#FM15 #FordFocus : January Juice

Happy New Year folks, it is January 2016. Guildford City sit 16 points clear at the top of the Ryman Division One South and look good for their second promotion in two seasons under my tight fisted stewardship. January looked like it could be a pivotal month, only four games but three were against sides right down the bottom and one against second place, so four wins would surely see us over twenty points clear at the top.

First up were Faversham. I had already decided on one change, bringing in Moody to replace Browne in goal after a couple of shocking goals had gone by him in the last two games. I’d also had the Swindon manager, Warburton, on the phone telling me to play the loanee more so the timing was right. Big D was back after suspension to replace the suspended Nasha and we ran out at the Spectrum hoping to get the new year off to a winning start.

Ossie, rightfully, got the first goal of 2016 playing a lovely one-two with Whytey and slotting it into the corner for his 20th goal of the season. In a snowy first half that was the only highlight, in fact it was the only highlight of the entire game. I felt for 102 people that braved the -5 conditions, but it was a win and a clean sheet. I still bollocked the players after the game though, we did not play well. Mind you, I say that – they didn’t get a shot on goal.

The lead was up to 18 points and the next match was away to the bottom club, Peacehaven. I’ve started getting lots of offers of interviews from clubs in the Ryman Premier. Well, clubs bottom of the Ryman Premier. Why on earth would I want to go there and end up in the Ryman Division One again when they don’t have the players to stay up?

Eddie got a cold, not surprised given the conditions in the last game, so Kesh was back into the starting eleven. Joshy was back on the bench, it’s great to see that the squad is small but strong if he has hardly been involved since coming back from injury. The first half was dreadful, they had no interest in going forward and we could not break them down. Then, in the last minute of the first half, Schroder tangled with their man near the half way line and was off, ruled that he was the last man. Then Gally, already booked, disagreed a little too much and we were down to nine men!! On the hour we nearly went ahead, Reecey spinning and shooting but the ball hit the angle of post and bar. Minutes later they were down to ten men, Ossie getting cleaned out when clean through. Amazingly the game ended 0-0, which in theory was disappointing but in reality with nine men was impressive. Back to back clean sheets too, pleased with that.

Two red cards meant we were playing Burgess Hill under strength but hey ho. Nasha was chosen to play in the middle of the back three and Eddie returned to the front line. Henners was into midfield as Gally was banned. Burgess Hill had been on a great run to get up to second, but had slipped again and were now in 6th. The weather was horrible at the Spectrum, sleet and freezing. Ossie thought he had warmed us up when he headed home after 15 minutes, but he was ruled offside. It was a header that gave us the lead eventually, Crispy rising to thump home a Blakey free kick. Eddie then had a another one chalked for offside and we came in 1-0 up at half time. Amazingly we had another ruled out for offside in the second half, Daisy the unlucky guy. It was tight, scrappy and muddy but we came away with another win and, more pleasingly, another clean sheet. We had two weeks rest now before the trip to Chipstead.

Marine came in offering me an interview to be their manager. Actually, this was a club that almost tempted me – only because I had ended up as their manager on CM92/93 all those years ago having led Liverpool to win everything and they had just got into the Football League and I fancied a new challenge. As tempting as it kind of was, it was a no. I have a league to win here. Then I was properly tempted, Workington came knocking. A former football league club in the Northern Premier. A club once managed by one of my heroes, Bill Shankly. My word, this was properly interesting to me. A proper football club with a proper ground with history equal if not greater to City. I could keep them up, I really could but the players were not my players. I wanted to make the move I think, but the timing wasn’t right. I need to see this season through at the very least.

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Chipstead were 5th, this was another key game for us. A win might see us go twenty points clear at the top. A tough first half was rounded off with Wardy arriving late and half volleying home Reecey’s cross. On the hour Ossie leapt like a salmon and headed home number two from Gally’s well placed cross. Things were going well! Chipstead started to fall apart and gave away a needless penalty which Wardy drove down the middle for 3-0. Three minutes later he had the hatty, running on to Ossie’s through ball and tucking it away. A stunning 4-0 win to end the month, I could not have asked for more.

We end January as dominant as we started it. We sit thirteen points clear at the top, Hastings second. We play them in the next game. But, more interestingly, the January transfer window has just slammed shut.

Before I tell you the movers and shakers, let’s update the manager movements to give some context. Nigel Clough has replaced Kit Symons at Fulham and that is an impressive move for Clough seeing his Sheffield United team are in mid-table League One obscurity. Dick Advocaat has popped in to save Watford and Robert Martinez has set off to prove that you really should never go back by getting his desk at Swansea back.

So, transfers. Real Madrid felt they needed a consistent, reliable, easy to manage type to play alongside Ronaldo and Bale. Ballotelli fitted the bill perfectly and Liverpool even persuaded them to give them just shy of £20m. Who says that transfer committee don’t have a clue? Chicarito is the man to save Chelsea’s season and has joined them from United for £10m. They better have a stock of comedy wigs in Amsterdam as the beautifully bouffoned deep-lying-target man Felliani has moved to Ajax on loan and Wenger finally cut his losses on Giroud and said “goodbye to you” and sent him packing to Villareal.

Manchester City still lead the way in the Premier League, United still trying to catch them. Burnley and the amazing Sean Dyche currently sit in 5th. Please give him the England job. Chelsea are far from being safe yet, tenth and six points off the relegation zone.

Southampton are flying in the Championship now, seven points clear at the top. Zidane’s Villa sit one point off the play-off spots. Chelsea and Man City are due to battle it out for the League Cup at Wembley and Luton Town have made it into the 5th Round of the FA Cup.

I think that’s it for this update, February could well be fantastic as we look to widen the gap!

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)

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