The Football Manager Chronicles - Part Three

Updated: Jun 24, 2019

Where were we? Ahh that’s right, we’d just drawn at home to Southampton in our last Premier League game, in the aftermath of which Phillip Billing came to me with some concerns over his playing time.

My no-nonsense approach to dealing with his request hadn’t gone down particularly well with a couple of the squads team leaders. Tommy Smith and Danny Williams knocked on my door, complaining about my treatment of the young Dane, both seemed to think he should be given the game time he had asked for.

Which was strange for a number of reasons, firstly because we had been performing well above expectations with Hogg and Mooy in midfield. Secondly because Danny Williams was a direct rival to Phil Bill in the squad, as it turned out he was the one that reacted the worse to my firm riposte.

I assertively reminded both Smith and Williams that I was the one picking the team and they were not. Smith immediately backed down and came round to my way of thinking but Williams did not, instead buckling down and promising me that he would make me pay for my decision.

Brighton (A): 1-1

As it transpired it was not me that paid for my decision to deny Phillip Billing a guaranteed place in the squad, it was Danny Williams as he sat this fixture out after spending a week training with the under-23s.

There was no place for Phillip Billing in my matchday squad either, with Matty Daly taking his place on the bench. I had set a no-nonsense tone and was determined to stick to it regardless of the consequences.

Fortunately there were no consequences on the pitch as we absolutely dominated Brighton from start to finish. Alex Pritchard slotted home in the 18th minute after neat build up from Mounie and Kachunga on the edge of the box.

My Town team continued to dominate well after that opener and at times it seemed like a direct game between us and Brighton ‘keeper Matt Ryan. The Australian was in fine form, thwarting our attackers time and time again.

Inevitably we were punished for our profligacy as Pascal Gross equalised in the 94th minute with a superb free-kick. As far as robberies go this was up there with the Hatton Garden Heist, I was distraught.

Watford (A): 3-4

I was left distraught after the Brighton game but this game against Watford really took the biscuit, leaving me and my playing squad on the brink of tears. Prior to the game I had tasked Christopher Schindler with the sizeable task of man-marking Watford striker Troy Deeney, believing he would be a massive aerial threat.

Fortunately Schindler did manage to negate Deeney’s aerial threat, pushing him further away from goal and limiting him to the odd effort from distance. In the 43rd minute one of those long-range efforts ended up in the back of my net, beating Jonas Lossl far too easily.

At half-time I was largely sympathetic with the boys, they had been let down by an error from the ‘keeper rather than performing poorly as a collective. As the second-half progressed we pushed and pushed for an equaliser, which we finally grabbed in the 69th minute.

Isaac Mbenza’s topped off a dazzling run with a curled finish past the onrushing Ben Foster. We weren’t level for long though as Deeney pounced again, this time giving Lossl absolutely no chance from 25 yards. What a nightmare this was. What strange glitch was afflicting my game? Deeney doesn’t score these type of goals surely? He’s a bully, an old fashioned forward with a head made of steel. This was a joke.

In a fit of pure rage I switched to a 4-2-4 as we chased our second equaliser of the game. An injury to Aaron Mooy forced me to introduce my nemesis Danny Williams which I was less than pleased about, but his introduction did spark us into life.

The American midfielder scored from a corner to level the scores in the 79th minute and then assisted Isaac Mbenza 2 minutes later. With 10 minutes to go the comeback was complete and I was confident that all the wrongs of earlier in the game had been righted.

The 4-2-4 reverted to a narrow 4-4-2 and all the time wasting antics came out of the bag, which ultimately came back to haunt me. For some unknown reason we were caught out by a long ball in the 92nd minute as Isaac Success raced through unchallenged to make it 3-3, what a shit show!

I had set my defensive line deeper than the Pacific Ocean yet here we were getting caught out by a long ball in the 92nd minute. I was livid, and about to be even more livid as Roberto Pereyra scored from close range 2 minutes later to turn the game on its head.

In the 90th minute we were leading 3-2 yet somehow at the end of the game we had lost 4-3, it sounded all too familiar to real life and I went completely Jan Siewert at full-time letting the players know exactly what I thought of them.

Man United (H): 2-5

After the defensive horror show of Vicarage Road it was time to shut up shop and hope for the best as Solskjaer’s United rolled into Town. The 5-4-1 was dusted off and we set-up to frustrate from the very first minute, yet 38 minutes in we found ourselves 2-0 down.

Firstly Fred escaped his marker from a corner to head home before Anthony Martial tapped a deep cross in from close range. That goal along with a few choice words from the touchline sparked Town into action and we were level just before the break.

Elias Kachunga scored an absolute worldy before Steve Mounie levelled the scores with a trademark header on the brink of half-time. Get in! Now we could have a real go in the second-half and capitalise on our renewed momentum.

Or maybe not. A solo strike from Jesse Lingard and a second-half brace from Anthony Martial destroyed all of our momentum, helping to round off a convincing 5-2 rout for Man United.

Not one of United’s goals was the product of genius or talent, rather they were of our own making. Costly defensive errors coupled with a complete lack of bottle in high pressure moments seemed to be characterising my season from the offset.

Derby (A): 2-2

The draining nature of the past 3 league fixtures had taken a toll on my first-team squad so it was time to rotate in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup. Juninho Bacuna got us off to a good start at Pride Park, scoring from just outside the box to capitalise on our early dominance.

Jon Stankovic lost David Nugent from a cross in the 21st minute and the veteran striker duly fired past the beleaguered Ben Hamer. A long-range screamer from Karlan Grant in the 40th minute sent us into the break 2-1 up and had the 898 away fans dreaming of the next round.

In the second-half there was very little to shout about for either side really with a combined shot total of 3. Mason Mount struck the only one of importance though as his 25 yard free-kick found the top corner of Ben Hamer’s goal.

It was frustrating not to grab a winning goal in the remaining 40 minutes but I was still confident heading into the penalty shoot-out, especially after bringing on Aaron Mooy for just that purpose a minute before the end of regulation time.

That substitution didn’t work out too well though as the Australian fluffed his lines from the penalty spot. Fear not though there was still hope. That was only the first penalty after all, there was still time to claw ourselves back into contention.

Hope drained away as Ben Hamer dived the wrong way for every subsequent Derby penalty and Danny Williams blasted our third kick well over the bar. Bacuna and Sabiri succeeded from the spot but it wasn’t enough and we were eliminated 4-2 on penalties.

Losing on penalties to a team in the division below was a poetic way to end what had been a pretty dreadful month. After starting the month in 7th with 12 points we had slid down to 14th with just 1 more point to our total.

November brought fixtures against Manchester City, West Ham, Liverpool and Liversedge – yes Liversedge. Check back tomorrow to see if I could turn around the team’s fortunes in November.

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To check out how Terry Blog's team fared in November, click HERE for the next installment.

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