The new season has just started and I am full of excitement after a few weeks off from football. Seeing my team, Swindon, struggle to a solid if unimpressive start to the season, it got me itching to give it a go myself, and share the results online.
After some conversations with the TFF bosses, I was told I could give it a go as long as I promised to take Weston super Mare to the Premier League (the big-boss is a diehard WSM fan; I couldn’t say no..!). Desperate to prove myself as a football manager, I dusted off my copy of Football Manager 2012 (by far the best game in the series, in my opinion) and immediately took over at Weston.
Because I am playing on FM 2012 the game kicks off in June 2011, so many teams are in different positions than they are in real life. Cast your mind back and remember that Bolton and Blackpool were in the Premier League, Portsmouth were a Championship club recently slapped with a ten-point penalty, and, according to the game any way, England were looking for a new manager.
Weston were, as luck would have it, in the same league as they are today; the Blue Square Bet South, a full five promotions from the Premier League. They were predicted to finish 15th in a league containing such storied clubs as Bath City and Dover Athletic. In real life they went on to achieve a 13th place finish. It is my job to better that, and hopefully lead my new club to promotion.
So, without further ado, I took control and got stuck in…
I was swiftly welcomed to the club by Chairman Paul Bliss, who informed me that I had been given a two year contract, being paid £325-a-week. This suited me well; I am not in it for the money, I am doing this job for the love of the game!
First things first, I had to take stock of the club and my new players and assess whether or not they would be capable of implementing the footballing revolution that I was already plotting. With that in mind, I took a wander around the club’s facilities, inspecting the stadium and training facilities. For a club of our size, things don’t look too bad, although I will be looking to improve the youth facilities in future so that I can one day field some home-grown players in our squad.
After seeing the sights, I went to a staff meeting with my coaches, who promptly delivered me a report of the club’s playing staff. Overall, I wasn’t impressed. The club have one or two good players, particularly midfielder Ben Kirk and goalkeeper Lloyd Irish, but it was clear that, in general, the players at my disposal were not up for the task of getting Weston promoted.
That was fine, though, I have been in football for long enough that I have built up a list of contacts and players that I can call upon when I need a few favours. I may have only played to Sunday League level, but that wasn’t going to stop me. But before I started splashing the cash on some new players, I decided to do some admin and take a look at the club’s finances. As I sat down into the chair in my new office, I was still confident that I could bring success to my new club. Just so long as I had some money to spend…
Ah… Well then, it looks like whatever I do, I will be working on a tight budget, and that means shipping out some of the deadwood. After taking a proper look at my squad in my first training session later that day, I finally decided that enough was enough, and three or four players would need to be moved on in order to free up some wages that could be better spent elsewhere. Everyone expects change under a new manager, but hopefully my decisions wouldn’t be too controversial.
This was going to be a tough first day in the office, clearly. Nabi Diallo, Marcus Duharty, Mike Mackay and Jory Cureton were the players that I decided we no longer needed, and every one of them immediately got the hump with me and refused to leave. I don’t need players in my squad that are causing trouble and I told them so in a busy afternoon of meetings. To really ram home the point, I stuck them all in the reserve team – best to let them know who is boss, eh? They finally came to their senses soon enough, though, and by the end of the week they had all left the club.
So, with a marginally increased wage budget, I went shopping for players.
Some, in fairness, were unrealistic. Yannick is an old friend of mine who I met briefly when I started training for my coaching badges, and I thought I could convince him to join. Unfortunately, he wasn’t even interested in negotiating with me. In fairness, he is far too good for Blue Square South level. Perhaps one for the future…
As I was out scouting, an interesting piece of news broke to the nation, offering further proof that the FA have their fingers firmly on the pulse of modern football…
Back to Weston, and whilst searching around for players, I came across a man whose status in world football is legendary. Even better, he was willing to join my revolution. I had barely gotten my feet under my new desk before I had caused a media storm by signing the one and only, Cherno Samba.
The club’s original strikers were poor, and so I set about singing some other replacements to play up top with Samba. In came the Irish striker, Marc Hughes, and an unknown Zimbabwean youngster called Leeroy Chinthengah. I imagine that Hughes will play alongside Samba, and Chinthengah will be a late sub and replacement for Samba, in case he needs a rest.
Pleased with my business so far, I set my sights on my pre-season schedule. The club’s management had apparently arranged a tour of Wales to prepare the club, so we had a packed schedule. I decided that, in an attempt to bring in some more money for the club, I would arrange a few lucrative friendlies against bigger teams. Therefore I added to our busy schedule home ties against Championship Barnsley, and Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers from the Premier League. These games should net the club about £50,000, and will be a good run out for the players, even if it might not be great for moral if we get whipped in any of them.
I looked forward to my pre-season schedule with excitement. Would Cherno Samba be worth signing? Will the anticipated influx of players at the club upset some of the club’s original players? Will we ever have any money? Read the next part of Weston’s Super Mare, coming soon, to find out.