Annan other game has begun! It’s gonna be mental.

Action from Annan v Rangers at Galabank.

Annan Athletic host Rangers at Galabank in 2012.

My major issue with each Football Manager release is always the same – it takes me forever to complete just one season. I’m willing to take a share of that blame, because even when I promise myself not to drift into a two-hour search for just one player to bolster my central midfield options, that’s exactly what I end up doing. But also the game has become incredibly deep and complex, to the point where whizzing through matches is close to impossible for someone who only gets to play it a few hours each week.

That opening paragraph was an incredibly long way of saying that despite winning the Conference title with Grimsby Town in my one and only season on the full FM14 version, I’ve begun a new save with Scottish League 2 side Annan Athletic on the classic version. And I’m going by the name of Taskill Coutts for absolutely no reason whatsoever (other than it sounds Scottish).

As my last post will testify (albeit one published in August last year) the classic version allowed me to plough through three full seasons with Solihull Moors in the Conference North (two ended in play-off defeats). The desire to start in the Scottish leagues came from a legendary save I had on FM08 when I completed five seasons with Forfar Athletic, taking them from the third to the first division. That game was taken from me when my laptop had a hissy fit and decided to break, so there remains a sense of unfinished business.

I’m also drawn to the Scottish leagues because I like their system of playing each team four times in the league, which allows you to build some great battles with your bogie sides. My nemesis when managing Forfar was Queen of the South. I had many feuds with them and their uncanny ability to lose against me in the league but then beat me in the cups and play-offs. What a bunch of bastards.

The Annan adventure begins

Annan Athletic play their home games at Galabank, which has a capacity of 2,514. Their training and youth facilities are both below average. The squad, as you would expect, is pretty bare of talent. According to my assistant’s report (an assistant I’ve since released for having shocking attributes) my best player is centre back Steven Black – although I’m most excited about his defensive parter who rejoices in the name of Steven Swinglehurst.

We also seem to have a lot of strikers. Peter Weatherstone is a name I know well from that Forfar save, when he used to score against me on a regular basis for Queen of the South. He’s 33 now and can also fill in as a centre back. Another recognisable name for me, being a Grimsby fan, is goalkeeper Kenny Arthur. Striker David Hopkirk, right winger Dan Osri and right back Andrew Mitchell are all capable players at this level, if those yellow stars are worth reading anything into.

I’ve brought in centre back Tyler Fulton on loan for seven months from Falkirk. He’s 17 but tipped to be a quality player at League 1 level. And I’ve also signed right winger Adam Ashgar and left back Gavin Griffin after their releases from Motherwell and Airdrie respectively – two 19-year olds that look decent enough.

Pre-season has been mixed. I fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at home to League 1 Stranraer, before losing 3-0 at home to Championship Livingston. Then I beat Glenafton 1-0 and struggled to a 1-1 draw at Selkirk. So far no players have impressed, and I remain confused by many of them since they can all play quite adequately in various positions.

As is tradition in Scotland, the season gets underway with two cup games – the first at Albion in the Challenge Cup and then a trip to Championship Falkirk in the League Cup. I’ll probably get battered in that one.

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