We left off with us sitting pretty in second, with the expectation to “avoid relegation.” I think we’re managing that so far, aren’t we?
SOLIHULL MOORS (predicted finish: 6th)
And so to the West Midlands we go. Solihull Moors are one of the more recently founded clubs, established in 2007 as the merger between Solihull Borough FC and Moor Green FC. Moor Green’s original stadium was the target of an arson attack, and so they had to temporarily relocate their home games to Damson Park, home of Solihull Borough, their local rivals. Rebuilding The Moorlands was determined to be financially unviable, as was building a new stadium, so they applied to the FA to be allowed to merge with Solihull Borough. It was agreed, and the club lives on, like a footballing chimera!
Still, sob stories aside, it’s time to smash them into the ground.
Good at being in the right place at the right time, but shonky goalkeeping. Sounds like something I can work with!
We both tend to get more shots per game than most other teams, but Solihull Moors are a little more wasteful with them.
Turns out Wealdstone were to be the wasteful ones on this day! I’d say we outplayed them, but football do be like that sometimes. We’re fouling a HELL of a lot more than our opponents too.
Both of Danny’s goals were in off the post, it’s like the woodwork is our twelfth man. Thanks, post! Thost!
Still, there’s much we can glean from defeat. We could do with being a little tighter at the back, given that we have conceded in all four of our matches this season! Still, there’s not much cause for concern yet, no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
We were better in every metric except the one that matters!
TORQUAY (predicted finish: 11th)
No arson attacks befell Torquay, thankfully, so they’ve had no need to merge with another club. Currently teetering above the relegation zone in 20th, they’re not exactly expected to be a challenge. Still, I wasn’t expecting to lose to Solihull Moors either so…
Strong work ethic, no flair or determination. Sounds like me at Tesco!
We’re both aggressive when it comes to taking chances, but Torquay are a little more scattershot, with us being slightly more clinical. Hopefully that won’t change today!
The FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round draw also happens to be today, and we’re the first team out the hat! And we face a team in a league under us, phew.
This match takes place in nine days, and we’re expected to beat them to get to the first round proper, then we can crash out in style versus, I don’t know, Accrington Stanley.
Torquay are seen as the overwhelming favourites for this match, I can’t wait to prove the oddsmakers wrong!
Another narrow defeat, another team we were a little better than. Scoring an early goal was great! Conceding one 5 minutes later was not! None of my players performed overwhelmingly badly either, they were just more clinical on the day. The one time they were!
Still, none of this yet constitutes a crisis at the club. We’re sixth, the board aren’t unhappy even with the defeats, they’re just happy we held our own “against a bigger team”
This is who we have to beat to get to the first round of the FA Cup. They’re based in the Vanarama National League South, the league below us. The National League (formerly known as the Conference) is the start of what is called the non-league system, and works in a pyramid shape, unlike the column-esque structiure of the English Football League (or EFL).
The National League is tier five of the English football system (the previous tiers consisting of the Premier League, the Championship, League One, and League Two), and that’s where Wealdstone sit. Dartford are in the National League South, in tier six. Each tier gets more and more regional as you go down. There’s so much geographical juggling that has to go on when teams move between divisions that it frankly boggles the mind. What happens if, as in the aftermath of the 2018-2019 season, all four teams relegated from the National League are geographically based in the south? They can’t ALL go into the National League South!
To be honest, even after searching for ages, I got confused. All I can tell is Maidstone, Braintree, and Havant & Waterlooville went down into the National League South. Aldershot were granted a reprieve, and instead, Gateshead Town got relegated in their place to the National League North, due to financial irregularities, always a big no-no in football (RIP Bury, Bolton nearly succumbed to this too). As a result of there being three teams going from the Premier to the South League, a team already in the National League South (Gloucester City) got transferred to the National League North, to help balance the numbers.
Gloucestershire sits in that purple region, known as the Border Counties, meaning they are eligible to be moved around the divisons as needed. It’s a sort-of sideways promotion, I suppose. They get to face 21 different clubs in the following season, it keeps everything fresh for them. Lucky! The other club that was eligible for moving was Oxford City, I can only assume they weren’t chosen because Gloucester is a smidgen north of them.
ANYWAY, this is all distracting me from…
This is a team we really should be beating. They’re in a lower divison, even if my performance analyst thinks otherwise.
They may have beaten the mighty Taunton and Bognor Regis, but we scalped Woking earlier this month, so who can say what will happen?
I mean, I called it, yeah?
Okimo’s goal was a sheer delight though. He obviously intended the ball to find a player, instead the goalie went after it, couldn’t quite catch it, and it just calmly rolled into the net!
You can see why the media described it as a “freak goal” and also why he got man of the match. A perfect defender!
EASTLEIGH (predicted finish: 13th)
Nicknamed the Spitfires, because the aeroplane of the same name was built in Southampton, and first flew from Eastleigh Aerodrome, they are currently sitting pretty in second place, having won four of their five opening matches. A tough nut to crack, then?
They’re fit and make good decisions. Like a football team equivalent of me! (#delusion) Conversely, they don’t have a high work rate, and they’re not good at dealing with assists from outside the penalty area. I tell my players to shoot on sight! We’re golden!
We overall get more shots than them, but we have the same conversion rate as a percentage. We’re rapidly going from being clinical to wasteful! But the amount of shots we get seems to mean we’re going for a “throw everything, because SOMETHING will hit” mentality. As long as the shots don’t dry up, I’m happy!
A slight point of concern?
I’m considering dropping Efete to the bench for this one, he’s bringing us down! He’s not had a rating higher than 6.9, even in matches we’ve won comfortably in, and in our losses was actively bad. I’ll probably chuck in Charlie Amankwah or Zaid Vanderhyde from the youth team! See if they can challenge for a place!
In the meantime, the FA Cup First Round draw took place, and we get a team from the league above us!
We have two weeks and three matches before that happens. Let’s go!
That’s the half time stats. Grim. Literally no highlights were played, and the same happened in the second half!
Not every match is a 5-goal bonanza, but I can’t help but feel aggravated by this, even more than if I had lost!
also that gamble did NOT pay off.
THE STATE OF THINGS
We’ve reached our minimum requirement for the FA Cup, and honestly we stand a chance against Stevenage. We could have been up against a League One team!
Sitting 7th in the league is a good achievement, considering where we were expected to be, so there is no crisis, everything is looking swell.
Given the amount of times I select “arms outstretched” in team talks, I’m fairly certain my team sees me as this:
The atmosphere is positive, the support of me is increasing, they’re slowly getting over the fact I know nothing and getting behind me! Hopefully, things will only improve!
Just wanted to say I’m really enjoying this series. Never played Football Manager, not having much interest in football, but often wondered how it worked. I can see why it’s been so popular for so long. Or maybe it’s just the way you tell it.