Matthew Cooper is back for a second season with Altrincham. After strolling to Third Division success, can they build on that with a summer of wheeling and dealing? Catch up with part 8 here.
Hi and welcome back. We start this update fresh from our title-winning triumph in Division 3, so we’re looking to prepare for life in Division 2 and hopefully keep the momentum going. It seems we’re going to need yet another left wingback however, as Lou Kidd appears to be on the move
He chooses Leicester and we lose him for £325k. I immediately move for a replacement and spot this potential bargain for the princely sum of £8k
Somewhat inevitably I win the MotM for May, to make it 5 out of the last 6.
We get Lee Hughes in, but he insists on a big club release clause so we’ll probably end up moving for yet another wingback before long
I was going to say that I didn’t really foresee any further moves in the Summer, however Williamson’s value has shot up without me noticing and he’s attracted a bit of interest. I’ll probably have to get a replacement for him in that case.
Well, that was quick
As he’s probably going to go anyway, I decide to take advantage of contract situations to sweeten the deal
The official end to the season rolls along, and I think it was in the first update that I said that I doubted I would see my name in there. This turns out to be an incorrect prediction as I win Division 3 manager of the year, hurray! Ian Wright is the Football Writer’s player of the year and the top scorer in the premiership at the ripe age of 35. If he retires I’m all over his regen.
I start the new season by offloading squad player Paul Hart to Swindon for £210k. One of the three clubs in for Williamson suddenly pull out of the running
Why would you bid for a player you can’t afford? Anyway he agrees terms with Bolton and we get our free player so all in all it’s a pretty good deal
I check Arsenal’s squad page and Wrighty has decided to give it another year, unfortunately for us. I do however notice Le Sulk, who wants away for more minutes on the pitch:
We can easily afford the fee from the Williamson sale so I make a bid. I have a few other targets in case he says non but I’ll see how this pans out first.
Ah, balls. That’s probably scuppered any chance that the deal will go ahead then. Rather amazingly though he agrees to talk to us, however he’s asking for 6 grand a week and big club, relegation and non-promotion clauses. I offer him the bare minimum as I’m not too excited for the deal any more. He predictably chooses the Owls and I move for my second target, the Nevster
In the meantime I offload another no-hoper as Dean West moves to Bournemouth for £160k. Erik says no, or whatever the Norwegian equivalent is, so I’m back to square one. I re-think my strategy – Tokely and Allardyce are a much better front two than most we’re going to come up against this year, so I decide to give youth another chance and make a move for a schoolboy, the mysteriously named Bobby Raven
There’s more squad trimming as Innes and McCarthy move on for £250k and £170k respectively. That’s going to be it as far as recruitment goes, as I’d rather kick on with what we have and move to solve any problems we run into as they occur. Well ok, two more personnel changes. A-lister Cooper moves on to the bright lights of…Southend. I also sign up a kid as cover for Hughes on the left.
We start the campaign away at Watford. It’s a pretty low-key affair, on another day we might have sneaked a goal but it peters out to a pretty fair 0-0 draw. N’Diaye serves his one match ban so will be available for the next game.
This next development isn’t really a surprise at all. He was pretty poor in the few games I tried him for so he got hardly any game time. I let him go on a free as no-one is ever going to buy him and I can’t stand the ugly red name spoiling my squad screen
The League Cup draw isn’t kind and we’re at St Andrews to face first division Birmingham. I swap N’Diaye for Zerrouki but keep the rest of the team the same. It’s a very even game and we’re unlucky to finish up on the losing side. Then again, it’s the League Cup so the sooner we’re out of it the better. We just need to not better their result in the return leg and it’s out of our hair for another season
A home game against Burnley is next, and a week-long injury for Bound draws my attention to the fact that I only have 4 central defenders for 3 places – I’ll have to at least sign a promising youngster after the match. Taggart starts for Bound and Zerrouki makes the bench as I need to play him fairly regularly to prevent him going the way of Luis and losing his work permit. It’s a very assured performance as Tokely and Allardyce open their accounts for the season and help us to an easy 2-0 victory
I check in on this year’s non-league promoted club Colwyn Bay and as usual their squad is rather loanee heavy. I bet picking the team sheet for the cup game was a bit of a puzzler with all those ineligible players
They better get a move on with permanent signings or they’re going to be in all kinds of trouble when the loanees are recalled at random and they’re left with greyed-out autogens for players.
I rest N’Diaye for the second leg tie against Birmingham, as he’s a bit tired and besides, I don’t actually want to win the game. Bound makes the bench after recovering from his dead leg. The lads do me proud and we go down 1-0 to exit the competition as quickly as we can. Taggart gets the MotM and is proving to be a decent acquisition for a freebie
Well get used to it, you knobs. Also how can you be very disappointed? they’re pushing for promotion to the sodding Premiership! I know we’ve made a name as giant killers but you can’t EXPECT it to happen every time, that’s just unfair. I hate the board sometimes.
We’re away to Portsmouth next, and it’s just one of those games. We really should win it handily but the strikers have a shockingly poor day and spurn a raft of chances. They get 2 scrappy goals against the run of play for a travesty of a win, though credit to them for taking their chances. Perhaps spending some of the £6 million in the bank on a striker wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world
After the game I take a look and settle on Orient’s Jason Harris. He has never been given a fair chance at his current club but his stats suggest he could become something special. If we can turn his form around I could see him being a 1 in 2 kind of goalscorer. He’s available for merely £150k so I make the bid.
We’re back at home next and I’m hoping for a swift reaction against Wycombe. Bound has been hit and miss so far this season so I give Taggart another shot at staking a regular place. I also put Zerrouki into the midfield as Gatusso is going through an indifferent patch of form. The lads respond brilliantly and put them thoroughly to the sword.
They give us a helping hand early on with a sending off for deliberate handball but we’re already on top and ahead via Tokely by that point anyway. They level things up from a corner and then get a penalty awarded. They are determined to piss the game away though and McCarthy puts the spot kick wide, then a mere two minutes later we’re back in front through new wingback Hughes. Allardyce puts us further in front and then Tokely hits a 30 yard screamer to cap off an excellent day. We really needed that after such a deflating loss last game so I’m very pleased with the team after that.
That’s a good place to leave it for now. Come back next time to see how we get on in our new Division after a fairly decent start. We’ll also be keeping an eye on Colwyn Bay as well. Bye for now!