“What, why did you leave the adorable little Bruneian club in the Singapore League?” I hear you ask.
“The A-league’s a big step up from the S-League,” you say.
I, too, miss the good old days of having no money and losing most games at Duli Pengiran Muda Mahkota FC but the four foreign player rule and the fact our national players were of course Bruneian, coupled with modest finances, meant it would have taken maybe 25 seasons to get anywhere near winning the Asian Champions League. In fact, it would probably be impossible because you cannot attract the best Asian players to Singapore’s top flight unless you come in to billions of pounds which is never going to happen.
I was always checking the Job Centre for a way to move up in my career and after three seasons in charge of DPMM the Melbourne Heart job became available.
I didn’t think for a second I would get it but against all the odds I received a generous offer from their chairman of around £1,300 a week and I snapped his hand off for it.
My first season in charge of Heart was a challenging one. We had money but couldn’t spend it due to the rule which prevents you from bidding on players from clubs in the same division, i.e. 99% of the best young Australians.
So I had to make the most of our five foreign player quota and look for Australians abroad.
Our most expensive signing was Cho Chul-Woong (see below) for £180,000 from Pochul Tech High School in South Korea. There are so many talented players in Korea, Japan and China I wish we were allowed more foreigners!
To be honest I was amazed at the quality of player Australian clubs had/have access to especially from Asian countries. £180,000 is a small sum for a player of Woong’s talent so I think I’ll load more Asian leagues in future saves.
Peterson, below, looks amazing as well. He’s only on loan but still, he could win the league for Phoenix.
At one stage we lost SIX GAMES IN A ROW!! In those six games we conceded 17 goals. We only won nine games all season, however, we ended with a flourish of four wins in five games 🙂
So we finished level on points with three other clubs and far ahead of bottom-placed Newcastle United Jets. Pretty much a predictable season considering we had a very shallow squad. Our good players underperformed too so we pulled up few trees.
Let’s get on to this season, it’s a lot more exciting!
It’s a long summer in Australia as the league ends in late March and only recommences in early October so I had plenty of time to find the right players to strengthen our squad.
We got in to around £600, 000 debt by the end of the 2020/21 season so I was prepared to sell a first team player or two as well as looking to improve our squad depth.
So I sold our talented Japanese right back for £1.9m (plus 20% profit from next sale) to PAOK in Greece. He had a very average average rating of 6.99. Okay that isn’t so bad for a 22-year-old but there was a mix of very good and very bad performances.
As you can see Shimizu is a very good player but I knew I could get good money for him and had a replacement in mind. Thankfully the new right back is performing much better and my decision has so far been proven wise.
Our Marquee signing this season, I believe you’re allowed a Junior Marquee signing, an Australian Marquee signing and a general Marquee signing, is Steven Lustica who we bought from Greek side Xanthi for £170k.
Furthermore, we signed around 10 youngsters, the best being Arian Grande from a semi-professional Australian club called Spearwood Dalmantiac. I think you’ll be seeing a lot more of him 😉
We started the 2021/22 season as well as the previous with three wins in a row including an opening day 5-0 win against Sydney FC.
After three wins we were sitting pretty at the top of the table but then succumbed to a 5-3 away loss to Wanderers FC despite these match stats!
We both had two clear cut chances though so maybe I need to look at a way of changing my tactics to yield more from our shots. To be honest, I’m surprised we had so many attempts as I’ve tailored my gameplan around working the ball around to create openings.
After five games we’re second in the A-League and simply looking a much better team/ squad than last season. The extra bulk to our camp helps massively especially when players are tiring late in games or when injuries hit.
Moreover, rotating your squad is a large contributing factor to maintaining good form you need to mount a title challenge or achieve whatever goal you’re after.
Players seem to know if they play badly they might be replaced in the first team/ starting line-up.
My goals for this season are to qualify for the end of season play-offs by making the top six, help my youngsters improve, settle on tactical instructions, and scout players to buy when the season ends.
Have you tried the Pentagon Challenge? Do you have any advice for me?
Stay tuned for a new Talking Tactics article all follow me on Twitter @footymanagermad