It was going all a bit too well for Matt Porter at Stockport. A couple of defeats to end part 4 shouldn’t over shadow what a great start it has been to their first season at Premier League level, but as we reach November, is this a temporary blip or a permanent road block? Let’s find out…
Well this is going better than I thought, although the last couple of games were a bit worrying, especially in the cup. We need to get back to it and quickly. It’s Chelsea up next and coincidentally they along with Arsenal and Leicester are in for Micky Flynn. With a heavy heart I have accepted 6 million pound bids for him, I can’t stand in his way if he wants to go, he’s 29 and it’s his last chance of a big move.
I return to the league team after the cup disaster, and bizarrely notice that Nick Colgan is ahead of Ed De Goey in goal, mind you last time I said that about a keeper he won the match single handedly for the opposition.
All square at half time, Chelsea the better side and they go ahead early on, but Jardel equalises, and then Dugarry should put us undeservedly ahead on the stroke of half time but misses a sitter.
Well that came to light in the second half! End to end stuff although we are the better side this time, so typically Jody Morris scores, that huge name. Last season we would have collapsed, but we are made of sterner stuff, even in front of 40,000 baying cockneys, and we attack with gusto, and within two minutes we turn it around from 2-1 down to 3-2 up. The away end is delirious and we even grab another at the end. Job done, we are pretty damn good!
I am still going to let Flynn go though, unhappy players have no place here. Besides, letting other crowd favourites go has hardly harmed us so far…
As a Bolton fan I feel somewhat offended by this:
Still top of the league!
It’s a pretty fitting farewell, battering your new employers on their patch. It is wwith a heavy heart I say goodbye to my fantastic captain, but I think I’ve got a decent deal here, especially if Duberry is any good, so I couldn’t really turn it down.
There is dissent in the ranks of the fans, but I ask them to trust me, after all we have gone from relegation candidates from Division 1 to top of the Premier League in a season and a half. I also point out the lack of ‘progress’ from Dinning and Gannon, it seems to make the point. There may be another favourite on the way soon too in the form of Alun Armstrong. He hasn’t had a chance this season and yet is still worth around 3 million, and bizarrely there is a lot of interest in him, so if an offer comes in he is on the way.
Oh for fuck’s sake, that would happen wouldn’t it:
Next up is Liverpool at home, a real tough test of our new found heights, and one that we must attempt without our erstwhile captain. I am nervous of a defensive horror show resulting in murmurings within the home end, after all the seeds of dout can be sown very quickly, but as someone clever (probably) once said, if you aren’t moving forwards you’re going backwards. Actually on reflection that’s complete bollocks, it was probably some management speak on a corporate video said alongside a very boring powerpoint about sales. I’ll stick to football and leave meaningless soundbites to Tony Blair.
Anyway, the game itself, and I shouldn’t worry about the athmosphere, it is buing and Michael Duberry gets a rousing reception. He impresses me so much in training during the week I give him the captain’s armband, future England captain this one I reckon (but then I did think that in real life too). Aside from this, it is the only change as we move onto a stern test, Liverpool have a strong side but there are certainly weaknesses at the heart of the defence.
The first half includes chances for both sides and is a good watch, but thanks to our post stopping Robbie Fowler twice it remains nil nil, although we do have 2 centre backs on yellows.
A fantastic half of football! We lose Heidenstrom, stretchered off after 10 minutes, but after that the fun starts. A couple of chances for either side, a couple of goal saving tackles from our new captain, then Owen goes through 1 on 1 and makes no mistake. No matter though, this side don’t get overawed or let their heads drop, we’re like the Rocky of South Manchester, and a few minutes later Dario Simic pops up to score after a Jarni free kick hits the bar, nothing like your two full backs combining for a goal is there? There is still time for both sides to hit the post (that REALLY does happen far too much on this game), but overall it’s a useful point against a good side, and 4 points from Chelsea and Liverpool going into the international break is not to be sniffed at.
Not ideal news, but could be worse, in effect it’s a month as we have 2 weeks off now for internationals.
Straight after the game I get bids in from Wolves, Man City and Middlesbrough for Alun Armstrong…. My original team is being speedily disbanded. I have put a club record bid of £4 million in the meantime in for Tony Sheridan, a midfielder at Ipswich, and I am bidding against big names of Celtic (who actually are on here) and Arsenal. I feel central midfield is somewhere I can develop, and I want to fight the big boys!
In the meantime Kevin James is being a cock and rejecting a contract extension, which is annoying as he has a big club release clause so I will lose him if anyone makes a bid.
Woohoo! Technically I win on default as Celtic can’t afford the fee and Arsenal withdraw because of an injury to Sheridan, but I don’t care, I win!!
In fairness this is not unexpected:
Next up is Sheffield United away, a nice short trip but one I will have to make without the injured Simic, Heidenstrom, Sheridan, Youngs, McIntosh and Tomlinson. Simic will be replaced by Connolly and Carlita comes in for Heidenstrom, and there is a place on the bench for forgotten man Nick Wright.
Well that start should put the big clubs off, after only 2 minutes Kevin James ‘overhits the chip’ and scores an own goal. What the fuck are you doing chipping the ball towards your own goal anyway Kevin?! After a really poor first ten minutes we grow into the game though and for the second game in a row it is our right back popping up, this time from a corner, to equalise. 1-1 half time, and these are there for the taking.
It’s a cagey second half until the 67th minutes when our skipper gets sent off for a professional foul, that’s more like the Michael Duberry you all know! We batten down the hatches, and although Sheffield United score in the 88th minute it is disallowed for offside, another point gained, I’ll take that, and Matt Bound continues to prove he is a Premier League defender, I will definitely take that!
We’ve dropped off the top now, but we are still well in touch, I think I’d have taken this at the beginning of the season!
Bye bye Alun, all the best! To be honest I don’t think he’s Premier League quality but I’ll keep an eye on how he does for 19th placed Boro (who finished above me last season remember!).
Tottenham up next and Simic is back which spells bad news for Carlita as he drops out because of the EU rule with Bray replacing him, and Connelly drops out too unluckily.
Kevin James again! Dreadful backpass and Spurs score. He is dropped! It is a pity but he seems to have had his head turned and I tell him so at half time. Otherwise very little happens and it is 1-0 Spurs.
I forgot to screenshot halftime, but the second half is excellent. Once again we battle hard but with little end product until I being on Nick Wright for his first appearance of the season. He transforms the game, laying on a goal for Jean Bray who excels on his return to the side, and also hitting the bar and finally earning a yellow card for taking out Ian Walker, although I dispute that ruffling his hair and messing up his curtains warrants this. The hairdryer treatment obviously worked for Kevin James as he gets man of the match, and will probably not be dropped anyway as I think Duberry is suspended for the next match.
So we have gone from the team who hasn’t drawn a single game all season to drawing 3 in a row, but I reckon 6 points is a decent return given the injuries and the tough November fixture list, plus in two of those draws we were the better side and could have won it. We look like we’re in a mini league of 4 as we approach the half way point, and not many people could have predicted those 4 names. Only 4 points to go to that magical 40 point mark…. Didn’t think I’d be saying that at the end of November!
Matt will be back again next week but you can follow him on Twitter @PorterMatt