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Leagues loaded: Belgium Third Div and Up, Belarus All, England BSP and Up, France National and Up, Germany Second Div and Up, Italy Serie B and Up, Poland First Div and Up, Spain adelante and Up, Ukraine First League and Up

The start of the new career

Just two and a half years ago he was walking out for his international debut against Holland, now he sits in a managerial hotseat for the first time. A career cut tragically short. Not by choice but through a wanton act of violence. A horrendous challenge from Dutchman Nigel De Jong had left the left winger, seen as Englands answer to the problems on that side, with a double break of the left leg and knee ligament damage. Doctors refused to speculate on the chances of a return, and at the end of the year he was released from his contract at boyhood club Aston Villa. There followed 11 months in the wilderness, occasionally working as a pundit on BBC television, and gaining coaching badges. He finally returned to light training 17 months after the tackle. 2 months later he was back in full training attempting to regain fitness, having been offered a lifeline by then Newcastle manager Chris Hughton. Two years to the day after the injury he came on as an 80th minute substitute for the Magpies against Aston Villa in a reserve match. The following match he scored and set up two after coming on at half time, and there was talk of a return to first team football.

He made that return at the Emirates, in a tough game against Arsenal. But after just 5 minutes he caught his left leg in the turf. That would be the last seen of him on a football pitch playing, a promising career cut short. The name? Matthew Fox.

In July it was clear he was looking for a managerial role, but it was a surprise to everyone where he ended up.



FK Baranovichi

The Belorussians are languishing down in 15th place in the league and really need to pick up, can Fox provide the lift required?


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Looks quite good have a look at mine if you want
 
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i like the look of this a story from belarus not many about lol if any defo will follow
 
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The less said about my time in Belarus the better, the results speak for themselves, but I still feel I was given no chance.

A 3-0 loss to mid table Slavia Mozyr was followed by a poor 1-0 loss against Vedrich Rechitsa, a game which we really should have been winning. The first goal came in a 3-1 thrashing by Lida, and a 4-1 defeat at home to Highest League team Dinamo Minsk in the cup did nothing to help confidence.

None of that meant an ultimatum should be coming though, did it? But sure enough, there is was, I guess chairmen in Belarus are impatient. I had to win at home to 2nd place Pinsk. 2-0. Not to me. Bye Belarus.



Back on the job market, and near enough 3 months since I had been fired, I got a phone call.

Bill Bratt was apparently the voice on the other end, I confessed to not knowing who he was, but he refused to tell me the club name. I soon guessed it after he said that I was the boards choice to replace Micky Adams. Port Vale. Why the board saw me as a good candidate I will never know. But they did, and I bit their hand off.

Sitting 22nd in the league it was going to be a tough campaign.




 
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Well, starting 22nd level with 23rd, but only 10 points off the playoffs, it was all to play for.

The first game of my Valiants tenure was in the cup, giving me more time to prepare for my first league game. The FA Cup First Round pitted me against Torquay, 7th in the league, they were going to cause problems. Malbon got a first ever start for the club. He also scored the winner and created the 1st goal, as Vale shocked the south coast side. Rotherham was an expected defeat, Le Fondre tearing Vale apart. Malbon showed why he was being selected with a hat trick against Barnet, but the defence was terrible, 3-3 the final score. A similar thing happened against Hereford, drawing 2-2 after being 2-0 up. Two consecutive 2-1 defeats followed, disappointingly in the cup to Tranmere after holding the lead for much of the game, and then to Shrewsbury, Dodds the scorer on both occasions.



Suddenly following a brilliant loan signing of Fabio Zamblera from Newcastle, a win came. He scored 2 and set up 2 as Wycombe got thrashed. Malbon and Zamblera look to be a lethal partnership, and the latter set up the former for the equaliser against Northampton. Malbon also scored against Oxford in a very tough game, surely Port Vale couldn't keep up this play off form?



Another win followed against relegation favourites Lincoln, before an embarrassing defeat to bottom side Macclesfield. Form returned with a thrashing of Aldershot, and a draw against Torquay kept Vale moving up the league. The game of the season saw Vale lose 4-3 to Southend, 4-0 down they nearly effected the best ever comeback. 2nd placed Bradford was always going to be a difficult game at Valley Parade, and I can't say I'm too annoyed by the result. Malbon returned to form against Morecambe, but the dropped points were now starting to add up.



Malbon twisted his ankle and that was the end of that for him, 2 months out and emergency signing Jamil Adam got a hat trick on debut against Stevenage. Bury then thrashed the Valiants and surely that was playoff hopes gone. But the players still believed. At home to top of the league and runaway leaders Gillingham, Vale were 4-0 up by half time. Stunning performance, if only we had done that the previous week. An unexplainable 0-0 draw followed, toothless in attack. Consecutive 1-1 draws against Crewe and Accrington left Vale 13 points adrift of the playoffs, season over.



Cheltenham thrashed a downbeat Vale, who were also unable to beat Burton (0-0) Chesterfield (4-2 despite coming from 2-0 down to 2-2)and Rotherham, two late Le Fondre strikes making the comeback. A win came eventually against Barnet, thrashed 4-1, but immediately another defeat to Wycombe ruined the form.



Malbon returned from injury, and wow what a return. Poor Hereford 6-2. Shrewsbury won easily in the next game, as the yo yo end to the season continued. A win against Northampton was quickly followed by defeat to Oxford, but the two strikers scored a brace each against Lincoln to end the season on a positive note.



A mid table finish, not good enough for me, and with the club £1.2m in debt, and with player wages as high as 2.9k a week, there will be wholesale changes come the summer.






Anthony Malbon is one player who will leave, the striker after an incredible season is expected to fetch between £500k and £1m.

Transfers Out

There were also a whole host of players released at the end of the previous season.



Transfers In




Every single one of my transfers was recommended by my assistant. Therefore I take no blame if I don't do well
The best of them is the loan of Harry Forrester, while I am delighted to get Zamblera on a full time contract. Crucially the club is sound financially now, with no wages higher than £850 a week. Two further transfers are agreed, for striker Jamie Mole and keeper Kalambay, also on frees.



A takeover will have very little effect on me, and am therefore not too worried.
 
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A shocking pre season but I will put that down to having not made all the signings by the time of the last game, particularly Kalambay. Ramdani got the first goal of the season but we lost 3-1 to Northampton, this side definitely needs time to gel, and it wasn't helped by losing 2-0 to Hartlepool in the league cup. Straight after this I decided on a new formation, ditching the 4-4-2 for a more solid defensively 4-5-1 formation with inside forwards. The defensive strength was not evident against Mansfield, the newly promoted side getting a 2-2 draw. However a clean sheet soon followed against Stevenage, with two goals from the two inside forwards.



What can be said about the next five games? Draw, draw, draw, draw, draw is possibly the best way to describe it. So solid at the back but so awful up front its not even funny. 3 goals in 5 games. It improved against Cheltenham but still the striker Nemeth was not firing, as the 6th draw in 7 games proved.



Nemeth got dropped finally for the Johnstone Paint Trophy against Burton and a brilliant win secured Blackman's place at least for the next few games. Westcarr is having a good season and scored as we got narrowly beaten by high flying Southend, but we were back on form against Accrington. Yet another draw against Bury, but Torquay so good last season, were terrible and comfortably beaten.



Crewe were soundly beaten as finally we hit form, and league leaders Oxford were beaten in the FA Cup first round. Chesterfield then got eliminated easily from the JPT as we made the semi finals, Aldershot and Hereford then both got smashed 4-1, before a big big game.



Forest Green in the FA Cup 2nd Round, a win would make the 3rd Round and a potential big game. Comfortable unsurprisingly, and I wonder who we will get. Peterborough were a bridge too far in the JPT Semi Final, a disappointment but not a surprise. It proved the start of an indifferent period of form, beating Bournemouth, but losing to Stockport, before a 2nd string side drew with Barnet.



The reason for the 2nd string was the next game. League leaders Oxford, beaten just 2 months ago in the FA Cup, were comfortably beaten again and Southend took over at the top, but Port Vale soon lost to Chesterfield. Morecambe got beaten by the biggest score of the season for Port Vale, before another cruise against Northampton. Just like the first time I played them, Mansfield found a way through, 2-0 up and it took strong words at half time for me to just get a draw.




League Table




Mid Season Review

After all those draws I thought I had no chance. But we have picked up well, Nemeth didn't fit the formation and playing Blackman there, a central midfielder with a striker ability, has proven brilliant. The inside forwards have gelled perfectly and I think this formation is one that could potentially get me very far.

Oh, and the takeover got completed, also at the beginning of November I noticed something very strange!!




 
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Applying for the chelsea job? haha. Loving the story mate, keep it coming
Never in my whole life!

Second half of season update

We really had to capitalise in this half of the season on turning draws into wins, and stop conceding late goals, while also not letting defeats bother us too much. With that in mind I added some experience to the squad

Bent is certainly better than Koumas, but both free transfers so I can't complain.


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Resized to 94% (was 1022 x 304) - Click image to enlarge



Stevenage fell victim to Alexis Lafon, the left winger absolutely sublime scoring a hat trick, but apparently 2 minutes injury time is the same as 8, Stevenage levelling it up in the 98th minute. Gutting, but then the biggest game of the season so far. A good FA Cup run had rewarded us with a tie against West Ham. Winnable maybe at home, but surely not at Upton Park. An early strike from Cole gave the Hammers the lead, and I abandoned the cautious approach. It worked and Wallace planted a header past Green for 1-1. Westcarr hit the post on the hour mark and with just 8 minutes to play Jack Collison lobbed Kalambay, absolutely gutted
Burton, and particularly promotion contenders Luton, felt the full force of my anger, and Bent scored his first goal. Two shocking games ended January. We dominated Dagenham but failed to score, and Leyton Orient were too good following a host of signings. That could prove crucial.



Shrewsbury was a rollercoaster of a game as form continued to dip, 3 times they came from behind and possibly deserved the draw, but the return of Lafon saw him score one and set up the other against Cheltenham. 3 days later a weakened side lost away at Rochdale but I had my eye once more on a game against Southend. Westcarr and Lafon proved the benefits of being inside forwards with two goals in an easy win, and the introduction of Jason Koumas for debut at half time against Accrington won the game with a goal and an assist.



Bury are a hot and cold team, last season they randomly thrashed me 4-1, this time it was no different, 3-0 and comprehensively outplayed. Torquay was another poor result, leading going into injury time but a speculative long ranger found the top corner. Aldershot have never even come close to causing any of the top teams problems all season. Cue an upset, very annoyed. Lafon got his second hat trick in 2 months against Crewe, he is simply unstoppable at this level. He scored the winner against Stockport too, and the first in a good win over Hereford. This win finally put us into the automatic spots.



That spot was immediately relinquished against Bournemouth, torn apart in the first twenty minutes. Barnet was always predicted to be a simple game, and they didn't cause any problems, Lafon again amongst the scorers. He caused all sorts of problems against playoff contenders Oxford, creating an own goal and crossing for Blackman to score the winner, and scored a beautiful goal to beat another playoff contender Chesterfield. A win against Morecambe would secure promotion.

2-0 up after the first half, it seemed a cruise, then the Lancastrians fought back to 2-2 and suddenly it was all to play for. But on the hour, Westcarr spread the play from right to left, Lafon chested the ball down, stepped inside his defender and ran for goal, avoiding the sliding centre back, dummied to shoot right, and fired it in the top corner at the near post. Brilliant and the player who deserved the goal after his season got it.



League Table

One thing to note here is the terrible second half of the season for both Southend and Oxford, the main reason why I caught up. Both had 10+ game streaks without a win





Season Review and Best Players

The formation is working well, the inside forward settings are sublime, I just need a striker capable of playing in that role up front on his own, and its hard to find that player.











Where next?

I'm staying at Port Vale thats for sure, main question is do I cash in on Lafon?

Also, what attributes would you suggest I need for the striker, a complete forward on attack, because I am struggling with that one.
 
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Nice Story! With some nice results also, did you wat ur striker to be helping build attacks?
 
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Hmm, I'll have a look, a long way dwn from my current arsenal save, but I'll try and get y low league mentality going :p This is for league 1 aye?
 
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This story is a Delight, the layouts easy to read through and the storys brilliant. <3
 
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nice story, who are you thinking of managing next. and whatever youre reputation is you should aim for a national to get a team in the prem like Stoke, Bolton. Or maybe get someone promoted in the champions league
 
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Transfers

Some massive names in, Taylor, Faye and Chimbonda the big ones of them. The best news though is that Lafon did not go. We will have to see if Blackman is as good at this level, as I am not overly confident of Folan succeeding in that role.



In preseason when your top scorer is a trialist who plays just 3 of the 9 friendlies, then fails to get a work permit, you know the season is going to be tough!

Notts County showed the difference between League 2 and League 1 easily winning, and Championship side Coventry just managed to win in the League Cup First Round. Swindon absolutely thrashed me, should have been 5 or 6. To end August we have a shameful defeat. Although Westcarr did get the first League One goal for Vale.



September started much the same, although the games were getting closer, Walsall winning by the single goal. Finally a win came, against League 2 side Bury in the JPT, although it took penalties. MK Dons won just in a tight game, before a stunning result. Prior to this game it was anounced that a defeat may see the manager Fox sacked with Vale 23rd, and the players rallied round. A Blackman hat trick saw off Charlton, struggling under Brian Laws. Lafon and Blackman then secured a come from behind draw against Watford, before another Blackman hat trick saw off Scunthorpe.



Oldham burst the bubble at the start of October, but Port Vale quickly picked up another point against Exeter, although it should have been all 3. Shrewsbury then did to Vale what Vale did to Bury, a penalty miss from Westcarr allowing Shrewsbury through. Form continued in the league, Oldham must have been a blip because wins followed over Yeovil and Barnsley. Bournemouth came up with Vale from League 2, but it produced a good game, 0-0 the final score but it could have been 5-5.



November started promisingly, Franchini getting his first goal. Folan then finally found the net, but suffice to say I am sufficiently angry with him that I am considering dropping him permanently, no goals in 15 prior to this. But then he scored again in the FA Cup first round against Crewe, a good win. Then suddenly the league form imploded. A 2-2 draw against Colchester, leading 2-0 at HT, was the prelude to a 5-1 mauling by Hull, and another draw, this time to Peterborough and once again we had gone ahead.



December - a crucial month. Recent results had left Vale firmly in mid table so a good month was needed. We lost again to Hartlepool, but I don't mind because a cup run isn't important despite the financial state right now. Who are Luton? Useless thats what. Blackman netted a hat trick in a 6-0 win, then Vale lost, but it was to be the only defeat of the month. A goalless draw was followed by a stunning win against league leaders Orient, and a draw away at 4th placed Swindon. Carlisle then fell victim to an interested Folan for the first time this season.



January could mark the start of the biggest year in Port Vale's history for quite some time. It started with a great win over Rotherham, Blackman with another hat trick. Then came the only signing of the window, a loanee with an agreed future fee of 125k, what a signing for that, Carlos Yanez on loan from Universidad Catolica.



His first game saw him cross for Blackman and score himself, but County hung on for a draw, Blackman injured himself for 4 weeks in this game, could be crucial. His replacement up front, Rhys Murphy, scored twice to get the lead against Walsall, but then they came back from 2-0 down as well! MK Dons became the 3rd team in 3 games to mount an identical comeback, 2-0 to 2-2. Charlton and Watford then managed comebacks as well, both from 1-0 down.



League Table



Just over Mid Season Review

Anger - We are unable to close out games even after going 2-0 up. A 3rd would suffice and I try to encourage it, but no, it never happens. We suffer ludicrous defensive lapses on occasion whoever plays at the back, we really need to sort it but I couldn't sign anyone.
 
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