The Sandgrounders – favourites for the title – start to get their act together after a bad start to the season
It’s November 6, 2016 and Southport sit 13th in the Vanarama North after 16 games on 21 points, 10 behind first-place Worcester and five behind the fifth and final play-off place.
We (Southport) performed very well last season finishing second after losing momentum at just the wrong time. In 2015/16 we started the campaign as the media’s favourites to be promoted but things haven’t gone to plan.
Unfortunately, our major scorers last season – Sam Hillhouse and Jordan Jowers – don’t look anything like the strikers they were previously, although Jowers has scored his only two goals in the last two games which is promising.
Hillhouse is really struggling, scoring only one goal in 8 (4) appearances.
But we have galvanised and seven wins in 10 in all competitions mean we have moved up in the league and we’ve reached the second round of the FA Cup.
FA Cup draw highlights
It was a tense draw for us, especially with some big names in the pot, and sure enough we were handed a major challenge: a trip to League 1 Scunthorpe. The Iron have one of the deadliest strikers outside the top flight in Paddy Madden. He’s always prolific on FM. I think he could have made it to the Premier League with a bit more luck.
I’m always optimistic but this will be a huge challenge for us and I’m approaching it as a chance to have some fun and sample the magic of a typical cup tie. It’s David against Goliath from our perspective so can we bring the giant crashing to its knees?
Medium-term plans for Southport
I don’t usually put any energy in to national cup competitions but because we seem to be doing so well in the FA Cup this year, I’d like to see how far we can get without putting any pressure on the lads or myself.
Now we’ve built a head of steam in the league we can try to keep picking up wins and approach the play-off spots and who knows – if we can keep it going long enough – we might even have a shot at the title.
Development: We have a young squad with an average age of 22.92. FC United have the youngest squad in our league with 20.76 which seems crazy.
I’ve been a bit unwise forgetting to maintain a level of experience and after 39-year-old Gary Jones left, who I didn’t appreciate until he was gone, we’re short of leaders and cool heads.
But, as Alan Hansen will tell you, never write off kids.
As I was writing this, a couple of disgruntled players managed to get the board against me and I was promptly sacked. We’ll never know if Southport could have won the FA Cup…
Pay a visit next time when I will be posting an article about managing Lincoln, who took me on after Southport, in the Vanarama National League while using FM Genie Scout 2016 to find players and seeing how they develop from such a low level.