Well it only took me five months to complete my first full season as Grimsby Town manager on FM15. Even by my standards, that’s slow. But the crucial thing is that I’m beginning to enjoy it – much more so than I was back in November and December, when I struggled to accept SI’s claim that the game wasn’t ‘buggy’. It was. But last week, when I had the burning desire to return to the game, I noticed there were several updates to install, and since then everything has been smooth – and enjoyable.
I had about eight games left of my first season to play. We had fallen out of the play-offs and looked certainties for a mid-table finish, and despite winning five of those eight (drawing two and losing one) we still only managed 9th – six points short of the play-offs – which was disappointing for me but acceptable for the board.
Shaun Pearson, one of the nicest, dedicated and most loyal non-league players you’re ever likely to meet in real life, was an absolute nob on the game. Despite being my best and most consistent performer, he refused to sign a new contract. The sticking point was his demands for a quite ludicrous £1,500 a week, which was far, far above his existing deal of £650 a week. I’ve played four games of my second season and so I can reveal he got his move to a League 2 club, but he’s actually on just £600 a week at Bury. Work that one out.
Scott Neilson was another greedy bastard when it came to contract negotiations. I was having none of it, so he left in the summer too. He’s being a tosser at Tranmere, if you’re interested. Ross Hannah, my 15-goal striker, proved a prickly customer when it came to money. I eventually managed to persuade York’s Ryan Jarvis to join us for less than what Hannah was asking, so he was shown the door. He’s still without a club.
In all honesty, the change in personnel was relatively low-key for a Conference club. I made five signings that would be considered first teamers, plus a loan and a back-up. Southend’s versatile midfielder Will Atkinson, Bristol Rovers’ towering centre back Mark McCrystal, Scunthorpe’s Andrew Boyce and Wimbledon’s winger Chris Arthur all joined Jarvis in travelling to the east coast for a crack at promotion. Like the board’s expectations for the season, my wage budget has risen – just a bit – and I’m expected to get the team in the play-offs, reach the first round of the FA Cup and semi-finals of the FA Trophy. Or else.
Right now I’m ok with that. My first four games of the season have gone well – an opening day 1-1 draw at home to the much fancied Forest Green has been followed by a 3-1 win at Telford, a 1-0 home win over relegated Wimbledon and a remarkable 4-0 win at Eastleigh, who had won their first three games of the season. Next up is a home game against 17th placed Woking.
I think that brings you up to date for now. I’m sure I’ll be back before long with another update, which will probably detail our fall from grace and struggle to get back into the play-off places in a manner that mirrors the events of last season.