October promises to be hectic. 7 matches are pencilled in, in dark HB pencil too. One of them is the FA Cup game where we welcome FC Romania to the Spectrum. I haven’t played against them since my Clapton save where we pipped them to the Essex Senior title in a last day thriller. Anyway, I digress. Lots of games to report this month, so we had better crack on. As ever, if you can name the song and artist in the title, I’ll send you a free copy of “Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager” via email – comment below!
We’re top of the table and we start October by playing punk football superstars Dulwich Hamlet. I’m without three midfielders – Brucey, Smithy and Whytey (who said footballers nicknames are imaginative). In came Daisy in what was to be my 100th game in charge.
One of my favourite sights since developing my 3313 is watching the trequartista receive the ball to feet, back to goal, spin and shoot. It helps if it goes in of course, and this one from Ossie did. 1-0! One of my other favourite sights is seeing our short corner routine confuse the hell out of people. Reecey received the ball, fed Ossie and he got yet another goal for the club. Two became three and a first half hat-trick for the lad with a mere 5 for finishing. Another short corner was worked into him and he passed it into the net. Superb. 13 for the season now. Eddie got a reward for his unselfish play, making it 4-0 to the City after 37 minutes. With twenty left on the clock, and a couple of changes made, we won a penalty. Reecey took it and it was never going to be delicate. He thumped it straight down the middle and we were 5-0 up. Browny was called upon to make a couple of late saves, but we kept the sheet clean did our goal difference the world of good. It was a very good way to bring up the ton of games as manager.
We spent the week building up to the FA Cup match. I would love to get in the 1st Round Proper, I really would. Imagine getting a league club to the Spectrum, it would be amazing and financially would be stunning for us. FC Romania will be tough though, and although they now have some non-Romanian’s in the side they are still packed with quality. We went with the same side though, predictably!
I said they had quality and they showed it, going 1-0 up after half an hour. Wardy then gave away a stupid penalty and it looked like the tie was over. Browny went the right way but had no chance. 2-0, game over? It felt like we could have stayed out there all night and not scored but Ossie gave us hope with 15 left, tapping in after fine work from Popey and Eddie. It wasn’t to be though, and we bowed out disappointingly.
The cup defeat hurt, but we did not have time to get too down about it. We were off to Lakeside for some shopping and a match with East Thurrock a few days later. Nicky was out with a one game ban for collecting too many yellow cards so I shuffled Big D central and brought in Arty to the right hand side of the defence.
I don’t mind a football cliché, and this was a game of two halves. We dominated the first half and failed to show for the second. Joshy put us ahead after ten minutes following a mazy run by Eddie. Ossie doubled it shortly after from a short corner, Eddie again laying it on. In the second half we disappeared. They got a brilliant goal on the hour, must have been 15 passes which belittled the fact they are bottom of the league. Then ten minutes later they pressed the back three, forced a mistake and they got what they deserved, an equaliser. I was furious, we were dreadful. It had not been a good couple of days.
We were on the road again just three days later, off to Billericay. These trips to Essex were becoming a little too frequent for me. There must be another way. Nicky was back, so Arty was on the bench.
My god we were shocking in the first half, we came in 3-1 down. We were 2-0 after 2 minutes, incredible. We drew the second half 1-1, Eddie getting both our goals. Three games against three Essex sides, out of the cup and five league points dropped. Not the best month!
Henners returned from his loan spell before the Lowestoft game. As he had played quite well whilst being away I decided to throw him straight in ahead of Daisy who just wants out of the club. Despite the last three games, nobody was standing out like a sore thumb in not hitting their KPI’s. The team as a whole just needed to improve.
We didn’t play with a lot of confidence in the first half to be honest. We came in at 0-0 and it was pretty dire stuff. I gave the boys the rollocking they needed and within five minutes Joshy had put us ahead following a quick counter led by Wardy. Ossie hit the post late on and then I shut up shop. I didn’t feel we were going to score again and we needed three points. We got them, and we led Ramsgate (now in 2nd) by five points, albeit them having a game in hand.
We had another midweek game as this busy month was nearing it’s end. Cray at home. Cray are one of the oldest football clubs in the world, formed in 1860. Despite some tired legs I felt it better to go same again with the team.
The tired legs showed, they really did. We fell behind after five minutes, a shot of twenty five yards flying into the top corner. We responded quickly though, Ossie winning us a penalty that Wardy smashed hard and low down the middle. We lost it in the second half, they went ahead following a mad scramble straight after the break and then doubled their advantage when a suspsiciously close offside call went against us. Browny still should have saved it, mind. It was soon 4-1 from a corner. Joshy gave us false hope with his own blockbuster from distance. We pushed for another and got hit on the break, final score 5-2. It reminded me that these lads were playing two leagues lower two years ago, and the fact we are top of the league currently is nothing short of a miracle. After the game I decided to have a look around, see if there were any standout players that might strengthen our cause.
Daisy left us for Cirencester in the week. It was a shame to see him go, it might have been so different for him had he not picked up a knock in the early, early part of the first season. He actually couldn’t have left in a worse week. Big D was out suspended, Wardy out for two months with a twisted ankle and Ossie missing the next game at least with a neck injury. Still, it meant young Popey was going to get his first start for the club. The searching for fresh blood did bring up a couple of interesting players, but I want to monitor their performance stats over the next few games as the sample of appearances is still quite small.
We travelled to Canvey Island hopeful of finishing the month on a high, despite the fact I had NO outfield players on the bench.
That hope soon disappeared, we were beaten 3-0! We got hit on the break after ten minutes, pushed for an equaliser late on and conceded two in the last ten minutes. What a tough month!! Four defeats in seven games is not what we have become used to at City, far from it. We will need to regroup in November and go again.
Let me give you a slightly depressed round-up of what else has been going on. We love a bit of manager movement, and Spurs have decided that David Moyes is the man to finally get them above Arsenal in the league table. Liverpool are becoming the team to beat in England, and they lead the way again after just ten games, unbeaten and clear by five points. The top four is already last season’s top four and Chelsea sit in sixth. Europa League football is killing Burnley already as they sit second bottom, above Forest and below Swansea. Palace new boy Loic Remy and Southampton front man Jordan Rhodes lead the goal scoring charts with 6 apiece.
In the Championship Villa clearly had one man in mind when choosing who to replace the former World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane. He was an obvious choice, he would match Zizou for charm, personality, playing ability and post-match interviews. Yes, welcome back to football Neil Warnock. Bolton have fired Steve Bruce as they sit in the relegation zone with Sunderland. God, imagine Sunderland in League One! After 15 games Watford look good for an instant return to the top flight leading the table by two points. Fulham and Brighton are keeping up as best they can.
Moving on to the Champions League, City, Liverpool and Arsenal look well set to qualify from the group stages at the half way point, but holders United have some work to do. In the Europa League League One destined Sunderland could still get out of the group (not sure how they qualified, might have been for coming runners up in the FA Cup last season) and Burnley really might get out of their group as they are in second place. Chelsea, as expected, have a 100% record so far.
That’s the end of October, possibly the toughest month I’ve had at City. I’ll be back tomorrow with November 2016!
Go on Guildford!