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.