Here we are then ladies and gentlemen, the season 1 finale of what has been a very good first season of this project so far. Fresh off our Betfred Cup win over Celtic as seen in the last instalment, it is now time to use that success to fire our way to a strong finish with Europa League and Conference places up for grabs!
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!
As this is the season finale, all three objectives will be reviewed at the end of the episode. Before that, the last three months of fixtures are to be completed, there is various bits of news to cover and of course there will be time to reflect on the season…so let’s get it going.
As there is various bits going on as already mentioned, any club news will be shared in each month before the fixtures being covered.
Things are definitely going well club vision wise although I feel I deserve a little more than an A- rating!
In line with the save rules, a cup win means a bonus token for a coaching course so it was time for some self development.
With the success so far this season, I was keen to hang on to a couple of our loan players. There was good and bad news, Marc McNulty and parent club Reading were happy for him to remain with us next season however, defender Branimir Kalaica does not see next season with Dundee United with the player turning down the offer after Benfica’s acceptance.
Game time now and the months begin to calm down a little coming into the latter parts of the season. Three league games along with a Scottish Cup Quarter Final with Hibernian.
First up was a rematch from the Betfred Cup Final against Celtic. Safe to say the Glasgow club definitely channelled their heartbreak, beating my side 5-3. A crazy first half saw 6 goals with loan star Marc McNulty bagging a first half hattrick. With the score at 3-3 going into the second half, Celtic turned it up a notch as we ran out of ideas scoring a further two goals to secure their win.
Kilmarnock was the next match and gave a chance of redemption and it was exactly that with a 2-1 win. Marc McNulty got a goal to carry on his good form and centre back Branimir Kalaica scored from a header. Killie’s goal came as a late consolation in second half injury time.
Scottish Cup Quarter Final time against Hibernian who we’ve had some cracking games against this season, with this one being no different. Big Jackson Irvine gave Hibs a first half lead and I had to wait until the 76th minute for Adrian Sporle to equalise. 1-1 at full time so it was off to extra time where we got the upper hand, Lawrence Shankland giving us the lead on his return from injury. It was short lived as Kevin Nisbet got Hibs level again a few minutes later. A tense shout came but my side were clinical scoring all five penalties with Hibs missing their last penalty meaning we advance to the semi final! Final score 2-2 AET (Dundee United win 5-4 on penalties).
Last game of the month was a New Firm derby against Aberdeen but it felt anything but a derby in a bore 0-0 draw. No real drive from either team and chances were few and far between, this game was only going one way from kick off in terms of a draw!
Average month, its good to progress in the cup and there was a couple of tough fixtures in the league however, the league split is getting very close so every point is key.
After four goals in three games, Marc McNulty secured himself the Player of the Month award for March in the league. Great work Sparky!
Youth Intake 2021
Of course it’s the time of the season where the youth intake comes in, lets see if it was worthwhile…
I’m actually impressed by this intake, there is some real potential within this group of players and there is definitely some who could make the first team which is what I want in terms of developing youth players. The pick of the bunch is Ross White who looks like he’ll be some player with some work in training.
New Club Partnership – FK Senica
I have grown the club’s links with taking on Slovakian First Division side FK Senica. As I’ve said before, I’m looking to make a network of clubs under the Dundee United umbrella in the UK and across Europe with this being a step in this direction. A club with little history if you like, I believe this will be a good experience for some youth players.
One game and then the league splits, although that one game is against Rangers. We rejoice however, with a shock 1-0 victory! The in-form man Marc McNulty struck home in the 24th minute and after that Rangers just couldn’t find a breakthrough, fantastic result!
Into the top six/championship group of the split we go which means one objective can be ticked off the list for this season. As you will see, my side sit in third place with a small cushion over Aberdeen but the top two are nowhere to be seen…miles ahead.
Back to the football and it was Scottish Semi-Final time against Rangers. Clearly out for revenge after our league win against them, Rangers dispatched us with in a 2-0 loss. A poor start saw us 1-0 down after 2 minutes and then a Joe Aribo goal shortly after half time really killed the momentum. A shame to go out at this stage but we have been fantastic in cup competitions this year so I’m happy with the overall progress.
Back to the league with the first of two derbies in a row, starting with the Tayside derby against St. Johnstone. It was a slender 1-0 win, thanks to a goal from Lawrence Shankland. Small margins in this one but when it comes to playing rivals, three points is all that matters.
Now for another New Firm derby up against Aberdeen. Our great league form carries on with a 2-0 victory. Strikers Juanma Hernandez & Nicky Clark grabbed the goals as Aberdeen struggled to contain us going forward, great time of the season for the boys to come into winning form! After this victory as well, Dundee United guaranteed some sort of European football next season…
Fantastic month in the league with the teams we’ve faced, a shame about the Scottish Cup exit but I didn’t expect us to win it either.
After the success of April’s league form, the Manager of the Month award was earned for our 100% record.
Well we’ve arrived in May with our last three games to be played and first up it was another match with Rangers. It was a close game until Rangers took the lead before half time and as the game went on, it looked like my side were taking nothing from game. Until an injury time madness! In the 92nd minute, we win the ball back in our own half and counter attacked with Marc McNulty finishing the move from close range and then in the 94th minute, Marc McNulty goes alone and strikes in at the near post from the edge of the box! A late 2-1 win and what a late showing it was, unreal fight from the boys. This confirmed Europa League qualification, what a first season!
The penultimate game of the season was against Hibernian who you probably think we’ve played about 10 times this season…trust me it feels like it! Our good record against them continued though with a 2-1 win. All the goals came in the first half with Marc McNulty carrying on his goal scoring form before Mark Reynolds headed in from a set piece. Kevin Nisbet got Hibs a goal back but ultimately we held on.
The last game of the season was against Celtic but it wasn’t a fairy tale ending due to a 3-1 loss. I did rotate a bit because there was nothing to really play for at this point and clearly Celtic didn’t feel the same, being 3-0 up at half time. We settled down a bit in the second with Juanma Hernandez getting the consolation goal.
A short month, happy to take six points from these three fixtures in all fairness.
Final League Table
Awesome first season in charge, I was expecting 5th/6th but to finish in third convincing and amassing 64 points shows what potential we may have here. I don’t think we’re quite ready for Europa League football but the qualifiers may be kind to us team wise but I’ll worry about that when it happens. The board ticked off being the ‘best of the rest’ as completed a few years ahead of schedule, I thought this would come from consistent high league finishes but who am I to complain?
End Of Season Review & Awards
It was a good year for myself as the manager as I picked two manager of the year awards in the Scottish Writers’ Manager of the Year & the Scottish Players’ Manager of the Year!
A bit bemused by this but despite our overachievement in the league, only one of my players got in team of year in Marc McNulty. Benji Siegrist, Branimir Kalaica and Nicky Clark are all deserving of a place in my eyes!
Our successes have really carried us through this season as at one point we were about £300k in the red but winning a cup and the high league finish brought in some very good prize money. European football should bring in some more next season also.
I don’t normally post the commercial finances but its quite rare that you see improvements across the board, the future is bright! Pretty mad a loan player was the third best shirt seller too, at least McNulty is sticking around next season so it’s not wasted money for the fans.
End of the season so it’s time judge our personal objective performance for that all important coaching course.
Reach the Championship Group at the split after 33 games (top 6) – As you would’ve seen in April’s review, we did indeed make the Championship group at the split which was topped off with that amazing third place finish!
Have a player under 21 make 25 appearances with a minimum of 18 starts – There was three players who had a chance of earning this but only two done it with the minimum starts in Logan Chalmers & Luke Bolton (both were 20 at the start of the season). Declan Glass missed out by one start!
Have a 20 Goal Player Within the Season – This I thought was going to be hard to achieve but despite Lawrence Shankland’s injury ridden season, Nicky Clark & Marc McNulty stepped up to both score 21 goals each!
Well that’s one way to set the standard, a trophy and European football next season, madness! In all seriousness, a second season can be tough so hopefully a good summer window and we’ll be progressing some more. With season 2 beginning next time, pre-season, transfers, Europa League qualifiers and the start of the league will all be for your viewing…and not forgetting next season’s objectives!
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 guys, I hope you’ve all enjoyed season 1. As a heads up due to a new job my game time has reduced massively so bare with me for new posts, I can assure you they will come regardless, just at a slower rate! Catch you all soon.