There’s A Green Sward Called The Oval

FM20 has been a long time coming around, for me anyway. My FM20 save has been decided since around May time and it was an easy choice.

My local club, Glentoran, has been through the ringer in the past decade and a half. Well documented financial issues were compounded by a serious of questionable managerial appointments. At one point a creditor even locked the gates of our famous East Belfast ground over an unpaid debt.

Investment Bringing New Beginnings

At the turn of 2019 it became apparent that a wealthy overseas backer was interested in investing in the club. Glentoran has a rich cultural history to go along with a finely packed trophy cabinet, a delectable combination that made it an attractive choice for a benevolent financier. And so, in May the takeover was given the go ahead by a majority shareholder vote – Welsh-Iranian Ali Pour, along with accomplished Belfast coach Mick McDermott and former Glentoran player and manager Paul Millar installed a new board of directors.

It’s been a fast paced transition as outstanding debts were settled and Pour sank considerable sums into developing the facilities at the club. McDermott was installed as Head Coach (alongside his Directorial role) just prior to the takeover and as the new season began, set about making use of his extensive contacts in World football to bring exciting new talents in front of the faithful fan base.

Croats Marijan Antolovic, Hrvoje Plum and Antonio Djuric agreed terms along with Dutch winger Elvio van Overbeek. Defender Paddy McClean (brother of Irish international James) followed before the signing of Navid Nasseri – McDermott making use of his connections from his time served with the Iranian National Team where he was part of Carlos Queiroz’s coaching staff. The foreign contingent were joined by a few local players to provide real strength in depth.

McDermott, the voice of the new ownership, made clear that Glentoran were in a rebuilding period to bring the club back to the heady heights it once resided at. A move toward full time football is part of the plans as the Glens go in search of the golden goose’s egg that is European prize money. The benefit of which cannot be understated when we look toward the advances made by the likes of Linfield and Crusaders along with our southern friends in the League of Ireland.

Footballing Infrastructure

I recently discussed the structure of Northern Irish football in a cameo appearance on the One More Game podcast. Glentoran will compete in the NIFL Premiership alongside the Irish Cup, NI Football League Cup, and County Antrim Shield. Subject to league performance there is also the chance to play in the Scottish Challenge Cup and the newly created All Ireland Champions Cup which pits the winners of the NIFL Premiership against the League of Ireland Premier Division champions in a two-legged final. The reserves will compete in the NI Intermediate Cup and Steel & Sons Cup with a U20 side in the NIFL Premiership Development League.

Glentoran last tasted trophy success in the 2015 Irish Cup Final

Blueprints For Success

The aim for recruitment will be to continue to look toward signing talented players from across Europe’s lower leagues, I envisage this will mean short development period before hopefully allowing them to move on to bigger clubs for profit. Alongside this, I want to build a successful pathway from academy to first team to develop a semblance of self sufficiency at the club.

Tactically, I want to make use of talented wide players which will mean a leaning toward either a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1 although I haven’t set anything in concrete on that front just yet. Defensively, we must be solid as in the early building years we will be scrapping for progress along with a number of other exciting clubs – one of which being Larne who have recently undergone serious financial investment at their own end, I see them as a yardstick for our own accomplishments in the short term.

FM20 Planning and Issues

I’m excited at some of the new features to come in FM20. Being able to set out a vision for the club for the seasons ahead is something most FMers do in their own time, now being able to do this in-game with the board overseeing it is a great addition.

The Development Centre is another element I am very much looking forward to! Alongside this, there is the option to give certain assurances to players as part of pre-contract negotiations, mapping out their progress from new entrant to key first teamer for the first few seasons after signing.

All of this excitement doesn’t come without drawbacks. Unfortunately, the data and research side of things in Northern Ireland seems to have been given half effort in what we have received at Beta stage. There appears to be little to no representation of Glentoran’s big takeover in the database with the omission of the new owner on the board and the even more glaring omission of the funds he injected. It is also not reflected that the club are offering full time contracts to players in their aspiration to become a full time professional club. Finally, a few basic errors in the squad lists around the league just add to the disappointment.

I’m hopeful of these obvious issues being fixed in time for the full release of the game on 19th November. If not, then I’ll take to the editor myself to correctly reflect the real life scenarios.

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