Here’s Matthew to ease you into Tuesday. He still doesn’t have Twitter but he’s doing a splendid job with Altrincham on CM9798, as he’ll explain below. Catch up with part 12 here.
I’m running out of ways to start these updates, but hello anyway. We finished last time with a disheartening home defeat to a close rival so we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and return to winning ways. Let’s get to it.
England decide upon their new manager it amazingly it’s not me. Not even a mention in the gossip page of the Star, hmph. It’s Real’s manager Heynckes, who leaves them in a very disappointing 6th place in La Liga. Considering they finished first and then second in the preceding seasons, it seems a strange time to poach him but I’m sure they know what they’re doing…
We’re continuing our exciting Windscreen Trophy campaign next, away at Blackpool for the second round. Roberts is cup-tied so old wet spaghetti hands Hammond starts, but at least cm97/98 freak specimen Jim Quinn is injured for them. Zerrouki replaces the unfit N’Diaye and Gatusso is still crocked.
Well, my fears between the posts prove to be well founded as Hammond fails to make a save in the first half, letting two goals in and ending with a rating of 4. To be fair we’re awful all over the pitch and he at least picks it up in the second half, making 3 good stops. I couldn’t have too many complaints if Blackpool finished up 5-0 winners, but ah well at least we’re out of this sodding competition again. This proves to be the final straw for Duncan and he wants out
Matthew Bound was immense for us last year but his performances massively dipped when we stepped up to Division 2 – if/when Duncan goes I’ll be bringing in a like for like replacement and not relying on the existing squad. After agreeing to Duncan’s request, I transfer list Bound for good measure as I can’t see a future for him here.
Brighton are our opponents in the FA Cup next, and we’re eager to not make it 3 defeats on the bounce. Roberts is back in goal and N’Diaye is fit enough to start as playmaker again.
We save our best form for this cup and we get the result that the 12,000 home fans wanted, courtesy of our strike partnership. Tomlinson had been suffering a drought recently, coming dangerously close to averaging a paltry goal per game, but he’s back on target here along with Allardyce. He goes and spoils it by getting himself sent off towards the end but whatever, we’re through.
We are drawn to play Division 1 side Huddersfield in the next round, but crucially it’s at home so we’ve got a fair chance of getting past them. The offers finally come in for Duncan
My old pal Gislason, who spent a while on loan to us last season, is available for £400k so I put an offer in – whether he’ll be happy to move here permanently is iffy but it’s worth a go. I also accept a part-exchange offer from Middlesborough which includes ex-Man Utd stalwart David May, but I think it’s very doubtful we’ll get that over the line. Gislason gets back to us promptly to tell us he’s not interested despite our mutual history. Heart of stone that lad.
In case you’re wondering how I determine which players to make a move for, I generally start with seeing who’s available at home and interested from abroad, and see if anyone catches my eye. If there’s no obvious hits, I then pull up the skills screen to filter my choices down. In this case it’s a defender I’m after, so I go for attributes that most suit this position like so
It’s important not to set the skills too high or you won’t get anyone – nobody that wants to play for us will be perfect at this stage. This isn’t a guarantee that your signing won’t flop, but it gives you more of a chance of finding a gem. Using this method, I’ve identified a young defender at struggling Bristol City who seems like a good fit.
He’s wanted by other clubs, but no-one from a higher division than us so we’ve got every chance of landing him. I put in a £1.4m bid and cross my fingers.
Duncan’s farewell game is away to Blackpool, who just did us in the Windscreen Shield. I hope things will be better this time around as N’Diaye is pulling the strings rather than Zerrouki and Hammond is nowhere near the matchday squad.
Blackpool seem to know how to play against us for some reason, and they’re deserving 1-0 winners courtesy of a late goal by Jim sodding Quinn. N’Diaye has a poor game and the rest of the midfield aren’t much better. The forwards can’t be blamed as they had basically no service all game and it’s a very disappointing performance all around.
In better news, we quickly backtrack on the Plummer deal
Why, do you ask? Well, because of this:
Against the odds, Duncan opts for Boro and May accepts a no-strings attached £7k a week to drop down a further division, despite being on a relegation and non-promotion clause in Division 1. He only asks us for a management job offer clause, so I think he’s planning to make us his final club. Regardless, it’s a massive coup and we’ve turned another outgoing transfer to our advantage.
He goes straight into the eleven for our home game against Preston, and there’s one more enforced change as Tomlinson’s one match suspension takes effect so Harris gets another chance to impress.
It’s a depressingly familiar story as we spurn a whole host of chances and end up drawing with a team that scores their only on-target attempt of the game. This highlights what I think is a flaw in this game – if you’re playing well, you understandably limit your opponent’s chances game after game, and as the keeper isn’t worked he usually gets a default rating of 5. The game sees this as a bad performance so your keeper’s form declines and then you suffer when the other teams get a couple of chances and put them away because your keeper is meant to be crap according to the recent stats.
Our lead at the top has been cut down a single point which is beginning to worry me somewhat. I decide to swap back to Hammond as his form is listed as good compared to Roberts’ poor, and I hope the latter keeper’s form improves with a rest. We’re given another home fixture, this time against struggling Watford, and a win is desperately required to halt the current downturn we’re experiencing. Tommo is back but Allardyce is now suspended so Harris gets another start in an otherwise unchanged outfield team.
Well that was a mistake. Hammond has 1 frigging save to make and of course cocks it up. Tommo misses a penalty and we only manage a single goal despite several on target as our woes up front continue. Hammond is transfer listed after the match in a fit of pique as I finally lose my rag with him, and I’m determined to stick with Roberts from now on or maybe even sign yet another keeper.
It might be a bit doom and gloom right now but hey, at least we’ve broken a club record
Congrats Dazza, your dad would be proud. This update is getting kind of long (even by my verbose standards) but I’m determined to try to end on a high note so I’m playing one more match this week. It’s away at Burnley and we have to stop dropping points, please lads!
Well, thank Christ for that. We’re much better than the scoreline suggests and only goalkeeper Kelly’s superhuman display keeps the goal count down. Roberts pulls off a couple of saves to restore a shred of faith in him and we get our first win in four games. So where does that leave us?
Still top, but only by 2 points. We’re 5 points clear of the playoff places which is a bit better but we need to consistently get results or we probably won’t remain in this position much longer.
It gets better and better for new boys Colwyn Bay, as they’re firmly in the middle of the play-offs and Scarborough are still up there as well. Maybe they’ll meet each other at the end of the season, who knows?
At the bottom, the gap remains the same at 6 points so there’s still plenty of time for Darlo to escape, and if they make up the difference there are a few teams on equal points who could be dragged into the mire.