Dorking Wanderers #10

The Transfer Window
First of all, we had a lot of work with the club going professional. All the players and staff needed new contracts, and with the change to full-time, the possibility to do more significant changes to the staff arrived. So I brought 11 new staff to the club, and for the first time, we have sports scientists at the club.
Our captain Barry Fuller retired, and with my philosophy of keeping people at the club, he’s now taking on a job as a coach for the U18’s. I tried to get one more year out of him to mentor the younger lads, but I’m glad he continues at the club as a coach.

The first team coaching staff

Other players who played a big part in our back to back promotions left the club. A couple of them played that catastrophic game against Chesterfield last season and have nothing to do in League Two. It may be cynical, but it’s also true.

  • Barry Fuller – Retired
  • Callum Kennedy – Retired
  • Julien Carré – Released
  • Niall McManus – Released
  • Jordan Aina – Released
  • George Membrillera – Released
  • Matt Briggs – King’s Lynn – Free
  • Wes Fogden – Welling – Free
  • Marqes Muir – QPR – £250K (£425K)

Marqes Muir was sold to QPR and loaned directly back to us for the forthcoming season. The money we got paid was immediately used to improve our training facilities. So we have our best defender from last season for another year, without paying his wage, and we improve our infrastructure. It will be hard to find a better deal than that.
Eleven other players also arrived during the summer. The strategy we set last year is still the same, but the maximum wage had to be bumped up to £1k per week to compete for the players we want to sign. Six players were signed as rejects from London clubs, while the others are from various Premier League and Championship clubs. Some of these players can play at way bigger clubs in the future, and it will be exciting to see if we can keep them all at the club.
The Craig twins from Tottenham look like prominent players at this level, and the same does Edwin Andersson. I made an exception on the maximum wage to sign Andersson to be a key player from the start of the season. Bobby Duncan was again brought in on loan after his successful spell last season. He’s only on loan for four months, and I will probably try to make it longer if he has the same impact as last season.


Tactics

With the promotion to League Two and full-time status, I changed my formation and tactics up a little. The new system makes it easier for us to adapt to games where we need to defend by moving the wingers down to wing-backs and just as easy to move them forward when we need to attack. I’m in a little bit of doubt whether to play with two advanced forwards or find a combination that better fits. I had great success with changing from AF – Poacher to two AF’s in the old formation, and the new system builds on that with almost the exact instructions. As always, it’s a work in progress, and I will make the necessary adjustments if something doesn’t work as it should.
The rationale behind this new formation is to increase the ability to keep the ball and dominate the possession. Matthew Craig is excellent on the ball and a good midfielder. He also got the correct stats to play as a wide centre-back and will play to the right and be the supporting one. The plan is for him to be involved in the offensive play from a deep position when the mezzala attacks the box and the winger needs a supporting option. Ibrahima Sy will fill the critical role as halfback, and he looks perfect for that role.
It may be an ambitious approach at this level, but I want this to be our DNA long term and build the club to this kind of football.



In the second post in this blog series, I put up some goals I wanted to work after, some more ambitious than others. After two seasons, all my short term goals are achieved, and I need to have some new targets to work on. However, the long term goals are still standing. No matter how tough and unrealistic they seem at the moment, I need to have a long term view on this.

Short term:

  • Professional status
  • Reach the Football League within three years
  • Sell a player to minimum a League Two club
  • Reach the first round of the FA cup
  • Academy player in the first team
  • Improve staff 
  • All facilites over average
  • Youth level 2 (4 at this moment)
  • Establish the club in League Two
  • Reach the fourth round of the FA Cup

Long term:

  • Reach the Championship within eight years
  • Reach the Premier League within ten years
  • Sell an academy player to a Premier League club

League Two

August

The first-ever match at the new Dorking Stadium was against Bristol Rovers, and what a welcome we got! Highest attendance (3,695) and highest gate receipts in the clubs’ history. The game started with a bang when Edwin Andersson scored after three minutes. They equalised later in the first half, but it’s an excellent start for us at the new stadium and in the EFL.

Away to Harrogate, they took an early lead after a penalty. Goals from Sammy Braybrooke and Andersson turned the game around before they equalised after 30 minutes. Braybrooke scored his second in the second half before Khayon Edwards, and James McShane came from the bench and scored. McShane has now scored for the club at five different levels of English football and in eight consecutive seasons. That he’s not a favoured personnel at this club is beyond me! 

Against Crawley, we again conceded early and spent most of the game chasing the equaliser. Edwards came from the bench and scored for the second game in a row. 

It was an enjoyable first month for us in League Two, and hopefully, we can build on this going forward. 


September

Tranmere was a tight game, and we didn’t produce much until Bobby Duncan got a goal in his second debut for us. Then, we scored a great goal with our two strikers combining, and Andersson set Duncan up nicely.

Against Leyton Orient, we had another party at our new stadium with all the goals coming in the first half. The first goal came after Andersson chased a long ball from Dominic Rogerson. A good shot from Andersson, but more impressing; How often do we see an assist from the goalkeeper?! 
Bobby-Joe Taylor opened his account for the season after ten minutes. Later in the half, McShane served Andersson two times, and he could complete his first hattrick as a senior. 

We again took an early lead against Northampton when Braybrooke scored after just 9 minutes. Andersson increased the lead in the second half, and the game was over when they got a man sent off with half an hour left to play.

We saw something we’d never seen before when we played Burton away. We managed to get zero shots on goal and had to see the points slip away after an early goal against. 

Barnet gave us another win at home. Taylor converted a penalty in the first half before Aaron Skinner scored his first for the club. It was a well-deserved goal in his third season and over 80 games for us. Braybrooke scored his 4th for the season to make it 3-0. They got two goals back late in the game, but luckily we managed to hold on this time. 

A fantastic month for us saw me get second in the manager of the month, only beaten by Ian Burchnall. Well deserved, Ian! 

After the first two months of the season, we are doing surprisingly well for ourselves and got the hang of the leaders. The tactics have worked like a charm, and the new players have settled in well and improved the team dramatically. Even so, I don’t expect this form to last forever, but it sure will be exciting to see how long we can make it last.


Cups

Papa John’s Trophy

We were drawn in a group with Chelsea U23, Colchester and Barnet in the Papa John’s Trophy. From the look of it a challenging group for us. I decided to play the reserves and some academy lads in this cup, as all big teams should. Even if we’re still a small club, we can try to do the same as the bigger ones. 

The game against Chelsea U23 was too demanding for us as they were starting players like Gallacher, Ampadu and Hudson-Odoi. We got an early lead when Tyler Fredricson scored on his debut after a corner. However, that only lasted for about 20 minutes, after some magic from Hudson-Odoi. At least we felt how far from the elite we are. 



Carabao Cup

The first round against Barnet was a relatively easy game for us as we dominated possession with 72%. Andersson gave us an early lead before Alfie Rutherford increased in the second half, Rutherford had the chance to score a brace, but he wasted a penalty in injury time. Nevertheless, we secured a place in the second round against Brentford, and it’s always nice to test ourselves against the best. 

We didn’t manage to hang on, and they were 2-0 up after just 12 minutes, a proper reality check for us. There were no more goals before halftime, and we managed to give them some trouble in the second half. Edwards came from the bench yet again and scored. Two minutes later, it was 3-1, and Duncan scored in the 84th minute. Three minutes later? 4-2. They’re way better than us.


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