Tag Archives: League 1

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 VII: Cow’s arse, banjo – that old chestnut

I’ve scored 10 goals in 14 league games and yet we’re SEVENTH.

This is incredible. Apologies for the rather excitable caps lock, but I’m actually at a loss to explain how we’ve done this – especially when you consider that one of my summer signings, striker Andy O’Connell, has scored precisely no goals in 11 starts, and one of the surviving members of last season’s squad, fellow striker John Carter, has also scored no goals.

I’ve never worked with such a goal-shy squad as this. The mere thought of shooting seems to fill them with dread.

Things did not get off to a good start in the league after we won one and lost four of our first five games. This kept us off the bottom thanks to the general ineptness of Albion Rovers, who kindly offered us that solitary win.

Six weeks later we would lose to them through an injury-time goal.

But sandwiched between those head-in-hands moments we found some form after I had this novel idea of applying some tactical consistency. We, ladies and gentlemen, embarked on a FIVE-MATCH unbeaten run, which included three wins and two draws.

Since we can’t score, you won’t be surprised to learn that both draws were 0-0, with one of them being away at leaders Airdrie.

I cannot confirm nor deny that we played well in any of those wins (so we were rubbish, then) – conceding more shots and more possession to our opponents on each occasion – but who’s counting shots and passes when you’re actually scoring goals for once?

Then we came back down to earth with a bump, with a heavy defeat to Forfar and that ball-shrivelling injury-time moment against Albion.

But something incredible happened at East Fife. With just 20 minutes to go, and 2-0 down, we scored TWO GOALS to snatch a point! I know!

“Would you believe it!” shouted Jeff Stelling on Soccer Saturday. In a moment of rare unprofessionalism, he forgot where we was, ripped off his microphone and climbed onto the desk in front of him, jumping up and down like an ape to announce: “The team that can’t score goals… have scored two… to DRAW AT EAST FIFE!”

Yes, I’m making good use of the caps lock on this post. I’m aware of that.

I then absolutely battered Ayr at home and lost 2-0. Now that was a kick in the nads. For the first time this season (and possibly for the first time since I’ve been managing Queen’s Park) we comfortably outplayed another team, but once again my so-called strikers gave an impeccable demonstration of how to get dropped for the next match.

Chance after chance after chance went begging. You have it. No, you have it. No, I don’t want it.

Oh, for god’s sake, one of you just STICK IT IN THE SODDING NET.

“That was a sitter,” says the commentary. “He’ll kick himself for missing that.”

No – I’ll kick him for missing that.

The next game proved that my back-up strikers are no better. Given a chance at home against inferior opposition in the Scottish Cup, they were somehow worse and we ground to a goalless halt against Selkirk.

Thankfully we won the replay 2-0, but even now I’m struggling to work out why, as a team that broadly plays 4-4-2, we can’t score more goals.

Hilariously, Carter – who, it turns out, hasn’t scored since March 3 (before I took over) – is wanted by Forfar. Let me just remind you that Forfar beat us 3-0. They don’t need a striker who can’t score.

My news feed is essentially ‘Carter vows to end goal drought’ and ‘O’Connell hasn’t scored in 16 hours of football’ and ‘Connor Murray says he won’t let his lack of goals affect him’. To be fair to Murray, he’s scored five in 14 starts, so I don’t have beef with him.

But if there’s one player that infuriates me more than any of my strikers, it’s 32-year old left back Iain Campbell.

As one of the million players I signed in the summer, his stats suggest he could be pretty decent. Only a lack of competition prevents me from dumping him in the reserves or selling him to Stenhousemuir, because he has absolutely nailed the ability to get an average rating of 6.20 every single game – but twice, from absolutely nowhere, he gets 7.80 and wins the man of the match award.

These are my results since the last update:

Queen's Park results

And here’s how the table is looking after 14 games:

League 1 table, Queen's Park 7th

I believe we have Dundee Utd away in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup, where we’ll no doubt get battered and not score.

Strangely, five of my next six games are at home – where we’ve been marginally better at scoring – so I’m hoping we can get a few more wins under our belt ahead of the obligatory bad run that will see us slip closer to 9th now that Albion appear to be getting their shit together.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,