Interviewee - Eric Belshaw (Swanfield FC)
Interviewer - Johan (IFK)
Forum Post Date - 20th September 2009
Original Thread - Click here
Another visit to Northern Ireland for a chat with our next manager from a foreign league. Swanfield FC, together with Scottish club Tokyo Thistle the clubs who have won most league titles in the UK, six each. Let’s see what he has to say about how to make our clubs successful like that:
1. Who are Eric Belshaw?
I’m Northern Irish born & bred. Now living in England with my wife & young daughter, but still like to get back ‘home’ as often as possible! I’m a big Liverpool FC fan (as you can tell from my team badge!) and try to get to at least a few matches every season… Off to Anfield for the Hull match next weekend! :) Will be meeting up with fellow TM managers: FC Mossley, Wrath Rovers & Harlow Academicals so there’ll be loads of beer flowing!
2. When you started out in TM did you have any early plans and did they go like you wanted?
Ian Boyham (Mossley FC) is a good mate & he introduced me to the game – so if my marriage fails due to the amount of time spent on TM… I’ll blame Beefy! :) Didn’t really have any early plans… in fact Swanfield FC was an inactive team for about 2 or 3 months after signing up! Then I caught the TM bug! The main plan I had was to pick a formation that accommodated my best players… This was the attacking 451 formation as the 2 OMC’s inherited were very good players… The other plan was to invest in youth & training from the start…
3. If you started again with a new club would you do the exact same things?
Yeah probably! I get stick from my English TM mates for playing in an ‘easy’ league so have considered swapping over to the English league to prove them wrong… but I’ve got to play in the country where my heart lies! Anyway I’ve spent too long building up the squad & would hate to lose it now!
4. Any advice for a new manager starting the game today?
Find a formation to suit your best players & if you’re in it for the long-term invest in youth! Also you can pick up some great older players on the cheap - they can keep the team ticking whilst you build up your youth setup!
5. Happy with your YD so far and the results from it?
Yeah very happy with the youth finds! Only 3 of them are now regular starters, but as time goes on I’m sure this will increase…
6. YD or TG what’s the most important in your opinion and why?
Tough question... I used to think YD was more important, but since the program changes to the training setup I reckon it’s more important now… as you could have some quality youths from YD but are unable to train them up sufficiently!
7. How much time do you spend on TM every day/week?
Between 1 & 2 hours every day!
8. If you could hack Thomas account for a day and change TM at your will what would you change and what things would you implement?
I would probably address my main concerns which are :-
- the 1 ratings for set-piece takers who may not hit the target or provide assists, but may for example keep a clean sheet!
- The GK bug (well documented) - lack of substitutions (roll on the new ME)
9. Tactics do they matter or is it only down to having the best players available?
Mixture of both…
10. What is the most important position and why?
Probably GK’s – a top GK seems to make a big difference (apart from FC Mossley’s GK’s lol!)
11. What key skills is needed for that position(s) and why?
Handling, Reflexes, One-on-ones & Ariel ability… (Strength probably plays a part too)
12. New ME on the way are you looking forward to it?
Can’t bl**dy wait!!!
13. 6 league titles and 3 Cup wins, you and Scottish club Tokyo Thistle are the most successful clubs in the UK when it comes to domestic titles. Does that make you even more proud of what you have achieved in TM so far? (I say so far as there is more to come I think)
Yeah I guess I got a bit lucky as 2 top NI teams (Quirkafleeg & Ballycastle Bats) became inactive just as my team was becoming strong!
14. Would you change a few of those titles for a win in Europe? :)
Yep definitely – European glory is my main focus now! Last season I was resting my best players for vital league matches so they would be available for the Euro matches…
15. 5 straight league titles, last two with pretty big margins. Is there anyone in NI able to stop you this season or for that matter coming 5 seasons?
Yeah there are some great up & coming NI sides which are investing in youth… Probably a dozen teams can win it this season, but Belfast Galaxy, The Peoples, County Down Rangers & Ulster’s Finest stand out as the most dangerous rivals… The promoted teams also seem to be dangerous each season!
16. Which of the leagues in UK are the strongest in your eyes?
English league – some fantastic teams in those top divisions!
17. Looking at your U-22 players it seems like you have done your homework pretty well, any of them you have that extra good feeling about for the future?
Tough question! O'Meara & O'Regan are going to be top class full backs, whilst McGaha, Kelley & Cunningham will be top class FC's... (these are all rated 18-20)
18. What’s your best moment in TM so far? Was it a special game, season or a certain youth pull?
I’d say it was the giant killing Euro exploits, including 4-1 victories over FC Velez & FC Goldmember!!!
Thanks a lot for taking your time answering those questions.