2015-16 Season Recap -
Preseason: Manager and Team Status, Yearly Budgets, Board and Media Expectations
Through the years, I've been very careful not to ask for any additional salary for fear that any money that goes into my own pocket hurt our bottom line. So while I haven't ever asked for more money, I won't hesitate to take what is offered to me! Again, I'm offered a pretty sizeable raise despite our team staying in the same league and I gratefully accept the one year extension.
Our squad discipline is almost maxed out, not a surprise with us having a roster felt to be very professional in nature.
Again, no changes here. At some point during the season, I inquire about potential stadium expansion and I'm quickly rebuffed, with the board saying there simply isn't enough money for us to add on to our facilities at this stage.
The board decide to raise our ticket prices ~5% for the coming year - our season ticket holder base continues to grow, with us adding 105 more subscribers, an approximate 6-7% increase. Our estimated value actually drops a bit…not sure why.
The media predict us to finish in the bottom half of the table and our board are pessimistic as well. I decide to shoot low for now, targeting a mid-table finish and that gives me the following budget:
2015/16 TRANSFER BUDGET - £30,000
2015/16 WAGE BUDGET - £20,500/week
That's actually a slight drop in wage budget but last year I did some tweaking to get it to £21K. With a transfer budget of £30K, I can do some additional tweaking if I need some additional wiggle room on our wages.
Preseason: Roster Status
GK - Liam O'Brien
has been a constant in the Dover lineup ever since I took over the team. I always seem to be looking for his successor and that's no different this year. We won't be keeping Bryn Halliwell
, who was horrible last year. We definitely need a "goalkeeper of the future" soon - I'm not entirely sure if O'Brien is good enough to get us to the Championship.
D - I believe we are very strong down the middle with Oliver Nicholas
, Luke McCullough
and Michael Raynes
. Aziz Deen-Conteh
and Conor Morrissey
are very capable fullbacks but I could use some rotational help on both sides, as I don't think I'll be bringing Watford loanee Derek Churchill
back for a third consecutive year.
M - We have some solid talent at midfield but there may be room for upgrades, especially in the depth department. At the wing positions, Keith King
was great in his first year at Dover and I'll look to bring back young stalwart Arsene Bamba
on another one year loan. Long-time Dover left winger Ismael Fofana
is starting to struggle at this elevated level so I don't see him contributing much this year. In the middle of the park, I anticipate that Richie Ryan
, Janusz Kedzierski
and young Arron Williams
will be back, along with Mark Byrne
F - Our top two strikers are definitely Aaron Greene
and Alexander Rattke
so we don't need anything other than depth here. Some bigger clubs have been sniffing around Patrick Cooper
and my hand may be forced to move him out if the money is attractive.
MC - Arron Williams - Hamilton - £250,000
MC - Luke Hendrie - Morton - £250,000
ST - Patrick Coooper - Sligo Rovers - £130,000
MC - Janusz Kedzierski - Polonia Bytom - £40,000
GK - Bryn Halliwell - Inverness Caledonian Thistle - £20,000
ST - Razak Abdul - Gimnastica - Free
DR - Mark Urquhart - Released
DL - Michael Riley - Released
MR - Abdeltareck Sakali - Released
MR - Khaled Laaloudj - Released
ST - Bob Porter (U18) - Released
So yeah, we made some moves before the season! I was having trouble staying within our pretty tight wage budget and started to figure out that I was probably keeping too large of a squad. By making these large sales, not only did it free up wages but pumped more money into our bottom line, which would pay dividends in the future.
was good enough to be in our "Best Eleven" last year but he was never really a first choice player for us. He was a very good prospect, along with Luke Hendrie
but getting an incredible £250,000 each for them was impossible to turn down. Those are easily our two largest transfer deals. Williams leaves after two years that saw him play 19 league games, scoring 3 goals and adding 4 assists. Hendrie played parts of three years with us, appearing in 35 league games, scoring 3 goals and adding 3 assists. Janusz Kedzierski
was a starter for two years, playing 69 league games, scoring twice and adding 16 assists. Patrick Cooper
was starting to ask for additional playing time but I couldn't justify putting him in ahead of Greene or Rattke so that made him expendable. He leaves after two years and 52 league appearances, scoring 23 goals and adding 7 assists.
Every year we are forced to say goodbye to one of our team icons, simply due to the fact that they no longer have the required skill for the leagues we've been promoted to. This year that player is MR Abdeltareck Sakali
. After 17 pointless appearances in 2014/15 with Dover, it was very apparent that he wasn't capable of helping our club and I didn't renew his contract. He is unquestionably one of the finest players in Dover history, seeing action in 159 league games, scoring 38 goals and contributing 30 assists. He leaves the club as "Favoured Personnel" but our supporters understand my decision, thankfully.
was also a victim of the numbers game but played in 46 league games over 3 seasons, scoring 10 goals and adding 13 assists.
, Michael Riley
, Khaled Laaloudj
and Bob Porter
never really made an impact at Dover and were expendable.
ST - Craig Beattie - £5,000 (Last Club: Dunfermline) - 31 years old, Scotland
ML - Simon Bouwman - £1,000 (Last Club: NEC Nijmegen) - 22 years old, Holland
GK - Ingo Wilke - Free (Last Club: Bochum) - 21 years old, Germany
DC/DR - Bobby Hassell - Free (Last Club: Barnsley) - 35 years old, England
DC - Sam Barnett - Free (Last Club: Stoke) - 18 years old, England
DC - Matthew Thompson - Free (Last Club: Wolves) - 18 years old, England
DR - Ondrej Novak - Free (Last Club: Kladno) - 19 years old, Czech Republic
AMC - Isco - Free (Last Club: Valencia Mestalla) - 23 years old, Spain
MC - Carlos Gurpegi - Free (Last Club: Athletic Club Bilbao) - 34 years old, Spain
DL - Jasper de Leeuw - LOAN (From Arsenal) - 20 years old, Holland
ML - Arsene Bamba - LOAN (From Arsenal) - 18 years old, France
MR - Manuel Weinecker - LOAN (From Chelsea) - 19 years old, Germany
MC - Joe Blake - LOAN (From Arsenal) - 19 years old, England
ST - Matthew Moran - LOAN (From Arsenal) - 19 years old, England
A very modest year of incoming players, at least from a monetary standpoint, with only £6,000 spent out of the transfer kitty.
is a prolific scorer nearing the twilight of his career (66 goals in his 116 games at Dunfermline) and will provide cover for Greene and Rattke. Simon Bouwman
is a good young left winger who will most likely back up the returning Arsene Bamba
, here on loan from Arsenal.
Of the free signings, the most interesting is GK Ingo Wilke
, a 21 year old 4 star prospect from Germany. He will get some playing time this year and battle long-time incumbent Liam O'Brien. Isco
looks to have a lot of natural talent (3 stars current; 4 stars potential) and will certainly fit into our rotation in the midfield. Carlos Gurpegi
has spent the majority of his career with Athletic Bilbao and is accomplished on the defensive side of things in the middle of the park.
I also continued with my strategy of picking up talented 18 or 19 year olds in the hopes of either developing them for our own squad (remote chance) or developing/selling them later (more likely). Sam Barnett
and Matthew Thompson
are two good looking DCs while Ondrej Novak
is a towering DR; at 6'6" tall, I'll likely start training him at DC.
Bamba returns for another year at ML on loan and we also scoop three other players from Arsenal on loan in DL Jasper de Leeuw
, MC Joe Blake
and ST Matthew Moran
. All of these Arsenal players have incredible potential and at the very least will work into our lineup on an occasional basis. Manuel Weinecker
is a Chelsea prospect and he'll work on the right wing when I need to spell Keith King.
Final Thoughts Before the Season Begins
This year, more than any other, I find myself relying on loanees to help push us forward - this is allowing me to spend a bit more on quality roster players, since most of the loanees are coming in with their wages paid in full by their parent clubs. Squad cohesion may be an issue, however.
continues to be more of a rotational player for us at DC but will once again wear the armband for the third consecutive season. We name Oliver Nicholas
as vice-captain over Luke McCullough
- simply put, the team as a whole seems to respect Nicholas more than anyone else on the roster so I felt it was a warranted move.
We'll continue to run with a 4-4-2 for the majority of our games, utilizing a "Control" or "Attacking" philosophy. Here is what our starting lineup looked like for game one of the season:
GK - Liam O'Brien
D - Aziz Deen-Conteh/Michael Raynes/Oliver Nicholas/Conor Morrissey
M - Arsene Bamba/Joe Blake/Mark Byrne/Keith King
F - Aaron Greene/Alexander Rattke