16. A-Z of Football – Darlington (01/02) – Darlington Angel

So, where were we? Liavinco is back with the A-Z story and he’s got a D job, but where? Over to Liam…

The worst out of the 4 clubs but here we are, Division 3 Darlington. They did finish in 6th last season so there is a chance to win the league, however, 11 games in and we are in 16th. The squad needs an overhaul, due to a lack of players available.

David Batty is here though, so that will be fun! Somehow, Darlington has £4.4mil in the bank! Putting that into perspective, Chelsea had £0. That gives me a lot more freedom in the market, but I will still be hunting for bargains as always.

No time to waste though, as I have to somehow put a team together for our first game. I will be using the formation that I used at Chelsea, so hopefully it is just as good down the leagues too. The first match is actually in the Windscreen Shield Group stage, and it just goes to show how poor the team is, or how bad the tactic is!

Unfortunately we lose Peter Hignett to Huddersfield for £1.2mil, but we do get Andy Morrison come in as part of the deal

No time to rest. Leyton Orient visit the Feethams Ground next. The squad is tiny and I struggle to actually pick any subs! We have to battle on through until we can get reinforcements however. I choose the best team available to me, and it is a 8 goal thriller…

Jack Lester replaces the departed Peter Hignett and he bangs them in, a very nice win for us. That actually breaks the Darlington record for most goals in a match. What have they done for 5 years?! Oh well. Up next is Macclesfield, and I have a LOT of players to choose from

Just hope we come out of this game with a little decorum, doubtful, but maybe.it can happen!

Nope, but it could have been a lot worse. Another injury however, and I need to get some players in fast! First man through the door though is Lee Carsley, who will be a massive help

The rest reject me however so another 5 bids are in, some of them are quite experienced so hoping they can push us forward. I have Notts County up next, who are sitting 1 player above us.

Super Jack Lester saves the day, and a MOM for Mr Jones in goal. A good kickstart to the season, and with some new players coming through, I am actually not far off the playoffs! Away to Wycombe in the next game and that will always be a tough match, no matter what season you are in!

Jack Lester again saving the day with a great result away to Wycombe! Still waiting for some backup to come through, Not sure what is taking so long! Following that statement, all 5 join at the same time. Class of 2001, reveal yourself

Couple of current Romanian internationals and some youngsters, will hopefully bolster our ranks. I can still do with another 5 players however, so MORE bids will be going in. All 5 of those were brought in on a free transfer. The majority get into the team for the next game away at Southend, again, not an easy game in Division 3. That is shown

A new striker is on the agenda and I may splash a little bit of cash on this one. Jack Lester is good, but not good enough.Windscreen shield comes up a little too fast however, and a home game to Blackpool. Again, another defeat. Things need to change fast

We spend some money picking up Glen Crowe from Fulham, £210k for this lad

Also, another great one actually comes from West Ham, in Nicola Boselli. Fantastic signing for just £71k

Wrexham up next and as you can see, it is a new signing top heavy team. I am hoping that Glen Crowe can bang in some goals

But it isn’t working. Frustratingly, I think we may be here longer than just the 1 season

Going to stick with the tactic a little bit longer however. Give it a bit more of a chance. Still a lot of opportunities to strengthen the team, we have a lot of money but nobody interested. In comes Matty Agiadis, he wanted £17k per week so hoping he is a very nice regen!

He slots into one of the CAM positions. Also comes in, somehow, is a signing I made at Arsenal. I pick him up for £150k, it is only Mr Gattuso!

Also, this happens. No for now!

Big test now away at Grimsby and these new signings make me feel slightly confident going into the games. Not sure if that confidence is well placed or not, but it would be good to see where it takes us. Hopefully Glen Crowe can actually do something.

He does something, but not enough. Agiadis does get onto the scoresheet though and it is a good debut for him. Nevertheless, another draw and we carry on falling from the pack. It is early on however, and we could still win the league, but we need a lot to start going our way. York could be the perfect place to start.

Nope Obviously this tactic of mine which was superb at Chelsea just doesn’t work at Darlington. I need to look at another. Also – How the hell at 11th placed in Div 3 York got Henrik Larsson? Somebody explain that to me.

To further my woes, Gattuso will be out for 6 weeks with a broken arm. From bad to worse here. Giving my tactic one last go, to see how it goes. Lose this, and changes will be made. I don’t like using tactics that other people have made, I like to make my own, so we will see what I can come up with.

In comes Mark Draper surprisingly. Not getting football at Villa, he is happy to drop down some divisions and I pick him up for £325k

Going to give this a try actually, because why not

So it is FA Cup day, away at Boston Utd. This could be the spark that ignites some good form, well, we can only hope

Well we win, not comfortably, but we do win indeed. Happy to see a good performance across the park but Crowe really isn’t the striker that we need. I have transfer listed a few players and hope to pick up some better replacements. Massive rebuilding, but I am here for the short term. Dover in the next round, and another winnable game. I do pick up a CM 97/98 blog favourite however, surprisingly, I manage to get him for £525k.

Welcome home Steven, welcome home. Dave will be buzzing to see you. He will be making his debut away to Exeter in our new tactic. Another test to see how it works. I do need some wingers for the tactic to work well,

19 shots, and it is our Striker and our Keeper that let us down. I gave Lee Jones another chance as his form was looking good, that was a mistake. Back to Prunea we go. Still in the market for a striker after how disappointing Glen Crowe is. We at least pick up a Right winger and left winger…

Glen Crowe is dropped and Jack Lester gets another chance up top, to see what he can do. Di Livio (Legend) and Hanson will be making their debuts against Swansea. Prunea also comes back into the fold.

I suck. I need to find a winning way, very fast or I could end up getting the sack and waiting for another D team! With these new players, I may go back to my 4-3-2-1. Let’s see how it does against non-league Dover. If this fails, I am out of ideas and may have to look in the game to see what is successful elsewhere.

We win, not convincingly, but we do win. Glen Crowe again doesn’t score, but the search for a replacement isn’t going so well. We do make the 3rd round of the FA Cup though, so that’s a positive. We actually get Swansea in the next round, so there is still a chance to progress here! I do pick up a striker finally, and hope he isn’t one of those that look better than he is;

I need Knutsen, that is what I need. He makes his debut away at Bradford, just need a win, it has been a while in the league. Let us see what our new man can do.

Debut goal, and a goal from Gattuso who I have stuck as an attacking mid. Very happy to get 3 points on the board. I do pick up another striker, current Welsh international Jason Legg joins me from Hull for £1.3mil. He makes his debut in the next game against Oxford, with Zegrean moving back to CAM.

Doesn’t work. I may have to give the classic tactic a go because I am running out of options. Screw it, 2-3-1-2-2 it is. Just to give us some stability to the cause. Lets see where this takes us!

If this doesn’t work, I think we are just doomed to mediocrity

Nope. We have got worse. I really am running out of ideas here. I will stick at it for another few games, but it is really getting disillusioning if I am honest. We try again, Kettering this time, 2nd in the league. Oh brilliant

Ok….Confused by yes, ok. We get a decent win! Can this finally turn us around?

England qualify for the World Cup, but this is what follows. Kind of happy to be honest?

Same team, same dream against Rochdale. A win to end the update would be perfect right now.

And we get it. Legg with MOM and his first goal for the club, but bad news as Draper is out with injury.

A VERY long update for this one guys, but most of them are transfers as I have completely overhauled this club. Having to use the 2-3-1-2-2 currently as Darlington are awful without it, we end on a bit of a high. However, it is pretty evidential now that we will be here next season aswell. Until next time chaps, Adios!

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