Football Manager: (Weald)Stone the Crows!

SEPTEMBER

Do you remember? The 21st night of September? Well, nothing remarkable happened at Wealdstone at that point, but two days prior we did stumble to a 2-2 draw against Alfreton.

We had a missed penalty AND a disallowed goal too, so it’s not like we’re struggling at the moment, we just have decisions going against us. Bloody refs!

All in all though, pre-season was a bit of a success for me. September contained seven matches, we won four, drew one, and lost two, though to be fair to me, that first loss was before I had even taken control so you can’t blame me, nuh-uh.

We were beaten by our own reserves? I’ll gloss over that!

I have decided to adopt a “route one” style of football. For those of you who do not know, the gist of route one football is “get the ball to someone up front, that person then tries to hammer it into the goal by any means” and is generally seen as an unsophisticated, almost ugly style of play compared to the tiki taka that Barcelona like to indulge in (or Arsenal attempt to), or the gegenpressing of any team Jurgen Klopp manages. Rather than swift passing of the ball among players, route one sees you hoof it up and hope for the best.

The description of R1 in game is a lot more diplomatic than most would use

Wealdstone are a semi-professional club, half our players probably have other jobs, we don’t have a full-time training schedule that can help build the technical knowledge or the physical attributes of the more “glamorous” styles of football. When you can only do two training sessions a week, those need to be spent on some more basic things, and so we adopt the basic play style, and it has worked for us so far!

However, a new month brings the start of the new season, and we first go to…

CHESTERFIELD (predicted finish: 7th)

Or rather, they come to us. First, we get a scouting report, courtesy of Hakeem Bennett. Thanks Hakeem!

They’re good at off-the-ball movement, so they know where they need to be and where they need to go, and their goalies are good at throwing. Conversely, their agility is bad (old, old men), and they have a weakness down their left side. I can take advantage of that!

Hey look, they think they’re Liverpool! Seriously though, Chesterfield may be more able to get away with gegenpressing, as they’re a full-time professional club, who get to keep their players for training more often, so they can build up the high fitness levels required for the tactic to actually work. If they gegenpress the entire season though? I can see that backfiring!

The media have touted us as slight underdogs in this match, and I can live with that. When we win, we can get the “plucky, spirited underdog” story that we all love to see, and Chesterfield can be the terrible villains of the piece.

Highlights of the match? We get a yellow card in the SECOND MINUTE, a goal disallowed in the sixth, and then we score two proper goals in the 13th and 15th minutes! Matt Lench (assist by Dan Wishart) and Josh Meekings (assist by Matt Lench) are the goal heroes, with both being on their debut match!

A reminder to properly set up your set pieces!

The rest of the half is relatively uneventful, and indeed most of the second half, up until Jak McCourt decides to go in double-footed on Moses Emmanuel, then a couple of late, LATE goals

When you see a highlight in the 90th +3 minute at 2-1, you really do fear the worst, especially when that highlight starts near your goal! Thankfully, Harry Isted managed to save the shot, we broke back up the field and Ross Lafayette restored our two goal lead! His expected playing time is “impact sub” and I think you can agree, he came on and made that damn impact!

NOTTS COUNTY (predicted finish: 2nd)

The match schedulers are not giving us an easy opening to this season are they? Anyway.

Basically, great at attacking, defensively poor? That’s what I get from this. If we pressure their goalie, we’ll do well here. This match comes a mere three days after our opener, so both teams will have to combat the fatigue that comes with a packed schedule (we have EIGHT MATCHES in this month alone!) and that comes with…

INCREASED INJURY RISK!

I’m sure we’ll be fine though.

Unexpected windfall!

The day before the match, we get a little surprise in the mailbox! This £55,000 trebles the bank balance of Wealdstone! Thanks Cardiff! Feel free to send more money my way!

Phil Parkinson of Altrincham has said Wealdstone will “make a good go of [survival] but ultimately come up short.” Shady bitch! So naturally I responded “if you wanna look at clubs that won’t survive, motherfucker should look a little closer to home!”

I’m paraphrasing slightly.

I can’t wait to meet Altrincham now, I’m putting a pin in the calendar at December 5th, we’re gonna rock their world. But I suppose we have a match now to focus on, ugh.

And would you look at that? A beautiful sight! Danny Parish getting both goals, one from close range, and another cannoned in from the edge of the box! A large number of fouls, but nobody sent off yet, which means we get stuck in, but we don’t take it too far.

At least I hope not.

WOKING (predicted finish: 16th)

A team more around our supposed level, Woking are kinda mainstays in the National League, ever since they got there. They got demoted a few years ago, but climbed their way back in the very next season, so they’re almost part of the furniture of this league.

Goalies are good at chattin’ but they don’t do good from long range. Gotcha. According to their tactical report, they also like to engage in Route One football! This is going to be the ugliest game!

Important to remember that this is FM21, and Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny have not yet bought Wrexham, but are in the early stages of doing so, and I guess here it begins! That’s nothing to do with us though, so let’s work on Woking!

It started off badly, one of those highlights that starts with you about to score, until they suddenly get the ball and take off with it like a rocket. We won with a lower xG rating (xG being a new metric introduced in FM21 called Expected Goals, which to make a long, complicated story short, is a way of measuring not only the chances you take, but also the quality of those chances, usually taking into account angle, position, number of players between ball and goal, etc) which is always encouraging. We’re making the most of the chances we get, and the opponents are not!

THE TABLE SO FAR

Oh look at that, predicted to finish nineteenth, but sitting pretty in second! Of couse, three matches into a season is not comparable to what the situation may be after the full forty four, but we’re making a good account of ourselves versus teams that are supposed to be better than us! I can see that Wrexham are going to be the team to beat though, I wonder when we face them?

Ahh, next month! I really cannot wait!

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