I’ve been on one of those unplanned FM hiatuses, where I hadn’t played or even thought about the game for a little while. So when I finally got back into my Solihull save after an absence of two months I realised I had forgotten all my little tactical tricks. You know the kind – the subtle tweaks here and there that make very little difference, but because they worked once against Worksop you think they’ll work every time.
I had a look at the 4-4-2 tactic which had got us 7th in the table after 10 games but realised very quickly that it wasn’t particularly clever or elaborate. My players were knackered from their exertions against Shepshed Dynamo and were in no state to travel to Harrogate Town, who were sitting pretty in second position with eight wins from their 10 league games so far this season. We laboured to a 1-1 draw, which I was pretty happy with, given that I felt I was coming back into this save relatively blind.
In fact, ‘laboured’ is the word I’d describe my last five performances since re-introducing myself to the Moors. A 1-1 home draw against Workington was followed by a 2-1 away defeat at Tamworth, which dumped me out of the FA Cup in the fourth qualifying round. So I’m yet to reach the first round proper in my three years at the club.
My three strikers of Stephen Reynolds, Ross Wilson and Jamar Dobson were struggling to play twice a week. None of them were able to start games in decent condition. But with no money to bring any other strikers into the club – and seemingly no one available to loan, according to my scout – we just had to soldier on. And it was no surprise when we drew 0-0 at lowly Blyth.
The final game of this little FM spurt came at home to local rivals Hinckley – another side doing nothing in mid-table and one that was asking for a hiding. The condition and morale of my strikers was at such a low and desperate point that I actually dug 38-year old Stern John out of my reserve team for the clash. My assitant manager tells me that, despite his age, he’s still a very good player. I wish he’d show it in games. For the past season and a half he’s been terrible. I had to bring him off at half time in this match because he was so tired.
The game finished 1-1, so that’s four draws in the league and one defeat in the cup. I’ve also got a shitty away draw at Conference South side Oxford City in the FA Trophy third qualifying round, which hasn’t pleased me.
14 games into my third season with Solihull and we’re 8th in the Conference North, with six wins, five draws, three defeats, 22 goals scored and 13 conceded. We’re four points adrift of the play-offs.
I feel like I need to bring in reinforcements but there is literally no one out there who I can afford (and who is better than what I’ve already got). Wilson and Reynolds are two of the division’s best strikers but both have hit bad form at the same time. And my midfield has no consistency. I don’t know who my two best central midfielders are. It should be Will Roberts and Junior English, but Jay Denny, Alex Price and Andy Gooding put in a 7.20+ performance to win their place in the side and then always follow that up with two 6.10 performances.
Left winger Tommy Taylor is permanently knackered. It’s not been a bad season, really, but it feels like things are unravelling a bit. The only consistently good player is Conor Roberts-Nurse, whose average rating is 7.46 after 18 games. Sometimes it feels like it’s just him keeping us together.