Season 4 (March Update): Steadying The Ship

Four months in to my time in Essex and I’m settling in to life in League One quite nicely. We sit 11th, five places higher than when I joined. Crucially we’re six places above Giggsy’s Millwall. They don’t know what they passed on. Refreshingly, we’ve only suffered defeat four times in these four months, and a couple of new players have given us hope of sneaking in to the play-offs.

The Results

My first game as U’s boss was a much anticipated trip to Fratton Park. Portsmouth were sitting 2nd in the league, with us in 16th. As a Southampton fan, I can’t stand the thought of heading back down south and getting beaten.

Pompey game

My asymmetric 4-1-2-3 (DM) gets its first test, and it starts very well. Centre Midfielder Craig Slater hits a bullet from 25 yards in to the bottom corner to put us a goal up, and we dominate the first 25 minutes. But then things started to go tits up, as two defensive cock-ups see us fall behind, one scored by one of my must-buys from back in the days of FM12, Jake Forster-Caskey. Loanee striker Alex Babos equalised at the start of the second half, before some kamikaze Pompey defending gifted us an 82nd minute penalty. Denny Johnstone coolly slotted home, but in my jubilation I forgot to park the bus. Predictably, Harry Cornick equalised in stoppage time, but a 3-3 away draw at one of the league leaders is a decent first game.

After that decent point, I returned home for my first game at the Weston Homes Community Stadium (I really need them to change the name) against midtable Port Vale. However, Alex Babos and Denny Johnstone picked up injuries in training, meaning that I had to rely on the untested 22 year old Tariq Issa, who had previously just be sat in my reserves.

Port Vale game

We fell behind in the first ten minutes, and I was not feeling hopeful about our chances. But after 25 minutes, Port Vale fail to clear a corner, and Issa unleashes a viscous scissor kick from around the penalty spot. Two minutes later, Ryan Hedges put us in front, and he added his second after the break. Sammie Szmodics added a fourth, and even a late consolation couldn’t dampen our spirits.

We went and lost our next game, but then went five unbeaten in the league. Bury thoroughly dismantled us, beating us 3-0. Bury had 24 shots to our 9, 12 on target to our 2. We bounced back with three draws and two wins, before we lost at home to Millwall. Damn you Giggsy! If I had £2.3 million I would sign Tom Davies on loan from Everton as well. Bastards.

During that time we crashed out of the FA Cup in the Third Round. We hosted Championship side Crystal Palace, whose team included James Tomkins, Yohan Cabaye, Danny Welbeck, Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke. We lost 3-1 in a fairly even game: we had 15 shots, 6 on target and 51% possession, Palace had 12 shots, 8 on target and 49% possession.

The Transfers


As soon as I got to the club, I noticed that we didn’t have the strength in depth in attacking midfield, especially in the shadow striker role. Even though my assistant doesn’t think that he is a natural in the role, I decided to bring in James Maddison, who had been without a club since his release from Norwich.

I let right back Andy Yiadom leave on a free to Peterborough. I needed to free up some wages after bringing in Maddison, and although seen as a key player, he was only averaging around a 6.3 for me. Anyway, I had 23 year old Kane Vincent-Young who could do with the match experience. Also on the outs was Brennan Dickenson, my third choice left winger, for £150k to League Two Plymouth.


My second signing was an audacious loan bid for Harry Winks, which was much needed as we only have George Saville, Craig Slater, and Thomas Lapslie who can play there.

We have also just had our youth intake. It has been a very promising intake, with four players having four star or above potential. The first is goalkeeper Steve Moore. The 15 year old is just about 6ft, but has 14 handling, 14 agility, 12 decisions and 13 bravery.


The next player is Paul Barnett, a right winger, but he is accomplished as both an attacking midfielder and a left winger. The 15 year old Welshman has decent pace and natural fitness, but his technicals and mentals really make his stand out. He has 10 crossing and first touch, and 11 dribbling, and most importantly 15 technique. His 14 teamwork and 13 determination means that he is likely to reach his potential, whilst his 14 flair means that he will be a nightmare for defenders.


Along with these two, we also have a David Luiz wannabe, centre back Ryan Cherry, who has 15 tackling, 11 marking and 12 free kick taking. We have also got a decent advanced forward, Duncan Brennan, who has 14 acceleration, 17 natural fitness, 16 teamwork, 16 work rate and 14 finishing. Both of these have four star possible potential.

The Stars

James Maddison has 5 goals from his 11 appearances, whilst Denny Johnstone has 3 despite his injury problems. Ryan Hedges has three goals and three assists since I have joined, with Danny Fox also providing 3 assists from left back. My centre backs, Tom Eastman and Ashley Eastham, top the average rating charts, with a 7 and a 7.06 respectively. James Bransgrove has 7 clean sheets from his 16 appearances under my management.

What’s To Come?

We have 10 games remaining of our season, and although we are the very definition of midtable team, we are still only 7 points off Walsall and the play-offs. However, our run-in is not kind, as we face both of the top two, as well as all the teams between 5th and 8th. This includes a final day match at home to Walsall, which could decide who reaches the play-offs.



Season 4: A New Challenge

So, it’s with a heavy heart that I leave Poole. I wanted to stay there until the end, take them up to the Premier League. But that was looking increasingly unlikely. If the Vanarama National had caused me to stop playing for a month, what would League Two do, let alone the Premier League? So Colchester is my destination. Can I turn their season around? Can we sneak in to the play-offs? Most importantly, can I cut it at a level that isn’t the Vanarama South? So far I had flopped at Vanarama National level, but how much of that was me, and how much was the situation I was in?


My appointment got me looking at my profile for the first time in a while. One star reputation, how on earth did I get this job? One of the conditions of the job was that I improved my media handling, which shouldn’t be a problem because it is only that low because you get no interviews in non-league. I also notice that half season in the Conference has really damaged my win percentage.

The Club

Enough about me, now on to things I probably should have covered in the last update. Colchester, which I now know is in Essex, are a 2 1/2 star club, with okay finances and a 10,000 seater stadium. They’re predicted to finish 11th in League One, but sit in 16th at the moment. The stadium is in very good condition, whilst the youth and training facilities are both good.

The Squad


I had looked at the squad before I joined, but only briefly. According to my assistant, this is a pretty average squad, so mid-table seems about right. My first real issue is that I have no right wingers, apart from Lawrie Wilson who is more of a full back. Normally, this would mean a narrow formation, but then I notice that I have an abundance of left wingers, and crucially, Ryan Hedges is one of my best players.


My midfield looks to be my strongest asset. Craig Slater has been around the SPL for a number of years, and I recognise George Saville from his time at Brentford. Thomas Lapslie looks a very strong defensive midfielder, even if his decision making is a bit on the low side.


Up front I have Denny Johnstone, who has an impressive record of about 1 goal every three games over his three and a half seasons at Colchester.


I do also notice a couple of attacking midfielders, one of whom, Sammie Szmodics, loves to play as a shadow striker. The football hipster inside of me started celebrating. What sort of formation can I come up with to take League One by storm?

The Formation


I have decided to go with a variation of the traditional 4-1-2-3 (DM) formation. The main idea is to primarily attack down the left, but for my Right Back to bomb forward to provide width on the other flank. My Box-to-Box midfielder has been set to move in to the channels to give the full back cover. My Shadow Striker is allowed to roam from his position to try and find the pockets of space in between the opponents defence and midfield. We will sit back and look to transition in to attack quicker through more direct passing.

What’s To Come?

Fixtures and results

Despite our poor run of form, I have joined the team after two wins on the bounce. We face Portsmouth away in our first game, who sit second in the league. Now, I always want to win my first game, but for a Southampton fan, a trip to Fratton Park is always spicy. We then face a run of games with teams around us, before hosting bottom team Notts County and a big FA Cup game at home to Crystal Palace. I will look to bring in a few players in January, but will probably not sell anyone until the summer. My board expectation is to finish in the top half, but my only goal is to finish above Giggsy’s Millwall.

Season 4: Wanted

It’s fair to say that this season has not been going to plan. It’s pretty depressing this whole losing thing. We are still rock bottom of the Vanarama National, having picked up just one win all season. It’s just under a month since my last update, but something big has gone on.

On December 1, League One Millwall offered me a job interview. Now, I haven’t been looking to move club. The whole point of this save was to get the club where Charlie Austin first made his name up to the Premier League, and hopefully to play against him. The only offer I have had so far was in season 2 with Yeovil, and I turned them down straight away. I didn’t even turn up for an interview. But they were in the Conference, only a division above where I was at the time. Millwall are in League One. League One! I take a glance at the table. 13 points, 1 win, 23 games. I look at the squad morale. It’s getting to the stage where these players can’t be left in the dressing room by themselves. There’s only so many: “Don’t worry, it’ll all be better soon” chats that you can have. I order the kitman to unlace everyone’s boots just in case.

I pop in to town and buy myself a navy blue tie. That’ll impress them, I think to myself. I set my sat-nav to the Den and make the relatively short trip up to London. Now Millwall are sitting 15th in League One, and have just sacked Mick McCarthy…


… Yes, that Mick McCarthy (Come on, I had to include it!). I attend the interview and everything goes well. They want me to play attacking, possession based football and develop the youth academy. I like attacking football. I also like dominating the ball. I also like (better choose my words carefully here!) giving youngsters a chance. They tell me that I would need to achieve a top half finish, and ask me whether a budget of £2.3m would be enough. £2.3 million! I’ve never seen that much money. You could buy the whole of Poole Town for that, stadium and all. I modestly tell them I could do it for less, and leave feeling pretty confident.

5 days later and I’ve heard nothing back. I begin to think it won’t happen. Sure, I’ve won Manager of the Year twice in the Vanarama South, but League One is a completely different ball game. I barely notice our 0-0 at Lincoln, I’m just staring at my phone, waiting for the reply. Then I get an email, but not the one I expected.

Colchester United have sacked their manager, and they’ve invited me to come and have a chat. Well, that new blue tie is almost paying for itself now. Maybe I should go out and start applying for these jobs, but only for teams that play in blue. Colchester sit 16th in League One, one place behind Millwall. To be honest, I have no idea where Colchester is, so I blindly follow the sat-nav until I arrive at the Weston Homes Community Stadium. I weigh up whether I’m in the position to demand a name change for the stadium. I decide that can wait ’til the summer.

L1 table

The interview goes well again, I think, and I give more or less the same answers, although I have trouble keeping a straight face when I say that I’m a loyal manager in what is my second interview in under a week. Then a complication. Top half finish – that’s fine. £270k transfer budget – it’s no Millwall, but that’s fine as well. They want me to play direct, attacking football. Now I have never played direct football in my life. I stick photos of Sam Allardyce on all the dartboards around the Poole training ground. Will I betray my philosophies just to land a job in League One? Do I hold out for the tiki-taka of Millwall? Then I think back to Poole, where my assistant is pulling his hair out trying to explain to Matt Roberts that he won’t play if he hasn’t scored a goal in 10 games. “Fine,” I say begrudgingly. “I’ll play direct”.

Give it Giggsy

Two days later I get a call from Millwall. They loved what I had to say, but they decided instead to give it Giggsy. Ryan Giggs: the man who led Fulham to 15th in 2017. The man who left to join Brighton, took them down from the Prem, and then got sacked with them thoroughly mid-table in the Championship. “Fine,” I snap. “I never wanted to join your hooligan club anyway”. It was at this moment that I realised the middle-classness (yep, I’m going with that) of Poole was rubbing off on me.

Colchester offer

But the next day, something amazing happened. Colchester wanted me. The offered me an 18 month contract on a very decent £725 a week. Well, decent for what I’m on. I bet Giggsy would turn his nose up at that. I agree to their terms and bring with me my assistant manager Jamie Gleeson, my goalkeeping coach Glyn Garner and my chief scout Nathan Smart. I pack away my red Poole Town tie and say goodbye to the lads. Now all I have to do is come up with a Colchester related name as witty as ‘Poole To Prem’.

Season 4 (November Update): Oh Dear!

Poole Town are playing in the fifth tier of English football for the first time in their history. We have a brand new stadium that holds over 3000 fans. Everything is coming up Milhouse. Well, that’s what I thought before our season opener at Boreham Wood. 18 games, 3 formations, 4 panic buys, 1 horrific injury and 1 win later, I’m starting to think we’re not cut out for this level.

The Results

As you might have gathered by now, things are not going great. We opened the season fairly positively. Boreham Wood were expected to finish mid-table, and picking up an away draw seemed a solid enough starting place. However, our tough start then began to hit.

We then hosted relegated Grimsby for the first game at our brand spanking new stadium, and, well… we scored. The less said about the rest of the game the better. We went 3-0 down within 36 minutes, and despite having 11 shots (5 on target) to their 15 shots (5 on target), despite having 53% possession, we could only find solace in a late James Daly consolation. Three more defeats followed against middle of the pack opponents, and last season’s player of the year Robbie Burton broke his leg against Forest Green. Great. But finally, something came along that we could celebrate.


Gateshead were our opponents. The 4-3-3 hadn’t been working so I switched it up to a rather Italian looking ‘Narrow 5-3-1-1’. For the first 7 minutes I felt like Antonio Conte. “What a genius” I heard one of our 6 away fans cry. It was going brilliantly, until, rather predictably, Gateshead went and scored. But we were not deterred. We are Poole Town, the team that made Charlie Austin who he is today. Those hardened 6 away fans hit the roof on the half hour mark, as Harvey Knibbs, who I was starting to wonder still knew what a goal looked like, found himself some space in between the two centre backs and slotted home. For the rest of the game we carried out our Italian gameplan to a tee. We didn’t give the hosts a sniff…if you don’t count the 12 shots, 3 clear cut chances, 1 off the post, and 9 corners that they had after our goal.

Seems it worked so well in our last game, I kept it Italian at home to Woking. It worked again! It worked so well in fact, that they got so frustrated that they had 7 players booked and 1 sent off. We limited them to not a single clear cut chance (we didn’t have one either, but who need goals). This was it. I had found how we would stay up. We were going to draw every game of the season 0-0. What’s that? For each of the last 3 seasons 46 points hasn’t been enough to stay up. And we’ve already lost 4 games. Damn it!


I then made a huge tactical blunder. We had picked up 2 points from 3 games, and were facing fellow promoted club (and smugly mid-table) Torquay. We did alright against Torquay last year, I half-remember, I think we’ll try and score today. I switched to a 4-1-2-3 (DM) with Daly and Conneh on the flanks. We match them in every department. They have 11 shots, we have 9. They have 5 shots on target, we have 2 (ok I’ll give them that). We dominate them on possession 58%-42%. But they have Nathan Blissett – a striker who is not completely incompetent. We lose 1-0. That’s what I get for trying to score goals.

A loss and a draw (Harvey Knibbs scored a brace!) later and we faced FC United of Manchester. They, like us, were new to this divison, but unlike us they were annoyingly doing alright. We continued in our new attacking formation, and for once it actually worked. Louis Hall found himself at the byline and lofted in a deep cross. Harvey Knibbs challenged the keeper, who could only flap it in to the path of Charlie Owens, who drilled home from the edge of the box. Charlie Owens can score! I thought he was only good for getting needless bookings. More importantly, we can win. If I switch back to the Italian formation now we can pick up…41 points. Shit, we need to win 3 more games.

only win

What followed was a run of games where we alternated between losing and drawing. To make things worse, a brief moment of joy in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round was soon extinguished by Ebbsfleet in the First Round. We just aren’t cut out for this level.

We now sit bottom of the league, 1 win and 7 draws for 18 matches. To be fair, the other teams in the relegation zone have been equally shit, it’s just the ones outside that are worryingly pulling away.

The Transfers

As I mentioned in the intro, I have been splashing the panic cash. Robbie Burton’s injury led me to bring in Eroll Ujkani, a 19 year old Kosovan deep-lying playmaker. I also brought in Josh Smile, a happy young fellow who is a natural at both defensive and centre midfield. You can’t have too many midfielders.

My decision to attack left me with a problem too, as I have no natural left wingers. Sure Abdulai Bell-Baggie and James Daly can play there, but I could do with an actual left sided player. So I got two: Colin Daniel, a 31 year old who used to play for Stevenage, and Taylor Morrison, a 19 year old released by Gosport. Wait, didn’t Gosport get relegated from the Vanarama South last season. Oh well, can’t be any worse than what I’ve already got.

The Stars

Can I still use that sub-title when we have 1 win in 18? Daniel Ballard tops the average rating charts with a 7.04, with the injured talisman Robbie Burton second with a 6.98 from his 4 games. Only 5 players have scored goals. Harvey Knibbs has 6, James Daly 2, and Lewis Gill, Charlie Owens and Colin Daniel all have 1. Charlie Owens is the only man with multiple assists, claiming 3. Schofield, Knibbs, Burton, Bell-Baggie and Hall all have 1 to their name. Poor Nick Tzanev has 3 clean sheets in his 19 appearances, whilst Emmanuel Idem has 1 from his only game.

What’s To Come?

As you can probably work out, this was about the time I took a month away from FM. Turns out losing all the time is not that fun. Anyway, we have an important double header against Braintree and Dartford coming up, both of whom are in the relegation zone along with us. 6 points would hugely improve our position, especially as they are both at home. We also have the FA Trophy coming up at the start of December, so maybe we can have a run in that.

Season 4: Summer Transfers

With our first season in the Vanarama National coming up, I really needed to strengthen the side. I used this promotion to get rid of a lot of deadwood, some with a heavy heart. But it needed to be done.  We had scraped up, with a squad that had only been predicted to finish around mid-table in the Vanarama South. This year, we are 1000-1 to win the title, and favourites to go down. Again I tried to tie down the best young players that I could from the Premier League clubs, but this year I also looked to strengthen using the best players from the division below. We’re favourites to go down, what have I got to lose?


The Outs

As I mentioned, I shifted out a lot of deadwood over the summer. Curtis Young, who I had brought in from Bournemouth in my first season, had only made 6 appearances (5 of which were off the bench) last season, and my change in formation meant that James Waite hadn’t played at all. Adam Bailey-Dennis also left the club. I had brought him in solely as an experienced back up until we got promoted, but even at that level his 3 pace and 5 concentration left me biting my nails whenever the ball went near him.

It was with a heavy heart that I let Lewis Tallack and Danny Clifton go. Tallack had started at the club, even making 15 appearances last year, but he was not good enough to compete with the new centre backs that I had coming in. Danny Clifton won me over in the first season, justifying my signing of him with 8 goals in 18 games. But he netted just 3 more times in 35 games over the next two years, and it was clear he wouldn’t be able to cut it at a higher level.


James Tizzard and Tyler Ruddy were youth players that will never make it, whilst back up keeper Jonathan Miles heads out on loan to Wrexham to get some game time. I also loan out new signing James Inglethorpe, a promising centre back from Southampton.

The Ins

Tzanev Idem comp

We’ll start off in goal, the reason that Jonathan Miles was allowed out on loan. Nick Tzanev (nope, I have no idea how to say that either) has joined on a free from Havant and Waterlooville. The Kiwi has 6 under-20 caps, and will come in as our first choice for this season. It may be a little harsh on Emmanuel Idem, but our number one has been a bit error prone, and I really can’t afford that this season. Tzanev has better positioning, he’s better at one-on-ones and has much better anticipation, so I might deploy a sweeper keeper this year.


In defence I have brought in three new faces, the first of which is right back Mike Schofield. The 19 year old comes in after being released by Chelsea, and his crossing is why he will start over Tyler Cordner. Playing such a narrow formation means that we rely on our full backs to provide width, and Schofield should prove a useful player at both ends of the pitch.


Next up is centre back Harry Hickford. The 23 year old joins from Bishop’s Stortford, his strengths include marking and tackling. His 10 heading could be improved, but his 12 leadership should see he command the defence this season.


Another centre back that joins the club is Regan Upton, who joins from Wealdstone. Upton can play as a centre midfielder and a defensive midfielder, so his versatility will be vital as you can still only name 5 subs in the Vanarama National. At 194cm (about 6ft 4) he gives us an edge in the air both defending and attacking set pieces.


25 year old Josh Carmichael comes in as our ready made deep-lying playmaker. His 11 vision, 13 composure and 12 passing means that he should be able to dictate play from that deeper position. The Scotsman joins on a free from Gosport.


Up front comes target man Matt Roberts. At 192cm, the former Swansea man is a handful in the air, but his 13 acceleration means he’s no slouch either. Roberts also has decent finishing, but it’s his off the ball work that will allow the Irish under-19 international to bring his strike partners in to play.

I have also brought in a few prospects for the future, but they won’t feature too much this year. Matthew Williamson comes in as a centre midfielder (attack) as my yearly signing from Aston Villa, whilst George Canham joins from Chelsea as either a ball-winning midfielder or a centre midfielder (defend).

What’s To Come?

We open the season with a trip to Boreham Wood, who are predicted to finish mid-table. We then welcome relegated Grimsby for our first game at the Killick Arena. Our trip to Torquay at the end of September is the first time we will face another promoted team, so it could be quite a tough start.




End of Season 3 Review

We have done it! At the third time of asking Poole Town have been promoted to the Conference! All I can feel is relief – thank god we’re not resigned to another year in the bottom tier. We finished unbeaten in our last nine games – picking up 7 wins. But Dulwich were miles clear – they really bottled it, finishing the season with three straight defeats. But who cares about Dulwich Hamlet – the Dolphins will be in the Vanarama National next time out. Not only that, but we have delivered a new division for our first year in our new ground – The Killick Arena.

The Results


As I mentioned, we finished very strongly. We started our run-in with a trip to free-scoring Torquay. Nathan Blissett put the hosts ahead with 20 minutes to go, but Lewis Gill rescued a point, slotting home a Theo Widdrington through ball. Relegation threatened Weston-Super-Mare started their survival bid by beating us 3-2, the only real highlight being Robbie Burton’s sublime 30 yard free-kick. The next game saw a draw with Margate, which wasn’t a good result for either side.

A Lewis Gill brace saw us overcome Bishop’s Stortford and rise to second, and Harvey Knibbs and Mike Conneh secured a 2-0 win over Wealdstone. Robbie Burton bossed the 4-1 win over Basingstoke, getting a 9.2 thanks to a goal and an assist. Three goals in the next two games from James Daly saw two more wins, and I thought that had practically saw off Maidstone’s threat. It now had to be between us and Dulwich Hamlet, they were on 79 points with three games left, we were on 73. It was unlikely, but still possible.

A draw with mid-table St Albans was not the ideal start. They had 12 shots, 5 on target. We had six shots, two on target. But Harvey Knibbs just happened to have one of those shots on target, equalising in the 80th minute.

We responded in style though in our trip to Maidstone. The hosts were level on points with us on 74 points. We put out practically our strongest team, with the exception of in-form Mike Conneh at right-back and the upset Abdulai Bell-Baggie playing the deep-lying playmaker role. We shot out of the blocks, immediately looking like we wanted it more. But it took until the 40th minute for us to take the lead. We hit the hosts on the counter with a long ball down the left wing, which James Daly drilled across for Harvey Knibbs to tap in at the back post. It was Daly who provided the second too, as he pulled the ball back to the edge of the box for the onrushing Robbie Burton, who drilled the ball through a crowded penalty area and in to the bottom corner. And it was Lewis Gill who completed the rout, flicking the ball out wide to Conneh, before turning and powering the return ball in to the opposite top corner.

Dulwich Hamlet had lost their last two games. They were still on 79 points, whilst our win over Maidstone had us on 77, with Maidstone three points behind us. Dulwich travelled to fourth placed Maidenhead, Maidstone hosted bottom side East Thurrock, and we hosted mid-table Havant and Waterlooville.

Maidenhead scored two early goals, but at half time we were unable to capitalise. 64 minutes gone and Maidstone went behind to Thurrock. Minutes later Dulwich pulled one back at Maidenhead. It wasn’t going to happen. But in the 79th minute, our dominance paid off. Havant had a rare sight of goal, but Robbie Burton hoofed the ball as far as he could. Joe Parker latched on to the ball out on the left wing and hooked the ball to the back post where Harvey Knibbs bundled the ball in. And a Robbie Burton free kick curled in from the left side of the 18 yard box sealed the win just three minutes later. The next seven minutes were the tensest in my time at Poole, but Maidenhead held on to gift us the title.

Torquay will join us in the Vanarama National, as they saw off Maidstone 3-1 in the play-off final.


The Stars

Robbie Burton was our player of the season, securing 35% of the fans’ votes. Burton finished the season very strongly, ending up with 9 goals and 8 assists, with an average rating of 7.25. December signing Daniel Ballard came second, with an average rating of 7.24 from his 27 games. Joe Parker finished as top scorer with 18 goals, whilst Lewis Gill and Harvey Knibbs netted 16 apiece. James Daly also broke double figures, with his four in one game against Bath helping him to 13 for the season. Daly and Gill led the assists charts with 11 and 10 respectively, with Knibbs (8), Burton and full back Tyler Cordner (both 7) also performing well. At the back, Emmanuel Idem kept 17 clean sheets in 40 appearances, letting in just 36 goals all season.

player stats.png

What’s To Come?

Next season will be Poole’s first in the Vanarama National League, and the first at our new Killick Arena. We will undoubtedly be odds on to come straight back down, but we’ve seen those odds before. I tell the lads that we’ve done great to win the title, and we should aim to stay up next year. For the first time in forever, they agree with me. Not one person in that dressing room says I’m being too ambitious. This is what it must feel like to be the poor bastard who replaces everyone’s favourite teacher but who eventually wins around the class. Maybe I should just retire now.

Season 3 (March Update): Still In Contention

With just 11 games left of the season, we’re still very much in contention for a play-off position. After our failings in previous seasons over the winter period, this year we managed to glide through with relatively no issues. We sit third in the table, two points behind Maidstone with a game in hand, and six points off top. Joe Parker still leads the club’s scoring charts, with an impressive 17 goals in 33 games. Strike partners Lewis Gill and Harvey Knibbs have also broken double figures, meaning that our goal difference is the second best in the league.

The Results

We opened up November with a feisty affair with lowly Basingstoke. The hosts opened the scoring early on, but then gave away a penalty just minutes later. Top goalscorer Joe Parker stepped up, but blasted the ball straight at the keeper. Things went from bad to worse just after half time, as Charlie Owens ignored my pleas for him to calm down and picked up his second booking three minutes after the break. Even a late red card for Basingstoke was not enough to let us back in to the game.

daly-4-goalsWhat followed was a perfectly inconsistent run of games, winning one, losing the next. But we managed to resurrect our form after a 0-1 loss to leaders Dulwich Hamlet. That result had seen us drop to sixth, but we went on a run of nine games unbeaten. This included a 6-2 win against Bath, where James Daly netted 4 goals and provided an assist. This was part of a four game run where he netted 7 of the 8 goals that he has scored this year.

But the 6-2 against Bath wasn’t the highest scoring game of the Vanarama South this season. Fellow play-off contenders Torquay travelled to top half Dorchester (it wasn’t even one of the whipping boys!) and hit them for 10. 10-1! TEN – ONE! Jake Beesley got four and Nathan Blissett got a hat-trick. They only had 15 shots too! Why can’t my strikers do that?


Our run in the FA Trophy was ended by Vanarama North side Altrincham in the fourth round, which was disappointing after we had fairly comfortably seen off Eastbourne, Dover, and Dulwich Hamlet after a replay.

The Stars

Joe Parker’s goals have started to dry up, he has only netted 5 times in the 17 games that he has featured in over the winter. The real star has been new signing Daniel Ballard, who we signed at the beginning of December from league rivals Dulwich. Since his arrival, Ballard has played 16 games and has an average rating of 7.26.


We have also had our regen day, where there is only one potential star. Centre back Nathan Crawford potentially has 3 1/2 star potential, and already has 9 Marking, 8 Tackling and 7 Positioning. With 11 leadership and 13 decisions, he looks like he will make a very good centre back, maybe even a captain, at Conference level.

What’s To Come?

We start our run-in against the free scoring Torquay, but then face quite a kind last few games. We only face 4 top half teams in our last 11 games, including a mouthwatering trip to second placed Maidstone on the penultimate matchday.

Should we finish in the play-offs, I will do an end of season update before playing through the play-offs in a bonus update. If we go up automatically, it will just be a normal end of year update, and if I don’t even reach the play-offs, I think I’ll just give up Football Manager!

Sorry for the lack of updates over the past month. It has been down to actually realising that I actually have to do some work in the final year of uni! I did also go through a spell of just not enjoying FM (you’ll find out why in a future update). I have now played on a bit and there is lots of exciting content to come! I will now be able to go back to two updates a week (Mondays and Thursdays at 6pm in the UK).