I can’t believe it is November already. Although the updates have slowed recently due to having to do other stuff, the season itself is moving at pace. As I take City into November 2015 we sit top of the Ryman Division One South, leading Hastings by four points and we have a game in hand.
I’ve decided to name our style of play as “Possession, Purpose, Penetration” or “PPP” and I am still coming up with a cunning name for my “Soccernomics meets Moneyball” view on FM life – as it is a little bit more than that now. In our 15 league games we have scored 38 goals and conceded 16, we are looking good.
First up, the night before Bonfire Night, were Folkestone. They were down in tenth, but our recent form hadn’t been stunning. Having drilled down into my performance stats in more detail, something was telling me to give Kesh a start, so I did, ahead of Eddie. Reecey needs to start performing though, he has not been impressing me much recently. Kesh had a great chance to prove me right in the first two minutes, but he fired wide. He made up for it in the ninth though, a rasping half-volley from Reecey’s cross made it 1-0. After half an hour we put together a lovely patient build up which ended with Reecey being clipped in the area. Wardy got back in the saddle following his previous miss and made it 2-0. Ossie then hit the post and it felt like he had forgotten how to score. The second half was pretty eventless so we chalked another three points up on the board.
In between Folkestone and Whistable I signed a lad called Jay Nash, a striker who can play in midfield and is all left foot. My main reasons for signing him were that I need a back up to Reecey as I felt he can play better, but the back up needs to provide the same balance by being left footed. Jay gets a high percentage of his shots on target and completes a lot of passes with a high percentage rate, so I am hoping he will fit in really well. The scouts didn’t object to him as a potential signing, but I have over-ruled their initial scouting report by looking at his performance stats. He comes in from Merstham who are in the same league, which hopefully makes his performance stats contextual.
He was on the bench for the Whistable game. Browney was back in goal was Moody picked up a groin strain in the last game. I had a word with Ossie before the game and commented on his lack of goals. He took it well, but I couldn’t stop thinking that his form had declined since the contract conversation was screwed up by FM.
Ten minutes, as usual, were gone when Ossie ran in behind and pulled it back to Reecey. The lad didn’t miss and we were ahead. They fought back though and got themselves level mid-way through the half. The game was stodgy, not much going on at all and then they had a man sent off. This woke us up and Ossie remembered where the net was to put us ahead with six minutes to go! I switched to parking the bus and we saw it out. Browney picked up MOM which suggests what kind of game it was. Still, a good start to the month!
Big D was back from suspension for the game against Herne Bay. Henners had been in the office during the week wanting more game time. I can’t blame him, but I cannot find a place for him at the moment. The game started in pouring rain and we were unable to really get going. But then, from nowhere Ossie fired in a shot that was saved and Kesh followed up to score. We were all over them, but we were then done by the long ball over the top, Nicky missing his header and the lad running half the length of the pitch and slotting home. I kicked them hard at half time and they woke up. Reecey has clicked back into form and the new lad Jay must already be wondering why I signed him as Reecey put us 2-1 up. Ossie nicked in ahead of his man to make it three from Gally’s cross but we conceded again moments later, or so I thought. Disallowed! We made the most of it and Ossie got his second with a lovely finish. Another win, Ossie banging in goals again and nine points clear at the top!
Since signing Jay I felt the squad was one man overweight so I had listed Mitch. Eventually Paulton offered him a deal and off he went. Blakey picked up a virus in the week and was out for the next couple of games. Henners switched into the holding role in midfield and Whytey was to play to the right of him in place of the suspended Wardy. Three Bridges were in 6th. 15 minutes in and Big D gave them a gift, 1-0 down. We just couldn’t string a pass together so I was pleased that we were only one behind at half time. The usual kicking was administered and we came out in the second half flying. Nasha set up Ossie and we were level. Whytey smashed home number two with a wonderful strike and there were just ten minutes to go. Park the bus! For once it didn’t work, Nicky putting a slide tackle in that went into the net. 2-2! Having had the lead it was a disappointing two points to drop, but I wasn’t too hard on the lads afterwards. We’re still top and still unbeaten this month, and we are not going to win every week.
November’s final head to head saw us head up the A3 to Tooting & Mitcham. We were already assured of finishing the month top of the table, but I was desperate to make it another month unbeaten. I decided to keep Whytey in the side, but as the Enganche, dropping Joshy. I also decided it was time for Reecey to have a game off, so Jay was making his full debut. Whytey tapped us ahead after 90 seconds, getting to Kesh’s cross and toe-poking it home. Number two was delightful, Kesh playing a crafty pass in behind and Ossie finishing with true style. The chat of not being complacent fell on deaf ears as they got one back on the hour, and we were clearly still in the changing rooms. We could not get going in the second half and I was about to switch to parking the bus when they got level. Again we had thrown away a winning position in the last ten minutes. I threw it into overload and Crispy pinged the ball long. Reecey, on as sub, raced on to it and scored with a sublime chipped finish, 3-2!! We showed some real nerve to pick ourselves back up having thrown away the lead, and Reecey had responded to the challenge of being on the bench superbly.
We will be finishing the month top of the table, below, and a quick look at the league stats shows that Eddie, whom I have dropped to give Kesh a run (and he has rewarded me with two goals and four assists in his five starts) was killing the league stats for average rating and assists. Maybe I was too hard on him, his passing stats have been brilliant, his shots per game second only to Ossie and the only thing that has let him down is his shots on target ratio – but again, to be fair, his have been far more accurate than Reecey. This has given me something to think about for next month, based on those stats alone Eddie has to be starting but Kesh just got MOM. Reecey scored the winner with a beauty and the formation works best with a left footed striker on the left of the three.
Elsewhere, champions Chelsea are in the relegation zone! That’s right folks, after thirteen games they sit alongside Watford and Sunderland on thirteen points. West Ham, Fulham and QPR have given them some proper London love, United, Everton and Man City have all taken maximum points and Jose is in trouble at the Bridge. Man City still lead the way at the top with United close on their heels.
In the Championship Mick McCarthy stunned Ipswich by resigning with them in 4th place, no replacement has been announced yet. Nine points separate the top ten, led by Southampton who now have a three point advantage over Sheffield Wednesday. Bournemouth’s European adventure is coming to an end, but they have just recorded a creditable 0-0 draw away at Porto.
That’s November noted then, next we will discuss December!
Go on Guildford!
(sign up to the “Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager” newsletter and get exclusive content, updates and deals in the run up to the third book being launched by clicking here: http://eepurl.com/bmQLET)