Continued from part 1
MY FIRST idea for a club to manage was Swansea – a club that has moved up through the leagues sustainably and appears to conduct itself in this vein.
However, I did consider starting with a club already in the Premier League, that had done all the hard work already, left me with little to do in the way of development.
So, to cut a long story short, I chose to manage Wrexham in the Vanarama Conference.
I’ve had the urge to manage a Welsh side after I moved to South Wales for a job six months ago.
Wrexham are the third oldest professional football team in the world and as I join they celebrate 150 years.
Here are the attributes I gave myself, they’re appropriate for our level:
I’ve approached this game differently to others with my long term goal in mind. My players and staff will all get a chance to show their worth, in fact, I think I’m going to try to avoid looking at their attributes… apart from one player, Elliott Durrell, whose progress I have kept an eye on after seeing him play against Nantwich Town in the Northern Premier League Premier Division (two below the Conference).
He scored so many goals from midfield you knew he was a bit special. Maybe not top class, but way too good for the level he was at, and I almost felt like a proper scout although I certainly wasn’t the first to notice him.
I feel the researcher who rated Durrell has been harsh. His finishing is much better than ten hence his fantastic goal record. I guess finishing isn’t the only attribute that would lead to goals though.
For those mathematicians reading this you’ll have worked out Durrell has scored a goal every 2 (.4) games. For a central/ attacking midfielder, that is a superb record, at any level.
I’m telling my team to close down much more and generally asking a lot of them in terms of covering ground so I’m putting an emphasis on keeping them fit. Attributes, such as teamwork and work rate, will be looked on favourably but players won’t be dismissed if they aren’t blessed in these areas.
As I said in the introduction to this career/ idea, I will be patient with my players and transfer list no-one, so everyone is an important part of our process, fit or a bit like Anderson.
I usually use the ‘play out of defence’ instruction, and I do want to play possession football, but I’m compromising while we’re at such a low level. Messing about with the ball at the back might be asking for trouble on uneven pitches where my defenders are unlikely to be skilled as passing.
But I’ve seen from first hand even non-league sides can learn to pass the ball about very well indeed and it can be a big advantage. FC United, for example, keep the ball really well and tend to fight for promotion. They haven’t quite managed to get to the Conference North yet though unlike Durrell’s ex-team Hednesford and up and coming AFC Fylde who also keep the ball well (their financial backing helps).
I’m starting with a 4-4-1-1, a potentially defensively solid shape, and it allows me to play Durrell in his favoured attacking midfield position.
I don’t have a natural right midfielder so I’m going to train Ross White (DR) and Wes York (AMR) to play there. It’s probably the first time I’ve any real energy in to training a player for a new position on FM15 but this is just a sign that I’m willing to give my players time.
Mark Carrington is a decent playmaker. He has poor work rate but I think he’ll be just fine as a deep lying playmaker.
My assistant, Gary Mills, tells me Carrington finds it hard to stick to his marking duties so that could cause problems.
Ross is apparently our best prospect. He’s at the level you’d probably expect. I’ll keep him, maybe convert him in to a central midfielder.
Joe Williams is in the first team squad and looks like he could play a part soon.
In fact, only seven of the first team squad are over 25, so things are set nicely for this project.
We have ‘good’ training facilities so that gives us something to work with.
I managed to sign this coach to my surprise. He has 15 for defending coaching with decent attributes across the board.
In fact, I’m starting to think I should have made him my assistant. I didn’t say anything about not signing new coaches and we only had two while I’m permitted three. I won’t sack anyone though even though my assistant’s attributes aren’t looking the best.
However, he is very good at working with youngsters which is key for us, and you never know, his determination could lead to improvement.
Captain chat and meeting my players
I met my players for the first time and we shared an expectation for the season of a respectable position. Everyone left the meeting happy with captain, Dean Keates’ ‘delighted’ we share the same level of ambition – a great start to fostering a positive atmosphere.
I then took Keates to one side for a private chat and asked him how the lads’ morale is. As you can see above, Keates’ detailed response told me the lads are content so all seems well in the camp.
My Head of Youth Development, Andy Davies, was sorry to inform me what I already knew, that there isn’t much talent in my Under 18s squad, but every player will get a chance to shine and I’m determined they will all improve.
That’s all for now, folks. I’ll be back soon with an update. I’ll be measuring progress by player development, dressing room morale, the improvement in my attributes and last and maybe least, results.