Monthly Archives: November 2017

Part II: Kiddy mix

Right, I’m now 10 games into my Kidderminster career and things are going okay. It feels like they’re going a bit better than that, actually, but such is my cautious approach – and my irrational fear of jinxing just about anything that can be jinxed – I’d rather keep a level head for now.

Plus, although I may have only lost two of my first 10 games in charge, I’m aware we’ve still only moved up the league table by two places.

However, what is good is that we’ve put a bit of distance between us and the relegation zone, which is… what’s the phrase? Over to Louis Balfour for that one.

You can see that although things aren’t as rosy as a Sir Alex Ferguson’s nose, they’re better than being 18th and just two points off the drop zone with the whole squad out of form and in a filthy mood after losing 3-0 at home to Spennymoor:

National League North league table screenshot (Kidderminster 16th)

That goal difference doesn’t look very clever. I’ve improved it by one goal since I took charge – and bearing in mind we lost 5-2 at York, that’s not bad going.

Anyway, here’s a summary of what’s happened since last time.

We avenged that Bootham Crescent mauling by travelling to Leek Town in an FA Trophy 3rd qualifying round match and beating them 4-1. My left winger Charlie Edge, who doesn’t really like playing as a left winger, scored two goals. They might have been weak opposition but any away game at this level is far from a foregone conclusion.

It reminds me of the time my good friend Stuart lost an FA Cup tie 2-1 at Colwyn Bay when he was in charge of Cambridge in League 1.

Then we put in what I can only describe as a ‘bitty’ performance at home to Gainsborough. They were shit, and we really should’ve beaten them, but we still enjoyed more possession and created more chances than them – and it was also the match when N’Guessan, my highest-paid player, finally turned in a decent performance on the right wing.

On the other side of the pitch, the Edge got injured, so he wasn’t fine. Adam Clayton is fine, though. I went out into the loan market and brought the experienced Chris Zebroski to the club for a month, from Eastleigh. And he duly scored both goals on his debut in our excellent 2-1 win at Chroley.

That victory was sweet for two reasons – firstly, they were 7th and so it was a good result on that fact alone, but also, secondly, it felt like revenge for the shit they gave me on FM17, even though that’s irrelevant on so many levels.

Then came our FA Trophy 1st round match at Barrow, who are in the National League play-offs. The media had us down as outsiders, as you’d expect, but we went there and gave them a real game. My midfield maestro, Ngwatala, grabbed a deserved opener but we conceded early in the second half and the game finished 1-1.

I actually fancied our chances back at our place. Games at Aggborough had been rare under my tenure (just two of my first eight games were at home). Once again the match finished 1-1 (thanks to a late equaliser from N’Guessan) and then we took the lead in the second minute of extra time!

Sadly, we conceded immediately – which appears to be a habit of ours at the moment. Maybe I should tell them to concentrate more just after scoring a goal.

We were by far the better team, creating more chances and working their goalkeeper, but the sucker-punch came in the 119th minute when they scored the winner. I won’t say we hammered them, but when you consider they’re 30-odd places higher in the league ladder than us, it was a decent effort by our lads.

Annoyingly, the board expected us to get to the 2nd round of the competition, so we’ve fallen short of expectations without any regard for the quality of opposition or the fact that we created far more chances than they did over the two legs.

One other thing that annoyed me was the match report at full time. More possession and more chances usually brings a tale of bad luck, or that the winning side got lucky, but not this time. Our bad finishing cost us dearly, it reckoned. Funny, that, because when it’s been the other way round (and we’ve won undeservedly) it will usually say we didn’t deserve it.

Side whinge.

Anyway, as a consequence of playing 120 minutes in a week when no other bugger from our division had to play, we were then totally knackered for our home game against mid-table Nuneaton and it finished 0-0. It was the first time I’d failed to score in a game since picking up the reins.

Next up is the festive double-header against AFC Telford, who are just a point outside the play-offs. Away game first.

Oh yeah, and one other interesting thing that’s happened, which I’ve totally forgot to mention, is that we’re now under a transfer embargo because some dick head is interested in buying the club. I wish they’d hurry up and get the deal done because I’m about to lose two decent loan signings in the January transfer window and I won’t be able to replace them as things stand. I don’t think I’ve been in charge of a club that’s been taken over by a consortium before. I have no idea whether that’s good or bad.

Kidderminster fixture list screenshot

So that’s my story so far. Steady if unspectacular. It’s 16 goals scored and 13 goals conceded in 10 games, which is far, far better than at any stage of my stints at Chorley and Queen’s Park on FM17.

I doubt the play-offs are possible, even though we’re only four points short. The sheer volume of clubs between us and that dotted line is so heavy that we’d really have to show championship form to get in there. I’d like to think we’re not in any real danger of getting relegated though.

Mid-table beckons!

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Part I: You must be Kidding me!

Well hello there ladies and gentlemen, it’s time once again to dive balls deep into another Football Manager adventure that’s bound to end in misery, or at Queen’s Park.

Last time out I survived just 16 games in charge of Chorley and then got Queen’s Park relegated to the bottom tier of Scottish football while averaging less than a goal a game across both tenures.

Let’s just say I didn’t sparkle at FM17.

Well, FM18 is here. I’ve got a new laptop, there’s nothing interesting on TV, it’s late on Saturday night, I’ve just downed a can of Relentless – let’s go!

Starting unemployed failed spectacularly last time, so obviously I’ve decided to start out unemployed again. Who knew that not managing a football club for a few months could be such an interesting part of a football management game?

It’s the not knowing that hooks me in. Why manage Man City when you can take charge of Chorley? Oh no, not them again I hear you cry. Well, no. Don’t panic. But I’m in the same division again, though.

Rich, meet Kidderminster Harriers. Kidderminster Harriers, meet Rich.

They were expected to make the National League North play-offs but instead, after 13 games, they found themselves second bottom. They could’ve almost been managed by me from my FM17 days. Anyway, they sacked the doofus in charge and decided to give me a go (once their caretaker manager had won one and lost one to lift them above the relegation zone).

So, with 14 points from 15 games and hovering dangerously in 18th place, I studied my squad, gave them all a good talking to and told them 12th place was within our reach. Don’t tell me I can’t deliver inspiring team talks.

I’d been bold because I hadn’t even looked at my first fixture in charge (Stockport, top of the league, away) or even noticed that I didn’t have an assistant manager stood next to me.

I rectified that by bringing in someone called Kyle Duff, who appears to have never worked in football before. No career history, no coaching history, nothing. But he has a two-and-a-half star rating for the assistant manager role, and that’s probably the best I can hope for.

My highest paid player is Joseph N’Guessan, who’s on £875 a week. Everyone else is broadly between £300 and £800, so my weekly wage budget of just over £10,000 must be one of the best at this level. Those are National League wages, really.

But there was no time for any pleasantries – we had to head straight up to Stockport and take on a team that had only lost once all season. Don’t ask me how – because I really don’t know – but we won 2-0. Both goals were scored by centre back Tyrone Williams. I won’t pretend we played well, though. County had more of the chances and dominated possession, even though we played a structured 4-1-4-1 formation.

We were a little more convincing in our next game, away at Harrogate – even though we fell behind early. A tactical tweak here and there seemed to do the trick, and as the game wore on it only looked a matter of time before we got a deserved equaliser (through substitute Devante Rodney, on loan from Hartlepool). That goal felt very satisfying.

We were certainly the better team at home against Darlington and deserved the three points but, my god, it was a boring game. It seemed fitting that the winning goal from striker Joe Ironside – who seems a bit of a whinger already – was a scrappy, deflected rebound from a keeper mistake.

Three games, two wins, one draw and a couple of clean sheets thrown in there to boot! Not bad. But then it all came apart at mid-table York.

We endured a horrible end to the first half, conceding two quick goals that killed the match. We got worse in the second half, conceding two more before the hour mark, although one of them was so far offside it almost occurred off my computer screen.

Suddenly I saw how hopeless we could be in defence. A fifth got me pretty angry, before we went up the other end and scored two consolation goals.

There’s definitely something to work with here at Kidderminster because, despite that 5-2 defeat, we edged possession and created more chances than York. If we keep doing that, we’ll certainly be good for that 12th place finish.

 

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