Another season in the Premier Intermediate League is what we have had to settle for after not getting promotion at the first time of asking. Going into the season there will be major turnover in players as is the case with non-contract teams. One player though that I will be sad to see leave is Rory Patterson who is retiring….for the second time after making 55 appearances and scoring 24 goals for The Writers.

I made my first signing of the season by bringing in Warrenpoint Town right-back Evan White on a free contract. This is a big signing for us that will hopefully give us better quality down the right-hand side. I also made the loan deal of Shane Boyle permanent, joining from Institute on a free transfer.

I have also made Oisin Smyth captain of the team, with him being our best player over the two seasons so far. The vice-captain for the team is now Tarek Arafa.

For pre-season, I handed over managerial duties to my assistant Cameron Moore to allow me to focus on building a squad ready to push further up the table this season.

These are the transfers that I have made so far:

It has proven very difficult to bring in the players that we need as the wage budget is very restrictive. A lot of the Irish Premiership team’s youth players are now playing with their first teams and the newgens that have replaced them are not anywhere near the ability that I need them to be.

The problem with non-contract players is that when another team comes in for a player, they don’t have to as the club first, and the player usually will leave if the team is in a higher division. This is why we have lost our captain Dale McCreery and Harry McIlwrath, as well as Ray Kelly and Adam White amongst others.

Despite the number of players that have left, we are in a good position going into the season, with Cameron doing a great job over pre-season. These were our results:

vs Saintfield United (H) 2-2 – OTT Goals: Brown 33’, Smith 47’ – Saintfield Goals: Devlin 7’, Adair 73’

vs Rosario Y.C. (A) 0-1 – OTT Goal: Smith 77’

vs Bonagee United (H) 3-1 – OTT Goals: Brown 24’, Boyd 45+2’, Smith 58’ – Bonagee Goal: Doran 62’

vs Dergview (A) 2-2 – Dergview Goals: Falconer 20’ Pen, Uprichard 89’ – OTT Goals: Brown 26’, 56’

vs Moyola Park (H) 3-2 – OTT Goals: Keenan 9’, Smyth 46’, Boyd 72’ – Moyola Goals: Doyle 42’, Patterson 87’.

So that is the end of part one of season three of my journey on Football Manager 2020 with Over The Turnstile. In the next article, we will be starting the season, playing the opening game of the season, against Limavady United in the Bet McLean League Cup before kicking off the league season against Dundela.

I will hopefully be able to bring in a few more players to add a bit more depth to the squad, as we are lacking in some positions. I hope to play through August and September of the 2021/22 season as we look to push for promotion this season, although losing quite a few of our important players might make it difficult.