Welcome back one and all to The Tangerine Dream as we look through the early stages of season 2 with last season’s successes becoming a distant memory with full focus turning to the league and our adventure in the Europa League!
Last time out you saw all things pre-season including transfers, how my side reached the Europa League group stage and a stuttering first month of the league season which sees us sit in ninth place. If you did miss it, check it out here.
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 two objectives are;
- Promote two youngsters to the first team, making 10 appearances each
- Qualify for the Europa Conference League (4th/5th place league finish)
- Reach the Final of either domestic cup
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!
Plenty of games to look at in the league, Betfred Cup and the Europa League group stage so let’s get it going.
It really wasn’t a good start to the month as Marc McNulty picked up a long term injury in training…well I say long term, even my physios aren’t sure with stating the injury period as 4-9 months?! I know whose contracts won’t be renewed at the end of the season!
A few league games and a Betfred Cup Quarter Final to contend with this month. Hopefully we can get some form going.
After the international break, it was a trip to face Hamilton and it was good trip too with my side bringing home a 2-0 win. A very good start saw Lawrence Shankland score within 12 minutes before Adrian Sporle struck 11 minutes from time to secure a comfortable victory.
It was Kilmarnock up next and it was another win too with a 2-1 victory. ‘Killie’ have been known to test us last season but goals from Nicky Clark & Logan Chalmers either side of a Greg Kiltie strike, secured all 3 points.
Betfred Cup Quarter Final time now against Championship side Raith Rovers. It was some game as well, finishing 4-2 in our favour. 3 goals in each half, Hakeeb Adelakun opened his account for the club before Raith equalised, Nicky Clark restored our lead however. Hakeeb Adelakun got a second goal before Logan Chalmers struck, Raith got their second goal late on.
A return to league action against Rangers and it was some humbling in a 3-0 loss. Rangers controlled the game start to finish and all honesty we did not look up scratch at all. Still some work to do to close the gap to the old firm.
A decent month, good to get some wins on the board to rack up some early points and cup progression.
Logan Chalmers clinched the Young Player of the Month award after an impressive month on the right wing. The lad also dedicated the award to myself showing his trust in the manager.
October was slightly busier with four league games and an all important Betfred Cup Semi-Final.
It was Hearts at home first and another decent performance brought a 3-1 victory. Captain Mark Reynolds got us going scoring a header before being cancelled out by Scott Wright’s strike. Flying left back Jamie Robson restored the lead before youngster Declan Glass popped up with a goal late on.
An away trip to St. Mirren next and to their credit they have had a very good start to the season under Bolton legend Ricardo Gardner’s management. This carried on in their favour beating us 1-0. A very awkward side to play, they got their goal and protected the result which just caused constant frustration.
The aim was to bounce back against Livingston and the boys done exactly that with a 2-0 victory. It didn’t happen until the 74th minute when Lawrence Shankland converted a penalty before grabbing his second five minutes later.
A Tayside derby against St. Johnstone was served up, ending with a 2-2 draw. My side looked in control being 2-0 up at half time thanks to Adrian Bajrami & Nicky Clark but a 2 minute collapse from the 58th minute allowed our opponents to score twice in quick succession. Very annoyed that we threw this one away when we were in control at half time.
Betfred Cup Semi-Final now and it was against Scottish Championship side Dunfermline. Think it was a walk in the park? think again. Lawrence Shankland gave us the lead before then missing a penalty, Dunfermline equalised before Nicky Clark restored the league. It all went wrong in the 91st minute when an unmarked Dunfermline player struck for 10 yards out. Extra time it was and both teams were tired but centre back Adrian Bajrami jumped in to a tackle in the 116th minute with the ref sending him off! My boys were clinical in the lottery of penalties and secured the win after scoring all five…we will be defending our title after winning it last season! Final result Dundee Utd 2-2 Dunfermline (Dundee Utd win 5-3 on penalties).
An up and down month, some errors certainly creeping in that I wasn’t seeing last season but no need to panic…yet.
Couple of bits of news to start November, including completion of the National A coaching licence following achieving last season’s objectives.
Secondly, to work towards the objective of promoting a player to the first team and for them to make 10 appearances, youngster Jon Davis has been brought up from the reserves to see if he can stake a claim within the side.
Due to international breaks, only three games this month which are all in the league.
Firstly, Hibernian were welcomed to Tannadice and it was a good day for them, taking all 3 points in a 1-0 loss from my side. We’re really struggling to hold down form at the moment and it is causing these kind of results, something has to change!
An away trip to face Celtic and it was a second loss in a row with no goal scored, a 2-0 loss on the day. Celtic are of course a powerhouse in Scottish football but we really gave them an ego in this one, may as well have laid down for them!
A chance at redemption against Motherwell but it was only a point in a 2-2 draw. After going 2-0 down before half time I was thinking the worst, losing at the boys in the changing room. This sparked some energy with Nicky Clark grabbing one goal and the main man Lawrence Shankland getting the equaliser late on, great to see some resilience!
A tough month, I need to make a decision on our tactics as both the 4-4-2 and 3-4-3 have started to prove ineffective.
There was some good news, as young prospect Finn Malcolm who is at Inverness for the season won the Championship Player of the Month after some electric form. Remember his name ladies and gents because he is a future first teamer for sure!
Where is the image of the league table you may ask?
Well I forgot to screenshot it at the end of November…which caused some rage my side as this was probably one of the best screenshots to give some context to our struggles…
Please accept my apologies for this mishap. At the end of November we were 8th in the league and at this point we have lost 6 games already in the league when my side only lost 8 times in the whole of last season in the competition…it is not good for our aspirations.
Europa League Group Stage
Maybe our European adventure could be a silver lining within our early season struggles but it wasn’t going to be easy.
Away to Athletic Bilbao to start but it was a tough trip losing 3-1. The boys started so well after Juanma Hernandez gave us an early lead but then we fell apart finding ourselves 3-1 down at half time. Bit of a reality check this one “Welcome back to European Football” is what it felt like.
Next was Shakhtar who visited a sold out Tannadice Park. It was a share of the points in a decent performance from us, finishing 1-1. Shakhtar actually took the lead in the 69th minute but an instant response from kick off allowed Nicky Clark to keep honours even.
Genk were next in town and believed this to be winnable but it was the opposite in a 1-0 loss. We just didn’t look like scoring in all honesty, no real fight or desire as we put ourselves in a very tough position in the group.
The return fixture with Genk provided a point in a bore 0-0 draw. Neither team taking any attacking risks to make a breakthrough and the game fizzled out very quickly.
Very much up against it now facing Atheltic Bilbao at home, any loss would send us packing basically. Unfortunately, it was a loss at 2-1. The difference is quality was too much and the fluidity that Bilbao played with really caused us problems. Juanma Hernandez scored a late consolation in the 90th minute.
Knowing we were out and finishing bottom of the group, I rotated for the last game against Shakhtar and it showed in a pounding 3-0 loss. As this fixture was in December, I prioritised keeping some players fresh due to the schedule but even still it was a poor performance.
I’m actually quite gutted about our performance in Europe this season, don’t get me wrong I know we wouldn’t of won it but there was no fight to try and take games to these teams and show we have a bit about us…very much a humbling to the squad.
So there it is, rock bottom of the group and miles away from third. Maybe the Europa Conference League would have been a bit better for us this season.
Up next will be the winter period (Dec-Feb) along with the transfer window and the Betfred Cup Final as its a replay of last season’s final against Celtic. Will there be a change in tactic to sort the form? That’s a decision I will share with you next time!
DP-FM’s Louis is back in control of The Far East Express, a joint network save shared with other awesome FM content creators. After a silver patch of picking up trophies, the task is now to rebuild fallen South Korean club Gangwon as they find themselves lying in the depths of the second tier!
Season 9 Episode 1 is right here to get you going on the current journey – https://dpfmblog.com/2021/08/17/the-far-east-express-s9-ep-1-oh-gangwon-then/
Well it’s tough form wise at the minute but I hope you all enjoy nonetheless, challenging times is what makes the save interesting. Take care all and I’ll catch you next time 🙂