! Next was Ghanaian legend Sulley Muntari at 35 years old, to spend most of the summer with us on trial but when the contract was offered he immediately agreed a deal to Ligue 2’s Paris FC. The worst one was non-league journeyman striker Terence Carter who has played in the lower leagues of America, England & Australia to turn us down for Sydney FC. Frustrated to say the least!

Thankfully though, four new faces came through the door – remember the first window is extended to October in the first season.

I made use of the Benfica link by loaning Croatian centre back Branimir Kalaica for the season to partner Mark Reynolds at the back. Ex-Rennes academy product Mohamed Bouzidi signed on a free, the winger will spend time to develop in the reserves. In the only fee paid for a player, Ryan Tunnicliffe was signed for £25k from Luton Town to boost the midfield depth and lastly American winger Andrew Carleton signed on a free after his Atlanta United release – I’m sure our American owners will enjoy that signing.

Outgoings were all loans for youngsters, I felt that notable players on that list in Louis Appere & Chris Mochrie needed consistent game time for their own individual benefits.

The Season Build Up

Before I take you through the adventures of August, let’s see how the media fancy us this season with the predictor and odds.

This predictor is days before the start of the season as it shows a better reflection after all clubs have got a bit of business in and out of the door.

The top 4 is what you’d expect to see but I am surprised to see my side predicted 5th at 100/1. I have a top 6 aim but considering it was promotion last season I was thinking we’d be predicted closer to 8th-9th.

But the media seem to back us to do a little bit so let’s see if we can work some magic this season.

The Betfred Cup group is out and it’s definitely a mixed bag with a tough tie with Hibs, Raith are a decent side on their day but I fully expect us to put them away along with Brora Rangers and Kelty Hearts. If there was a competition that we could do something in, I would say the Betfred Cup is that one for sure.

August 2020

Well, all the preparations are done, the players still don’t care who I am so hopefully they turn up in games for the fans!

What a boring start it was in the Tayside derby against St. Johnstone with a 0-0 draw. Both teams reluctance in key areas of the pitch led to a lack of chances allowing the game to fizzle out.

Next was a trip to Motherwell but we went back to Dundee empty handing following a 1-0 loss. Their new signing Ross Wallace scored a well struck effort from 25 yards but again going forward we were poor.

An up in tactical training and switch to the 3-4-3 tactic brought another point against Hibernian. On loan wing back & winger Luke Bolton got his first goal for the club but Martin Boyle equalised shortly after to share the points.

Next was a trip to Ross County using the 4-2-2-2 tactic and something clicked as we ran riot with a 5-1 victory! Peter Pawlett got the first two goals one in each half (it was 1-1 at HT) before the boy Nicky Clark sprung into life with a 14 minute hattrick. Sensational second half from the team.

The dodgy home form was building as Celtic brought us back to reality by thumping us 4-1. To be honest I half expected it, the difference in the two teams was very clear as I’m still finding my feet. Lawrence Shankland got the consolation goal late on.

The last game of the month was against Kilmarnock and the boys got a second win of the season with 1-0 victory. Nicky Clark got his fourth goal of the campaign on the hour mark in a good team performance.

Not a bad start in all fairness with 8 points, yes it could be better but it could be alot worse!

September 2020

September was a short month due to the international break meaning just the 3 league games.

It was a trip to Ibrox first up to face Rangers however, it was a 3-1 loss on the day. Rangers’ dominance in attack was difficult to tend with as even their bench is full of attacking threat, Lawrence Shankland got our goal from the penalty spot.

The next match made it no wins in four games at home after a poor performance left a 0-0 draw with St. Mirren. Wasteful on the ball and in front of goal, the team just never looked like winning across the 90 minutes.

Time for a bit of redemption against Hamilton and it came with a narrow 2-1 win thankfully! Lawrence Shankland got his third of the season and Marc McNulty finally turned up to the party as well with a goal. Bruce Anderson responded for Hamilton in the second half but we held on for the 3 points.

Not the greatest month could had 6 points instead of 4 but we keep battling on.

October 2020

The Betfred Cup does start in October in this season but I will cover it separately as there is a few games to look at. Four league games in October to look at in the mean time.

It was finally a home win versus Livingston with a 1-0 victory. An unlikely scorer in Jamie Robson as the wing back took a trip on his overlap into the box before firing across the goalkeeper.

The first New Firm derby of the season with Aberdeen but neither team would budge in this 1-1 draw. Aberdeen actually took the lead 3 minutes in, Ross McCrorie with the goal but the boys didn’t cave in and Marc McNulty equalised just before half time. A good battle but no winners on this occasion.

Then it was time for the second Tayside Derby of the season but it was another draw at 1-1 with St. Johnstone. Peter Pawlett got us going on the 22nd minute with a fine strike but Craig Bryson equalised shortly after half time, killing any momentum my side had. At least we’re not losing these derbies I suppose!

The next result just shows football is a funny game as it was another match against Ross County with the 5-1 away win against them still fresh in the mind. Well it was them breaking Dundee United hearts this time, ex-Dundee United centre back Callum Morris gave County the lead before new winger Andrew Carleton grab his first goal in tangerine. Marc McNulty’s calm 89th minute finish had us thinking we’d won but Dolly Menga scored in the 95th minute…2-2 it finished, no more to be said.

Absolute draw city this month but technically its an unbeaten month despite our lack of goals in most games.

League Table

We’re currently in 5th (somehow) as the top 2 have already ran off and my side hang with the other 3 sides you’d expect to be in the top 6. Teams in 7th and below are having early season struggles which is helping our cause as well. Still lots to build and improve on though but I’m sure it will come.

Betfred Cup Group Stage

I was going to save this for this next episode but it fits better here so let’s crack on with it. For those who aren’t aware of the format, all teams play each other once with two home and two away games. If it’s a draw after 90 minutes, it goes straight to penalties with the winner of the shootout getting a bonus point on top of the 1 point for the draw in normal time.

The top team from each group qualifies for the second round and the 4 best second placed teams advance as well. The teams who qualified for European competitions from the Scottish Premiership from the season prior get a bye into the second round. The champions of the Higland and Lowland leagues (fifth tier) also participate in the group stage.

Hopefully that makes sense so let’s proceed with the results!

Off to Fife we went to face Raith Rovers and was a close one to say the least. Marc McNulty got us the lead before Raith found themselves 2-1 up by the 48th minute! Ryan Edwards headed in from a corner which took the game to penalties and luckily Raith can’t take penalties as they missed their first 3 (Deniz Mehmet saving two) and United scored their first 3. Final score – 2-2 (Dundee United win 3-0 penalties).

Time to bounce back from the bumpy performance against Raith and it was just that with a 3-0 win over Brora Rangers. Andrew Carleton got Dundee United in control earlier on before captain Mark Reynolds made the most of two set pieces with two headed goals, job done.

Now this competition’s group stage this season was played in the international breaks of October and November but no first teamers were called up to senior squads so it was a full strength 3-4-3 against Hibernian who also had a handy side out but it was a massive 3-1 win! Marc McNulty, Lawrence Shankland & Nicky Clark all on the scoresheet – something Micky Mellon never had in a game, Clark’s goal in 90+9 minutes of injury time (not sure where the ref got that from) with Shankland’s nemesis Kevin Nisbet getting Hibs’ goal. Absolutely class performance!

The last game was against Kelty Hearts and it was a 5-0 thumping of a win. All the goals in the second half with Lawrence Shankland & youngster Declan Glass got us going before a late flurry from Nicky Clark (2) & Luke Bolton. Despite the difference in standard, the boys needed that.

Automatic qualification as the group winners, despite the Raith game we’ve look really good throughout so far.

What’s Next?

Next up will be the winter period as the Betfred Cup adventure continues, the Scottish Cup begins for my side and we look for some consistency within the league. Smart improvements will be needed in January but the wage budget doesn’t leave a lot of room to manoeuvre.

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 – https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

Or to go from the current season – https://dpfmblog.com/2021/05/24/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-s10-ep-1-a-decade-in/

Thanks as always for reading guys, I appreciate the support. Feel free to discuss with us in the comments on Twitter (@DP_FM_) and episode 3 should be out next week.

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