So it is now mid-December 2017 and while Gavin the brew boy is busy putting up that knackered two foot tree he bin-dipped from the back of Aldi I thought I’d give you a short update to how this job is going so far, and for this I only have three words to start with.
Hardest .. save.. ever.
Quite simply, when I walked into this office nothing prepared me for how absolutely dire the Heathens would be. Sure, with a prediction of 24th and 800-1 odds for the league I knew it would be difficult but without exaggeration I can honestly say that in 10 years (give or take) of playing our beautiful game I can’t remember ever having had a challenge like this. Maybe it’s the extra pressure of blogging it for you lot, but it certainly feels more difficult than anything I’ve ever faced.
Worse thing is that it’s not only the newgens but the players I have brought in too, who seem to have been infected by some kind of osmosis with a malaise of underachievement, purely from sharing the same dressing room as the initial duffers that FM kindly spawned for me.
Take this fella for example, my great fullback hope Raheem Hanley, whom I brought in on loan from Northampton. As you can see, he SHOULD be good for this level, head and shoulders above anyone else I had, with pace and reasonably well rounded Tech and Mentals.
Yet it is the same Raheem Hanley who has an avg rating of 6.9 (and that’s only because I’ve just played a 7-0 morale friendly – before he was 6.3) with a 0.05 ass/90 and a 65% pass success rate. All the while being played in his natural position and role.
Likewise, James Wesolowski, another great hope who I mentioned in the last blog as a leader to build my team around, who similarly has a 6.72 avg rating, but 28 mistakes in 17 games.
And this sums up the problem, mistakes. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve screamed at the screen as one of them does an air pass that is intercepted leading to a goal. Here are the number of mistakes for my current 11, in descending order ..
62, 44, 28, 28, 26, 26, 19, 17, 17, 17, 16.
That’s 300 in 22 games. 3 .. fucking .. hundred.
So, how to deal with it? I did the usual – shout at players, be nice to players, adjust training (ball control for 3 months), review tactics with short passing, work ball into box etc but with the only difference being just one or two team links developing on the tactics screen, nothing has worked so far.
So this is where this work in progress leaves us, in 22nd on 18 points, a gnat’s ball away from the drop zone, which I guess I should be happy with, given that all I wanted to do was avoid relegation and beat that dreaded 24th prediction.
I am definitely not happy though, especially as I came in from FM17 with a Copa Libertadores in my back pocket and a journeyman that resulted in a UCL win for Everton. In other words, losing is bad enough but it’s absolute shite when you know (or think you know) that you’re good at the game.
The board though are pleased, so that’s some relief. Who knows, we might yet survive despite this mass player betrayal of the faith I placed in them. Mostly because I’ve only spent about 3 quid on transfers (actually 10k but still really low compared to the 100k they give me) and the wages are the lowest in the league.
To give you the full gory picture, here is my schedule since the last blog.
As you can see, since the opening defeat against Morecambe on the 5th August we’ve had a grand total of 7 wins, and one of them doesn’t actually count as it was a 7 nil friendly against Radcliffe Olympic, who might as well have been a load of piss artists we found around the back of the local for the way they played. Still it gave us a nice fitness and morale boost in a 14 day gap, before we lost 1 nil to Chesterfield because the lads thought it was bit boring to ACTUALLY WIN A GAME!
Going forward, I am happy to say we have some plans afoot. We have a new team leader arriving in two weeks, in the form of Morecambe’s Kevin Ellison who will hopefully (here we go again) give us some much needed .. hmmm .. leadership. He is always a beast for Morecambe in all my saves and although he’s due to retire he should prove to be a good coach and tutor – he also likes the same formation and has cracking youth coaching so I’ve made him a first team player / coach for my u23s.
So apart from him, where too now? More of the same I guess, more reading stats, more adjustments, more transfers, but more importantly for me personally, more learning.
I think the best part of the game for me is that you can never truly complete it but you are always learning about ways to improve and I am doing just that on overdrive. My google search history for the past week is that typical for a healthy FM-playing male (steady on), which is along the lines of ‘beating a slump’, ‘How not to get sacked in FM’ and of course every FMer’s favourite at some point ‘how to stop losing to the AI in football manager’. In other words, as always and as a proud student of this wonderful game that most of us love and hate in equal measure, I will read, digest, learn and strive to improve. Oh, and it would also help if the lazy bastards on that team sheet get their fingers out of their collective arse.
See you soon and thanks for stopping by (oh and pass me that shotgun on the way out while I get Gavin to lock it back in the cupboard).