Monthly Archives: September 2012

Season 2012/13: five games in

After what seems like bloody ages, I’ve finally got round to playing some league matches of my new season with Guiseley in the Conference – five, to be precise.

Media prediction: 23rd
Board expectation: Stay clear of relegation (all well and good, but the tight bastards could have given me a better wage budget than £4,300 p/w)

I’m trialing a 4-1-4-1 formation I developed in pre-season. It helped me to five victories against rubbish teams and then a 2-1 win over Leeds, who play me every pre-season as they’re my parent club. Their manager is Alan Shearer. He praised me in his post-match comments. Oh yeah.

So then, six wins out of six… I guess it was obvious that I was going to lose my opening fixture 2-0 at Bath. Even more obviously, perhaps, it was going to be two players I know well in real life that were going to score, too – Peter Bore and Bas Savage. The text commentary didn’t make it clear whether Big Bas did his moonwalk celebration.

I gave debuts to Will Antwi, Danny Hall, Richie Baker, James Husband and Martin Grehan in that game. Grehan has got a tough job as a lone striker. He doesn’t appear to be the fittest 27-year old I’ve ever had, as his condition is often as low as 65% by half time with no mentions of injuries. Zac Thompson, who I signed permanently following a season long loan, also technically made his debut.

A few days later and I lost 1-0 at home to Lincoln. Lee Featherstone, my left back who I stole from Matlock at the start of last season, got sent off. Not that it made much difference – we played pretty poorly throughout.

Then came quite a bizarre game. 2-0 down at Hayes & Yeading, and entering the 90th minute, I was wondering when our first goal of the season would be scored. Well, Antwi scored it from a corner there and then. And three minutes later I benefited from an own goal to steal a point. I don’t think I’ve ever scored two goals in injury time to get a result before. I’ve thrown games away in that manner, but never benefitted from it. Richard Pacquette had scored against me in the first half. He’s a bastard. He used to score against me on older versions of the game when he was an outstandingly good QPR youth player.

We reverted to type in the next game. It was another tame surrender – this time to Cambridge – by two goals to nil. Cambridge were lucky to score two. We were lucky not to be in the minuses. It was that bad a game.

In the bottom four after four games – only Luton keeping us off the bottom, strangely, after they lost all four of their opening fixtures. Next up a home game to Ebbsfleet.

I had thought about changing the formation because it’s clearly not as tight as it should be at the back for a 4-1-4-1, and I wasn’t scoring enough goals. But I thought I would persist with it for one more game. And this was the result:

Guiseley 5-1 Ebbsfleet

Yes, that’s right. For reasons I am yet to fathom, we played exceptionally well and scored three first half goals. Same tactics, same players. Richie Baker got a couple, Thompson scored a scorcher of a free kick, Grehan notched a penalty and Danny Hall grabbed one from his defensive midfield position. Annoyingly I still couldn’t keep a clean sheet. In truth, Ebbsfleet had 11 shots on goal to my 10, but only a couple were on target.

So, as I enter September and almost catch up in real time, we sit 17th with 4 points from five games, having scored 7 and conceded 8. Hardly spectacular, but I’ve got my first win, we’ve scored a few and we’re not in the bottom four. For now.

Three of my best players from last season – Mark Bower, Ciaran Toner and Danny Boshell – are being shit this season, but luckily the new recruits are doing ok (and are coincidentally on smaller contracts).

Promotion, wage slashing and squad building

You promote a team that wasn’t expecting promotion and what do they do? Slash your wage budget. That’s gratitude for you.

I finally got round to finishing the 2011/12 campaign with Guiseley in the Conference North, finishing 3rd in the table and making the play-offs quite comfortably in the end (despite developing a rather annoying habit of conceding in all but one of my last 15 league games). After a 0-0 draw at Bishop’s Stortford, which brought disproportionate joy, I won the home leg 3-0 and made it to the final to face Nuneaton – a team I had beaten both home and away in the league.

Good old (and I mean old) Ade Akinbiyi put us in front by half time before I conceded in equaliser with 10 minutes to go. It went to extra time and on 112 minutes Zac Thompson, the 19-year old midfielder I had on a season long loan from parent club Leeds, scored the winner.

We’re in the Conference, against all odds, and my board decided to take away my £6,000 transfer budget and reduce my weekly £4,800 wage budget by £500. How am I supposed to build a squad with just £4,300 to split between them each week? One of my top earners – Gavin Rothery (who happened to do well last season) was on £400 alone. He’s had to go. He was out injured for five months so I probably wasn’t going to get a lot out of him in all honesty.

Sadly I also had to release centre back Danny Ellis, who was ever present at the back and scored nine league goals (despite having ratings of 8 for jumping and 5 for heading). Akinbiyi has also gone. Thompson went back to Leeds and was then released. I’ve tried to sign him permanently but some daft bastard released the news to the press and now clubs that have significantly higher wage budgets than me are in talks with him. So it’s very unlikely he’s coming to Nethermoor.

I’m sounding like I’m bitter or having a moan, but in truth it’s as realistic a version of Football Manager that there’s been. As Conference budgets go, I’m probably at the very bottom. Building a squad using £4,300 p/w is my biggest challenge since I took charge of Gala Fairydean in the Scottish third division on CM 99/00 when I had two players, no transfer budget and had to play left wingers up front and a central midfielder at right back.

My feeling is that we’re going to get absolutely dicked next season so I’m developing a defensive 4-1-4-1 tactic. The aim is to completely bore the opposition to death. If I’m successful, which I very much doubt, I think I’ll become the very first manager in the world to keep a club away from relegation on the strength of boredom.

So, who have I managed to attract to Guiseley with the promise of some magic beans? Well, I got utility man Danny Hall from Hyde, a Scottish 27-year old striker called Martin Grehan who looks extremely useful but has been without a club for over a year, 18-year old left winger James Husband (ex-Doncaster), Barrow’s right winger Richie Baker (to replace Rothery), centre back Will Antwi and a young left back called Grant Ward.

Most worryingly of all, I have a number of useful first team players on non contract terms, so they could leave any time. One of them is keeper Steve Drench. He had a decent season last season so I don’t really want to lose him. The non contracted players also include left back Lee Featherstone, central midfielder Liam King and striker Oliver Forsyth (who, admittedly, hasn’t made his debut yet since I signed him for the youth team last season) and, most worryingly, my player/assistant manager Chris Holland – yes, he of Huddersfield fame.

I gor rather excited when I thought I was on the brink of signing left back Jamal Fyfield, who was released from York. Had he signed for me, he would have easily been the best player at the club. Instead news of the contract offer was leaked to the media and now he’s going to sign for MK Bastard Dons.

And I’ve only just realised that my physio, who calls himself Kevin Stringfellow, has a rating of 3 for physiotherapy. All those players who were out injured with colds for three weeks suddenly makes sense.

Guiseley intro: injury troubles and clean sheet obsessions

This could be the first of many updates on my FM game, or it could be one of only a few before I tire of being unable to keep clean sheets or get fed up of Accrington reserve players turning down loan moves to Guiseley.

So yes, this is my Guiseley game on FM12, which I started bloody ages ago. In fact, I started it on the FM12 demo and then transferred it once the full version was released. For some bizarre reason, which even I don’t know, I got them joint top of the Conference North after about 15 league games and then didn’t play on it for months. Part of me thinks I may have got distracted by buying a house.

Anyway, now I’m nearing the end of my first season. I’ve just had a proper good session on it tonight, during which I’ve won a few crucial games and pretty much cemented my place in the play-offs. Currently I’m eight points behind runaway leaders Histon, while I’m 12 points ahead of Workington who lurk just outside the play-offs.

Although I’m happy to have won six of my last eight games (before which I was fifth and clinging onto the last play-off slot), my team is going through its worse injury crisis of the season. The first game after I gave a new contract to Danny Boshell, he put himself out for five months. Dave Merris, who has been pretty good in a number of positions this season despite having relatively shit attributes, is also out for a few weeks. James Booker, who’s got seven goals in 18 starts from right midfield, is also out for the rest of the season. I never thought I’d say this but thank God for Simon Baldry. He’s old, he’s not scored or even got an assist this season, but he plays in just about every position ever invented so he’s proved useful cover in a small squad.

It’s perhaps surprising that I’ve got this far without mentioning the name Ade Akinbiyi. He might be 37 years of age, but he’s grabbed 10 goals for me this season after I signed him on a free transfer in September. He might not be fit enough to start most games but I was just delighted that a ‘name’ like him actually wanted to sign for Guiseley in the first place. I did go in for ‘England international’ Michael Ricketts, but he chose Cambridge instead. The bastard.

Sometimes I don’t know when to leave Football Manager and go to bed, but occasionally the decision is made for me. Take tonight, for example. Despite being second and having the tightest defence in the league, I had gone 10 games without keeping a clean sheet. My last match of tonight’s spell was at home against Nuneaton, who were third. I’d actually beaten them 4-1 in the reverse fixture, which I still regard as my best of the season (it’s their only home defeat to date). An early goal from Gavin Rothery and two from Akinbiyi helped me to a 3-0 win – and crucially record an all important clean sheet (which I tend to obsess over).

So as you can imagine, now is as good a time as any to leave it there and come back to tackle the five remaining league games another day.