Tag Archives: Vanarama National League

Football Manager: (Weald)Stonehenge

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!

A little Look Around You reference there. Image source

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)

Now there’s a strong colour scheme

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!

Social media in a nutsell

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…

DARTFORD (again)

This is a team we really should be beating. They’re in a lower divison, even if my performance analyst thinks otherwise.

Screw you, Stewart Craggs!

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!

Sorry not sorry

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)

*plane noises*

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.


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!


Football Manager: (Weald)Stone the Crows!


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…


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!


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!