Tag Archives: defeats

Part IX: Down in the dumps (aka League 2)

It happened. We got relegated.

News screen that says Queen's Park got relegated

Sacked and relegated: what a CV I’m carving out for myself in this FM17 career.

The players showed the sheer lack of respect you’d expect them to show for a manager who only ever played Sunday League drivel.

But you could argue that Queen’s Park don’t play at a much higher level – and I could make a genuinely strong case to say I actually earned more money playing Sunday League football in Grimsby than managing this confused bunch of shysters.

As the home of the Scottish national team, Hampden is used to seeing some inept performances. But none stooped so low that they reached the gutter and slipped away into the sewerage system under Glasgow.

The strike force of every team in League 1 went through us like piss through snow. It was embarrassing to watch, let alone manage.

Queen's Park results

After conceding five at Ayr, the players wanted to make doubly sure that I didn’t like that sort of thing by conceding another five at Dundee Utd in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup.

I let them know, in no uncertain terms, that it repulsed me. So they stopped conceding five and simply lost the next seven games by smaller margins instead.

That made it 11 defeats in 12 (or 10 in 11 in the league). We hit rock bottom.

Perversely, during this run, St Mirren came in for Ryan Porteous, a distinctly average 19-year old centre back I picked up on a free in the summer after he’d been released by Hibs.

Then East Fife stole a centre back that hadn’t even made his debut for us. John Tennent – an ex-Morton player – couldn’t turn down £80 a week in the charming town of Leven.

A 1-0 win at home to Ayr kept us in touch with Albion, who had jumped above us into the relegation play-off spot, but three draws and two defeats in our last five games sent us down.

We won two of our last 26 games. That we went into the last game, at home to Montrose, with a chance of surviving remains one of life’s biggest mysteries.

But old habits die hard. We couldn’t score. One goal would have given us three points – and a stay of execution – as Albion were losing at home to Peterhead. In fact, a 0-0 draw would’ve been good enough for us if Albion lost by three goals.

They were two down at one point, but pulled a goal back – and it ended 2-1, so the final table looked like this:

League 1 end of season table - Queen's Park bottom

24 goals scored in 36 matches. It was an abomination of a season for us.

For those who are interested, Albion beat Brechin in the play-off semi-final but lost to Cowdenbeath in the two-legged final, so they’ll join us in League 2 next season.

And I say ‘us’ because, incredibly, I haven’t been sacked. I’m not sure how I’ve dodged the bullet… but the atmosphere is sour. The board aren’t angry with my mismanagement of the team; they’re just disappointed.

Well, I’m beyond disappointed with this shower of shite – just look at the goals column:

Queen's Park's squad statistics for the 2017/18 season

That’s right. My top scorers ended up with seven goals each. Connor Murray, who went off the boil in January, didn’t score in his final 10 appearances, while Carlo Monti isn’t even a striker. I think four of his seven were direct free kicks.

But the two players who really boiled my piss are Andy O’Connell and John Carter. Here’s Mr O’Connell’s incredible statistics for the season (and please bear in mind he’s a striker):

Andy O'Connell's in-game statistics (no goals all season)

I hope you’ve got a thing for high numbers because John Carter’s ‘goals scored’ column is an absolute whopper:

John Carter's statistics (no goals)

So, as you can see, I was always going to have a bitch of a season if two of my strikers couldn’t manage to score ONE measly goal between them.

Both complained, at various points of the season, about not being given a chance in the first team. I gave them chances, alright. I started O’Connell 14 times with a strike partner in Murray. Did he repay me?

“Andy O’Connell says his lack of goals is concerning him,” reads the headline. Then he comes knocking on my door asking to start more games.

You can imagine my response.

Right now the players are all on holiday. Well I hope they booked a really expensive trip to the Maldives that fell through – and they can’t claim the money back because it wasn’t ATOL protected.

That would be sweet justice.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Part VIII: The toys have left the pram

Oh my god, we’re actually awful. I mean, we’re falling to pieces.

That sliding sound is our season going down the pan. You know that really rubbish run of results that got me sacked at Chorley? Well, the same’s happening here.

One win in nine. Six points from a possible 27. And my defence, which knew how to keep the occasional clean sheet to get my strikers off the hook, has dissolved. It’s crumbled. Something has officially ‘gone wrong’.

Queen's Park results - 1 win in 9

We’re now 8th and looking nervously over our shoulders at Stranraer and Albion, who are slowly closing in on us.

Technically, because I’m not getting paid to manage Queen’s Park, it’s not my full time profession – therefore it’s technically not possible to be ‘unprofessional’.

Which is handy, because I’m now going to a) blame my players, and then b) blame the game.

Yes, I’m lashing out.

Right, firstly I think it’s worth pointing out that we scored in our last six consecutive games. Sadly, five of them were defeats, and a four were heavy. We conceded three at home to East Fife, four against Dumbarton and Airdrie, and a magnificent five against Ayr.

In three of those four heavy defeats, their star striker scored a hat-trick, and each of those defeats followed a similar pattern:

No matter what formation, personnel or mentality I start with, the opposition scores from their first attack – normally the player I told centre back Adam Cummins to mark, and normally within the first 10 minutes.

If there’s a danger man highlighted by my scout before the game, he has a worldy. There’s no stopping him.

We miss all the chances we create – which aren’t many, to be truthful. Strikers are missing sitters and the keeper’s having ‘one of those games’.

They’re having ‘four of those games’ in my case.

It’s normally 2-0 before half time when one of their unstoppable wingers (who puts in 430 unstoppable crosses) has a ‘he certainly didn’t mean that!’ moment.

Goals three, four (and sometimes) five follow. With the game well out of sight and, ironically, my tactics all over the place because I was chasing the game, this is when we usually get our goal.

Every goal comes from a cross. I’ve tried marking the wingers, I’ve tried standing off them. I’ve tried closing them down, staying on my feet… nothing works. I am powerless to stop crosses – and my two centre backs, who are decent in the air if nothing else, lose every header.

And those six goals I’ve scored? They’ve all come in the last 10 minutes (81, 83, 85, 87 and two on 89, to be precise).

My latest defeat – 3-1 to East Fife – included everything I’ve just covered. The concession of an early goal; two down by half time; a hat-trick for their star striker who I tried to mark out of the game; all goals from crosses.

We had 17 shots. They had 17 shots. We had 52% possession, and clear cut chances were two apiece.

I’ve played 50 games now, as boss of Chorley and Queen’s Park, and I’ve scored a magnificent total of 41. My win percentage is a rather pathetic 24.

I knew it wouldn’t be long, given that record, before I resorted to a massive, childish whinge. And when I work out how to get my tactics right in the future, I’ll read this article back and probably feel a teensy weensy bit silly.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,