Football Manager Journeys #2: Dorados de Sinaloa
Last time out I talked you through how my American Journeyman save had panned out thus far. I left it hanging with me leaving a particularly decent Uruguayan team for Mexican second tier outfit Dorados de Sinaloa. Why would I do such a thing? The short answer is “Maradona in Mexico”. The long answer is that I watched Maradona in Mexico and was blown away by the passion he had for football even long after his body had given up and he wasn’t even coaching at a high level. He just loved football so fucking much. What better place to find my own footballing passion than Dorados de Sinaloa.
I delayed my arrival in Mexico by five years because I knew they’d done away with promotion and relegation for five seasons and I didn’t want to get stuck playing as Dorados in the Expansion League for two years. The job came open plenty of times because the owner is so trigger happy. Well, I think he’s firing head coaches. He may be just weighing them down and chucking them into the Rio Humaya. Diego Maradona never got Dorados promoted. Could I?
Good news on the squad front. I arrived to a good side, already considered one of the promotion favourites. The bank balance is extremely healthy. Dorados have spent their years waiting for promotion to be re-installed wisely and have about £6M in the bank. However the board were immediately mad at me for not finishing high enough in the first half of the season. I WASN’T HERE YOU FUCKING IDIOTS.
Yes, that says “failed”. I failed my objective. I wasn’t even here. Why not just tag on how disappointed they are with me for not getting promoted last season. Why stop there? Are they disappointed I didn’t side with the Allies in World War II? Are they devastated I didn’t intervene in Garden of Eden when Eve was reaching for an apple? (how can you even discourage that with a shout? No pressure?) Live in the now Dorados board. Wait, the president is called Nunez. You’re not related to that clown from Barcelona are you?
Let me introduce you to;
THE LADS (DORADOS DE SINALOA STARTING XI)
GK: Luis Lopez. 5’ 11” sweeper keeper who is tidy with the ball at his feet but cannot throw it to save his life. Has technique 3.
DR: Jorge Padilla. Club captain and 32 year old veteran and hard working defender. A rock. My rock.
DL: Dylan Caro. Dylan is Peruvian and follows me here from Universidad Cesar Vallejo. I brought him with me because he has long throws 14 and none of these Mexican lads seem to understand the long throw concept. Under “dynamics” it says “pleased to have joined and to play for Arn Furious”. He missed me!
DC: Salvador Manriquez. He’s actually a full back but all my central defenders are gash. He has decisions 16 and can actually pass the ball so he fits in with my dynamics. He also has no stamina so I keep having to sub him off.
DC: Jefferson Gomez. Or BIG JEFF GOMEZ (ALL CAPS) as I’ve renamed him. Big Jeff is a Colombian who I signed on a free and can actually do central defender things like head the ball. He’s “jovial” and likes to play his way out of trouble. He has leadership skills and is my best friend.
MR: Juan Chavez. Chavez is mad at me because I won’t sell him. He is a BALLER. He’s got four stats in the green in this piece of shit division. Opposition players feint in his presence. He’s 19 and the best striker at the club but I don’t have any other wingers so he plays there.
MC: Christian Castillo. I signed this guy as cover for my starting centre mid, a guy called Jaime, but Jaime bitched and complained until he got a summer move to a higher division so now Castillo is my starting centre mid. Christian is a coward with no bravery and a fear of failure. He likes to go missing, which is a slight flaw in a central midfield player but he’s quick so I just need to shout at him a lot to get back into position.
ML: Alexander Lecaros. I discovered after signing Lecaros, who’s also Peruvian, that he’s the club’s record signing at £180k. He has actual technical attributes so everyone else behaves like he’s an alien or a Greek god. He’s also quick and really short and weak. Doesn’t so much defending. In this division he’s a four-star player.
AMC: Daniel Zuniga. I got him on loan from Pachuca. He’s got flair 19. We just give him the ball and he confuses all the jabroni defenders in this league. At 18 years old he’s already the best player in the league and will only improve. He also likes me, for some reason, presumably because he’s not in any social groups. We hang out in the local bar where he’s a total chick magnet.
STC: Victor Gutierrez. Vic has finishing 16. That’s it. He thinks he’s bigger than the club but I’ve been thinking about replacing him since day one. He has tackling 1 and leadership 1 and one day I’m going to knock him out as an example to the others. Then he’s going into Rio Humaya with weights tied to his feet.
STC: Roman Abelando. I signed Roman on a free. He’s one of the many Argentine players who are far superior to all the local guys. He scores goals for fun and will break every Dorados single season goalscoring record this season.
Those among you who are sharp as the proverbial tack may have noticed my right back is currently someone called “Nava”. That’s because Padilla has broken his hip and is out for the season. Nava is a talented young utility player who can play just about anywhere. His preferred position is actually left back. He has bravery 19 and is only scared of being drowned in Rio Humaya for failing to please me.
THE RULES AND REGS
I thought Mexico would be relatively normal but it’s not. You have to field three U23 players in every game and eight Mexican born players. I routinely play four foreign players and nobody has said anything. Maybe I’ll get hammered with a points deduction or something. Ah, who cares. Rules are for squares.
Then there’s registration. I hate this screen. You’re allowed eight players over the age of 23. When I saw that I was like “you fucking what mate?” but I can’t afford any players over 23 anyway so it’s not really an issue. You may notice Gonzalo Vega isn’t registered. That’s because he’s too old and he takes up a foreign player slot. I have five foreign player slots but I’m only currently filling four because I don’t want anyone to notice I’m playing four foreign players already.
Oh, so here’s the thing. Dorados want me to sign Ecuadorian players. I thought they were taking the piss so I naturally didn’t sign any. I mean, it’s a suggestion, right?
Devastated mate. Devastated. So I tried hunting for Ecuadorian players to appease these idiots, as they’re now blocking any transfers I attempt. You know how many good Ecuadorian players there are? I’ll give you a clue it’s a pretty low number and of those zero want to drop down to the second division of Mexican football.
Transfers have gone quite well considering two players left right before the season started and based on snowflakes were projected to be my two best players. Jose Jamie has joined Club Leon and I tried to get him to sign back on loan but guess what? The board blocked it because he’s not from Ecuador. Homar Huiqui went for a paltry £185k but that was his release clause. Some of the other players have shockingly low release clauses but thankfully the window is now closed and when it reopens we’ll hopefully be in the top flight of Mexican football.
Entering the final month of the season Dorados have only dropped points twice. A draw with second placed Correcaminos, the only other good team in the league, and a shambolic game against Leones Negros where somehow we only hit the target once with 20 shots.
Roman Abelando has been the main cause of misery for opposition defences netting on 20 occasions across a mere 16 games. The season stats include the first half but he’s outscored Gutierrez who’s played 34 games and scored 17 goals. Chavez, the electric winger who is currently being headhunted by everyone, has 11 goals (mainly pens) and 7 assists. Manriquez has netted 5 times from central defence, part of my exciting set pieces record. Zuniga, arguably the best player in the division, has been a shade disappointing. He’s only scored twice and has four assists.
With three games left in the second half of the season you can see we have a commanding lead. We should win the second half but that isn’t the game. The aim is to win the play offs and get promoted. The higher you finish, the less games you need to play in the post season (NB: THIS WAS A LIE – Future Arn). Let’s go!
April 8, 2026
TAPATIO VS. DORADOS DE SINALOA
Alexander Lecaros has been out for about a month but he’s close to fitness and starts on the bench. Nava continues at right back with Padilla unlikely to return this season from his broken hip. Otherwise, it’s our regular starting eleven. Despite having played the same formation all season there are still five players who think the formation “could expose us at the back”. Do I need to show you lads the fucking table? Scroll up, bitches.
Tapatio play with a holding man in midfield and have a patience passing style of possession football. In my pre-match presser I call them boring and they are. It’s an ill-tempered affair with few chances. They get a lot of bookings but we manage one better and Castillo is sent off after 43 minutes. I should not have called him a coward, he’s taken it personally. The ref eventually levels it up, sending off Cendejas of Tapatio, but it’s in the 86th minute. It finishes 0-0 with 11 players getting booked. One of the worst games of the season and I’m so glad you were here for it.
Final Score: 0-0.
April 15, 2026
DORADOS DE SINALOA VS. TAMPICO MADERO
Castillo is, of course, suspended following his red card. That creates a central midfield issue. I’m playing Cesar Flores, who is even worse than Castillo. He prefers to play defensive midfield positions and has no attacking attributes whatsoever. What he does have is a solid overview of passing, tackling and teamwork (16) is tasty. He’s a solid, reliable guy to come in. Also BIG JEFF GOMEZ (ALL CAPS) is suspended, for yellow card accumulation, so he makes way for Juan De Dios Martinez. I rarely play him because he’s a creative black hole but he can defend. He also has stamina 5 so he won’t last the 90 minutes. Speaking of “won’t last the 90” Lecaros is fit but not match fit. Fuck it, he plays.
Tampico play defensive, scared of our ballers, and Chavez nets after 90 seconds. Martinez then heads in a near post corner and it’s 2-0 after 3 minutes. It’s all go and Tampico get one back with a far post header from a free kick. Not even 10 minutes played. It’s a FARMERS LEAGUE. Abelando breaks through on 37 minutes and he’s felled by Gonzalez. The ref gives the penalty and the red card. Harsh, but fair. Chavez does his thing and puts away his seventh penalty of the season. We pile forwards in search of more and Zuniga makes it 4-1. Lecaros lasts 70 minutes before being replaced by Sanchez, who almost immediately crosses for Zuniga to kill the game off.
Final Score: 5-1 Dorados!
April 18, 2026
ZITACUARO VS. DORADOS DE SINALOA
This is the final game of the regular season. Castillo and BIG JEFF GOMEZ (ALL CAPS) return from suspension. However Roman Abelando, star striker, has pulled his abdominals in the gym and is out for four weeks. Why was he doing 1000 sit ups anyway? He just wants to do that selfie where you pull your shirt up to reveal rippling muscles. Poser. This is horrific news. He’s our leading scorer and we lack depth in this position. Fuck. I push Chavez up front. He’s the best winger in the squad but he’s also the best striker. 16 year old David Santos deputises on the wing.
As with Tempico, Zitacuaro are dreadful and come in very defensive. Gutierrez nets early but VAR, or the lino, one or the other, rule it out for offside. The defensive wall of Zitacuaro results in a first half with THREE SHOTS total and one highlight. Five minutes into the second half Christian Morales pops up at the far post and fuck me, we’re losing. Gutierrez scores again and again he’s offside. This time by a mile. No VAR required. And that’s it. First ever loss as Dorados manager against one of the worst teams in the league. I’d gone 20 unbeaten prior to this fucking shambles.
GET ME A FUCKING WATER BOTTLE.
Final Score: 0-1
April 24, 2026
Closing Stage: Preliminary Round
ALTENOS TEPA VS. DORADOS DE SINALOA
Hang on a fucking minute. I won the league. Why am I even in the Preliminary Round? I’m supposed to get a bye to the semi-final. I read the rules, don’t give me this horseshit. And I’m away. Apparently we go through if it’s a draw because we finished higher so at least there’s that. A draw is a win. For some bizarre reason there’s no training this week. Everyone’s resting. Do they even know we’re in the play offs? What’s happening?
What? You’ve been playing this formation FOR MONTHS. Suddenly eight of the players don’t recognise their own formation. Am I having a nightmare? Can someone wake me up? We get completely overwhelmed in the opening 20 minutes against a team we’ve beaten comfortably this season. Gutierrez scrambles in a sloppy goal after 62 minutes for the opener. Chavez makes it two from a Zuniga through ball. Altenos Tepa get a goal back on 68 minutes and defensively we look bad, despite playing four of the same five players who’ve dominated the league at the back. Both my strikers miss sitters, much to my frustration, as my xG moves over 2. Zuniga puts a finish to things with a screamer from outside the box on 90+6 minutes. Game over.
Final Score: 3-1 Dorados
April 29, 2026
Closing Stage: Quarter Final L1
MONARCAS MORELIA VS. DORADOS DE SINALOA
Monarcas finished fourth. Correcaminos, the highly fancied second placed side, got knocked out already. Morelia are on incredible form, having won most of their games during the run-in. Their form continues in this, thanks to a cracking drive from Luis Colin (there’s an accent over the I). Roman Martinez makes it 2-0 and we’ve only played six minutes. THIS IS BAD. BIG JEFF GOMEZ (ALL CAPS) cuts the lead in half with a near post corner. In the second half we are by far the better team, having overcome our bad start. Martinez gives a pen away and Chavez converts. 2-2. We go home with a draw.
Final Score: 2-2
May 6, 2026
Closing Stage: Quarter Final L2
DORADOS DE SINALOA VS. MONARCAS MORELIA
The good news is that Roman Abelando has passed a fitness test and can play. He won’t make it through 90 minutes but his goals are crucial. I’ve selected him as a substitute, not wanting to aggravate an injury but also aware I may need his goals. 8 minutes in Vic Gutierrez breaks in behind and drills a left foot shot across the keeper. 1-0. Advantage Furious! 10 minutes gone and our keeper makes the worst mistake of the season, letting a daisy cutter from Haro go under his body. It’s embarrassing. They cut through us again and Olvera scores. 2-1 Morelia. What’s happening? Chavez gets in behind and he scores too. 2-2. Only six shots in the first half, four goals. A ridiculous game.
Second half. Two minutes in. Near post corner. BIG JEFF GOMEZ (ALL CAPS). 3-2. I take a risk and bring on Abelando. It pays off as Gutierrez sneaks in for 4-2. 85 minutes gone and it’s 4-3, Martinez after a Manriquez error. A minute later the nerves are settled though. A long throw is volleyed into the net in spectacular fashion by Chavez. These lads were pre-season favourites but never really showed any quality until now. I’m slightly lucky to get past them.
Final Score: 5-3 Dorados!
May 10, 2026
Closing Stage: Semi Final L1
TAMPICO MADERO VS. DORADOS DE SINALOA
Yes, that same Tampico. Apparently, a bunch of the jobber teams get together for their own little play off section with big rewards. Frankly, they do not deserve to be on the same pitch as me. They fucking suck. They’re an embarrassment to the Expansion League and if they come after me here, I’m going to humiliate them.
Zuniga opens the scoring with his left foot after a right footed effort is blocked. David Santos flicks in a second from a Caro long throw. Castillo heads in a Lecaros free kick for three. The rare far post free kick goal! Proof I have my own set piece ideas. We get sloppy, having held the lead for ages, and Trevino heads in a free kick consolation. One minute later we give Hector Limon ABOUT A FUCKING HOUR to shoot in from the edge of the box. 3-2. Our second half performance is one of startling complacency. To compound our second half woes Zuniga goes off injured. I have no cover in his position whatsoever.
Full time team talk is easy. It’s the Jekyll and Hyde one. Three of my players have the nerve to be upset by this despite shipping two goals against the worst team in the play-offs from a comfy 3-0 HT lead. On balance of play we should have won 4-1.
Final Score: 3-2 Dorados
May 13, 2026
Closing Stage: Semi Final L2
DORADOS DE SINALOA VS. TAMPICO MADERO
These two games are so close together, I’m glad we’re by far the better team. It allows us to bring in Lozano at centre back. He’s bad but capable and ok alongside BIG JEFF GOMEZ. Guerra comes in at left back, which means we lose the long throws but we should be good enough without them. Zuniga isn’t fit but I’ll start him and switch formations at half time.
Zuniga’s fitness is actually worse than I thought and he’s in the mud after 15 minutes. Thankfully the gamble plays off and we overwhelm Madero. We pour forwards for an opener, netted by Chavez from the right. Abelando squares one for Gutierrez for 2-0. The firepower is just too much for Madero. We concede with Yuber (?) Mosquera scoring from a tight angle. Never should have happened. It’s their only shot. We restore the two-goal cushion with a lovely finish from Gutierrez.
Zuniga doesn’t make it out for the second half so I try Flores alongside Castillo in a traditional 4-4-2. The result? Dieter Vargas scores a ridiculous long range effort for Madero. A comedy of errors allows Vargas a tap in. It’s 3-3. They’ve had 5 shots in the entire game. Abelando’s presence pays off though and he heads in a Lecaros free kick for 4-3. This was a wild game of football but we’re through to the final. It was far closer than it should have been.
Final Score: 4-3 Dorados (7-5 on agg)
May 16, 2026
Closing Stage: Final L1
TECOS VS. DORADOS DE SINALOA
The bad news is that Nava is suspended at right back. Padilla is still out with that hip injury. So Cantu, my third string right back, plays. He’s been injured for weeks and is barely fit. He’s got a little cross next to his name and I hate playing players who are already injured. The only other choice is not playing with full backs. Which is…a choice.
Two great chances fall to Castillo early doors and he squanders them both. He’s not the man you’d want in those situations. Then they score a long punt downfield. The keeper has the fucking assist. It’s at this point that I realise I was so stressed about my right back that I’ve not picked Caro or Manriquez. Lozano got rinsed for the goal. Fuck’s sake. I bring Caro off the bench and a minute later he puts Abelando in for 1-1. If only he’d started! We then concede in the last minute and I’m really glad this is over two legs. It’s amazing that you lose concentration in such a key match. I can’t understand it. On xG we should have won here.
Final Score: 1-2
May 20, 2026
Closing Stage: Final L2
DORADOS DE SINALOA VS. TECOS
We need to win or the dream is over. We take ages to get going. Not registering a shot on target until minute 36 when Abelando gets in behind and nudges it past Ruiz with a sliding tackle. Five minutes later we’re back behind. Another from Alvarez with our defence switching off.
72 minutes in and we’re still losing but Dylan Caro smashes one in from the edge of the area for 3-3 on aggregate. It heads to extra time and both Zuniga and Abelando miss sitters before Abelando rounds the keeper and makes it 4-3 after 102 minutes. 120 minutes and we finally make sure; Santos heading in a cross from Sanchez. The two young wingers combining.
Final Score: 4-1 Dorados (5-3 on agg)
May 25, 2026
EL Champions Trophy L1
DORADOS DE SINALOA VS. CORRECAMINOS
This is it! The big one. Dorados vs. Correcaminos, who were our nearest rivals during the closing stage. They bottled the play offs but that’s given them a few weeks off to rest up for this game. Shrewd. They’ve been here before and won three Expansion league titles while promotion and relegation was suspended.
We look good here. Lecaros is lively. Abelando looks up for it. Gutierrez is making runs. The ball just won’t go in though. Malagon makes three wonder saves, including a double from Chavez where he looked more likely to score. At HT we have 13 shots to Correcaminos’ 2 with zero on target for the visitors. Second half we start even better. Chavez shreds his full back and squares it to Gutierrez, who completely miscontrols the ball and somehow it rolls into the net. Well shit, they all count. Lecaros tees up Abelando a few minutes later for 2-0.
Then Correcaminos score with their very first shot on target. A sickener. They’ve had nothing in this game. I was hoping for a third goal to make the away game easier and we’ve fucked it. Indeed Malagon makes two insane saves here to keep the score down and we finish with 22 shots, 13 on target and Malagon is man of the match. Three of the saves were surefire goals in any other game and our xG is well north of 3.0. How has this finished 2-1? We creamed them.
Final Score: 2-1 Dorados.
May 28, 2026
EL Champion’s Trophy L2
CORRECAMINOS VS. DORADOS DE SINALOA
We start strong again but this time it’s the Correcaminos defenders who win the duels. Constantly blocking our shots to the point where it’s becoming laughable. After three blocked shots in the same sequence Lecaros smashes one in and we lead. With us dominating it’s tough to know whether to stay pushing forward or ease off a bit. I opt to ease off and we score again! Castillo plays Gutierrez in and he lifts it over an onrushing Malagon! Scenes! A Zuniga free kick is nodded in by BIG JEFF GOMEZ and it’s three!
Second half sees Hugo Weckman pull one back for Correcaminos. We get very sloppy defensively and let them in. Solis scores a ridiculous free kick and they’re right back in this. Gutierrez nets another offside goal. I need to teach him that rule. Correcaminos score again! A goal from a ridiculous angle, fumbled by Lopez in goal. This game has been completely ridiculous. Eight shots all game. Six goals. They have three from an xG of 0.58. I’m pretty sure that’s the lowest xG for three goals I’ve ever seen.
Final Score: 3-3
And with that; DORADOS ARE PROMOTED!
NEXT: Liga MX!