Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to #FordFocus which, despite the concerted efforts of some to talk me out of sharing this rubbish with you, lives to see another day. I shall not be silenced, unless of course everyone stops reading it. Does a blog that nobody reads still make a sound? Who the hell knows.
City are still rising as we move into December 2015 in my Guildford City save. City are former giants of the amateur game and I am hoping to be the man that gets them into the Football League for the first time. I plan to do that by using my “Soccernomics meets Moneyball” approach which is starting to look at FM in a slightly different way to the way many people view the game.
With two promotion spots available and a ten point lead from second place, I am fairly happy with how the first twenty games have gone, but I still feel we could be doing more. Our first game in the month of Christmas was an away trip to 4th placed Horsham who had been playing very well of late to get themselves into the promotion mix. In the last update I was musing over how Eddie probably should be back in the side, but Kesh had taken his chance and I needed a lefty on the left to keep the balance, hence me keeping faith in Reecey or the new signing Jay. Tough decisions, but considering we had been unbeaten in November I decided to look at keeping the front three as they were.
Wardy and Blakey were both fit again for the game, so were straight back in the side meaning Henners and Nasha dropped out. I talked myself out of keeping the same front three for the game and recalled Eddie, just a hunch backed up by data.
I have to say, I like Horsham’s colours. I liked Blakey’s free kick even more though, curled into the top corner after 5 minutes. We hit the post and the bar in quick succession towards the end of the half before Eddie crossed for Reecey to double the lead. On the half time whistle Big D completely lost his head and lunged in. He didn’t even wait for the card to be shown and was walking off as the ref found the red. Madness! I dropped Blakey back in to play as a half back. We can be bloody stupid sometimes, Nicky needlessly bringing down their striker in the area for a penalty. 2-1. We got one ourselves with twenty to go and Wardy stepped up. He scored again and we had daylight. Not for long, they scored 30 seconds later! Blakey dug in again, another free kick curled into the top corner. The final score was 4-2 and I took that happily, considering we had ten men for an hour. Blakey was superb and after just 21 games we led the table by 13 points with a game in hand.
Something nice happened after the game, I got my first offer of a job interview in a very long time. Even with what I achieved at Padova and Haarlem I didn’t get approached once, and Potters Bar made me happy even if I did decline them. I will move on from City one day, I am hoping I get them into the Football League before that happens.
Crawley Down came to the Spectrum on 12th. Big D was banned initially for one game, I felt it would be extended to three. It cost him two weeks wages which he accepted. In came Nasha in the only change. I was excited by this game, I felt we were due to hammer someone soon.
I love Blakey. His free kick was smashed home by Whytey, another lad that is impressing me a lot this season. The second by Ossie, his 17th of the season, has sheer class. The ball was played into him and he chopped the ball past his man before passing it home brilliantly. Early in the second half Reecey ran on to a pass from Gally and drilled it home for 3-0. Kesh came off the bench late on to make it 4-0 and I was delighted. Four goals added to the bank balance and a cracking clean sheet, great stuff. The lead was now 15 points!
People must be finally taking notice of me, Chatham Town offered me an interview. No thanks, but still nice to be asked. As expected Big D’s ban was put up to three games, silly boy.
I named an unchanged side for the game against Walton Casuals. Ossie got his 18th from a short corner routine and I wondered if we were going to get a cricket score today. We had to wait for number two, and Eddie got it ten minutes before half time. It was a fine move, 15 passes before Eddie was played in and he sneaked it under the ‘keeper. The second half did not replicate the first, Nicky giving away yet another penalty and it was 2-1. We woke up though and Wardy ran on from midfield to get number three at the second attempt, the ‘keeper saving his first shot well. 3-1 became 3-2, another nervy second half in full swing. Ossie smashed one on to the bar then the unthinkable. Their right winger crossed, Browney came for it completely unchallenged and missed it completely. 3-3! The back three were terrible today, each of them were poor. I haven’t had to scream and shout after a game for a while, and this game was one of those moments and maybe it will encourage us to push on again now. The result didn’t ruin the build up to Christmas 2015 but it didn’t help.
Boxing Day meant a trip to Hythe. We were already guaranteed of exiting 2015 top of the table but I wanted to be more than 15 points ahead, which is how we started the month. Despite being disappointed by the last result I didn’t make any knee-jerk changes. The first half was dreadful in the drizzle and nothing happened. The second half sprung to life though, Reecey giving Ossie an open goal for his 50th league goal for the club in just a season and a half. Prolific! The second was stunning. Ossie dropped really deep to get the ball, saw Reecey had run offside so waited an extra second and saw Gally legging it down the side. He chipped it in front of him and Gally sprinted on and finished superbly. I switched to park the bus as I wanted to see the game out. Bad choice, Hythe got one back from a long throw, Browney coming to claim and missing it again – Moody will be back in next game. In injury time Nasha picked up his second yellow, making the last 90 seconds pretty worrying. We held on and the win increased our gap at the top to 16 points, the biggest in England.
We’re still kicking the arse out of the season, but what else is happening? Are Chelsea still in relegation trouble? Well, not as such as they have moved back up to 12th, but that is only 4 points off the drop zone. Newcastle, Sunderland and Watford are in there at the moment which has led to AVB being sacked by Ashley. Gerado Martin must be wondering where it has all gone wrong – managing Messi at Barca then Argentina and now presiding over the career of Sylvian Marveux. Jokanovic, having got them promoted six months earlier has been canned by Watford. Spurs were in 17th when the sacked Mancini and surprised everyone by appointing Kit Symons – it’s worked so far though, they are up to 9th. Swansea have sacked Garry Monk and
In Europe, Arsenal ballsed it up getting themselves knocked out in the group stages having been top after three games. City, United and Chelsea progressed and play Valencia, Dortmund and Juventus.
In the Championship it has gone mad. Before December nobody had been sacked, just Mick McCarthy quitting Ipswich. In December Hull have fired Roy Keane, Cardiff canned Lambert, Birmingham banished Rowett and, wait for this, Villa quashed Quieroz and replaced him with Zidane! The Saints are still top.
That’s it for December and 2015. We move into the New Year over the next few days.
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)