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The Iron Man


lolgasm

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Authors notes: I do not have the patch installed. I am working with all leagues loaded from England. I am not a writer, I have never thought myself to be one, I looked at these stories and decided I was going to give it a shot. All characters are completely fictional.

"Welcome to the club, I hope you have a long stay with us." The chairman shook hands with me.

"Thanks, and I'm sure I will. See you tomorrow!" With a smile on my face, I walked away from the Cressing Road Stadium, home to Braintree Town.

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I had been unemployed for 8 months, following a 14 year spell with Huddersfield. I started of there as a player, but due to a knee injury, I had retired at 27 years of age. A year after retiring and having accomplished myself as a qualified coach, I found myself applying and being accepted as youth coach of Huddersfield. The manager, Alfie Patterson, accepted me immediately, hoping I would be able to pass on my knowledge of the game to the younger generation. But 4 years later, all this changed after a takeover from some Dubai-based millionaires. They sacked Alfie and hired a new manager, Ryan Westwood. He promptly sacked me, along with several other members of staff.

So here I found myself accepting a job as manager of Braintree Town, nicknamed The Iron. 2 years ago, the club had been non-league. After being promoted, they finished just outside of the Blue Square South automatic promotion places, in 3rd place and then went on to lose in the play-offs. With the board wanting the club established as a mid table team, I felt I could do that. I focused myself on attempting to lower the club's debt. The wage budget was only £85 per week, and with the average wage being £115 per week, we were well over it.

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I wasn't officially the manager until Friday, but the following morning, I arrived at the stadium to assess everything to do with the club. Firstly, I asked my new secretary Carol Lee to organise a staff meeting in an hour. I had just taken a seat in my new office, when the phone rang.

"Hello?" It was Carol. Surely the staff weren't here already?

"Hi Mr Strong, yo..." I interupted her before she could continue.

"Carol, I'd like you to know that you and I are no different. So please call me Josh, not Mr Strong."

"Ok, sorry Mr Str.. sorry, I mean Josh. Your new assistant manager, Andy Clarke is here."

"Ok, send him in."

The door opened and in walked Andy Clarke. He placed a stack of paperwork in front of me.

"It's a squad assessment. I thought you might like to meet the team."

"Good thinking Andy," I replied with an impressive nod. "But before I do, I have to ask you something. I will ask all the staff this in due course. Your future is in your hands. You can choose to stay with the club and work alongside me, or you can leave. I will not stand in your way." I sounded harsh, but it was the right thing to do.

"Josh, I would be honoured to work alongside you, so I will stay and work with you." Andy's reply had touched my heart. After all, I was inexperienced but I was grateful that I would have a helping hand. But I couldn't dwell on his response. I had work to do.

"Thanks Andy. You may go."

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Squad Assessment.

I settled down and turned on Sky Sports news. I groaned as I pulled the squad assessment paperwork towards, but I knew I would be doing alot of this in due course.

The first team has only 2 goalkeepers. Nicky Morgan was recommended as the first choice keeper, I strongly agreed with this statement. At only 22 years old, he was young but had a handful of experience, having come through the youth academy of Southend. The only reasonable back-up to Nicky was Gavin Kelly. At 27, he was older than Nicky, and probably had more experience than Nicky but Nicky's qualities shone, and I could see who our 1st team keeper was.

Liam Bailey is decribed as a right back with the potential to be a quality player. At 19, he is definetly one for the future. Danny Stone was also a right back, but could play in central defence as well. But the current first choice right (and probably soon to be mine) was Nicky Baxter. He arrived in July and is described as one of the best players at the club, and at 19, I think that is a fantastic achievement. There is only one left back in the first team, and that was Ian Cousins. At 27, he was definitely the first choice left-back, but he could also play centre back should another left-back arrive. There were only 2 main centre backs, both of them were under 23. First on the list was Matthew Cropper. He is described as 'the best centre back in the squad' and is still improving. At 19, he has the potential to become a key member of the first team in coming seasons. Jerrome Sobers is 22 years of age, and the 3rd best centre back in the squad. For me, I believe he will be back-up for the remainder of this season, but could challenge for a spot next season.

In midfield, we had a decent bunch of players. Marvin McCoy is pushing for a place in the first team, and at 19, I can see him becoming one for the future. Andy Porter and Dan Steele are both currently in the first team, but both could easily be demoted to the Reserve squad. Micky Shinn is not the greatest player I have set eyes upon, but he could push for a place in my line up should injuries take over the squad. Ryan Maxwell is on the transfer list at his request and will by all means stay there. Louis Riddle and Chris Sullivan are both left footers, but due to a crisis on the right wing, I believe Louis may have to fill that gap until the end of the season. And last, but most certainly not least, is John Dillon. At 19, he is classed as one of the best players at the club and I firmly believe he will feature in my team.

Our main striker is Leon Archer. With 14 goals this season, he's the clubs leading scorer. Bradley Quinton could partner him up front unless I decide to change the formation, but James Baker is 21, and no where near the standard of strikers we have.

Overall Squad Summary: We have a decent squad, but we do need improving in all area's. We need a back-up GK, and left back, a right winger and back-up striker. With no transfer budget and hardly any wage budget, this is going to be a tough season...

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The staff meeting was in 15 minutes. The phone rang.

"Hello?" I answered politely.

"Hi Josh, or should I say gaffer?" There was a laugh which soon turned into a wheezy cough. "Its Lee Harding, chairman of Braintree." I remained silent and let him carry on talking. "We need you to select a captain and a vice captain until the end of the forth-coming season. The current captain is Bradley Quinton and the vice-captain is Ollie Adedeji." I wondered who this Ollie person was, then I realised he must've been in the reserve team assessments. I'd have to dig them up. What on earth was our vice-captain doing in the reserves?!

"Ok Mr Harding, will do. I have a staff meeting in about 10 minutes, so I'll decide after that and call you then." My reply was short and sweet, I didn't have time to ponder over who was to be what. I had a meeting with people I've never met in 10 minutes and I had to figure out what I was going to say.

"Alright boy, but remember, choose wisely. The previous captain may not be happy about being replaced. Oh and good luck with the staff meeting.

The last sentence sent fear spiralling through my brain.

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I pulled out the reserve squad assessment and laid it out on my desk for when I came back. I straightened myself up and headed for the conference room. There was 5 people there. I gulped nervously and began to talk

"My name is Josh Strong, and if you haven't been on this planet for the past 12 hours, I'm your new manager. I haven't come here to sack anyone, I would just like to make that clear." I looked around, and there were some relieved faces. Our backroom staff consisted of me, an assistant manager, a coach, a physio and 2 scouts. I carried on. "I have come here however to give you the opportunity to resign, should you wish. I will not stand in your way, but you will not leave until the end of the season. Is that clear?" There was a few nods and a muttered yes and I knew I had made myself clear.

"Does anyone wish to leave at the end of the season?" Slowly, at the back, a hand raised. It was one of our scouts, Sam Holder to be precise.

"Alright then Sam, you will be fully compensated at the end of the season and you may leave with your head held high. I would like you all to continue with the same schedules you were doing before I came here. You may now leave."

***

I arrived back at my office. I only had to find my vice-captain's assessment from the reserve squad. I wasn't going to waste my time looking through some people who may not even have a future here. Almost immediately I could see why he was in the reserves. At 37 years old, he was surely past his prime and getting to the retirement stages. I didn't read on.

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The last deed I had to do before I finally went home was phone back the chairman.

"Hi Lee, it's Josh."

"Ahh, Josh! I presume you have come to a decision?"

"Indeed," I replied solemnly. "Bradley Quinton will remain as captain until the season finishes. I will then decide who the real captain shall be after that. Jerrome Sobers shall be vice-captain, again until the end of the season."

"A wise choice, not disrupting the captain." The chairman seemed impressed with my decision.

"Thank you Lee. I'm going home for some rest and relaxation. Good day."

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I spent the next few days browsing for players we needed, I found a few but our bids were turned down or they wanted more, which we couldn't afford. Then Friday came. Press conference day. Well, I say press but it's generally local newspapers. I was nervous about my first conference, but at the same time, I couldn't wait.

***

I walked into the conference room. I don't know if it was just me but the heat was intense. Lee called for silence and began to talk

"Ladies and gentlemen and media alike. I have called this meeting today to fully announce the arrival of our new manager. Please give a warm welcome to Josh Strong." There was a polite round of applause and then the questions began.

"Patrick McCarthy, Braintree Times. What do you expect to do with the team?"

"I do not expect anything, I merely hope to achieve the club a reasonable reputation as a strong force in the Blue Square South. I also wish to stabalise the clubs finances."

"Jean Dawson, Huddersfield Local. What does it feel like going from Huddersfield legend to a merely unknown manager?"

"Just the same as it did turning from a so called legend in to a youth coach. You don't get as much attention, nor as much injuries." There was a steady laugh from the media. There was a few more questions before Lee called it quits. I wasn't going to be managing the team tomorrow, that was down to Andy. I wanted to view his strongest line up from the stands, and see how well the team bonded together. Tomorrow was going to be the start of my career.

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Saturday 1st March, 2008

Dorchester vs. Braintree Town

Our team looked like this:

GK - Nicky Morgan

DR - Nicky Baxter

DL - Liam Bailey

DC - Jerrome Sobers

DC - Ian Cousins

MR - Louis Riddle

ML - Chris Sullivan

MC - John Dillon

MC - Marvin McCoy

ST - Leon Archer

ST - Bradley Quinton.

The team played Dorchester, 2nd in the league. It was going to be a tough one. I wished Andy and the players all the best out there, then left the tactics and team talk to Andy.

Within the opening seconds Dorchester scored. A well worked ball found it's way to Stephen Connor who ran at the defenders and then his shot took a wicked deflection. Nicky Morgan had no chance.

We were brought back into in the 38th, after a cross from Louis Riddle which was headed clear fell to Marvin McCoy, who's shot was diverted into his own net by Mark Jermyn. Dorchester retook the lead in the 53rd when a quick free kick caught our defence off guard and Guy Branston headed it in.

Final score: 2(Connor 1, Branston 53) - 1(Jermyn OG, 38)

MotM: Guy Branston.

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The following week passed without no major difficulties - having no transfer funds and no wage budget meant life in the transfer market was difficult, so the following Saturday I took charge of my first match.

Saturday 8th March, 2008

Braintree Town vs. Hampton & Richmond

1 change for this match - Nicky Baxter dropped to the bench, Ian Cousins moved over to left back and Cropper returned in centre back.

GK - Nicky Morgan

DR - Liam Bailey

DL - Ian Cousins

DC - Matthew Cropper

DC - Jerrome Sobers

MR - Louis Riddle

ML - Chris Sullivan

MC - John Dillon

MC - Marvin McCoy

ST - Leon Archer

ST - Bradley Quinton

My team talk willed them to do it for me and the fans. The first half went smoothly, we dominated and could've been 2 goals up. Come the second half, I wish we had been 2 goals up. In the 55th Ian Cousiins made life difficult for us when he was shown a second yellow for needless shirt tug. From the resulting free kick, Barrie Matthews fired home a rebound which fell to him. In the 76th, the game was over. Some fine play from the opposition resulted in Barrie Matthews double his and Hampton and Richmond's tally. The scoring stopped there, but the action didn't. John Dillon was sent off in the 88th minute for another needless yellow. He has a problem with aggression, that lad.

Final Score: 0 - 2(Matthews 56, 76)

MotM: Barrie Matthews.

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During midweek I finally had a bid accepted for Scott Cousins, a left back who could provide cover and possibly even start for us should I put Ian Cousins in the centre.

Saturday 15 March, 2008

Weston-Super-Mare vs. Braintree Town

2 changes - Scott Cousins came straight in to the line up in place of suspended Ian Cousins and Micky Shinn came in for John Dillon after returning to full fitness.

GK - Nicky Morgan

DR - Liam Bailey

DL - Scott Cousins

DC - Matthew Cropper

DC - Jerrome Sobers

MR - Louis Riddle

ML - Chris Sullivan

MC - Micky Shinn

MC - Marvin McCoy

ST - Leon Archer

ST - Bradley Quinton

My team started brightly and fully deserved it when Louis Riddle played a through ball and Bradley Quinton rounded the keeper and fired home. I thought by the 80th minute we had the game wrapped up as we were dominating all over the park. But, as I cruelly found out, you can never speak too soon. Ashton Holgate's free kick took a wicked deflection and rolled over the line beyond a helpless Nicky Morgan. Football can be a cruel game sometimes.

Final Score: 1(Holgate 87) - 1(Quinton 18)

MotM: Ashton Holgate

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Saturday 22nd March, 2008

Braintree vs. Newport County

2 changes: Cropper makes the bench and Ian Cousins returns from his suspension, as does John Dillon who replaces Micky Shinn.

GK - Nicky Morgan

DR - Liam Bailey

DL - Scott Cousins

DC - Ian Cousins

DC - Jerrome Sobers

MR - Louis Riddle

ML - Chris Sullivan

MC - John Dillon

MC - Marvin McCoy

ST - Leon Archer

ST - Bradley Quinton.

An awful day capped by an awful performance. Newport were gifted the lead in the 3rd minute when a poor pass from Nicky Morgan fell to Charlie Griffin and the striker made no mistake in firing beyond Morgan. Newport tried to break us again but failed before half time. After half-time, things all changed. A cross from Esdaille was cleared straight to Lee Fowler who rocketed the ball him from 30 yards. It was 3-0 in the 75th Hillier played it forward and Craig Hughes controlled and finished it well. A soft penalty was given to Newport in the 87th and Craig Hughes made no mistake from 12 yards.

Final Score: 0 - 4(Griffin 3, Fowler 48, Hughes 76, 87)

MotM: Craig Hughes.

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Monday 22 March, 2008

Bromsley vs. Braintree

One change; Bradley Quinton drops to the bench and is replaced by James Baker.

GK - Nicky Morgan

DR - Liam Bailey

DL - Scott Cousins

DC - Ian Cousins

DC - Jerrome Sobers

MR - Louis Riddle

ML - Chris Sullivan

MC - Marvin McCoy

MC - John Dillon

ST - Leon Archer

ST - James Baker

Bromsley delivered us the same fate that Newport did. A long punt upfield with in 30 seconds was heading on by Hockston to Steve Clark who punished us for our poor defending. Jermaine Brown doubled their lead 7 minutes later. A cross from Ben Judge was headed in by Brown. Leke Odunsi scored in the 30th and 82nd minute to seal our fate.

Final Score: 4(Clark 1, Brown 8, Odunsi 30, 82) - 0

MotM: Leke Odunsi

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Saturday 29 March, 2008

Braintree vs. Basingstoke

3 changes today. Nicky Morgan dropped in favour of Gav Kelly, Quinton back in for Baker and Shinn replaces McCoy

GK - Kelly

DR - Bailey

DL - S. Cousins

DC - Sobers

DC - I. Cousins

MR - Riddle

ML - Sullivan

MC - Shinn

MC - Dillon

ST - Archer

ST - Quinton

A dull match, the only high point being I won my first game in charge of Braintree. After Tyron Smith was dismissed for Basingstoke, a poor pass from their goalkeeper fell to Leon Archer who made no mistake.

Final Score: 1(Archer 82) - 0

MotM: Leon Archer.

March Summary: Very disappointing only 3 goals scored, one of which was an own goal. 4 points out of 18 is not acceptable and I will not tolerate poor performances. Hopefully, we can do better in our last 4 games of the season.

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Good luck with Braintree! My Braintree game was the first one of mine on FM08, got them promoted first year and was mid-table in BSP when I stopped, I was working on it as a story but lost interest. Leon Archer is a great striker at this level.

Best of luck again with the Iron.

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