Money, money, money - a football managing mercenary tribute/ripoff

Sly Old Fox

Jul 19, 2018
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Money, money, money - it's a rich manager's world

One of the Football Manager stories I have most enjoyed from FM18 was the excellent The Football Managing Mercenary by DerbyJack and as a homage (or let’s be honest – plagiarism) I begin my own rags to riches/more rags story.

The rules are much the same as DerbyJack’s – the only aim is to become the highest paid manager in the game and I am duty bound to accept any job offer that includes an increase in salary. I start the game as an unemployed, ex Sunday league player with no badges and unrealistic goals. The top five earners as I begin the game are as follows.

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Of course my starting wage is zero, so I have a lot of ground to make up. On the plus side the profile picture has given me the cold, violent eyes, ruthless demeanour and rock solid hair of a born winner. Born winner, or unemployable sociopath with multiple convictions for knife crimes – you decide.

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The coaching stats when you start the game with no badges are less than impressive, so hopefully the haunting qualities of that face will somehow leave a positive impression on potential employers.

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I kick off with a raft of 7 applications to clubs in League 2 and below. They will all respond in the near future the various chairmen assure me. Five of the seven are true to their word, replying the very same morning with identical responses, a phrase I feel I will be seeing quite often.

“The decision not to shortlist you was taken in light of the strength of the other candidates applying for the job.”

In other words: anybody other than you has applied, please do not call again. Tamworth and Bognor Regis are my last hopes. Presumably they have had no other applicants so far.

In the end Tamworth of Vanorama National North waited an entire week to see if someone, anyone else would apply before offering me an interview. Time to borrow a suit and see about getting the terms of the parole changed to allow a round trip to Staffordshire.

The first question from Chairman Bob Andrews is hard, but fair.

“You have never managed a club team before. Why is that and why should I overlook that fact?”

Great question Bob. None of the available responses seem very convincing. I opt for the answer that makes the least sense, one which seems to contradict both the question and the response itself, hoping it will bamboozle him.

“I simply haven’t been in management that long, but it’s something that’s always been near the very top of my ambitions as a manager.”

I brush off a question about the fact I’ve applied for half a dozen jobs, assure old Bob that he can absolutely trust me with his money, I’ll finish mid-table no problem and that I have no philosophies whatsoever. No philosophies, principles or ethical standards. I am an amoral, money-driven charlatan who couldn’t care less about Tamworth. When do I start?

Word obviously got out about that blistering charm offensive, because Bognor Regis offer me an interview the very next day. Time for a trip down the M25 in Monday morning traffic. I assume I’m getting reimbursed for travel costs. To cover my bases I take a different tack with the Chairman, Dominic Reynolds and affecting a fixed grin tell him I’m desperate to get started in management, that I’m in it for the long haul with Bognor and that finances won’t be an issue as long as everyone just plays football. The last of which is surely the answer of a man not to be trusted with the keys to the petty cash tin.

Bob Andrews fell for it all. Tamworth offer me a wage of £325 a week on a 12 month contract. Bear with me Bob, I’m expecting a call back from my man Dominic on the south coast any second now….

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In your face Bob! That’s an extra £75 a week. You do the maths. Nyewood Lane here I come.
As a lover of DerbyJacks stories I'll be following this closely! Good luck and great start

Thanks for the good luck wishes gents - it will certainly be needed.

Flicking through the background Reynolds sent me as I tuck into a Bacon & Cheese bap from Harry’s Hut on the seafront, I note Bognor Regis last won a competition in 1972. So expectations should be at a manageable level. Let’s have a look at the squad.

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Not all bad. The strikers all look dangerous, if somewhat similar - fast but weak. We’ve even got a promising, skillful Brazilian prodigy in Pat Suraci. The squad contains a number of quick players and I’m imagining some lightning quick counter attacking football taking the Vanarama National League South by storm. Ljubucic on loan from Brighton is by miles the best player. He’s an attacking midfielder/striker: tall, quick, a decent dribbler, good off the ball (a bit like Michu - remember him?) and I’ll be building the team around him. A bit thin on quality in defence, but with a spare £1.18k in the wage budget hopefully a few shrewd signings can tighten it up.

I’m pleased to see we have a midfielder called Tommy Block, which sounds like a 1950s euphemism for a medical complaint, or an archaic contraceptive device. If I pair him with Doug Tuck in the middle I can have Block and Tuck. I’m not sure what that would actually represent as a footballing metaphor, but it sounds like it could be a thing. When their football careers finish I can see a reasonably bright future for comedy duo Block and Tuck performing family friendly material on the esplanade at Bognor.

The first difficulty in terms of recruitment is that I start with no scouts at the club and as such I can see almost no attributes of any players. This leads to me offering trials indiscriminately to many rubbish out of contract players who wander up to the club and shout lies through the gates about how they would add a bit of quality to the first team. In the end I only make three pre-season signings. The first is central midfielder Tommy Fraser who joins on a pay as you play deal. He’s pretty average (as the snarky Bognor fans are quick to point out) and in the last 3 season has made 13 appearances altogether, but he does have a leadership score of 17 which may help address another problem at the club.

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No team leaders and one highly influential player who is unlikely to start much. My other signings are Alex’s kid brother, Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain, who can provide competition at right back and central midfield and Harvey Moss, a quick left winger who will be back-up to one of my most technically gifted players Ben Swallow (he can dribble and cross!). So we have Block, Tuck and Swallow in midfield. Hmm.

I settle on a 4-2-3-1 formation, with direct passing into space and an instruction to run at the defence. This should hopefully get the best out of my strongest attacking players.

Pre-season is a mixed bag, with the highlight being a 4 - 5 thriller against Portsmouth, where we race into a 4 goal lead by half time before throwing it away. The first half of that game does provide what I hope will be the template for our attacking play, which can be boiled down to hopeful balls over the top for quick attackers to chase.

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Block, Tuck and Swallow sounds like it came off a how-to guide for new prison inmates.
I do like journeyman stories and I liked what Derby Jack did. Does your char have a name?

Sammuthegreat - If I find any players called anything like Shiv, or Shank, they are mandatory signings
Matt G - He does indeed, I should probably have mentioned that. This is the tale of Sam Forhire.


Opening day and over 475 people have turned up at Nyewood Lane to see Forhire's boys take on one of the pre-season favourites Bath. Will all that work on the training pitch pay off?

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Eeeeeeeeeeaaaaa-ssssyyyy! Pearce, who might be too good for this league, nets a 6 minute hat-trick to secure an opening day win. After the game, in a totally unprovoked dig, Chippenham boss Mark Collier (what's it to do with him?) apparently tells local media he thinks Bognor will go down this season. A hack from the Non-League paper blindsides me with what could easily be an out of context quote to that effect and asks for a response. In a huff I shoot back that Collier should worry about himself mate, because Chippenham are the ones more likely to go down. I know you are, you said you are, but what am I? Obviously I will be keeping track of Chippenham as the season goes on to see who has the last laugh.

Results take an immediate dip with back to back defeats away to Poole and Welling, the latter a 5 – 2 drubbing. In both cases I could say the scoreline was not a true reflection of the performance and we deserved more, but that is exactly what a deluded, failing manager would say, so I won't.

Shaken by the 5 – 2 shellacking and vicious sledging from a managerial peer, I’ve modified the 4-2-3-1 (that all the players thought was too attacking) into a 4-4-1-1 to try and stabilise. The effect is a turgid score draw at home to Whitehawk, who sound more like an mid-eighties rock tribute band than an actual football team. My Brazilian wonderkid Pat Suraci (great name) scored our equaliser and picked up Man of the Match which was a bonus, as Pearce has gone right off the boil since I hyped him up.

That’s followed by a 1 -2 home defeat to Weston-super-Mare. Weston-super-Mare, ay? Weston. Super. Mare-are-are! I’ve had some ****** narrow squeaks in Weston-super-Mare. I digress. Is it too early to describe the situation as a crisis? The players are already close to open revolt. They’ve been giving me gip about the quality of training all month (what do you want?! I’m entirely unqualified for this job - I’ve become a manager by mistake!) and match cohesion and morale are terrible. When I enter for the halftime team talk there’s a tangible awkwardness. Could be my serial killer face unsettling them, could be that they’ve started to suspect that I've blagged the job.

A final tweak to the formation, to a bog standard 4-4-2 with one tall man and one quick man up front, yields back to back 1 – 0 victories and settles the squad. The solution was the most obvious one all along. The football is atrocious of course, but I’m in it for the money, not the glory. We finish the month in 10th​ position. Mark ****** Collier’s Chippenham are 3rd​.

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**** you, Mark Collier. **** you, right in the face.

Trying to figure out how to include a Block, Tuck and Swallow reference in every comment from now on. I suspect I may fail.
Wouldn't it be great if, when asked to comment on something someone has said about you, there was an option to reply "Fu(c)k you "INSERT MANAGER HERE"! You're a w@nker and know nowt! Keep you nose out of my business before I end you." or something similar

Sammuthegreat - My sentiments exactly. The Block, Tuck and Swallow challenge could potentially be a (controversial) FM story in it's own right.

Neavie Pops23 - I'm sure there did used to be a feature where you could add additional comments, but I for one would very much welcome the addition of an option to threaten the lives of mouthy managers. I hope to at the very least contribute to the destruction of Collier's professional career.


The good run continues with a flattering 1 – 3 win away at big guns Chelmsford, who collapse under minimal late pressure to blow their early lead. Ljubicic is away playing for Iceland U21s and in his absence Suraci and Pearce have formed a promising partnership, sharing all the goals and assists between them in this game.

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An atrocious game at home to Hungerford is settled in our favour by a calamitous own goal from their centre back Paul Stonehouse. They all count. The run of 4 wins on the bounce comes to an unceremonious end away to Wealdstone, who look like a proper team and dish out a 2 – 4 beating. A brace from Pearce was no more than a consolation in a game we were never really in.

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The players are at it again, sniping behind my back like weasels to the under-23 boss about training. Defending coaching this time, which about 10 of them feel “could be improved”. Thanks for the feedback, but I don’t know what you expect me to do about it. I’m 3/20 for defending coaching and that’s one of my strengths! The board have refused my request that I go on a training course on the pretext that my presence is needed on the training ground. It really isn’t.

We have a good chance to bounce back at the dreadful Hemel Hempstead, who promptly take an early lead. The team rally to my calm/insipid reassurances at half time that everything will be OK. Pearce then goes on to squander a number of frustratingly clear chances, but just before I sub him, he nets the equaliser. His replacement, Ibra Sekajja immediately races onto a long punt from our keeper only to squander a one–on–one. In an almost carbon copy he hits the post moments later, but before I can punch my assistant manager/laptop he reacts quicker than the barely sentient defenders and tucks into an empty net. Two - One to The Rocks!

A routine victory over Corinthian Casuals (you have to beat a team with ‘casuals’ in their name) and a 7 goal demolition of Petersfield in the FA Cup second and third qualifying rounds are punctuated with an away defeat to Gloucester (one of the 4 proper good teams in the league). Overall September has been a good month. We’re a game away from the first round proper of the FA Cup and into 6th​ place and the playoff zone in the league. 1 place and 2 points behind Chippenham.

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Those barely sentient defenders really should've Blocked Ibra Sekajja, or at least made an attempt to stop him Tucking it away. Guess they'll have to Swallow their pride now and admit they have serious room for improvement.

Sammuthegreat - I doff my cap to you sir.


Mark ****** Collier. I’ve decided to make you a special project of mine.

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In more good news, my assistant to the manager, Darin Killpartrick is delighted to report that you have a good backing from the squad right now, primarily due to their respect for your standing in the game. As I have next to no standing in the game, their respect means nothing to me. In fact I respect them less because of their respect, but if it means I hear less about the quality of the defending training, then great.

A potential road-bump as my most influential player, James Crane, comes to talk to me about his lack of first team football. You have to understand, I say breezily, Keaton Wood is in the form of his life right now. No he isn’t, points out Crane. Better have a quick look at Wood’s recent form. He’s right; Wood has been mediocre. Note to self: drop Wood. Can’t admit my error of course, so I give him the death stare and hiss over the desk that he needs to ask himself if he’s serious about this. Can’t you just send me out on loan, he asks. Ever the voice of reason, hey Crane? Yeah, I suppose I could do that; might be preferable to a knife fight to the death. I’ve saved face and avoided alienating the most influential player in the squad, but if he does go on loan, will it matter that Bognor have no team leaders or highly influential players?

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Yes, you should have.

Ljubicic has flitted off with the Iceland U21s again and when he’s not available my current preferred system of him as an attacking playmaker to the right of a left sided lone striker is a non-starter. All my strikers are a bit too similar (goal hangers, the lot) to form effective partnerships, so basically the team doesn’t work when he’s unavailable. On the basis of our recent good results I ignore assistant to the manager Killpartrick’s advice to park the bus for an away trip to second placed Dartford and decide to give Pearce and Sekajja a run out together in a 4-4-2. Mr. Mediocrity, Keaton Wood is dropped for youngster Corey Heath.

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No, I don’t want to read the post-match analysis Killpartrick – move on.

Next up is Chippenham in the cup and that’s the real priority now. That’s the real quiz. Time to put Collier in his place. Ljubicic is back from under 21 duty with Iceland, but is shattered, so I leave him on the bench and try Suraci and Pearce up front again. Doesn’t really work, as expected. Chippenham totally outplay us and at 2 -1 down with 20 minutes to play they miss a penalty that would have made it 3 - 1. I gamble and make my last substitution to throw Ljubicic on. He lasts 7 minutes before coming off with an ominous sounding foot injury, leaving us with 10 men and a goal down with 13 minutes to play. Surely there’s no coming back from this….

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In your face Collier! Swallow in your face! No post-match press conference unfortunately, so I’m not given a chance to stick the boot in, but he knows what’s what.

“After the Lord Mayor’s show” syndrome kicks in for the next game, an appalling 1 – 1 draw with struggling Oxford City. Ljubicic is out for 2 weeks and is badly missed. I really need to work out how we’re going to get results without him. We’re 3 games without a win in the league and have dropped out of the playoff places. Next up, Chippenham at home in the league.

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Can we play you, can we play you, can we play you every week?

I’ve been picking up a few free signings during the season, mostly to cover for injured players and none of them particularly impressive, but after the Chippenham game I land one that merits a press conference no less and could prove to be a catalyst for the season. Jake Evans on a free from QPR is immediately my best midfielder and someone I hope will be able to pick out the runs of attacking players better than my current hoofers.

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The signing seems to get under Tommy Fraser’s skin and he’s sulking around the place about his place being under threat. It isn’t really, he’s a more defensive midfielder and I will need one to play alongside Evans, but I fail to reassure him during our chat. Ah well, what are you gonna do about it Fraser?

We round off a mixed month off with a couple of away draws, leaving us in 8th​ place. Chippenham in 11th​.

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I saw you wrote "Swallow in your face" and immediately started hunting for the Block and Tuck references earlier in the post, before I remembered - oh yeah, you actually have a player called Swallow and he scored. I get it now.

Cracking Office reference there.

Guess we'll just Block out the 4-1 to Dartford and Tuck it away in the back of our memory. Very satisfying to beat Collier twice in a month - the 3-0 in particular must be a bitter pill for him to Swallow.

Sammuthegreat - Well spotted, there were actually two The Office references in that post and a Bottom reference a few posts back that was a bit more obscure. I'm mightily impressed with your continued dedication to the Block, Tuck and Swallow challenge. I think that might actually be the real quiz.

The FA Cup draw gives us League One Doncaster away in the 1st​ round, who comfortably beat us 1 – 0. Another dream dies.

I pick up another free signing, this time a striker, Hussein Mohammed from Crystal Palace. I really don’t need another striker, especially another poacher, but he seems too good not to sign. However, now current star striker Ollie Pearce is upset that his place is under threat and comes to talk to me. Not sure what tack to take I say don’t worry, competition for places is good. Alright then, he demands, what do I have to do to keep my place. I wasn’t expecting that and none of the optional answers really apply, so I pick the best of a bad bunch and say do better in training.

That doesn’t go down at all well and now I’ve got to handle a squad meeting with some disgruntled players who think he should be the first name on the team-sheet. I make a tactical retreat and say yeah sure, I’m open to talking to Ollie about his place in the first team and that seems to do the trick. I should probably beat one of them up for no reason to assert my authority. Can’t find an option to do that. Take note Jacobson.

I’m not sure if it’s the increasingly fractious dressing room, or the team finding its natural level, but November is a bad month in the league. The only win comes in a home rout of non-league Greenwich in the FA Trophy. Jake Evans has yet to settle in the team and we’ve picked up bad habits of giving away early goals and throwing away leads.

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We’ve dropped well into mid-table, but there are only 8 points between 6th​ and 18th​ so it could easily turn round with a decent run of results. The only other consolation is that Chippenham are matching our slump, but nobody else in the game, including Mark ****** Collier, seems to remember that early season feud.

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December is a bad month. I seem to have lost the dressing room, if I ever had it. The players are taking sides against me with both Fraser and Pearce, which is annoying as they are both still playing regularly, despite that being what their original complaints were about. The still un-loaned Crane comes back to haunt me, spreading bad vibes about the bad vibes in the dressing room. Nine players agree with him about the bad atmosphere, which only makes it worse. It’s a vicious circle. I should have killed him when I had the chance.

The results at the start of the month are awful. A desperately scraped home draw to mid-table Concord sets the tone, before a 0 -3 drubbing from struggling Bath. Things appear to pick up when we force an FA Trophy replay against Hungerford and win convincingly away in the replay. To try and galvanise the slight morale boost that brings, I hold a team meeting to say: come on guys, we can do better than this. That meeting is immediately followed by a home defeat to Poole.

The season is unravelling fast. Hussein Mohammed, who I thought was too good not to sign, so far has a return of 1 goal from 7 appearances and Pearce is sulking his way through games looking at turns uninterested or complacent. I’m just hoping I can make it through to the summer to rejig the squad, or preferably move onto another club. I think I hate Bognor Regis.

We now have three highly influential players at the club, all of whom hate me to varying degrees. The coven of witches: Crane, Pearce and Fraser.

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Yes, thanks for bringing that to my attention Lola.

Killpartrick – what do you want? I can sense you loitering outside the office like a wet dog.

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Get. Out.

The last game of December is the Boxing Day match against fellow no-hopers Havant & Waterlooville.

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I’ll be honest: I’m not sure Bognor Regis need a press officer.

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I couldn’t agree more Duane. This game feels pivotal and unpleasant.

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That’ll do pig. That’ll do.

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We finish the month in 13th​ position. Chippenham continue their own slide down to 16th​ – looks like my spiteful prediction might come true after all.



I start the month off by tying down a few players who had been attracting interest on new contracts. Dan Lincoln in goal has kept us in many matches single handed and he gets a pay rise to £350 a week, making him our highest paid player. Tommy Block has had a mixed season in central midfield, but is only 18 and has….maybe not bags of potential, but at least one bag of potential. Lewis Boughton as backup goalie is fairly useless, but I couldn’t face trawling the market for a new keeper, so he gets a new deal as well.

We kick off January with the reverse fixture against Havant & Waterlooville, which nets another 1 – 0 win and a goal from Mohammed. What a difference back to back wins makes! I love you Bognor – all is forgiven! At least until someone else offers me more money.

Next up is an away trip to soft rock covers band Whitehawk, who have had a pretty good season and sit in third. Their manager Steve King tells The Non-League Paper he’ll be “looking to bring [Bognor] back down to earth on Saturday”. Are we not already down to earth Steve? How much closer to the ground do you want me to go? What a helmet. Steve Hunt from the Non-League Paper, who for some reason is also on the ever growing list of people who dislike me, asks what I think about King’s assessment that our, “current level of overachievement won’t last”. I take the chance to suck up to the squad and say actually we’re not overachieving, because my players are all great. I don’t know if any of you heard me at all just then, but I just told the newspaper man you’re all great. Did you hear that guys? Guys?!

Whitehawk do bring us back down to earth with a 3 – 2 defeat. Pearce continues to misfire, but I’m loath to drop him while he’s still damaging morale with his fear of being replaced by Mohammed. Ironically his fear of being dropped is probably going to cause exactly that to happen. I resolve to give him just one more chance and take a risk in telling him he needs to buck up his form, which thankfully he accepts. His performance doesn’t improve and I take him off at half time in the next game at home to league leaders Welling. We are unlucky to lose that game 0 – 1, as we squander 3 clear cut chances in the first half alone. If Pearce had been on his old form we would probably have won. Sigh. Mohammed might be my Bognor version of Faustino Asprilla.

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Hoo-******-ray. How about scoring a few goals then Ollie?

We go out of the FA Trophy in the second round in a bad-tempered game against Vanarama National strugglers Dagenham & Redbridge, with 7 yellows and 2 red cards in total. Moody Tommy Fraser gets sent off for us. Because he’s on a pay as you play deal I can’t even fine him a week’s wages, because there is no such thing. It’s player power gone mad.

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He’s back! Back in the goals. I’ve shifted to a counter attacking mentality and set the full backs to defend, which they’re more comfortable with. Let’s see if this makes any lasting difference. It can sometimes feel like the results are a bit random in the Vanarama South.

For a quick overview of how things stand, here is a shot of the player stats, confidence and finances. I’m no finance expert, but the direction of that big pink graph does not look like good news.

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Well, well, well. Look whose come crawling back.

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Bit presumptuous.

The month rounds off with a frustrating 3 – 2 defeat to the Hungerford Games. Another match where we squander too many clear cut chances. Two steps backward, one step forward – that’s the story of Bognor Regis so far. We finish the month in 13th. Chippenham one place and one point off the relegation spaces in 19th​. Ha.

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Block out all the media nonsense, Tuck your phone in your pocket and don't check the Non-League Paper website. Give in a month or two and they'll all be Swallowing their words when you roar to the league title.

Or something.

I know what you mean about non-league results seeming random, though. To be fair, the players are so mentally poor that they can literally go from boom to bust and back to boom again in the space of a single half, let alone from match to match.

Loving this story mate, the witticisms set it apart from the rest. Keep it up squire!

Also, **** Chippenham. LOLz
Still loving the story, agree with Sammuthegreat about players being up and down like a friggin yo yo during the same game never mind match to match but can only manage it as best you can.

Frustrating to keep losing by the odd goal mind.

Sammuthegreat - Much appreciated, thank you. You have to keep a sense of humour in the Vanarama South or it would be very bleak indeed. Your continued excellent work on the Block, Tuck and Swallow challenge is keeping me going through these trying times.

Neaviepops - You're right, the continual fluctuation of players form, especially within games is particularly annoying. I think this might be a bit of an inaccuracy in FM18 - I don't think there is particularly a lack of resolve/mental strength in lower league football. I've seen some very determined displays from Sunday league players.


We start the month with a rip-roaring 3 - 3 draw at home to also-rans Truro, coming behind from 2 down, to go 3 – 2 up and maddeningly conceding an equaliser in the 95th​ minute. Why Bognor? Why!? I really need a solid centre back to anchor the defence and a reliable defensive midfielder, but given how disruptive previous signings have proved I’m reluctant to take the risk.

The next game is a real thigh rubber. Away to Mark ****** Collier’s Chippenham who have slipped into the relegation places. Finish him! There is no team talk option for, “Come on lads: do this for me, I’m bearing an out of proportion grudge against their manager!” I settle for something along the lines of, “Let’s pile the misery on!” None of my players seem particularly interested.

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Pile it on, pile it on, pile it on! Ljubicic unfortunately picked up an injury. Concussion: out for 2-3 weeks. Since the season started we’ve had 6 separate concussion injuries. It’s a rough old league, the Vanarama South. It’s a test of the average skull density of a squad as much as their footballing abilities.

The Chippenscum game is followed by another winnable game at home to Braintree, in which we comfortably run out 3 – 0 victors. The league is so even/consistently poor that it’s still hard to know if any upturn in fortunes is connected to changes made, or just the random outcomes of equally rubbish teams colliding. But what is for sure is that midfield orchestrator Jake Evans is starting to come good. He's 7.8 for his last 5 games with 2 goals and 3 assists. It all hinges on Evans.

A good month rounds off with an away win at Hampton & Richmond, which leaves us in 6th​ place. It’s an indicator of how big the middle is in this league, that in 6th​ place we are almost smack in the middle for points distribution: 21 points off top place and 23 points clear of bottom. Chippenscum are down where they belong in 20th​.

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