Heathens resurrected #3: building the foundations

newton-heath-3So it has been an interesting first month at my office in Bank Street.  I’ve got the new brew boy Gavin painting the anaglypta a nice misty buff as we speak and I’ve done well avoiding the missus who apparently wants me to watch crap tv with her instead of playing our beautiful game.  If you’ve read the first blog or watched the intro youtube video you’ll know that, as expected, I had serious work to do to avoid fulfilling the predicted 24th place and our 800-1 odds of winning the league.

We are now 5 league and 1 Carabao cup game in so how have we fared?  All will be revealed at the bottom of the page (so skip to the bottom if you can’t wait) but first let’s have a look at that missus-dodging rebuilding that I’ve been doing.

TRANSFERS: .. you put your left back in, left back out ..

So as you would expect it has been a busy time with new oil ordered for the spinning Clayton rd End turnstiles as players come in and out like a pissed vicar in a house of ill repute.  First off, we knew that we were weak in several areas .. no, scrub that, we were weak in EVERY area, with the lowest in the league for literally everything apart from fitness, aggression, leadership and acceleration.  So in other words, we had a group of angry fast young men who were a right bunch of cocky bastards.  To show you what I mean, here’s a reminder of our technicals as of the save start.

Newton Heath 1878_ Comparison-3

I won’t bore you with the rest as they are pretty much the same so you get the idea – no wonder we are predicted to prop up the league.

That said, there was work to do to improve this starting squad of technically weak (yet angry) regens and scouting was duly begun.   Firstly though, staffing was needed and from slim pickings of the three fellas who wanted to join us, Paul Driver is the star pick, with really good mentals and working with youngsters.  I’d of course prefer more on coaching but you take what you can get.

Newton Heath 1878_ Overview Coaching Team.png More, and better, scouts were brought in as well and this has allowed me to find these little gems, a couple of which had to be gambled on at 50% knowledge on transfer day, but it seems to have paid off.

Newton Heath 1878_ Players Players.png

My 5 main priorities were determination, stamina, work rate, leadership and natural fitness and while the fitness is a bit low and starting form has been poor I am generally pleased with the results and think they will soon improve once the team gels ..

Newton Heath 1878_ Players Players-3.png

They’re all pretty decent but with a young squad I’m hoping these two fellas will be my core leaders.  They were both snatched up on frees and are already on tutoring duties. The first is Aussie James Wesolowski, a seasoned journeyman ex. of Leicester, Dundee and Oldham (need to unlearn that dives into tackles trait but I fear it is far too late)..

Newton Heath 1878_ Players Players-5

.. and the other is Mark Ellis, who was desperately needed to command the defence alongside my youth loanee Harry Brockbank, who also gives me a very nice long throw option.

Newton Heath 1878_ Players Players-4

So where does that leave us in terms of the match squad and tactics?  After some tactical tinkering with a complete failure of a 4123 DM wide this is my current 442 wide tactic which is starting to work nicely. It is of course changed game to game but this has just got me a nice 2 all draw with league leaders Port Vale after their cheating marauding fullback did an air dive to win them a last minute pen.

Newton Heath 1878_  Overview-2.png

THE RESULTS: wtf ass man?

So the pre-season started with a challenging start when I forgot to set friendlies myself and our ass man accepted two friendlies from our senior affiliates Bolton and Blackpool that I couldn’t bloody cancel for some reason.  No idea why – I would of course have preferred easier, morale boosting duffer matches but it’s my own fault for not setting it. Anyhow, we went into them and another two with just a couple of those new signings and by season start we had won three of the four, which I was very happy with.   As the league kicked in though and with the team changing every week as that turnstile spun things started to go wrong early doors.

Newton Heath 1878_  Senior Fixtures.png

Crap play, shocking team cohesion and red cards destroyed us in those first few games, and watching the game and the analysis showed far too many mistakes being made as in this game against Morecambe ..

Desktop Screenshot 2018.03.11 -

Obviously overcoming these was a priority so I set training to ball control, where it will stay for 3 months, and everyone’s additional training on passing, which is something I have done before with good effect.  This has now resulted in a nice turnaround with that win and a draw and it is clear that something has clicked in as mistakes have been less than halved.  Here is the same screen for the Carlisle win.

Desktop Screenshot 2018.03.11 -

SUMMARY: where too now?

So with that little starting stutter (hopefully) behind me, I soldier on as Heathens’ manager with what I feel is a firm basis for moving forward.  On our mighty 4 points we are no longer propping the league and things are looking good for the immediate future.  Here is where we stand officially ..

Desktop Screenshot 2018.03.11 -

In other news, the finances are looking good as I have spent hardly anything, although for some strange reason my transfer budget has been secretly dropped from £100k to £27k, even though I’ve only spent 10k 😦 (if anyone knows why, please let me know because that really annoyed me).

In terms of the team, I would like to say that I have every confidence in my bunch of oddly coloured newgens and their new clever football pals but we will wait and see. I still dread that beckoning finger into the office after all this hard work but as things are looking, maybe, just maybe ..


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