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).