INTRODUCTION: A FLASHBACK
TRUE STORY ..
Me being introduced to the then Salford City chairman
by my pal Tommo a year or two before the class of 92 took over (worth noting that Tommo knew hardly anything about FM apart from what I’d told him the pub every week):
TOMMO: This is Daz, he’s just won the Champions League with you lot! (this was possibly FM11 or 12)
CHAIRMAN: (puzzled look) Yeah? Hows that then?
At which point I had to explain not just that I’d won it in FM after 11 years in charge at Moor Lane but also what the whole game and concept of FM was, while the players started to come out of the changing rooms as he broke off to let on to them all one-by-one and hardly listening to what I was saying.
Then, after what was quite possibly the worst footie-related 5 minutes of my life he looked back, smiled at me if I was a halfwit and simply said “Ok, well we’re trying to do it for real son” before patting me on the shoulder like a ball boy and walking off. Tommo, (the utter wanker) stills laughs about it now.
Fast forward to tonight 7 or so years later and in tribute to that long forgotten wet Tuesday night I have spent the last two nights holidaying FM19 over and over again, without getting sacked ffs, to simulate exactly where Salford are in the league as of this point IRL, the 16th April 2019 as dictated by this twitter poll (thanks for that, lads).
As it transpired, this was much easier said than done ..
But as you know I like a challenge (for this read the gigantic project that was Heathens Global) so a total of 9 hours and 13 holiday sims later I did it, with me knackered, a bit fed up and quite a bit pissed (I got through two bottles of Yellow tail’s Jammy red roo) but more importantly still in a job managing Salford and just a point behind the leaders as of today’s date. The only difference being the leaders weren’t Leyton Orient as in the current real life Conference Premier but Chesterfield.
Balls to it though, it’s near enough.
THE STAGE IS SET
Well, sort of. There was still the small matter of getting promoted with ..
- A team that I didn’t know (I had holidayed ALL of the games so far)
- A board reputation of ‘disappointed’ due to the finances as my gardening leave had completely fucked up the wage budget
- No tactical basis at all (what’s new?)
It was ok though because, already in a playoff slot, I had two games against Fylde and Hartlepool to either get that single, ridiculous, automatic promotion slot or just as a practice for the main event, again all well and good. However, with absolutely no knowledge of the team apart from my IRL knowledge of watching them a few games this season (I knew Adam Rooney was ‘quite good’) I had no clue at all and it soon showed, with back to back draws after the ass. man’s run of 13 wins out of the last 15.
To be honest I wasn’t too fussed and in fact took it as better than a pair of losses, which allowed me to put my hopefully killer tactic together for the playoffs proper.
In the event, it amounted to the following variation of the 4141 DM wide played by my assistant manager Chris Lucketti in EVERY single game, with me changing it to go wider and put an emphasis on the front three after a look at their stats (62 goals and 34 assists between them):
I don’t want to labour the point here as the save for me starts when we are promoted but it’s enough to say we smashed the arse out of it and won the playoff pretty easy, with the plan working with Gaffney and Rooney doing the business no problem. Saying that, I was proper clenching for those penalties!
THE SAVE PROPER: the staff
So now the work starts. First off, let’s have my usual staff review, although with the finances still very tight I didn’t want to go mad with wages at this stage.
First thing I notice is a weak link in our GK coach Craig Dootson, leading me to think we could definitely do better:
A quick search using the GK coach filter and an attrib limit of 9 brings up Sam Shulberg, a previously League Two keeper looking for his first foray into coaching for some reason at the ripe age of 24, but the game’s loss is our gain as he absolutely smashes Dootson’s attribs into touch. He’s in the van on just £50 a week more at £425 to make him our first signing of the save as Craig clears his locker to move on with our best wishes.
Likewise we move on Jamie Russell for the (on paper) vastly superior John Haile as our HoYd for an additional £100 p/w, with an added bonus in that his 2nd preferred formation is the same as ours, the 4141 DM ..
And with that we call the staff team done for now, we have space for two more coaches so will get on to that soon no doubt but for now I’m happy to see how it plays out. Chris Lucketti, our asst. man. also stays as a reward for holding the fort and basically getting us promoted while I was pruning the roses for the last 9 months.
THE SAVE PROPER: the players
In terms of players, it is going to take a lot longer and I’m going to delve more into that for the next blog so I can step away from the writing to enjoy it for a while. Stats will have to be weighed and measured, old games reviewed and friendlies played until I get a feel for the team moving forward. However as a starting point here is how the squad is looking: with my initial actions:
I have just a single keeper in Salford’s IRL first choice of 33 yr old Chris Neal as for some inexplicable reason during my holidaying the asst. man let our backup Max Crocombe go to Canterbury Utd! This is a proper shame as he was a League Two prospect with some good potential to replace Neal this year.
Action: buy another keeper, preferably better than Neal as a first choice or a youngster with good potential
Hmmm .. this is going to be interesting as with Frederik Nielson about to head back home to Sheffield Wednesday with no hope of an extension we’re talking Nathan Pond as our single nailed on DC, with good per 90 stats and 17 leadership. With that in mind I have decided to make him Captain for what is possibly his last season to replace the current Cap Liam Hogan who sadly will be the first casualty here in defence. Other players will be subject to review in the coming weeks but at first glance I’m thinking we need to ship out at least another two.
Action: buy another DC at least to partner Nathan Pond
In terms of the wingbacks, I am looking for players who can win the ball and bomb forward for an assist or at least to create passes and chances eventually leading to a goal. That said, loanees Robbie Gotts and Denver Hume might seem the obvious choices here and are both open to renewals, although of the two, the cheaper Robbie Gotts is the best option for me. Yes, he has less interceptions and tackles but he has more assists and the greater pace and crossing that I need. As for the others, let’s just say the train out of Salford is going to be packed on both sides come deadline day.
Action: buy or loan renew Robbie Gotts and renew Denver Hume loan with a view to using him as backup to a new signing with better assist potential
At the risk of never getting this blog finished I’m going to deal with the midfielders together and also take my time with it. That said, here is how it looks:
It goes without saying that an obvious keeper is Danny Lloyd with his 20 goals and 18 assists this season and potential talents such as George Lapslie and Devonte Redmond are defo keepers as well. Rohan ince is also a good DM with high int/90 and headers won, so he will be staying as well. As for the others, I need to drill down a bit more before I make any rash decisions.
Action: offload the obvious players and drill down deeper before deciding.
This one might be a bit easier as I place my total (and hopefully not misguided) trust in Adam Rooney to continue to lead my single striker line, backed up by his wingmen Gaffney and Lloyd and understudied by the boy Yates on the bench (who has accepted a loan renewal). In terms of leavers, I think it’s time that we finally moved on the brilliant (at the time) signing IRL of Jack Redshaw with our best wishes as I don’t think he’s going to cut it, along with the others at the bottom of the tree here:
Action: offload the bottom 4 and renew Jerry Yates / Dennis Politic
So that, my friends, is that. I hope you enjoyed reading my little stall layout here and want to join me for the next one where I will probably reveal the finished squad ready for Salford’s first ever League Two assault.
Bye for now and if you see Dave Smith tell him to steer clear of Moor Lane for a while (ICYMI in the header graphic).
Daz aka @FMheathen