Early goals, average ratings, curse of the ex – but we’re still up there!

Well, I’m 11 games into my first season as Grimsby Town boss and we’re 4th in what 99% of us still call the Conference. We’ll have none of that ‘Vanarama National League’ rubbish round here! Things are going steady. We’ve won six, drawn three and lost two, scoring a healthy 21 goals and conceding 12. Tranmere lead the way with 23 points, then it’s Torquay (also on 23), Lincoln on 22 and then us on 21.

Are there any bugs in FM16?

As this is the beta version it’s almost expected that one or two oddities will be in the game. The only things I’ve noticed so far is that central midfielders tend to get very low ratings (Disley and Clay are averaging 6.55) and there tends to be an early goal scored in just about every match I play – but these things may be down to the way I set my teams up, so it’s difficult to say one way or the other.

I’ve also noticed that ex-players are almost certain to score against you. While we’re having a good season, it hasn’t stopped Richard Brodie, Ross Hannah and Connor Jennings finding the back of our net (and there was an assist in there for Sam Hatton too). But when you’ve used as many players as Grimsby Town have over the last few years the likelihood of a former Mariner coming back to haunt us is higher than with most other teams.

Season 2015/16 season results so far

A Kidderminster 3-1

H Barrow 2-2

H Bromley 2-0

A Altrincham 3-0

H Torquay 0-1

A Lincoln 0-2

H Macclesfield 3-1

A Boreham Wood 3-1

H Aldershot 3-2

A Chester 1-1

H Tranmere 1-1

Following an injury to Toto Nsiala I brought in young Doncaster centre back Ben Askins, but he had a nightmare debut in our defeat at Lincoln. Luckily Shaun Pearson was back from suspension for the home game against Macclesfield – a game we won comfortably after falling behind to one of those early goals I mentioned.

We continue to look good going forward

The partnership between Bogle and Amond continues to flourish (as it does in real life), which means John Cofie’s appearances have mostly been from the bench. He did start the last two games, however, after Bogle picked up a niggle. Jon-Paul Pittman opened his account for the season coming on as a sub against leaders Tranmere, netting late on. That game claimed I had just 24% possession, despite playing 4-4-2.

Bogle has nine for the season, Amond five and Arnold two (plus five assists). Bogle has the highest average rating (7.90), then Arnold (7.16), then Pearson (7.06). As mentioned earlier, Disley and Clay have the worst average ratings.

Transfer dealings

Askins’ loan has expired (he made just one more appearance as a late sub) so I’ve moved to replace him with another Donny reserve player – Paul McKay, who my bald scout reckons is a quality player. The fans have been excited by the loan of Matty Dixon from Hull, by the way. With an average rating of 6.6 I’m not sure I get why they’re so excited.

I’ve also brought in 19-year old defensive midfielder Michael Freiter on loan from Gillingham for three months, given that I have absolutely nobody in my squad capable of playing in that position. My assistant Chris Doig is sounding like a broken record, telling me we’re being overrun in midfield at least three times every game, so I like to have an option of playing a 4-1-3-2 – or even a 4-1-4-1 – in the future.

Defensive death wish

What I have discovered is that there’s little point setting up your team to play defensively. It just doesn’t seem to work at this level. You make them compact, disciplined and difficult to break down, but all that seems to do is invite constant pressure and plenty of shots. The best form of defence, in the Conference at least, really is to attack.

I finish the month of September with away games at Wrexham and Southport, who are both lower-mid table. I’ll be back soon with another update.

 

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