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[FM17] What's Gone Wrong This Time? The tale of the fail.


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[Question: what's a  good free image hosting site, I shove most of my photos on GooglePhotos (from back before it was Picasa) but the links all break here even if I use a shared link]


Before I begin, I should say I have played around the first three seasons. However, the below was written as I went. Its been a while since I played any FM, I wanted to make sure I would stick with it for a little while before posting anything here.


I don't use player search functions, and only look at bringing in players that have been scouted or that I notice in games or other ways (league stats or whatever, and they get scouted first). I generally do two month updates, I just find it to be a decent balance of progress per update in most leagues. But it can change depending on circumstance.



It might be FM17, but I went on holiday until the last Sunday of June 2020 to give it some sort of currency.

As a result 44 year old Welshman Samuel Heath has obviously been away from the game for a while. He was only ever a Sunday league player and with no accreditation will be starting out practically anywhere that will have him.

Leagues turned on are all as far down as the default game allows. England, France, Holland, Italy, Scotland and Spain. Others might get turned on later and some off. I just realised I must have misclicked and the conference north and south are not on in England. So, I won't be in England in the first year.


July-August 2020

A number of Italian Serie C jobs happen to be available, and already in their new divisions. As is Harrogate in the English conference national. While trying to decide what to apply for a few jobs came up in Spain as well, however they are about to be relegated out of the playable leagues.

I started out by applying for the Sarnese, Racing Roma and Triestina jobs. All have pretty dismal expectations for the coming season, but some signs the squads might be useable. I also put my hand up for Izarra in Spain, though that looks like a dubious proposition with half the squad greyed-out players. A couple of a value that might be useful if sold though.

Arsenal topped England in 2019/20, but it was the 100 points by Real Madrid that headlined the leagues. As I began, Euro 2020 was underway. No coronavirus in game, of course.


Racing Roma were the first to offer an interview. It seemed to go pretty well, and may be where I end up. They are expected to relegate, but hopefully that could be avoided with what seems a decent wage budget for the level.

Sarnese also offered an interview, but look less well placed to me. Although as it turned out the budgets looked slightly better.

The other two clubs also offered interviews. Triestina had the better financial situation of the Italian clubs, but the lowest wage budget. I think either Racing Roma or a Sapnish move would be my preferred options.


In the end all three Italian clubs came back with offers. Somewhat to my own surprise, I chose Saranese. The transfer budget was the smallest of the lot, but the wage budget the highest.


Not that the starting playing list was anything inspiring.



There are a lot of holes to fill there, hopefully many can come in as free agents at this level.

I can't wait for a scout or two to arrive.


Once the scouts did arrive we started setting them among the free agents. What they found were a number of promising kids, but nothing that will ensure safety this season.

As the friendlies got underway I started to realise how big a job it will be to simply get a point this season. This lot are truly hopeless, even against teams a tier or two below. At least we should have made money playing Lazio and the board don't care about the SerieC Cup.

The only player worthy of a game is young centre back Ciro de Meo.

By the time the league started, the squad had changed significantly but not enough.

Fusaro might be a good pick up if we can get the ball forward often enough to matter. He needs to be too, he's on more money than anyone. The good news is, there is still plenty of wage budget if players show up. The window has closed, but the free transfer window is open until March.



Sarnese (Predicted 20th) v Matera (Predicted 7th) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 1 of 38

This is a bad and inexperienced team, so it was no surprise to give up a stupid penalty after 16 minutes. Terrible goalkeeping after that saw us down by three, and a goalie being subbed off after 30 minutes of the season. Things didn't get a lot better. We did pull it back to 3-1 at one point thanks to a blasted free kick deflecting off the wall. But in the end it was a 5-1 loss to open the only competition that counts. We are already firmly entrenched in last spot after one game, with no prospects of leaving that position.



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September – October 2020

Polisportival Sarnese 1926

Italian SerieC/C


Messina (Predicted 3rd) v Sarnese – Italian SerieC/C, Match 2 of 38

We were swamped. Much as expected. It took until the second half for us to have a meaningful chance. By that stage we were a goal down. And we stayed just one goal down. We weren't competitive, but at least the loss was small.


Sarnese v Lecce (Predicted 1st) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 3 of 38

Nothing happened for twenty minutes. That, for us, is a win. Then, in about the only highlight for the first half we won a penalty through a stupid piece of Lecce defence. Fusaro slotted it and we had a lead which lasted until the break. Fpor a side expected to win the league, Lecce proved frightfully poor up front. Thankfully. We somehow stole three points, 1-0.


We're still bringing in players, the starting left back hole might now be filled.


Cosenza (Predicted 5th) v Sarnese – Italian SerieC/C, Match 4 of 38

Twelve shots to nil at half time, and two goals to nil. Good news. For our opponents. And it only got worse. Ten minutes after the break it was four goals. Ten minutes before the end, that was six. And we weren't playing as badly as in some games, just finally paying the price. It ended at 7-0.


Sarnese v Juve Satbia (Predicted 6th) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 5 of 38

The start proved to be what is becoming quite typical. No defensive pressure and a simple goal down in 90 seconds. Stabia didn't really press us much for the remainder of the half, while we did nothing. On resumption we immediately gave away a penalty, which was duly converted. At least we made them work a little for their third. Being clearly under quality that's all that can be hoped for I guess.


It is clear we are still well down in a number of positions, not least of which is manager.

The midfield in particular has proven impossible to find players to fill except attacking wingers and more attack is not going to help here yet.


Cantanzaro (Predicted 8th, Currently 6th, 2-3-0, 9 points +2GD) v Sarnese (18th, 1-0-4, 3 points -14) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 6 of 38

A change of formation to a boring 4-4-2, though that seems a striker too many and we still have one-star players in midfield.

We started out with plenty of possession, which is to be hoped for playing a very defensive game this time out. It was 11 shots to 1 against us late in the opening half. Then a free kick, which Fusaro struck home for us; in off the crossbar. Just shy of 70 minutes Cantanzaro should have levelled but somehow managed to conspire to knock a simple rebound wide. For the first time all season, after 5 matches and 75 minutes we showed a glimpse of not complete ineptitude. Not quality by any stretch, though Fusaro's run and finish on the ball down the left from Sansone came close for this level. We might not be scoring goals, but at least when we have it has resulted in points.


Sarnese (17th, 2-0-4, 6 points, -12) v Siracusa (Predicted 12th, 19th, 0-3-3, 3 points, -6) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 7 of 38

Another debutant, and hopefully we're OK for centre backs now. Not good, just OK. Once they got the opener against us Siracusa had three goals for the season, all from the same player. Their front paoring actually looks good, I can only assume agaimst good oposition the ball doesn't make it to them very often. On 60 minutes I was about to blast Fusaro for doing what he can't and holding the ball up rather than shooting, but the dispossession fell to Sansone who scored. And the one-star rated midfielder's goal gave us a point.


Virtus Francavilla (15th, 2-2-3, 8 points, +3) v Sarnese (17th, 2-1-4, 7 points, -12) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 8 of 38

Ninety second penalties are not goof. I don't know our gouys are so determined to give them away. Still, it was saved. It actually took half an hour of utter dominance before they scored. The penalty we gave away shortly after half time was put away, and may hav ebeen an even more unnecessary one. When the third goal came on 65 minutes, the only real surprise it was that is was only the third goal. When the third penalty came five minutes later, well, that says everything about disintegration. A 3-0 loss, despite two penalties being saved. It could easily have been 7-0 again.

And Fusaro got injured, but should only miss one game.


Melfi (14th, 3-2-3, 11 points, +2) v Sarnese (17th, 2-1-5, 7 points, -15) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 9 of 38

We had an early win, with Melfi's sole starting striker going off injured. That was as good as the first half gopt, 13 shots to zero. But still even at the break. Inevitably we went downa goal with twenty to play. Nothing particularly poor about, just the constant barrage had to result in something at some point. 22-0 in shots, 1-0 in goals. We're bad.


Sarnese (17th, 2-1-6, 7 points, -16) v Torres (15th, 3-1-5, 10 points, -8) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 10 of 38

Fusaro, back from his injury, capitalised from a rare run and cross. Complete hack signing Dutto managed to get past a man, which may the first time all season for any player in ths squad. Yet another penalty given up, or so I thought. The ref decided it was just outside the box and we survived curtesy of the crossbar. In the 92nd minute, a floaty corner left our defence reeling but cleared it briefly. On re-entry the shot was weak and thankfully held. And despite only four shots to seventeen, we had three points.


Nocerina (19th, 1-3-6, 6 points, -11) v Sarnese (17th, 3-1-6, 10 points, -15) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 11 of 38

The match was a bit of a slow burn, which was fine by me. Except that it was so much slower for us. Nocerina had all the chance, but few good ones. And we were the ones to break through, after 74 minutes. Dutto's cross from near the corner flag flag Fusaro steeping by a man to one-touch home. Another stolen three points, this time maybe Nocerina were bad enough that we deserved one.


Sarnese (15th, 4-1-6, 13 points, -14) v Taranto (5th, 5-4-2, 19points, +14) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 12 of 38

This could get ugly. Some pretrty dismal mistakes by us throughout the game, although only one gave a goal up directly. The first one, after around ten minutes, did not despite gifting a man half the opitch unchallenged to go one on one with our goalkeeper Sarri. The first came with just a lack of effort, and the second after a truly horrid pass by Fusaro. We got away with 2-0.


And that wrapped up a big two months, September was a packed schedule.


The squad looks a little different from the starting point but lacks options in most areas, and quality in all.



Its not a good looking set of results, but the board just want us to avoid auto-relegation (last place).


The final loss saw us back in to the relegation playout zone, after getting one place above it one match before.





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November – December 2020

Polisportival Sarnese 1926

Italian SerieC/C


Turris (20th, 0-2-10, 2 points, -17) v Sarnese (16th, 4-1-7, 13points, -16) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 13 of 38

For the first time all season, someone has a worse goal difference than we do.

This match would no doubt fix that.

Even against bottom of the table we were completely outclassed. And falling a goal down early was exactly according to the flow of play. The second, just after the break, was a disaster though. Defenders watching and a goalkeeper who felt like doing nothing as well. For all the goalsw e've given up, the keeping had not been all that bad most of the time. And things jusyt got worse. I had to take our two best players off because they were having awful games. And we were soon four down against the cellar swellers.


Sarnese (16th, 4-1-8, 13points -20) v Caertana (10th, 6-2-5, 20points -2) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 14 of 38

Another early penalty. This time in our favour. Maxxucotelli took it, and even then almost missed out on fibally opening his account. Three minutes later it was level again. None of our players can hold on to the ball, but they all love doing it and getting dispossessed without attempting to move, pass, or anything else. That was the second game in a row I had to take Fusaro off for a bad performance. At least it was a point, I guess.


Monopoli (7th, 7-2-5, 23points +1) v Sarnese (16th, 4-2-8, 14points -20) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 15 of 38

Goals either side of the break sunk us. We hadn't been conceding a lot aerially, mostly because we're so easy to play through on the ground but both came from the same person's head. I wish there was something I could use with the side, but there is not on area we are competent at. Physically slow, mentally slower, technically a joke, and now player morale is as low as mine.


Sarnese (17th, 4-2-9, 14points -22) v Paganese (14th, 5-5-5 18pints -6) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 16 of 38

Well, great. We go a goal down, just through not being good enough. And the new right winger gets a yellow card and an injury. The game finished with a superb volleyed strike to double our loss. There is nothing to be done here except quit.

And Bruzzo's forst game injury is a 5-6 weeker. Excellent.


Olbia (8th, 7-3-6, 24points +4) v Sarnese (18th, 4-2-10, 14points -24) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 17 of 38

There were patche sin this game where we looked like we were almost on par. And patches were our love of of standing there and waiting to be dispossessed came to the fore time and again. In the end, Olbia didn't captialise on their chances, we didn't have any chances and escaping with a draw was a good thing.


Pomigliano (13th, 7-2-8, 23points -2) v Sarnese (17th, 4-3-10, 15points -24) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 18 of 38

Both teams looked incapable of making pass, but we were constantly the ones being pressed back. We lasted until the rbeak without conceding but not long after. Every second touch in the leaf up was ours, but bad. And the second came quickly afterwards, with a bit more system behind it. Pomigliano went down to ten mean late, and I thought we had our first goal from play since October but it was caled offside. Instead we went further behind immediately after.


Sarnese (18th, 4-3-11, 15points -27) v Reggina (14th, 7-3-8, 24points -3) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 19 of 38

No matter what happens, we will turn at half way firmly in the relegation playoff zone. Its now six points to safety, and six points to auto-relegation. Dropping down is far more liekly than mocing up. We bring in a new defensive midfielder for this game, which is something I guess. He won't play 90 minutes though, he needs match fitness.

The first highlight with him in it is a panicked hack, that leads directly to a Reggina attack and goal. At least he tried to clear long. A second came for them after 70 minutes, killing any chance of us fluking an equaliser. Not thast we have a goal in us any more. I quit. 80 minutes gone and yet another “leave everyone open on the edge of are” moment. I wish my scouts could occasionally find players with some experience and/or some ability. Its all kids with the promise to one day be a serie D quality player.

The Lazio boss was at the game. Obviously, not watching any of our players. But somebody may have bought a ticket. Positive signs.


In eight games now we have scored one goal, and that from the spot. I did go slightly defensive to avoid more blowouts, but not that defensive. That's ridiculous.


Matera Calcio (14th, 7-4-8, 25points 0) v Sarnese (18th, 4-3-12, 15points -30) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 20 of 38

In Game 1: Sarense 1 – Matera 5

An early injury shook up an already shaly midfield, and a needless penalty on 35 minutes put us behind. Sarri got both hands on it, but despite it not being struck hard couldn't keep it out. Matera's second came through a training drill type cross that nobody read except the striker who toe-poked home. Aligardi gave up another penalty on 70 minutes, at least this time a challenge was required. It was just clumsy, and another goal down. Three minutes later we gave another penalty away. And a fourth goal.

It is hard to believe we are a better team than in the season opener after that; but other than morale we are.


Sarnese (18th, 4-3-13, 15points -34) v Messina (15th, 6-6-8, 24points 0) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 21 of 38

In Game 2: Messina 1 – Sarense 0

There is nothing I can do now. Morale has hit that point where things are irreversible. Two early goals, both of which went straight through Sarri's hands and mostly the result of spectating. Somehow no more came, but its surely time to leave.


Even by my standards that is a dismal run of outs.





Apparently the relegation playouts work as a home and away knockout against one opponent. Two of the four who finish 16th-19th go down. Our goal now is to make those playouts. Avoiding them is impossible.

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January – February 2021

Polisportival Sarnese 1926

Italian SerieC/C


d'Andrea came in to partner Fusaro up front, until Nigerian Megbuluba replaces Fusaro in the starting side. He'll come off the bench this game. We also picked up Calviello to bolster a bad midfield and have a centre back on loan, Calogiuri comes form an under 20 side also in serie C but boosts our side. That's how bad we are, though he may go to the bench when Tedesco resume full fitness.


Lecce (6th, 9-7-5, 34points, +11) v Sarnese (18th, 4-3-14, 15points -36) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 22 of 38

In Game 3: Sarense 1 – Lecce 0

There was a bit of a break before this game, which is why so many new players could make their way in.

And the new year starts in better fashoin, Fusaro maybe sensing there are challengers for his position got on the end of a long ball from Baldassi and slotted home after 10 minutes. That was cancelled out ten minutes later, until the assistant cancelled the cancellation via an offside call. And was actually cancelled out on 40 minutes, Calogiuri's lack of recent first team football showing badly in giving the ball away. By the half time break, we were behind.

And, then, as usual, folded without so much as a whimper. Any godo from brining new players was undone as morale hit suicidal in every player. A 4-1 loss is our best result in a long time. Seriously.


Sarnese (18th, 4-3-15, 15points -40) v Cosenza (5th, 11-5-6, 38points +15) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 23 of 38

In Game 4: Cosenza 7 – Sarnese 0. Oh, dear.

Both left and right backs were suspended coming into this one, after what happened last time.

We started the game with a very defensive mindset, just hoping to stay in it as long as possible. That proved to be 47 seconds. And by ten minutes we were down a second, and Sarri was dragged for two bits of utter tripe between the sticks. Three down after 25 minutes, their right back was teariung us to shreds. Instrumental in every move and there was nothing I could do to get any of players to mark him.

It ended up as 5-0. Which is, well, a thing.


There doesn;t seem much point trying yet another formation, or holding yet another team meeting, or trying yet a another set of tactical tweaking.

The only question is whether to resign or wait to be sacked.


Di Meo made it clear in Dxecember he wanted to leave. I was hoping no offers would come in. Sadly one did right on the end of the window, above the price earlier agreed with him. He moves to a struggling SerieB team, a whole level of struggle above us (and not struggling as much). At least we don't have a leaky defence that losing a key from will expose. Well, at least the defence can't get any more exposed. Can it?


Juve Stabia (4th, 11-7-5, 40points +9) v Sarnese (18th, 4-3-16, 15points -45) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 24 of 38

In Game 5: Cosenza 0 – Juve Stabia 1

the first half went about as well as could be hoped for. Stabia dominated but didn't get any real chances out of it. As the second half wore on the inevitable goal became more inevitable. And of course the inevitable penalty, which gave the inevitable goal. And that opened the stupidgates, to a 3-0 smacking.


Sarnese (18th, 4-3-17, 15points -48) v Catanzaro (8th, 10-9-5, 39points, +5) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 25 of 38

In Game 6: Catanzaro 0 – Sarnese 2

One of their players, who has been with them all year, not only scored his first goal of the year but his first hattrick. We did actually score ourselves though, through the impossibly bad Notaroberto hitting home from an agle he had no right to think of shooting from. Bruzzo's far too heavily hit cross working in a miracle.



Siracusa (16th, 5-12-8, 27points, -4) v Sarnese (19th, 4-3-18, 15points -50) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 26 of 38

In Game 7: Sarnese 1 – Siracusa 1

Well, that was a nothing game. Run of the mill 2-0 loss with nothing working but nothing beyond our normal terrible. This team is far too young and far too trash to produce results. And the way FM smacks morale, far too depressed.


Sarnese (19th, 4-3-19, 15points -52) v Virtus Francavilla (12th, 10-8-8 38 points +8) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 27 of 38

In Game 8: Virtus Francavilla 3 – Sarnese 0

We did take the lead in this game, amd I had hoped that would give sdome confidence boost to the players. Not to be, some pathetic defending capped off by Sarri waving the ball into goal started the usual rot run and we lost 3-1. By our standards a two goal loss is like a draw to an average team.


This is a January-February update, but the story goes back to October.








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March - April 2021

Polisportival Sarnese 1926

Italian SerieC/C


Sarnese (19th, 4-3-20, 15points -54) v Melfi (2nd, 15-6-6 51 points +14) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 28 of 38

In Game 9: Melfi 1 – Sarnese 0

You don't win many games when you have one shot to twenty-nine. But you can be level after 87 minutes, and lose 2-0 with 31 shots to 29. We went in defensively, and were a bit lucky not to concede earlier. But just as a stolen point looked likely, two quick and easy goals.


Given the next game was one where it might be possible to snatch a result, yet another team meeting was held. There is no point holding them in games before a definite thrashing, morale just insta-drops to rock-bottom.


Torres (18th, 5-5-18, 20points -27) v Sarnese (19th, 4-3-21, 15points -56) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 29 of 38

In Game 10: Sarnese 1 – Torres 0. we didn't have paractically every player at Abysmal morale back then.

The game was a bit of a snorefest for the most part, but we did have possession and the shot count marginally in our favour at the half time break. Just without any chance of actually putting away a goal. We didn't go in with two strikers, because no matter what system we play strikers don't get to touch the ball anyway. In the second half, Torres started to get on top. But even so, to concede from a corner in the 82nd minute seemed harsh. We're now keeping a very close on eye on Turris' results, we are still to lose to them and its only four points to last.


Sarnese (19th, 4-3-22, 15points -57) v Nocerina (18th, 5-7-17, 22points -22) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 30 of 38

In Game 11: Nocerina 0 – Sarnese 1.

We went with a slightly more attacking philosphy in the hope that against a weaker team at home we could make something happen. It didn't, we only had one shot all match. Nocerina couldn't take advantage, however, until the 92nd minute that is.

One big problem is we got zero points from the two weakest sides other than ourselves and Turris. Turris are yet to play both.


Taranto (1st 19-7-4, 64points +33) v Sarnese (19th, 4-3-23, 15points -58) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 31 of 38

In Game 12: Sarnese 0 – Taranto 2

This match was never about a result, or even damage limitation. It was just about seeing through time. Yet we were usrprisingly competitive for a hlaf before it all turned normal. A goal concede not long after the break, d'Andrea off injured, and then a red card and penalty. What had been a game with Taranto as the better side but not by much was turning into the expected drubbing. Five in the end.


Unsurprisingly the board are starting get on edge. I was called in to explain that result. “We're just bad with a terrible mindest” isn't an option available. I doubt I will get the option to see out until relegation is confirmed now.

Which is hardly a surprise. March just ended, and we haven't managed a point yet in 2021.


April begins with the key game. 19th v 20th.

Sarnese (19th, 4-3-24, 15points -63) v Turris (20th, 2-6-23, 12points -33) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 32 of 38

This is the day we seal relegation. It is the only game we can hope to salvagea point. And we can't really hope to do that.

In Game 13: Turris 4 – Sarnese 0

Turris had most of the ball and the shots, but are not a good team and made nothing from it. At least for a while. Meanwhile, our ill discipline as likely as anything else to cost us. Amazing stuff. A long ball by Bruzzo from a feee on the right found defender Battista's head and we had the lead after an hour. How would we throw it away? I switched back to a counter mentality in the hope men behind the ball would stop us throwing away the game, knowing it was probably more likely to just result in penalties. But we held on, and its now six points between us and automatic relegation.


Casetarna (14th, 11-7-14, 40points -8) v Sarnese (19th, 5-3-24, 18points -62) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 33 of 38

In game 14: Sarnese 1 – Casetarna 1

A misjudged jump under a header by loanee Calogiuir allowed a simple run in en masse by casetarana players to break the deadlock we had luckilt but successfully imposed to that point. We hadn't shown any spark ourselves, so having gone down after 38 minutes the game was over. Changing mentalities had no real impact and it stayed at 1-0 with Casetarana the far better side. Turris lost to Melfi, so the gap was maintained.


Sarnese (19th, 5-3-25, 18points -63) v Monopoli (13th, 13-6-14, 45points, -3) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 34 of 38

In game 15: Monopoli 2 – Sarnese 0

A bit of luck with a sloppy turnover allowed Bruzzo to collect, stroll up the right and centre a carefully placed ball to Fusaro. Poor goalkeeping allowed the barely struck trickling ball to make it over the line. After 10 minutes we had a very unlikely lead from practically our only touches of the ball. Despite the run of play we held it until the break. Monopoli continued their dominance of play, but in the second half barely raised a genuine threat. A win. We needed it too, as Turris managed a draw against third-last Torres.


Paganese (12th, 14-8-12, 50 points, -1) v Sarnese (19th, 6-3-25, 21points -62) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 35 of 38

In game 16: Sarnese 0 – Paganese 2

Paganese went a man down aftera crude challenge on Fusaro, but still controlled play even if we did have the two best chances of the opening half. They were our only chances. The pattern remained largely unchanged. Paganese's slow build up play on the 90 minute mark looked to have paid dividends as they got a man in the area completely unmarked. His shot hit the woodwork however. And that was the final real bit of action for the match, a scoreless draw was fine by me.

Turris lost, making it nine points with three to play. I think we're playing relegation playouts.


Sarnese (19th, 6-4-25, 22points -62) v Olbia (5th, 17-8-10, 59points +13) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 36 of 38

In game 17: Olbia 0 – Sarnese 0

I was quite content to see another nothing game developing, although Brizzo coming off early in the second half with a knock was a concern. To see Notaroberto cut inside and find d'Andrea for an opening goal after 60 minutes was an unexpected bonus. Its alrgely about fitness and morale now, but even so giving away a penalty after 86 minutes was disappointing. And then falling behind on 89 was worse. Except we were saved by a highly dodgy offside call. I'll take 1-1.


As April ends, 19th place is guaranteed.


Dutto will be absent for the reminder of the season. He has fallen away to being an extra option on the right, so that is no big issue on its own.


I think it is fair to say that April was better than November, December, January, February or March.




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May - June 2021

Polisportival Sarnese 1926

Italian SerieC/C


There are just four games to go, including playouts, as the update begins. Things are looking a bit more hopeful for survival than they were but the chances of staying up are still slim.


Reggina (6th, 15-11-9, 59points +16) v Sarnese (19th, 6-5-25, 23points -62) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 37 of 38

Game 19: Sarnese 0 – Reggina 3

There isn't much I can say. We were just utterly outclassed in every area. For the most part the defence at least made them work, which is really the only reason the loss remained in single figures. Two-nill flattered us immensely. Even the penalty we gave up for the second goal wasn't all that disappointing, it is to be expected when the defence is spending 90 minutes under continuous siege.


Sarnese (19th, 6-5-26, 23points -63) v Pomigliarno (17th, 8-7-22, 31points -34) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 38 of 38

Game 18: Pomigliarno 3 - Sarnese 0

I'm not entirely sure how the playout fixture works. I presume it is 16th v 19th and 17th v 18th, but if it is a random draw then this would be one possible opponent.

Worryingly, we couldn't create a single meaningful chance in the opening half. If we can't even do that at home against other bottom of the table sides, survival is looking bleak. Pomigliano weren't creating much either, but enough.

I took Silano off when he picked up a yellow, to ensure he didn't get a red and a suspension. That meant moving away from the two man defensive mid set-up we've been using since February to one we had in the rot-run. We did start to press the opposition a bit, and even had a few minutes in and around their area. The game ended 0-0 but we actually had chances in the final 20 minutes or so.


The final league table is not good reading, That goal difference is quite astonishing in its way.



We get Nocerina in the playout, with the home leg first.

We managed to beat them away early in the season, and lose to them at home towards the end of the run of consecutive defeats. They have won three of their last five, the only loss in that time coming against champions Taranto. I have no confidence, but they are no harder than any of the other options.


Sarnese v Nocerina – Italian SerieC/C, Playout Leg 1 of 2

We came in with poor morale, the pre-playout team talk backfired spectacularly. But more importantly got an early goal. Bruzzo with a floated cross, Fusaro didn't connect with the header very well but the goalkeeper was wrong-footed and the floater found the net. Shortly before half time Fusaro found himself on the end of a half volley from the left and from close range fired accurately, only for the goalie to react far better this time. The half ended with the resulting corners proving no danger to Nocerina.

Despite a lead we struggled with possession, so it was no surprise Nocerina pushed hard in the second half. Of the chances they created few really threatened us, but it only took one. Thankfully Sarri managed to get in the way of that one and we take a minimal lead to the away leg.


Nocerina v Sarnese – Italian SerieC/C, Playout Leg 2 of 2

Very little happened in the opening half hour of the game. Nocerina had all the ball, without making good opportunities. The first real chance of the game via a penalty. For us. D'Andrea put it away and we had a two goal lead over the two legs. Could the defence hold on?

They did until half time. After the break would be a danger period, Nocerina would probably come out fired up. Pressing hard, Nocerina found away back in after 77 minutes. The move started with a refusal to even challenge aerially by Notaroberto. This allowed a straight run, opened up a simple pass and from there a good but not difficult slot home. But they never made a meaningful move again.

Sometimes I think FM is scripted, there is no way we could have survived that season.


The club end of season awards were handed out, and the board review. I like this one.



Not surprisingly, given I was bringing in players from everywhere to try and find anyone we used the most players in the competition at 32. Just 446 average attendance, even at this level is a concern.


Michele Bruzzo won the fans player of the year, and also young player of the year (which almost everyone in the squad would be eligible for, and by the end of the year only one of our regular starters was over 22, Notaroberto at 23). That is a bit of a urprise but he was invvoled in the setup for a high portion of our (very few) goals since coming ind getting starts. Simone Sarri was not a shock for second place, he was particularly good at the start of the season and picked up again towards the end. Nicola Baldassi came in third, despite being left off the pitch for much of the run home due to the change in formation.

Antonio Dutto was another who showed some promise but was left out later, unfortunately competing with Bruzzo to start on the right. He won the club's signing of the season.


At this stage a fair few players eem unlikely to have contracts renewed. And it seems we will lose Sarri, without a viable back-up goalkeeper currently in the squad that will have to be the first place to target for improvement. Then the midfield line. Wings and centre. We're OK for defensive mids, but I don't want to be forced to play two of them again next season in order to survive.


I knew we had a young squad, but I hadn't realised quite how young the starting side had become. Even the squad players are mostly 25 and under. Just one 29 year old.


After saying for months that we were not up the standard he wanted, Sarri did sign a new deal on the same base wage. And as a prospect, so if we do get somebody else in he should not get too concerned about bench time.

Actually, I completely forgot we already three players coming in on 1 July. Including a new goalkeeper.


At the top of the Italian pyarmid, it was all Milan. Inter edging to the title on goal difference from AC. Napoli just two points behind those two. Spain was similarly tight, Atletico Madrid three goals ahead of Barcelona at the end.

In England, it was not so tight. Chelsea had the Premiership wrapped up with a couple of games to go.


Chelsea also wrapped up the Champions League, 2-1 over Real Madrid.


As June wrapped up we had a fair slice of a new defence coming in, but scouts still hadn't found any midfielders or good striking options.


The club lost about £500k over the year, an astonishing amount for this level. The wage budget looks likely to be cut back to the amount I was spending at the end of the season, so a few more will need to be moved on than just those with contracts expiring.

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July – August 2021

Polisportival Sarnese 1926

Italian SerieC/C


None of the players coming in are genuine stars. They couldn't even get a regular game in SerieC last season, but they should all be significant upgrades for us.


Goalkeeper di Berarnardo managed three clean sheets from eight appearances last season. Lorenzo Libutti may be the best of the new players, and even he only managed three starts for Melfi last season. That's how far behind we still are, despite strengthening the squad last year. He will start in the right back spot with Sobacchi on the left. Four of the starting back five, including goalkeeper, will hopefully have their cliub debut in game one.


The wage budget doesn't seem to have been cut as much as previously forecast, which is good considering how many holes we still have.


The media have us expected to finish 17th, an improvement from 20th but still a relegation playout position.


Friendlies again proved a mixed bag, with some disappointing losses and even in the other games we were mostly outplayed. One positive may be Luca Milanesi, who scored a brace in his first friendly appearance for us. Its only a positive if he signs though.

The SerieC Cup was much like last year, the results were nothuing but completely outplayed in both games and we will go no further.

We still haven't found anyone to play on the left wing, which is a concern, but may have some goalscoring ability up front. May do, depending on who agrees to terms and what they actually do once the league begins.


And the opening league game is in this update.


Akragas (Predicted 17th) v Sarnese (Predicted18th) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 1 of 38

We started with the formation that eventually scraped us through the stay in the division, although maybe we should have gone with something a bit more attacking.



Seriously? Di Beraradino didn't make a mistake all pre-season and then completely forgets he's supposed to stop the ball. A very gentle nothing header puts us behind after 35 minutes. Very late in the game we drew level, Manicone on debut with a volley for the leveller coming from Libutti's cross after a cirner was easily cleared. We start with a draw away, but it was a game we had some hopes of winning going in. Mancione played with relegated Triestina last season, mind you he only scored once in 23 games.




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September – October 2021

Polisportival Sarnese 1926

Italian SerieC/C


Sarnese v Agropoli (Predicted 20th) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 2 of 38

Milanesi came straight in as a starter, but missed a couple of chances he really should have taken before going off injured. One game in, 6-7 weeks out. That prpved costly, as Agropoli were held shotless but we were held scoreless. Despite going with a more attacking mentality, and marginally less defensive formation we didn't create enough chances and the few good ones we did create were fluffed.

One thing I am sure of now is that if we can't score goals, its not because we lack striking options. Fusaro has probably dropped from number one or two to number five in those roles.


Pomigliano (Predicted 16th) v Sarnese – Italian SerieC/C, Match 3 of 38

We were holding our own across the park, not dominating by any means. Until Fratus didn't quite get hold of a back-pass but got just enough on it to deflect it past our own keeper.That was a horrible way to concede. At that stage, half an hour in, we were a goal down having had the only on target shot for the game. At least when the second came, it came from a cracker of a shot.

I think we're hitting that run again. A third came courtesy of a free kick, and we probably still didn't deserve to be behind at all based on overall play.


And that is the easy set of games done, with just two points to show for it and a solid looking defence on paper proving unable to withstand even the slightest of pressure on grass.


Sarnese v Juve Stabia (Predicted 6th) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 4 of 38

A disturbing mistake from Tedesco in just the second minute should have put us a goal down, the rest of the defence did a good (if lucky) job of scrambling to the rescue. The distinct class gap showed on the scoreboard half an hour later. It seems no matter how much I think this squad has improved, they never actually do. Another loss, and one where we were swamped from start to finish.


Casertana (Predicted 9th) v Sarnese – Italian SerieC/C, Match 5 of 38

This club is cursed.

The opener came from a fantastic effort on the edge of the area, and the second from our complete inability to defend a cross. It wasn't a dangerous one at all, and all these players can defend it. Except they choose that they can't. 2-0 and possibly the worst match since I've been at the club. Simply woeful all round.


Sarnese v Reggina (Predicted 1st) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 6 of 38

I changed things around a bit for this game. Given the ball wasn't getting forward, two strikers seemed overkill and so we got an extra central mid and advanced the wings. It didn't pay off as sucgh, but we did manage to scramble a lead on 26 minutes. Mancione playing as the lone man up front managed to get a head on a looping ball. Silano did well to find him really.

Shortly into the second half Reggina proved their quality with a team goal starting dopwn the left which left us flatfooted at every step. Passing precision brought about their second, and what had been a promising chance to give the fans something was becoming another disappointment.


Cavese (Predicted 19th) v Sarnese – Italian SerieC/C, Match 7 of 38

Neither side were looking to create chances, both holding back behind the ball. Bottom placed Cavese at least occasionally looked capable, we did not. In fact we didn;'t trake a shot for an hour, and that through a penalty. Thankfully Libutti scored it. Maybe we deserved a drawm but I'll gladly take a much-needed win. It keeps us away from 20th place.


Sarnese v Paganese (Predicted 12th) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 8 of 38

We got very lucky early, managing to scramble away one off the crossbar. And that was about the only realistic effort of the match. We just can't link well enough to create chances, even in games when we are generally on par over the pitch. We're throwing points away, and heading for the same battle as last season.


As September ends, we've played eight league games for just three goals.


Catanzaro (11th, 3-2-3, 11points +1) v Sarnese (16th, 1-3-4, 6points -6) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 9 of 38

This was another one of those games where neither side looked likely for a half. Then Catanzaro changed tack and we were immediately opened up. Tesa got us back on level terms, thanks to some patient play by our new captain Acunzo. And until the 89th minute we looked to have salvaged a draw. By the 90th minute we were down by two.


Sarnese (17th, 1-3-5, 6points -8) v Lecce (5th, 5-2-2, 17points +5) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 10 of 38

Giving up two penalties is just not good enough. And our inability to do anything at even the most innocuous of crosses is mindboggling. The defence is actually worse than last year on that score. Utterly hopeless. This club really is cursed.


Messina (4th, 5-4-1, 19points +5) v Sarnese (18th, 1-4-6, 6points -11) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 11 of 38

Ouch. The game was all over by eight minutes and de Breradino subbed off for two ghastly efforts in goal. Perhaps the only positive to come from the 3-1 defeat was Giarruso providing something as the new man on the left. He is better on the right, but the big weakness is on the left and he can play there. Fusaro started as the sole striker and got the late goal that made the score line merely embarrassing. Messino move to the top of the table.


I know the squad I have is capable of a top half finish, but is destined for last place for reasons I cannot fathom.


Sarnese (19th, 1-4-7, 6points -14) v Catania (12th, 5-1-5, 16points -4) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 12 of 38

Despite being a batter side than a year ago, and by a wide margin, I think we're actually a worse team. Disgusting 2-0 loss without a single thing to count as a positive. At no point in the game did we even look like being at training intensity.


Sircusa (5th, 7–4, 22points +4) v Sarnese (20th, 1-3-8, 6points -16) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 13 of 38

I still cannot see why the defence is so incredibly bad. In the end it was only a one-nil loss, Sarri back as first choice goalkeeper again saving a penalty along the way to lower the deficit.

I cannot save this team from the drop. Its that simple.



Even last season we had 13 points after 13 games. Of course, last season we got a bit lucky early with goals all resulting in points. I expected more goals and points this season though. I really do not understand anything about why this squad is performing so badly.

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November – December 2021

Polisportival Sarnese 1926

Italian SerieC/C


Sarnese (20th, 1-3-9, 6points -17) v Virtus Francavilla (15th, 3-4-6, 13points -6) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 14 of 38


Within half an hour, Diego Acunzo managed to get himself sent off. Firstly just outside the area, and the second yellow came from a completely pointless shove of an opponent in the middle of the pitch. Despite being arguably our best player, I think I will be suspending him even if the FA don't. We finally conceded thanks to our old trick of not attempting to do anythign with the ball and wait to be dispossessed. Paolillo, who wouldn't be near gettimg game time without the send off and an injury to Tesa, the cuplrit this time. A-0 loss a man down for most of the game isn't that bad in itself, but we just can't scrape a point from anywhere.


Melfi (12th, 5-5-4, 19points +1)v Sarnese (20th, 1-3-10, 6points -18) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 15 of 38

The bookies had us as 10-1 outsiders. I thought that was optimistic, and was proven correct quickly. The first two goals we gave up were genuinely well hit strikes that left di Breradino helpless on his return to selection. The second two will see him dropped again for the next game. I expect the first choice keeper to at least lay a glove on those. We did actually score a goal, in the 89th minute.


Sarnese (20th, 1-3-11, points -21) v Cosenza (16th, 3-4-8, 13points -4) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 16 of 38

We gave up an early goal, Sarri initially made a great save but the rebound fell to the same player for a tap in. And we ended up with a sum total of zero shots in the game. Just the 1-0 loss, but time is rapidly disappearing down the same hole that morale has.


Matera (11th, 6-6-4, 24points +2) v Sarnese (20th, 1-3-12, 6points -22) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 17 of 38

With all the strikers complaining about a lack of first team football, Fusaro found himself back in the position. So many options, but thanks to the ball never getting to that end of the pitch we only play one.

Matera had the better of the first half, but some weak shots from close range allowed Sarri time to save. It was Fusaro who opened the scoring, running on to a hacked long ball from Tesa. Of course we didn't hold on, in the 90th minute Matera managed to find a way through. A powerful strike sliding under a diving Sarri. One point is better than zero.


December begins with the realisation that, again, a plyout position is the best that can be done. The gap to safety is 14 points plus goal difference.


Sarnese (20th, 1-4-16, 7points -22) v Monopoli (14th, 6-4-7 22points +7) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 18 of 38

Its always bad when we go down early, as I know we don't have any firepower to draw level again. Six minutes, and down a goal. We moved a more attacking formation and mindset early in the second half, and had a brief period of applying some pressure as a result. Nothing came of it, although somewhat surprisingly we also weren't punished any more for it. As it turned out Agropoli lost by a wider margin, and we moved to second last as a result.


The World Cup groups have been drawn. Gabon and Wales qualified, which are the only two which might be minor surprises. I will give full results in the off-season.


Sarnese (19th, 1-4-16, 7points -23) v Akragas (17th, 1-8-10 11points -13) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 19 of 38

Game 1: Akragas 1 – Sarnese 1

With our game against Olbia delayed due to that team's cup tie, we play Akragas a second time to reach the halfway point.

Some of the goals for this level….Twenty five minutes in, an impossibly well struck free kick sunk our game entirely. We moved from a neutral to a more attacking stance, but with no hope of actually doing anything. A second game when we were just about to make some substitutes and change formation up a bit. We went ahead anyway, only for the central defenders to completely abandon the centre on multiple occasions. One from the spot made it 3-0 late in the game. Acunzo might be our bets player, but I think he needs to go. He gives up too many fouls too often.


Olbia (12th, 7-7-4, 28points +4) v Sarnese (20th, 1-4-17, 7points -26) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 20 of 38

We need to find points from somewhere and aren't good enough to hold teams goalless. So, I finally decided to go back to a two striker option. It didn't go any worse. It didn't go any better either. A frucas own goal being the decider, and this time it was worthy of being called an own goal. We did have a few chances I guess, but nothing that suggested goals will come.


Agropoli (19th, 1-6-13, 9points -23) v Sarnese (20th, 1-4-18, 7points -27) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 21 of 38

Game 2: Sarnese 0 – Agropoli 0

I think this game might be a “lose it an resign”match. Although, transfers come up soon, so I might stay.

D'Andrea cam ein last game, and scored his first of the season this game. Just as I was thinking we were getting nothing from the improvements on the wings, a good ball in form the right gave us a chance to miss; but d'Andrea put in the rebound. A few minutes later Giarrusso crossed from the right into Owusu Asare, who was brought in to the squad a while back to allow Giarrusso to switch to his preferred side, and we went two up. D'Andrea got a second with another move that started on the right hand side and for the first time perhaps in a year and a half we were both the better side on the pitch and the scoreboard. Agropoli pulled one back late, which was disappointing. We probably should have been four up by that stage. There was long enough for d'Andrea to complete his hattrick though. 4-1 that could have been 7-0, and probably should have been 5-1.

Which is all well and good, but maybe just shows the bottom two teams really are the bottom two teams.


Two months for four points is not a good look.



The squad is far too big, and largely no longer getting games, so hopefully a few sales can be made over the January window. And maybe a purchase of another, better, central defender.

Some will be retained purely for their potential, maybe they can find loan places in the (unplayable) Serie D. Its unlikely any other Series C side would want our “not good enough” players.

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January – February 2022

Polisportival Sarnese 1926

Italian SerieC/C


Not one offer for any of the players I put for sale or loan. Given a couple want to leave and the bloated size of the squad, that's a concern.


Sarnese (19th, 2-4-15, 10points -24) v Pomigliano (10th, 9-6-6, 33points +5) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 22 of 38

Game 3: Pomigliano 3 – Sarnese 0

Can we never play at home again please.

Pomigliano again exposed our weakness to nothing crosses to bring up the first of the game. Giarrusso again proved why he is better on the right, setting up the equalise through Acunzo's first goal. And then we got cut up by a cross again to ensure no points resulted from a game which was otherwise reasonably even.


Juve Stabia (4th, 11-6-5, 39points +4) v Sarnese (18th, 2-4-16, 10points, -25) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 23 of 38

Game 4: Sarnese 0- Juve Stabia 1

When you start with a contain mentality, and an opponent scores a first half hattrick its probably not your day. After the first we moved to counter, which only saw the defence decide to run forward on the pass where we turned it over leaving the second goal to be scored with nobody there to even look at it. We got two back late, but from four down they are really just wasted goals. We need points when we score, and quite often when we don't. Giarrusso provided both assists.


The window closed, and all that happened is we brought in yet another not really good enough defender. Not one player left of the seven I had on transfer on loan.


Sarnese (18th, 2-4-17, 10points -27) v Casertana (16th, 5-9-9, 24points -3) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 24 of 38

Game 5: Casertana 2 – Sarnese 0

The opening goal cam ein the third minute, courtesy of a Giarrusso cross from near the corner flag. It was straight to a Casertana defender, but he couldn't get out of the way and deflected it in at the near post in a way none of our attackers could ever dream of. We went two up after a foul in the are following a penalty. We went back to a defensive mode, just hoping to hold out. And, somehow, we got away with a 2-0 win. That was our first home win since last season's playouts.


Reggina (2nd, 14-5-5, 47points +13) v Sarnese (18th, 3-4-17, 13points, -25) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 25 of 38

Game 6: Sarnese 1 – Reggina 2

Sarri held out Reggina's few genuine moves quite well, but it always looked like a matter of time. That time came early in the second half, courtesy of a corner our defenders simply couldn't get close to reaching. Very solid headed goal. A one goal loss to second place isn't that bad, but still unaffordable.


Sarnese (18th, 3-4-18, 13points, -26) v Cavese (19th, 2-6-17, 12points, -28) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 26 of 38

Game 7: Cavese 0 – Sarnese 1

Giarrusso again provided the assist for the opening goal, d'Andrea the finisher at around the half hour stage. Cavese fought hard in the second half to draw back, and unfortunately did so. In the end we only managed a draw, and were perhaps the second best side on the day.


Paganese (6th, 13-6-7, 45points +18) v Sarnese (18th, 3-5-18, 14points -26) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 27 of 38

Game 8: Sarnese 0 – Paganese 0

We never went into this game with any hoped of getting anything out of it. So long as there were no injuries or suspensions, and morale didn't hit rock-bottom across the board again that was all that could be. We struck luckly though. And only lost 2-0, in a 5-0 loss display.




Once again, it is all about not finishing 20th and then hoping the playouts work in our favuor. The first part is still tough from here.

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On 05/07/2020 at 21:21, oche balboa said:

Nice work mate. What leagues are you running? 

At that point it was England down to Conference National, Spain to Secind Division B, Italy to Serie C, two leagues of Holland, four of France and Scotland.

Remembering I am ahead of the updates still by some time, England is now down to County Leagues (10th tier I think).





March – April 2022

Polisportival Sarnese 1926

Italian SerieC/C


Sarnese (18th, 3-5-19, 14points -28) v Catanzaro (7th, 13-7-7, 46points +14) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 28 of 38

Game 9: Catanzaro 3 – Sarnese 1

Catanzaro actually have the most goals in the league, at 44. That's more than our 17.

Not that they showed much sign of that for most of the game. We actually had more possession and more shots before they had a man sent off just after an hour had elapsed. We tried pushing a bit more at that point. They were still the ones who broke through, after 81 minutes. It was good play, made us look a bit silly really. And then we drew level, Giarrusso had set almost set up the play a few minutes before we conceded, but did so with someone to finish it just after. I'm hoping to retain Owusu Asare to be able to play inside forward coming in from the left, to finish things just like that. We got he draw but lost a place.


Things don't get any easier in the next two games. If we can pick up a second point in March it will be a major surprise.


Lecce (3rd, 16-4-8, 52points, +15) v Sarnese (19th, 3-6-19, 15points -28) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 29 of 38

Game 10: Sarnese 0 - Lecce 3

Libutti was suspended, which meant bringing Ponzio in at right back. And sure enough he made two mistakes which led to the first goal. But just before the break, we pulled that back; guess who provided the assist.

After the break, Lecce piled on three more including one form the spot to [put any hope of a draw out of reach. Fusaro got us a second, with the same player providing the assist from the right.

And Agropoli had an upset win, meaning it is just two points between us and last place again.


Sarnese (19th, 3-6-20, 15points -30) v Messina (6th, 14-8-7, 50points +16) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 30 of 38

Game 11: Messina 4 - Sarnese 1

Messina did spend a decent slice of the season at the top of the table. So, they're on the drop. Or, more accurately, they can be quite good. We can't.

We were alright at keeping them at bay for a while, but eventually a slip up with defenders losing their men was almost saved only for Sobacchi to accidentally back-heel it in. Once we tried to push the game a bit, we proved incapable. And then gave up a very late one to lose by two.


Catania (13th, 12-6-12, 42points -7) v Sarnese (19th, 3-6-21, 15points -32) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 31 of 38

Game 12: Sarnese 2 – Catania 0

This whole game was a bit of a nothing. Right at the end Catania gave themselves a very god opening, which we immediately cleared and Giarrusso gave us some hope. That was thwarted and we were under pressure again, and cleared it again. All the action in the game took place after the ninety minute mark. I'm happy to take a point against a far better team.


Sarnese (19th, 3-7-21, 16points -32) v Siracusa (8th, 14-7-10, 49points +4) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 32 of 38

Game 13: Siracusa 1 – Sarnese 0

We spent miost of the first part of the match in desparate defence. For around twenty-five minutes we manbaged to hold out, but no longer. Siracusa just playing all around us at will. When the second came ten minutes later it shocked nobody. There were three by half time. We did get one back at the start of the second, but what was the point?


Sobacchi hit the yellow card limit. We're in the middle of a run against mid to top half sides. Losing the left back isn;t ideal, but its only one game we would lose anyway.

At least Agropoli were still losing.


Virtus Francavilla (13th, 12-9-11, 45points -6) v Sarnese (19th, 3-7-21, 16points -32) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 33 of 38

Game 14: Siracusa 1 – Sarnese 0

Eighy seconds it took. Game gone. A good free kick, but Bellussi did get both hands on it. A move set up by Acunzo, knocked out to Giarrusso who found Cuppone, coming in after injury (and demanding some first team time) to head home for his first goal. We fell behind again, and given how little of the ball we had it was hard to see anything othger than a thrashing. However we did get a second. d'Andrea with the goal, but with a long way to go. Too long. Again the cross brought us undone, 3-2 down with 15 to play. And that was how it stayed. And Agropoli drew to make it just a point gap. Away to Catania too, they might be finding what counts for form in these parts.


Sarnese (19th, 3-7-22, 16points -33) v Melfi (10th, 14-8-11, 50points +9) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 34 of 38

Game 15: Melfi 4 – Sarnese 1

Down after three minutes, Sarri wrong-footed by a deflection in the wall from a free kick. Some poor goalkeeping at the other end allowed Owusu Asare's head to level the scores. Not that Melfi were long in slapping us away again. The rest of the game went nowhere. And Agropoli got another draw to come level on points. I can't see anywhere in the remaining games we can grab a point, so I think we're down.


Cosenza (14th, 11-7-16, 40points +1) v Sarnese (19th, 3-7-23, 16points -34) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 35 of 38

Game 16: Sarnese 0 – Cosenza 1

Oh, hell. Where to start. Two nil in what looked more like a 15-0. I don't know if playing the remaining games out is worth bothering with.


Sarnese (19th, 3-7-24, 16points -36) v Matera (10th, 12-15-8, 51points +6) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 36 of 38

Game 17: Matera 1 – Sarnese 1

I quit at half time. There is nothing that can be done about this lot. Another game where we were trying to push for so,mething and could barely manage to get the ball into the opposition's half.


Monopoli (16th, 9-12-15, 39points -11) v Sarnese (19th, 3-7-25, 16points -37) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 37 of 38

Game 18: Sarnese 1 – Monopoli 0

Again the central defence just stood there while attackers took the ball and shot. Both first half goals came from watching on rather than at least moving somewhere near an opponent. And things got no better in the second. Plus Agropoli had a lead. As the game progressed from 3-0, we did nothing. Agropoli held on. With Olbia sitting in fifth place as the only game to come, we have no chance of a win.



And that finishes April. And my time at Sarnese, I don't think I will play out the final game. The only chance the club has is without me there. We started getting some goals, but it didn't give us results.




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May 2022 – Who Knows


Without me there, Giarrusso got his first goal and Sarnese went back to a playout spot. And they lost both games to bow out. I still think the squad was far better than I could get out of them. They should not have been in a relegation position at all, probably lower mid-table. If SerieD was available and active, they would lose a lot of players but bounce back.


During May I was asked to attend interview at Accrington Stanley, who seem to have barely survived in League Two. To be honest, that's higher than I expected after two poor years in SerieC.


My record so far is amazingly bad.

Season|Team            |Competition     | W| D| L| GF| GA| GD|Posn | Notes
20/21 |Sarnese         |SerieC Cup      | 0| 1| 1|  1|  2| -1|Group|                     
      |                |SerieC/C        | 7| 7|26| 16| 79|-63|19th |Playouts
21/22 |Sarnese         |SerieC Cup      | 0| 2| 0|  0|  0|  0|Group|
      |                |SerieC/C        | 3| 7|17| 25| 66|-41|20th |Resigned
Total  Games  71     W  10   D  17   L  44    GF  42   GA  147   GD -105
                       14%     24%     62%      0.59      2.07     -1.48per game


I missed out on the Accrington job, but have been linked with Melfi to potentially stay in Serie C/C. I also attended an interview in France, but that's my least favoured option.


World Cup updates will be in the next update, or the one after, with a surprise result or two in the group stages.

Edited by BadManager
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And on 28 June, I was announced the new manager at Melfi.


While the World Cup was going on, I had to make some decisions regarding my new squad. Starting with, who would be offered a new contract.

As it turned out, the answer was none of them. Not many had their contracts expiring this year anyway. Then came the harder part, sorting out what type of players we had and what we could do with them – and where any problems were.

The loans that were ending left us with one major hole. Regardless of anything else, a new first team goalkeeper had to come in.



Board expectations are something quite different.

In the league the minimum is to make playoffs. In the Italian Cup, not just the SerieC Cup, we're supposed to reach the second qualifying round.

All with no transfer budget, and 27k wage budget of which we are spending £21k.


Friendlies started out with disappointing results, but not actually bad. Two one goal losses to Bundesliga sides, and a collapse against a SerieB side started things off. But before the league began, the Cup qualifiers. We have a new young goalkeeper supposed to arrive, but he really should be back-up with an actual first-teamer still to be found.


Livorno (SerieC/B, Last season 3rd SerieC/B) v Melfi – Italian Cup, First Qualifying Round

I'm starting out with a one striker option, I know from experience Dugandzic can do that. There aren't really any midfielders who can provide support though, so a two striker system needs to be looked at.

Anyway, the starting team for our first official match looks like this, with one striker and no improvement in goal:


Battaglia has been important so far, but I'm not sold on Mamic, Piana, de Vana or Caivano. Lazio made an offer for Capasso, but he turned them down over wages. I wasn't keen for him to go, especially at the low price offered, but you can't hold back a young kid from talking to such a club.


Enough of that, to the match.

Bad goalkeeping is bad goalkeeping, sometimes from a bad goalkeeper. We fell behind early because Giunti got nothing on a softly hit straight one. And almost a second because all he could do with a long range effort was push it at the post. Thankfully the front of the post and somebody got back to clean up the mess. Almost a third as well, another lazy effort with a simple ball almost slapped in but again thankfully post and out.

When the second did come, it wasn't really his fault. Just some very good play, as we were moving into a two striker formation to try and rag something back.

A dismal result in the end.



And, so back to the friendly grind. A SerieD side, an even lower side, and then SerieA opposition to finish off and really test us before the league.

No good results in those friendlies, really. We did come back from 3-0 down after 75 minutes in the final game to only lose 3-2 after changing things around. As a result I started the opening game in the league with the two striker formation being trained.


After rejecting Lazio, Capasso went to Udinese for £400k and a percentage of next sale. Its probably under value but the offers coming in were around that and not going any higher.


Two first team injuries to start the league, and one who might be first team soon enough given Mamic still doesn't impress defensively at left back. He has been handy when he advances forward though. Stellone in goal is an improvement on what we had, but still can't catch a ball.



Juve Stabia (Predicted 3rd, Last season 2nd) v Melfi (Predicted 8th) – Italian SerieC/C, Match 1 of 38

Two minutes into the season, and one red card. I'm impressed. Marra off, and too early to make a sub really, so a man down in central midfield. We probably have to go one striker and two central mids at some stage reasonably early though. Just to get the season off to a poisonous start, Falcone fouls in the area and 16 minutes we're down courtesy of a penalty. 36 minutes in, another penalty, no need for it this time around. In the end it was Falcone I took off to get the extra midfielder in. And I don't know what to take from that match, a 4-2 loss is not good but its not like we gave ourselves a chance almost from the opening whistle.

As threatened earlier, a World Cup run down. The WC finished shortly before the cup qualifier.

                    2022 World Cup in Argentina (not Qatar)
|Group A                               |Group B                               |
|Gabon         1 – 2 Argentina         |Wales          3 – 0 Germany          |
|USA           2 – 0 Bosnia & Herz     |Uruguay        3 – 2 Iran             |
|Argentina     3 – 1 USA               |Germany        3 – 0 Uruguay          |
|Bosnia & Herz 1 – 1 Gabon             |Iran           1 – 1 Wales            |
|Bosnia & Herz 0 – 3 Argentina         |Iran           3 - 6 Germany          |
|USA           3 – 2 Gabon             |Uruguay        3 – 0 Wales            |
|             W  D  L  GF  GA  GD Pts  |              W  D  L  GF  GA  GD Pts |
|Argentina    3  0  0   8   2  +6   9  |Uruguay       3  0  0   8   3  +5   9 |
|USA          2  0  1   6   5  +1   6  |Germany       2  0  1  10   5  +5   6 |
|Gabon        0  1  2   2   4  -2   1  |Iran          0  1  2   6  10  -4   1 |
|Bosnia & Her 0  1  2   1   6  -5   1  |Wales         0  1  2   1   7  -6   1 |
|                                      |                                      |
|Group C                               |Group D                               |
|Poland        1 – 0 Spain             |New Zealand    0 – 2 Portugal         |
|Jamaica       0 – 7 Paraguay          |Brazil         2 – 0 Morocco          |
|Spain         1 – 2 Jamaica           |Morocco        1 – 0 New Zealand      |
|Paraguay      1 – 3 Poland            |Portugal       5 – 7 Brazil           |
|Poland        2 – 2 Jamaica           |Brazil         1 – 0 New Zealand      |
|Spain         2 – 2 Paraguay          |Morocco        2 – 0 Portugal         |
|             W  D  L  GF  GA  GD Pts  |              W  D  L  GF  GA  GD Pts |
|Poland       2  0  1   6   3  +3   6  |Brazil        3  0  0  10   5  +5   9 |
|Paraguay     1  1  1  10   5  +5   4  |Morocco       2  0  1   3   2  +1   6 |
|Jamaica      1  1  1   4  10  -6   4  |Portugal      1  0  2   7   9  -2   3 |
|Spain        0  1  2   3   5  -2   1  |New Zealand   0  0  3   0   4  -4   0 |
|                                      |                                      |
|Group E                               |Group F                               |
|Russia        0 – 0 Australia         |Chile          1 – 1 Senegal          |
|England       2 – 1 Colombia          |Holland        5 – 0 South Korea      |
|Australia     2 – 0 England           |Senegal        0 – 4 Holland          |
|Colombia      0 – 1 Russia            |South Korea    0 – 1 Chile            | 
|Australia     1 - 1 Colombia          |Chile          0 - 0 Holland          |
|Russia        1 - 5 England           |Senegal        0 - 2 South Korea      |
|             W  D  L  GF  GA  GD Pts  |              W  D  L  GF  GA  GD Pts |
|England      2  0  1   7   4  +3   6  |Holland       2  1  0   9   0  +9   7 |
|Australia    1  2  0   3   1  +2   5  |Chile         1  2  0   2   1  +1   5 |
|Russia       1  1  1   2   5  -3   4  |South Korea   1  0  2   2   6  -4   3 |
|Colombia     0  1  2   2   4  -2   1  |Senegal       0  1  2   1   7  -6   1 |
|                                      |                                      |
|Group G                               |Group H                               |
|Japan         0 - 2 France            |Belgium        2 – 2 Mexico           |
|Algeria       4 – 2 Turkey            |Italy          1 – 1 Cameroon         |
|Turkey        2 – 2 Japan             |Cameroon       0 – 2 Belgium          |
|France        2 – 0 Algeria           |Mexico         1 – 4 Italy            |
|France        2 - 0 Turkey            |Cameroon       0 - 1 Mexico           |
|Japan         2 - 3 Algeria           |Italy          3 - 1 Belgium          |
|             W  D  L  GF  GA  GD Pts  |              W  D  L  GF  GA  GD Pts |
|France       3  0  0   6   0  +6   9  |Italy         2  1  0   8   3  +5   7 |
|Algeria      2  0  1   7   6  +1   6  |Belgium       1  1  1   5   5   0   4 |
|Japan        0  1  2   4   7  -3   5  |Mexico        1  1  1   4   6  -2   4 |
|Turkey       0  1  2   4   8  -4   5  |Cameroon      0  1  2   1   4  -3   1 |
|                                Second Round                                 |
|Argentina     1p- 1 Germany            Uruguay       0p- 0 United States     |
|Morocco       0 - 4 Poland             Brazil        2 -p2 Paraguay          |
|Chile         0 - 2 England            Australia     1 - 2 Holland           |
|France        2e- 1 Belgium            Algeria       1 - 3 Italy             |
|                               Quarter Finals                                |
|    Argentina                       0 - 1      Paraguay                      |
|    Uruguay                     pen 0 - 0      Poland                        |
|    England                     pen 0 - 0      Italy                         |
|    Holland                     e.t 3 - 0      France                        |
|                                Semi  Finals                                 |
|    Paraguay                        2 - 5      Holland                       |
|    Uruguay                         2 - 3      England                       |
|                             Third Placed Playoff                            |
|                                                                             |
|    Paraguay                        2 - 0      Uruguay                       |
|                             2022 World Cup Final                            |
|                       1/2Time       FullTime     ExtraTime    Penalties     |
|    Holland                  0              0                                |
|    England                  0              1                                |
|Player of the tournament : Memphis Depay (Holland, Club:Real Madrid)         |

Spain surely the surprise, finishing bottom of their group.

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On 10/07/2020 at 19:39, mattyjames_ said:

Australia going undefeated in their group- pretty good effort for them in the World Cup!!

True enough. I'm pretty sure even the one time Australia has made the knockout rounds it was with a loss in the group stage.

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September – October 2022


Italian Serie C/C


Melfi v Virtus Francavilla (Predicted 15th, Least season 12th) – SerieC/C, Match 2 of 38

We were looking the better side, with no reward, until Gallina received his second yellow after an hour. After that we went back to the one striker system, and still received no reward for being by far the better team. That was a complete waste of two points, and I let the team know about it.


Aversa Mormanna (Predicted 20th, Last Season SerieD) v Melfi – SerieC/C, Match 3 of 38

Another game we should have won easily and struggled to get anything from. In the end, third choice Beltrame had to come on as a sole striker after the two first choices failed to even provide any impetus. It had been 31 hours of playing time since his last goal apparently, and he scored two. Dugandzic seems really out of touch as a scoring threat, preferring to try to play someone else in. And Battaglia, creator of so many opportunities against good and poor teams alike in the pre-season has started just knocking the ball backwards or nothing at all.


Melfi v Matera (Predicted 10th Last Season 10th) – SerieC/C, Match 4 of 38

Matera had not dropped a point, or conceded a goal, heading into this game.

Fans at least got their money's worth out of this match. After we missed an early chance Matera took their one good shot, after ten minutes, and held onto it until half time. At that point the game was looking flat. After the break we started getting on top, and Casoi came in from the left to get his first for the club. Both sides almost produced for the next half hour. And then on 83 minutes we had the winner, a scorcher from C Ilari. Except it wasn't, Matera immediately replied. From then it was edge of the seat stuff, even in stoppage time both sides looked like breaking through only for moves to break or defences to close things down at the last. 2-2.

Carlo Ilaro's winner that wasn't would go on to be goal of the month. It was good, but I was surprised at that.


Melfi v Pomigliano (Predicted 17th, Last Season 11th) – SerieC/C, Match 5 of 38

This is already becoming a theme, we failed to capitalise on dominating games by actually delivering points. One point for a game like this one is just a bad return with the complete inefficiency up front. I've tried different players, different formations, different tactics, nothing seems to actually result in goals – even when we do get clear cut chances. Nil all is terrible from that game.


Foggia (Predicted 1st, Last Season SerieC/B 2nd) v Melfi – SerieC/C, Match 6 of 38

At least in this game we were just outplayed by a far superior side. Two stunning bits of play saw us go down by two goals. We regrouped late to claw one back but were never in the hunt. We should be a top five or six team, not staring at relegation again.


And with the bad results comes the first media signs of pressure on my job. Its early in the season but hardly a surprise to have questions raised given the results.

I do seem to be very good at getting the worst out of teams.


Melfi (15th, 1-3-2 6 points -1) v Casertana (9th, 1-5-0, 8 points +1) – SerieC/C, Match 7 of 38

I tried to find a way to improve our set up without trying a new formation. Not a single highlight in the opening half. We did break through with the only goal midway through the second. I'm not convinced the changes did anything, but at least got the win.


Monopoli (16th, 2-2-3, 8 points -6) v Melfi (10th, 2-3-2, 9 points +/-0) – SerieC/C, Match 8 of 38

I put Carlo Ilari on the left wing, he isn't as well suited there but does seem to provide something for others to work off. He did get the assist for the opener after almost 25 minutes, albeit Dugandzic had to run at the goalkeeper to get tgheir first by head. A second came quickly after, defender Piana up front for a corner and heading truly.

We didn't really look like conceding, but of course we did with about twenty to play when we should have been further in front. And just as I was making subs to rotate a couple of players in for some match time. One those was replacing C Ilani. As it turned out his replacement, De Vana got our third with some luck but he was in the right place to poach a rebounding ball. It could have been better, but 3-1 is a decent result.


Interest in 26 year old midfielder Solomon Nyantaki seems to be rising from two clubs. I don't really want to sell, and have now had a couple of press conferences where I have had to make that clear. If it doesn't ward them off, maybe it will up the price. He doesn't get mentioned a lot in these updates, but is a starter most games. He did get the goal against Foggia, and does provide a vital link in many of our moves if not the goal or assist.


The SerieC Cup draw came through, a tough game home to Foggia.


Melfi (9th, 3-3-2, 12 points, +2) v Reggina (5th, 5-1-2, 16 points, +9) – SerieC/C, Match 9 of 38

This is late in the round, Reggina were third before other sides played their ninth game.

Our passing game was right off, probably due to a team better at picking off anything slightly loose. And it was no surprise when Reggina were able to form two moves we had no chance of doing more than applying a little pressure to. Thankfully one was offisde and we hit the break just one down. That kept us in it with some luck. Luck came on 70 minutes, a Marra free kick ballooning off the wall with the opposition goalie already committed in the wrong direction. In the end, the point was lucky but maybe we did enough to deserve something by looking better in the second half. If we consider that a bonus point, the season probably owes us three points still with the other two draws we deserved wins in.


Olbia (12th, 3-2-4, 11 points -3) v Melfi (9th, 3-4-2, 13points +2) – SerieC/C, Match 10 of 38

This was slowly becoming another game where we looked the better side but the scoreboard stayed as it began. Until 65 minutes. Dugandzic finished off what eh started, originally playing a very long ball wide on the left before finding himself in the path of it after it was centred, cleared, and knocked around again haphazardly by both teams. It was hardly the most fancy way to open up, but deserved in a way. And then immediately annulled, via a corner on one of Olbia's rare forward moves. Dugandzic should have had a second not long after, but the tap in went with the keeper's reach. A bit more ricochet- ball in the area and substitute Caso got us back in front. Big mistakes up front for us, Olbia's Romagnino ran almost the full length to equalise again. Unchallenged run but a good finish. And again two points thrown away.

Battaglia added to the injuries we took into that game, but should be OK.

Luca Oneto tore a hernia midweek and will miss two months. Thankfully Gallina is recovering from his injury to play the right back role.



Melfi (10th, 3-5-2, 14points +2) v Paganese (5th, 5-4-1, 19points +6) – SerieC/C, Match 11 of 38

The stats suggested we had the better of this game as well. But given there was one highlight all match that might be misleading. I brought on De Vena and Beretta because we were getting nothing up front and they were lacking match fitness, there was nothing to lose by giving them half an hour. They were both involved in the one highlight. Beretta pushing a fairly easy shot just wide.

Those two draws sort of round out the two months in fitting fashion. Nothing to show for mostly being the better side.


Middling results, middling league position


That could very easily be 6-3-2 and have us looking much more likely to reach playoffs. There is a long way to go, hopefully we can find a way to get some wins. More likely a mid-season slump hits and we're staring at relegation again.

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November – December 2022


Italian Serie C/C


Catanzaro (6th, 5-3-3, 18points +7) v Melfi (10th, 3-6-2, 15points +2) – Serie C/C, Match 12 of 38

We got away with one early, a mistake opening up a chance for Catanzaro but they used man too many, that man being offiside when he applied his touch. And it was a mistake that caused the game's opening goal, a Catanzaro defender going under a high ball and failing to make the simple clearance. Marra ran onto it and showed some composure to beat the goalkeeper. Just on half time, Perez, who scored from offside earlier showed some class to get past our defence and beat Stellone from a tight angle.

As the game wore on Catanzaro started to get on top, and fully deserved their 81st minute goal. In the end, we made to many mistakes, The usually reliable Nyantakyi making crucial ones, after doing good work to get the ball just giving it away in a manner that would have been less damaging to let them have it all along.


And Battaglia reached the yellow card limit during that match.


Melfi (SerieC/C 11th) v Foggia (Serie C/C 2nd) – SerieC Cup, Second Round

With this cup being unimportant, I brought in a couple of players needing game time. Going further would be nice, but Foggia are a class above us anyway.

We give our second goalkeeper a run, he strains his neck after 22 minutes then concedes. And a second time before he came off at about 35 minutes gone. Not that either were really his falut, certainly not the first one.

Ambra was already having a poor game in defence, before getting a broken nose. We did pull one back on 70 minutes, this one was poor goalkeeping, I could have stopped Beltrane's shot. Five minutes later we had a one man advantage, but still did not have the skill to make it worthwhile. Caso was about to come off, and would have done much earlier if not for the forced substitutions. He played a vital role in the play than ended with Caivano's first goal. Their keeper in this game really is trash.

That left us with some very tired players for extra time. Either they played 90 minutes four days ago, or lacked match fitness coming in. The midfield, especially, were shot. At the halfway point of extra time I swapped Beltrane and Marra, both out of position but just to get a midfielder that could still jog. To penalties, and I was expecting their dodgy as hell goalkeeper to pull out blinding saves in the shootout. Which he did with the first one. And the second one, though that may have been missing anyway. Foggia didn't miss any of the four they needed.


Melfi (11th, 3-6-3, 15points +1) v Cosenza (4th, 7-3-2, 24points +9) – Serie C/C, Match 13 of 38

With Battaglia unavailable to fill the playmaking role, we changed the lineup around. Falcone came in to play as a shadow striker, hoping Dugandzic would get support. That was not to be, apparently we had the bulk of the shots but the only decent first half chances fell the way of our opponents. When Falcone did get involved he scored, from offside, on 80 minutes. And it finished a scoreless affair. Probably reasonable, ststs say we had the better of play, highlights said maybe Cosenza marginally.


We have a couple of games agaimnst teams just ahead of us. Wins here would be very useful.


Fondi (10th, 5-3-5, 18points 0) v Melfi (11th, 3-7-3, 16points +1) – Serie C/C, Match 14 of 38

Nothing happened for a long time in this game. Then we got lucky as a long skidding shot took a defelction off a defender and went in. A second came with just under 70 played. This one via a corner, off Dugandic's head playing as a sub today, for central defender Magli's first goal. While we were not up to scratch early, we did deserve the points in the end. Even if the ice-breaker was more luck than anything else.


Melfi (10th, 6-3-5, 19points +3) v Siracusa (8th, 5-8-1, 23points +6) – Serie C/C, Match 15 of 38

What a start! Carlo Ilari started on the pitch, not because he is the best central mid available but he usually provides something to attack that better controlling midfielders don't. In this case a scorching third minute goal. Sadly Siracusa managed to equalise almost immediately, a cross just fell to their straiker Valente to tap in. Exactly how it eluded three Melfi heads on the way is being investigated. Chances came for both teams after that, with us having by far the better ones but no goals coming. Caso could easily have scored twice rather than not at all.


At the end of November a new board took charge, and informed me they would only look at matches and transfers from that point on in judging my position.


Our next two opponents both had three players in the November team of the month, and sit well above us on the table. We really needed three points against Siracusa.


Messina (5th, 8-3-4, 27points +11) v Melfi (10th, 6-4-5, 20points +3) – Serie C/C, Match 16 of 38

We sat back early on to see how competitive we would be and judge how much we could afford to attack. We remained competitive, but only by holding back. In the end, while Messina controlled the ball more neither side had a real chance on goal all match. We dropped two place getting that draw though.


There has been interest in left-back Mamic from other SerieC sides, and he came imploring to be let go. I don't really want to, but can't afford to have a sulky player, so a replacement looks likely to be first on the January shopping list. Assuming he leaves.


Melfi (12th, 6-5-5, 21points +3) v Taranto (4th, 9-3-4, 30points +10) – Serie C/C, Match 17 of 38

Around a quarter if the way through the match, we fell behind courtesy if a very well hit shot fom a bit outside the area. There should have been more pressure applied, but it was a very good shot. We never got any reall opportunities until the final few minutes of the game. At that point we continually won the ball back, got it and ourselves in threatening positions but never quite had the opportunity to pull the trigger. A disheartening, but not unexpected, loss.


After failing against those better sides, we really need to take advantage of the two theoretically weaker teams leading to the halfway point.


Catania (16th, 4-3-9, 15points -8) v Melfi (12th, 4-9-4, 21points +2) – Serie C/C, Match 18 of 38

Not to be. While we started out pressing their goal, they soon adjusted and were two up. One through a fantastic curling free kick, and one where we simnply aren't good enough in the air. The second half began with Beretta failing to put away the easiest of chances. It took a Catania player to score for a few seconds later to get us on the board. Beretta came off, his chances are done. Earlier in the season we were failing to get results when playing well. Now, we're just playing badly.


Melfi (12th, 4-9-5, 21points +1) v Cavese (18th, 2-5-11, 11points -10) – Serie C/C, Match 19 of 38

When morale starts to drop the stupid rises. So it was no surprise to see us go down courtesy of a penalty, and to be harrassing the oposition without attempting to actually impede them in anyway. Eventually it was left to Falcone, brought in as we changed formation and Caso to combine to equalise early in the second half. It really didn't look like happening to be honest. From then on we made the few half-chances. Given it was fan day, a poor result and a drab match.


We hit the halfway point short of where we need to be. Thankfully tenth is good enough to make playoffs, but we're slipping out of touch with even that.


Melfi (13th, 4-10-5, 22points +1) v Juve Stabia (9th, 8-6-5, 30points +6) – Serie C/C, Match 20 of 38

Game 1 : Lost 4-2

Caso is injured and will miss 2-3 weeks, making the decision on the left a tough one.

When thingsa ren't going your way, things don't go your way. We hit the woodwork early, had a blatant penalty denied, but were otherwise outplayed. So, I guess things did go our way to leave with a scoreless draw.


Virtus Francavilla (14th, 6-5-9, 23points -10) v Melfi (13th, 4-11-5, 23points +1) – Serie C/C, Match 21 of 38

Game 2: Drew 0-0

I don;t know how to describe the nine minute mark. Falcone, playing on the right this time, crossed to Dugandzic who hit a very weak header the goalkeeper slapped into the post and the ricochet fell to a defender who tried to clear it wide but just put it in off the far post. The second goal was more regulation, and not just because it was scored against us. Midfielder, beats a man, knocks it wide, cross headed in while our defenders have no idea where to stand and watch. We took the lead again, Dugandzic getting just his fifth goal after Marra put a ball over the top to him and he finished in a style I have only seen when coming up against him in previous seasons. Shortl;y before half time Carlo Ilari put a corner kick almost into orbit, as the ball came down there was dragging in the area and we were awarded a penalty. Whic Dugandzic put away for the 3-1. Marra, who has really fallen away in recent times, almost provided us a fourth. It took a very good stop to knock it wide. Some superb passes set up Francavilla for their second, and it was slotted from a tight angle too. And on 80 minutes Stellone dropped a straight one, only an opposing striker was there to mop up and 3-1 had become 3-3. Caivano and Marco ilari don't play much together, both being best on the right, but they did combing to start the play leading to our fourth goal. Falcone, having swapped to the left, supplied the assist to Dugandzic's hattrick.


And that's all she wrote for December. Despite that final, somewhat lucky, win I think we are now out of any realistic running to make playoffs. That is really quite poor for a side of this calibre. There is the quality to make up the gap, but results suggest its not really going to happen.

A few players will have to leave in the summer if I haven't been sacked. Age is going to be an issue soon for some, and lack of performance for others.



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January - February 2023


Italian Serie C/C



Melfi (13th, 5-11-5, 26points +2) v Aversa Normanna (20th, 1-1-19, 4points -44) – Serie C/C, Match 22 of 38

Game 3: Won 2-0

Three times in the opening seven minutes we hit the woodwork, two were easier to score than miss. And then refused to take any more shots despite being dominant. We finally got a goal, and that took a dubious penalty. Leonetti, signed in the summer window, got off the mark. Normanna should have cleared easily, a bad cross went straight to three of their defenders but somehow they gave us a spot kick. The man gave up the penalty got himself sent off late in the piece. A 1-0 win over Normanna is not good enough.


Matera (2nd, 13-5-4, 44points +15) v Melfi (11th, 6-11-5, 29points +2) – Serie C/C, Match 23 of 38

Game 4: Drew 2-2

While we had the best chances to open the game, we ended up being ripped apart by crosses from their right back to concede twice in the first half as the game settled into a pattern of pummelling us. Apart from the assists of that one man, and better finishing than we can manage, we weren't far away. But that is more than enough to be far away where it counts. We tried to attack more, but actually ended up creating fewer chances. After deciding to just go with damage limitation as the minutes wound down, Leonetti scored again. This time a goalkeeping error, with the ball basically bouncing off his arm from a fairly innocuous shot. We deserved the loss, but I had doped for better.


As the transfer window closed we didn't do a lot of business. Adorni wanted out, and was pushing registration limits. We only got £7.5k for him, but better than nothing for an ageing backup. As mentioned Leonetti came in, to mostly play an inside forward role coming off the left. And we picked up a depth central midfielder on a free loan. In the end, that was all. We did put a couple of others up, but nothing came of those until it was too late to complete a deal.


Pomigliano (17th, 5-5-13, 18points -11) v Melfi (11th, 6-11-6, 29points +2) – Serie C/C, Match 24 of 38

Game 5: Drew 0-0

Nooooooooooo. End tyo end stuff. Their goalkeeper hoofed it forward, Magli ran underneath it, a Pomigliano player ran the remaining few metres to slot in the bottom corner. Just terrible. And it half time we had all the play except those 8 seconds and were down a goal. With a shot ratio favouring us 5-1, and not all speculative, it took until then97th minute for us to equalise. Dugandzic, on as a sub again, looked to have no support but managed to wait for Nyantakyi to provide a target and thankfully he finally finished one of our moves. And a 92nd minute penalty won us the game. Or should have, Leonetti's spot kick was saved. Two corners resulted in nothing before the final whistle. Getting results when being on top is still a problem, we're just not on top as often as we were in the first third or so of the season.


Melfi (12th, 6-12-6, 30points +2) v Foggia (1st, 14-7-3, 49points +27) – Serie C/C, Match 25 of 38

Game 6: Lost 2-1

Cup : Lost on penalties 2-2

Battaglia missed this one through having ten yellow cards for the season. He is playing in a ball winning defensive midfield role, so a few cards is to be expected. Bonetto would come in, but being on loan from Foggia isn't allowed for this match. Its called timing.

Essentially, we just want to avoid humiliation in this game, and hope to actually get points in the next couple.

We opened the scoring with a glorious finish to drilled cross. It was, of course, an own goal putting us one down after being sort of not entirely run off the park for the first quarter hour. There must be something about the net at that end. Nyantakyi, playing in Battaglia's recent role, was having a paretty good game and put in a rapid shot with came off the upright and a Foggia defender tried to hoof out over the sideline. Instead he absolutely slammed it into the inside of the side netting. One own goal apiece. We somehow went ahead whem Marco Ilari skipped his man on the right, and found the head of Beretta. That didn't last long, Foggia producing a cross from the right, followed by head, goal of their own. And then in the 90th we fell behind, Stellone wrong-footed by a late touch diving to his right as the ball went left. Only for M Ilari to provide a low cross from not as wide and Lenoetti to score in stoppage time. Its a shame Marco Ilari is 33, I haven't played him a lot but he's been getting more time recently.



Casertana (11th, 7-11-7, 32points -3) v Melfi (12th, 6-13-6, 31points +2) – Serie C/C, Match 26 of 38

Game 7: Won 1-0

Just one meaningful chance for either team in the first half, and we were lucky Casertana hit the post with it. It was a long shot but Stellone was well beaten. Both sides hit the woodwork hard with their first meaningful chances, even if ours didn't come until the 70th minute. Dugandzic floating in onbly to head into crossbar. He made amends in the 92nd minute, he was on a very unscientific ball forward but did well with the run and to beat the keeper. A stolen win, and a much needed one.


Melfi (13th, 7-13-6, 34points +3) v Monopoli (18th, 3-8-15, 17points -30) – Serie C/C, Match 27 of 38

Game 8: Won 3-1

The game was all Melfi's except, once more, on the scoreboard. Marco Ilari got very luck just shy of the hour mark. The ball fell to him accidentally, and what was not a well struck shot form the edge of the area deflected off a defender just enough for their goalkeeper to only be able just a lay ahand on it and not get enough extra deflection to push it wide. Nyantakyi got one late for the sealer, another the goalkeeper perhaps would have stopped without a tiny defelction. We got the points, and that was the important thing, but were not convincing in getting there.


That put us into tenth, and a playoff position. But that's around where we were at this after eight games as well, the rest of the fixture needs to go better than the first time around.




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March - April 2023


Italian Serie C/C



Reggina (8th, 11-10-6, 43points +12) v Melfi (10th, 8-13-6, 37points +5) – Serie C/C, Match 28 of 38

Game 9: Drew 1-1

An early goal for loanee Bonetto, from jst outside the area. The opposing goalkeeper could only palm it into the top of the netting. A Marco Ilani free kick ten minutes into the second half almost resulted in a secod foir us. Piana sneaking forward to use his head and force a good save. Reggina broke away a few times, and it was then that they were dangerous. Thankfully they didn't break through, while we blew two more really good chances but managed the win.


Melfi (9th, 9-13-6, 40points +6) v Olbia (16th, 6-9-13, 27points -9) – Serie C/C, Match 29 of 38

Game 10: Drew 2-2

36 seconds in Leonetti and M Ilari combined to give us an early lead. The cross really should have been stopped by the keeper, but he failed to move a metre off his line to catch it and Ilari put it home from quite close, if the angle was a bit tight. It was only three minutes before he had his second. The ball was almost cleared from the area, but fell to Ilari who hit truly from an awkward height for one touch. Twenty minutes later Dugandzic drew a penalty as he entered the box. It was Ilari who took it, and completed his hattrick with 24 minutes on the clock. We did concede not long after, a long throw from the right finding its target and the Olbia player took one touch to control it, and the second to shoot hard and true.

Four our foutrh Ilari provided the assist, via a corner straight onto Magli's head. To have three in the first half hour and finish with four could be considered disappointing, but not on this occasion.


The Lazio manager was apparently at the game, keeping an eye on Stellone. He did play under 20s at Roma, and won the under20 cup with them. So, all the first team game time he's had this season as a 20 year old goalkeeper probably means it shouldn't be a surprise he's being tracked by some big clubs. I'm starting to wish I'd tried for a much higher release clause in his contract.


Paganese (6th, 13-12-4, 51points +15) v Melfi (9th, 10-13-6, 43points +9) – Serie C/C, Match 30 of 38

Game 11: Drew 0-0

Nyantakyi missed this game due to the yellow card limit.

Finishing, finishing, finishing, defence, defence, defence, they were the only problems. Dugandzic got us the lead running across the edge of the area and shooting truly. At that point we were well on top but not scoring. Late in the first half momentum changed, and in the second Paganese put on three. All in different styles, but the first two showed the vulnerability from having an attacking left-back. It works for us most of the time, not so much this game. Celli doesn't provide as much overall as Mamic, but had to come on to stop the bleeding on that side.


Melfi (9th, 10-13-7, 43points +7) v Catanzaro (6th, 14-9-7, 54points +17) – Serie C/C, Match 31 of 38

Game 12: Lost 2-1

Nyantakyi missed this game through injury, but should be available for the game after. Marra also picked up a short term injury the day before the match, cutting the midfield options.

Catanzaro were all over us for much of the game, pulling a few players instructions tom something less attacking helped nullify that. It was still a surprise when Lenoetti ran in for the opening goal. It really should have been stopped at the near post. We did give one up later to end with a draw. Either a draw or a loss would have been a fair reflection on play.


Cosenza (2nd, 17-8-6, 62points +23) v Melfi (9th, 10-14-7, 44points +7) – Serie C/C, Match 32 of 38

Game 13: Drew 0-0

Cosenza were well on top all game. I don't even think we were that bad, but just utterly outclassed. We didn't have a real chance all game, and went down by three well crafted goals. At one point we did manage a 10-15 minute spell where general play was on level terms, but by then we were already two down and for the other 75-80 we might as well not have bothered being there.


Melfi (11th, 10-14-8, 44points +4) v Fondi (8th, 13-8-11, 47points +2) – Serie C/C, Match 33 of 38

Game 14: Won 2-0

Dugandzic had a bruised thigh and missed the Fondi game midweek.

Melfi were clearly the better team all game, without any spark to actually provide a goal. Instead Fondi got the only goal. It came through a long ball over the top that our defence didn't get back quickly enough to stop the unchallenged one on one. We probably should have had three points here, but if you aren';t good enough to take the chances you aren't good enough to take the points.

Fondi were probably the one team in the playoff positions I had the most confidence we could beat too.


We know from the mid-season tnat thje run home is too tough for us. Its hard to see how we will make ground on teams above even if we win this game, which we won't.


Siracusa (13th, 10-13-9, 43points +1) v Melfi (11th, 10-14-9, 44points +3) – Serie C/C, Match 34 of 38

Game 15: Drew 1-1

We got the much needed early break, having set up to harass them a little more thanks to the assistant reporting they like to use slow deliberate build-ups. We got the ball forward through that method and with a bit of luck the ball fell to Lenoetti to turn and score in the left of the goal in two minutes. I had to sub Dugandzic out at half time, he took a knock late in the half and didn't look like recovering in the break. And Beretta was instrumental in getting our second. Laying the ball wide to the advancing Mamic, and being in position when the cross from deep came back in. The third, after 88 minutes, was the icing on the cake. De Vena, getting a rare appearance due to the short breaks between games fed Beretta who scored his second after signing for another year, as a backup player, during the week. The margin of victory flattered us, but the points were deserved.


Dugandzic looks set to miss the next game, but Beretta may have found enough form to retain his place anyway.


Two of the remaining four games look unwinnable. The hardest being next up. Just three points separate 8th placed Fondi from Virtus Francavilla in 12th, with tenth making playoffs.


Melfi (11th, 11-14-9, 47points +6) v Messina (5th, 16-10-8, 58points +19) – Serie C/C, Match 35 of 38

Game 16: Drew 0-0

The only real glimmer of hope heading into this game was that Messina haven't been great away from home recently.

I immediately started hoping Messina weren't going to put anythign in the air. They have a huge lad up front. Mamic was almost caught out of position, being a left back having taken a corner on the right and cleaning up the clearance. An interception on his next pass didn't quite happen though and he snuck into the area while moving to the left and happened to make the perfect target for a returning Marra. 65 minutes in we went a man up, the slow short passing frustrating a Messina midfielder for his second yellow. Marra's free went well over. But we held on for an unlikely win, and actually looked the better side throughout as well. Despite losing, Messina secured their playoff place due to other results.


Three teams are now on 50 points, ranging form 9th to 11th. Including us and our next opponents. Its getting tight now.


Taranto (9th, 13-11-11, 50points +8) v Melfi (10th, 12-14-9, 50points +7) – Serie C/C, Match 36 of 38

Game 17: Lost 1-0

Fondi should beat Monopoli at home to leapfrog the loser of our game, or both of us if we draw.

We were slow to get started, barely even having any possession at all for 15 minutes. And Bonetto came off with a gashed head. When we did get the ball forward, Taranto pressed hard. We did quite well to keeop the ball with short passing on the edge of the are until Dugandzic made a break, and Marco Ilari managed to thread the needle for the assist. The shot only just went in, they made us work hard to snatch a lead. It was lost early in the second half, Taranto against starting better and this time getting a goal with their efforts. There was some luck involved, as we had blocked the initial shot and it was ricochet which was scored from. No luck with their second though, our left defence opened up and the simplest of crosses to an unmarked head next to the penalty spot. To sink all hope they got a third with jusrt over ten minutes to play. Again a lack of marking made it easier than it should have been. To have a lead and lose so decisively is a bitter thing, and in essentially a six-pointer too.


As expected, Fondi won, so we are three points away from playoffs again.

Battaglia's fourteenth yellow card means he will miss the next game.


And Foggia secured the title.


The final game for April, and second last for the season was a winnable must-win game.


Melfi (11th, 12-14-10, 50points +5) v Catania (15th, 11-7-18, 40points -13) – Serie C/C, Match 37 of 38

Game 18: Lost 2-1

Nothing happened, then nothing continued to happen. The after half time nothing happened. The something bad happened. A pretty simple stop for Stellone somehow went underneath him, With neither team looking like scoring, we had conceded in horrible fashion with no likely way back in. When we did finally create a chance Dugandzic had half the area and the whole of the goalmouth to himself but toe-poked the ball straight to the goalkeeper.

And we were out of the running. We would need to make up three points and four in goal difference in the final game. Not impossible, but ludicrous enough to be impossible.




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May - June 2023

Melfi – Italian Serie C/C



Well, this should be a short update. I'm hoping for a final win, as the difference between 11th and 13th may be the difference between keeping and losing the job.


Cavese (18th, 5-11-21, 26points -27) v Melfi (11th, 12-14-11, 50points +4) – Serie C/C Match 38 of 38

Game 19: Drew 1-1

We tried playing more direct to see if there were four goals in us. It didn't work, the direct passing was cut off time and time again. It took half an hour before our first good chance, Dugandzic played in and shunted it wide. A few minutes later Leonetti didn't make the same mistake. We had a lead, but too far into the game to steal a spot. Dugandiz did create our second. Twice being the only man forward with three defenders in front of him he held it up and laid it off, the second time to a steaming Carlo Ilari who ran straight and shot straight. A spectacular save denied Dugandzic on eighty minutes. And that was it, Reggina lost to Siracusa and we therefore missed tenth place on goal difference.


All that was left was the end of season reviews. The Carlo Ilari and the departing Mamic made their way into the Melfi all time eleven. Simone Battaglia won the fans player of the season. I felt he was disappointing in parts but can't disagree to strenuously. Domenico Marra getting youg players of the season ahead of Stellone, who was signing of the season, was a bit of a surprise but fair enough.

Marra signed his new deal the day the squad went on holiday.



The initial budgets for next season came in, with around the same wage budget as the season gone leaving about £5k to spare. And there is a transfer budget of a touch over £100k as well, but I'm always reluctant to spend money unless I'm getting a near guaranteed star of the division.


We have another left back coming in to replace Mamic, probably not as good and certainly won't provide the offensive side that Mamic did. We need at least one centre back, a right back, and I would like a young striker. The latter may yet come from our under-age squads.


I was offered a new one year deal toward the end of May, with few strings attached. So, I took it. I would have liked two years, but hopefully next season we do make playoffs and I get another year or two then.

Season|Team            |Competition     | W| D| L| GF| GA| GD|Posn | Notes

20/21 |Sarnese         |SerieC Cup      | 0| 1| 1|  1|  2| -1|Group|                     
      |                |SerieC/C        | 7| 7|26| 16| 79|-63|19th |Playouts

21/22 |Sarnese         |SerieC Cup      | 0| 2| 0|  0|  0|  0|Group|
      |                |SerieC/C        | 3| 7|17| 25| 66|-41|20th |Resigned

23/23 |Melfi           |SerieC Cup      | 0| 1| 0|  2|  2|  0|Rnd 2|
      |                |Italian Cup     | 0| 0| 1|  0|  2| -2|     |2nd Qual Rd
      |                |Serie C/C       |13|13|11| 47| 41| +6|11th |
Total  Games 110     W  23   D  31   L  56    GF  91   GA  192   GD -101
                       21%     28%     51%      0.82      1.75    -0.918per game


Liverpool won in England, with Arsenal, Man United and Man City heading to the Champions League. In Spain, it was Barcelona's title. Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Sevilla the others in the Champions League. And in Italy, AC Milan replaced Inter at the top on the last day, Juventus second and Lazio the other to enter the Champions League.


Catanzaro won their way through the playoff system to go from sixth in our division to SerieB.

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July - August 2023


Italian Serie C/C


Four players joined us at the start of July, while a few others walked with their contracts not renews. Of that latter group, Mamic's move to Foggia hurts most and Beltrame is probably the other noticeable one.

Luuk Linthorst fills Mamic's left-back position, but without the attacking ability. Despite an injury Nunzio Chiesse joins as a young striker. I hope he can get game time this season to develop as Beretta and Dugandzic are both ageing. Bonetto comes in permanently after doing well for us as a loanee last season.


Foggia made an offer for Marra, which I stalled with the intention of declining. I would like to see how the player reacts first. I'm not sure what formations we will be using, but would expect Marra to again play a fair slice of games. Maybe not the 32 he did last season, admittedly. And he's under 23 so doesn't take up a registration spot. A little bonus as we received £300k due to the resale of a past player, from before the save started. In the meantime we brought in two Albanian 20 year old full-backs. They will both just be cover this season, and hopefully for sale at some stage this or next, but we have two Albanian under 19 national team reps already so why not bring in two under 21 reps. Sure, its Albania, and not Brazil or Spain but its something.

We really need better first team defenders though.

We didn't finish high enough last season to avoid the SerieC Cup group stage, drawing two other SerieC/C sides in the group.

Pre-season took a hot with injuries, but an even bigger one when Nancy Lorraine in the French top tier made a joke of an offer and I had to reject it. He wasn't happy and spread poor morale in the squad. Palermo made an offer as well, but at about a tenth of what I would sell him for. And we picked up a player I had at Sarnese, I hope he will prove up to the task here. The squad size is massive, the older players didn;t get moved out as I hoped.


SerieC Cup was woeful, in fact no pre-season game was impressive and no player looked even as good as last season. Cavese are now in SerieD, Vigor Lamezia not that high.


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September - October 2023


Italian Serie C/C



I had hoped to start with a two striker combination, one veteran and one younger player. Dugandic and Martinelli, brought up from the under 20s, both start the season injured. Battaglia is also unavailable, and our only decent centre back Luca Piana will miss another 5-6 months. Carlo Ilari probably wouldn't play, but has a suspension, presumably carried over from last year.


That left us starting like this. I really don't think we're as good as last season, and we certainly didn't play pre-season like a top half side.


Taranto (Predicted 10th, Last Season 9th) v Melfi (Predicted 7th) – SerieC/C, Match 1 of 38

Twenty-five seconds. That's how long the season lasted before we got taken apart. Taranto's ball movement was far too sharp for us. Beretta did get us back on level terms, after fluffing simple chances against easybeats in pre-season his season opener didn't look that flash but got the job done against the run of play. Failure to clear when we had the chance allowed a Taranto player to slam home their second from the edge of the area, it was quite poor to neither hoof it long or look for a player. And its not like our defene is young and learning. They're just poor. It didn't take long a for a third. That became five, yes five, shortly after the break. And while we did get a second courtesy of a penalty there was not one good thing about the performance.


Melfi v Reggina (Precited 6th, Last Season 10th) – SerieC/C, Match 2 of 38

A floaty corner somehow fell to Beretta and we had a lead after quarter of an hour, A drab match followed from that point with neither side able to do much. As our players tired, Reggina started to get on top and really should have done better with a chance from an 80th minute long ball. We got the win, but we're still very, very bad.


Casertana (Predicted 9th, Last Season 14th) v Melfi – SerieC/C, Match 3 of 38

Terrible game. Not only didn't we fire a shot worthy of the title, nor did our opponents but we still went down by two goals. They weren't lucky, they were very very bad, but at least two goals better than us. The wheels have utterly fallen off at this club.


Melfi v Gragnano (Predicted 20th, Last Season SerieD Promotees) – SerieC/C, Match 4 of 38

Heading into this one Leonetti went onto the injury list. He's been quite poor this season so far anyway, which is a problem as he might just be our most important player other than the depressed Stellone.

And Stelllone cost us the game with a very weak non-effort at shot stopping. We should have scored more than the early one against a team set for relegation but did not look like it at all. With two tough games coming up, team morale hitting rock bottom again just one game after a team meeting, and not one moderately performing player, it is just about time to to walk.


Cosenza (Predicted 7th, Last Season 3rd) v Melfi – SerieC/C, Match 5 of 38

Cosenza are yet to drop a point this season. Melfi are yet to truly earn one, despite having four.

We completely gave up thew wings, stacked the middle, and hoped the ball would remain there; and that we could do something to at least hold level when it did. It sort of worked for a half, a nothing game is as good as we could possibly achieve. We weren't really parking the bus, we don't have the surety of defence, either in defence or midfield, for such a thing. But grinding out a nil-all was far better than anticipated.



Melfi v Juve Stabia (Predicted 3rd, Last Season 7th) – SerieC/C, Match 6 of 38

We went in with the same “straight up the guts” formation and immediately ahsd the left side exposed, thankfully clearing a couple of times. Then took the lead in a surprising way. Falcone had been brought into an attacking midfield spot, and was on the end of a Dugandzic cross after the latter had run about a third of the pitch but been forced to stay out wide. At around the 70 minute mark, a very odd penalty went against us. Bonetto was about ten metres away from the nearest opponent when the whistle was blown, apparently against him. (OK, on replay, apparently it was called for handball, still wrong but wityhin ten metres.) Stellone saved, but an equaliser came fifteen minutes later. A long ball from the left clearing our defenders and Juve's Cerda ran onto it with a pretty sweet volley. We had one final chance, but Marra didn't fire before the whistle went.

We are now well entrenched in the relegation playout zone.


With defensive stocks already low, Ambra will miss around 5 weeks. That limits options badly, he's probably third choice for two positions with first choice still out for a few more months. And the scouts aren't finding anyone to bring in, I need under-23s now due to registration limits. Its his first injury in four years. I may have gone too hard on pre-season fitness training.


Matera (4th, 4-1-1, 8points +6) v Melfi (17th, 1-3-2, 6points -4) – SerieC/C, Match 7 of 38

An unlucky way to concede late in the first half, with crossbar, onto keeper, onto upright and in, but the long ball from deep on our left is proving a real problem both with the freedom of delivery and the lack of anyone able to stop the receiver. And that was the way it stayed throughout, I did set battaglia to mark theirt man on their right (our left) but I don't know if it had any impact.


Dugandzic joins the injury list just as Leonetti comes back to training. He hasn't been scoring, and its a short term injury so maybe it will work in favour.


Melfi (17th, 1-3-3, 6points -5) v Pomigliano (2nd, 5-2-0, 17points +7) – SerieC/C, Match 8 of 38

Beretta picked up a cut in his leg, while I eft him on for a while it was only to avoid playing our fourth choice striker alone up front for too long. As it was Carlo Ilari, who I had little intention of playing when the season began, put in a booming long effort to get us a lead (it would become October's goal of the month). Pomigliano were carrying a few players with knocks as well by that stage. Leaving Beretta on paid more dividends than expected, Falcone forced to the side of the area found Beretta who turned and scored off the inside upright, doubling our lead on the half hour mark. After 60 minutes we gave one up, careful and methodical work from Pomigliano to eventually find a path to one of their striker midway between two defenders. We held on for a win, that despite that lapse, we deserved.


Siracusa (11th, 3-1-4, 10points, +4) v Melfi (15th, 2-3-3, 9points -4) – SerieC/C, Match 9 of 38

We were generally in control of play in this one, until our weakness in the air was exposed. Despite having two men there, we got out-jumped from a corner. Their player could even direct it as though there was nobody there, and straight to a one touch finish. Mind you, we should have scored from the corner ourselves. The first one went off two heads, and forced a good save to get the next corner. And that one, found Magli's head who put it high and wide from being fully open. And we got zero points for being the better side in all areas except that one.


Melfi (15th, 2-3-4, 9points -5) v Torres (8th, 5-1-3 16points +2) – SerieC/C, Match 10 of 38

Torres were excpected to be among the relegation candidates, but clearly aren't. They have won four games in a row coming into this one.

Of course after looking the better side we gave up a ridiculous penalty. How Oneto only got a yellow for what could easily have been broken legs for both players is a mystery. The spot kick went true. And that was it, four times as many shots, more possession and not one real chance for the whole game.


Lecce (12th, 4-1-5, 13points +1) v Melfi (15th, 2-3-5, 9points -6) – SerieC/C, Match 11 of 38

Well, colour me shocked. A long Ilari free kick almost went directly in, but the goalkeeper managed to slap it down. Defender Ruggiero, brought in to debut as cover for another injury, found the ball at his feet and tapped in. We had a lead. It was now a matter how to blow it in the most stunning style. Of course, an own goal from a simple intercept. Except, that it was at the unexpected end and saw us go 2-0 up after ten minutes. Plenty of time to concede seven.

The first of the anticipated seven came after half an hour. Open man on their right, head high cross from deep, net. Lecce had a few more opportunities, and we had one we really should have scored from but it remained 2-1 in our favour.


Melfi (15th, 3-3-5, 12points -5) v Messina (7th, 6-3-2, 21points +9) – SerieC/C, Match 12 of 38

Magli got in the way of a backpass and put the ball past Stellone for us to be down after 16 minutes. And Messina were absolutely smashing us. The only one spark we had was Beretta makina run down the right wing. He made the cross, met the head, crossbar. But that was our only attack for well over a half. By the time we got another meaning effort in we were two down. We did score from the second one though, Coesntino doing on the left what gets done to us, from deep high into the box, landing right on Giarrusso's foot to tap in from under a metre. Giarrusso was involved again for an equaliser, skipping a man down the right and finding Battaglia's head.


The season is a third done, and we look sunk as far as playoffs go.




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November - December 2023


Italian Serie C/C



Ambra got injured again before the first game of the update, and will be lucky to be available before the season ends. That's two injuries this season for a guy who went four year without injury. Knee this time, rather than ankle. He turned 30 in August so it shouldn't be age yet, but as he should be a fringe player anyway time might be up. I had to raid the under 18s to have a substitute for central defence. With Ruggiero starting, a player who should not even be on the bench, defence is troubling. The scouts really need to come up with something.


Francavilla Sinni (18th, 2-3-7, 9point -16) v Melfi (15th, 3-4-5, 13points -5) – SerieC/C, Match 13 of 38

November is basically all theoretically winnable games, four matches all against bottom half opposition. Twelve points would obviously be ideal and should be achievable, anything under eight a large disappointment. So I expect probably five points in that period.

We were utterly outplayed by a totally inept team. We never had a real attacking move in the whole match. In fact, with all instructions set to attack the players just knocked the ball around with no intent on the edge of the opposition's area for the final four minutes despite being a goal down. Yeah, we lost. Despicable.


Linthorst came back to full training, but I wasn't risking him for this match despite it meaning I could strengthen the defence a little.


Melfi (15th, 3-4-6, 13points -6) v Virtus Francavilla (12th, 4-5-4, 17points -2) – SerieC/C, Match 14 of 38

At least in this game we showed something for a little while, but were hit with bad luck when a blocked shot rebounded off one of our defenders onto another and into the net. Neither side had created anything particularly dangerous and that happened. Zero points from the five easy game coming up. And then to compund things we gave up a penalty as the second half got underway. By the time we created our first true chance we were down by three, after a couple of long balls up the middle had seen us caught unable to retreat. It was far too late to be meaningful but Beretta did pull one back with a solid one from range. We had fifteen shots to seven, but the quality of the shots was more five like to one the other way. Zero of six from the easy six points so far. I can't see this job lasting another month.


Olbia (18th, 2-3-9, 9points -10) v Melfi (15th, 3-4-7, 13points -8) – SerieC/C, Match 15 of 38

We just don't have players who like to see goals next to our team name on the scoreboard. The game again began with attacking settings, and players not attempting to advance the ball. After some frustration, Giarrusso was fed the ball and went forward. Amazing stuff. Not only that, but someone else did as well. Run, cross, one touch goal to Caso on his return to the team. We finally managed a second after almost 80 minutes, Carlo Ilari again from just outside the area. He was helped by a goalkeeper who wasn't fully fit getting there but not doing anything more than waving it through. That was almost immediately followed a third, Ilari's corner finding Nyantaki for his first of the season. Admittedly he has been playing in a defensive mid role a lot this season. We started out with no intent at all, but ended up with 24 shots for the game. In many ways its a concern only three scored and one of those require a goalkeeping error. One of the problems is the only two players who are good enough up front both like to play as target men, and trying to develop one of the younger guys to play alongside one of those two has not worked. We don't have a reliable path to goal, and rely instead on a not very attacking set of midfielders.


Melfi (14th, 4-4-7, 16points -5) v Trapani (19th, 1-5-9, 8points -15) – SerieC/C, Match 16 of 38

At least we tried to get the ball forward early in this game. Not always with much success, a lot of blocked runs and intercepted balls, and way down on possession count. But it did eventually result in enough pressure for the ball to luckily fall to Bonetto as attempts to set good chances up kept getting stopped. He managed to score what has been a decidedly rare goal for him. Not a lot happened after that, we got the points but far from convincing at home against nineteenth.


And that was November, a disappointing six points from what should have been a gifted twelve.


Melfi (13th, 5-4-7, 19points -4) v Paganese (2nd, 10-5-1, 35points +16) – SerieC/C, Match 17 of 38

We managed to stay with the for a half, even perhaps producing a little more. But it was Paganese who got the opening goal with a bit of luck involved. We blocked the first shot but it fell to to the other opposition player among three of ours and was put away well. Our equaliser was even luckier, Carlo Ilari taking afree kick from almost in the next suburb, deflecting off the wall and past a keeper who had dived the way the ball started out. A very nervous 92nd minute, Stellone forced to tip one over the bar and the resulting corner proved dangerous. But not scored from and we got a draw.


It is no surprise to see that I'm second on the “sack race”, though board confidence isn't that low yet.


Catania (14th, 4-6-7, 18points +6) v Melfi (13th, 5-5-7, 20points -4) – SerieC/C, Match 18 of 38

An early goal for us, Beretta taking the rebounding ball out wide, laying it off and finding space for Giarrusso to pass into. Actual good play. Although Magli undid then fairly quickly with a needless penalty. They had far too many dangerous players for us to control, three of whom were involved in their second goal with deep cross, head, head, net. It ended up as three, long balls are our undoing (one of many) even when the defence is told to stay back they always result in an attacker with no pressure behind the line.


Melfi (14th, 5-5-8, 20points -6) v Turris (16th, 4-5-9, 17points -6) – SerieC/C, Match 19 of 38

It took 89 minutes for a goal, Giarrusso is supposed to set things up and isn't a tall guy. Yet he got the only goal of the game from his head. The points were desperately needed, obviously, but it was not a good performance in attack despite have possession and three times as many shots. Shots on target was equal, which says our ineffectual our attack is. And our defence is frequently poor, anything high or long, we are easily scored against; and any team that has a good short passing game we might as well not even be there.


We turn for halfway simply hoping we can get a run on and come close to matching last year. Piana should be back soon, at least one defensive spot might get better.


Melfi (12th, 6-5-8, 23points -5) v Taranto (4th, 11-3-4, 36points +10) – SerieC/C, Match 20 of 38

Game 1: Lost 5-2

Last season: Lost 1-0 (H), Lost 3-1 (A)

taranto had us under siege early, and really should have had two goials in the first six minutes. Both a shining light and a mistake maker, Caso on the left. He made some end to end runs, but shooting from impossible places. He did make one run which fed Dugandzic for his first goal of the season, a poor return for the theoretical number one striker. He hasn't started most games though, because Beretta scored a few goals (not many) and Dugandzic didn't. Just after the half hour mark Taranto hit back, a solid free kick curling away from Stellone slightly and he could one hand there but not enough to change trajectory. The presssure Taranto put us under told in the second half and despite scrapping to keep the ball out, the second goal was inevitable. Blocks and blind attempts at clearances can only work for so long.


Reggina (5th, 10-3-7, 33points +7) v Melfi (14th, 6-5-9, 23points -6) – SerieC/C, Match 21 of 38

Game 2: Won 1-0

Last season: Drew 1-1, Won 1-0

We don't , so to have one denied by an offside flag early on against a higher up opponent hurts. No complaints, it was offside; but it would likely be our only decent attempt. We did get another good chance after about 30 minutes, but Beretta got under it a bit and hit the crossbar when aiming for the top right. But when Reggina created one good opportunity, we made sure it went in for them.


And with that, I got called into the boardroom. And sacked immediately.



As can be seen, that came neatly at the end of December. I was just extending a few contracts, two older players were leaving and I had plans for one or two more. Piana was finally coming back, to add stability to the central defence – and allow Cosentino to go back to left back where he had overtaken Linkhorst. He played about 15 minutes as a sub in the final game.

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January – February 2024


In early February I had an interview at the old parent club, Foggia. That ended up being unsuccessful, hardly a surprise given they are in SerieB. A later interview with Mantova in SerieC/A looked a bit more likely, a smaller club at the same level. Or, after just getting rid of him due to being surplus, I could be reunited with De Vena at Pistoiese.

In the end, a change of nation. Achilles '29 in the second tier of Holland. This is actually a step in club and league reputation, but a move out of Italy might be a good thing for now.

Located in Groesbeek, near the border with Germany, Achilles '29 were performing above expectation when their manager left for Saudi Arabia. Playing at the 4500 capacity Sportpark De Heikant, Achilles have been around the bottom of the second tier Jupiler League ever since reaching those heights for the first time. The first season in the league was 2013/14 with two 11th place finishes the club's best.

I'm not quite sure how this league works. There appear to be four periods. I come in with us 7th overall and apparently playoff qualified already.


It seems like the top three in each of four periods of nine matches make playoffs, or some such thing. Achilles were third in the third such period.


A lot of defensive mids there, and I added a third tactic that plays two of them. We're going to start out with that, just because the worst that can happen is I can only get sacked again.

First match, first of March.

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March – April 2024

Achilles '29 – Dutch Jupiler League



Roda JC (14th, 9-9-10, 36points -3) v Achilles (7th, 10-11-7, 41points +5) – Match 29 of 38, Jupiler League

The new tactic didn't work. But nor did swapping out of it to something the players were more accustomed to. Roda didn't seem to park the bus, but the match was a ninety minutes of basically nothing happening. I didn't learn a lot about the players. They pretty much all played a bog average game in a bog average nil-all game.


FC Oss (8th, 10-11-8, 41points +3) v Achilles (7th, 10-12-7, 42points +5) – Match 30 of 38, Jupiler League

This was also a game with little happening. The highlights were few and far between, but mostly favouring Oss. Twenty year old loanee Philippe, playing as the lone striker, had our best chance and really should have put us in front but somehow found the goalkeeper midway through the second half. And then we went behind, an unmarked player from a corner slotting home although it was called an own goal by one of our defenders. It was going in with or without his ineffectual touch. Philippe had a chance again, but failed to even attempt a shot. Then, late in the piece something already clear in this league happened again. An opponent left the ball behind with no pressure on him, Hilterman coming off bench took possession and found Philippe who finally made amends and slammed home for an equaliser.


There was just a three day break before the next game, my first at home.


Achilles (7th, 10-13-7, 43points +5) v Helmond (14th, 9-12-9, 39points -3) – Match 31 of 38, Jupiler League

With only three forwards in the squad and two of them injured, Hilterman gets a start this game.

Things didn't start well. Very much outplayed by a team well below us on the table, though close on points. And then our goalkeeper made a huger error to allow Helmond a soft goal. Something is terribly wrong with dribbling in this league, Intima picked on right wing should be one of our better but is easily dispossessed every time – often losing the ball before a defender even arrives, and he's not the only one.

Another goalkeeping error allows us an equaliser, Hilterman's nothing header slipping between both hands of the opposing goalie. Straight at him and straight through him. Van der Meijs on the left with a decent assist, but it should never have been a score. Shortly before the half, we went down again. This time at least Raahauge was genuinely beaten, though he shouldn't have been and the whole team deserves blame for a lack of pressure. Lorenzo Sweres saved his place on the starting line up for the next game, scoring after being on the end of a Getsthuizen ball. Sweres did well to find space on the edge of the area to accept and shoot. Its a pity he can't really play an attacking sort of role, because it was a decent effort in a side clearly absent scoring power. 2-2 was not good enough at all.


I really didn't take the time to study the players before getting into matches, and all I'm learning in the games is that nobody is putting in a decent game. Few are putting in terrible games either. There is a little that I've learned some players can't do, but nothing about what they can do.


Achilles (11th, 10-14-7, 44points +5) v Sparta (2nd, 15-11-5, 56points +17) – Match 32 of 38, Jupiler League

We had slipped to 11th, with other teams having played their 32nd match.

We went in just hoping to hold them out, and that worked initially. As the first halfg grew older the side from Rotterdam started to press our area more though. Slow deliberate play from both sides, and it was Sparta who found a way on the hour mark. It was reward for patience, while not taking a backward step. We had our best chance immediately after, it looked like Hilterman would score for sure found on a run from the right. Terrible, terrible shot. With fifteen to play, their goalie was forced into a high quality save but we couldn't break through. And a third in stoppage time, an absolute corker of a shot that looked in near the left post. But somehow Garrido got two hands on it to deny us. Given the goalkppeing mistakes ion other games, some quality work was a surprise – and a pain. The stats showed we had less chances, but literally all the clear cut ones.


FC Emmen (6th, 13-9-10, 48points -1) v Achilles (11th, 10-14-8 44points -4) – Match 33 of 38, Jupiler League

Philippe got the striker spot back, and we mixed the midfield up a little looking to find someone prepared to move forward occasionally. Very early weakness in defence exploited, but thankfully offside. But on the half hour mark the goal came. For us. Intima is disappointing for his apparent skills, but got the assist in this one having received from the corner on the edge if the are and feeding Van der Sande to blast home. Emmen equalised shortly bnefore the break, in much the same manner as the earlier offside goal. A series of passes out right and in again to be tapped in from right on the line. Raahauge really should be getting to them. A well hit free kick nearing 70 minutes saw us drop 2-1 down. Well hit, not well directed Raahauge again with a blunder. Two hands to it in front of his face without having to move, and into the side netting.


A few older players asked to be moved on. One left immediately, the others fill reserve spots until season's end.


Achilles (12th, 10-14-9, 44points +3) v Jong PSV (18th, 8-10-15, 34points -9) – Match 34 of 38, Jupiler League

A few teams have already played 35 games and almost everyone has played their 34th. This being a make-up game we could climb a couple of spots if we can somehow find a way forward. As we should have, we completely dominated the first half. But all we had to show for it were two efforts into the woodwork. Of course, Jong hit us on the counter early in the second, somehow getting behind our defence with an injured player who absolutely hammered it home from near the penalty spot. We changed things a little, trying to get one extra player to run forward. That didn't do much, but Philippe did get an equaliser with an equally hard hit ball. I ripped into the side after that result.


Even by my poor standards, FM17 seems worse foe me than any version I've played before. I can't get anything out of anyone.


NAC Breda (3rd, 16-11-7, 59points +16) v Achilles (12th, 10-15-9, 45points +3) – Match 35 of 38, Jupiler League

Breda came out and pushed us very jard. We managed to soak up the pressure without really providing anything ourselves. A pretty nasty tackle saw Breda go down to ten men. We still couldn't press them at all, despite starting to attempt to do so. But the pressure was off us as well, and a scoreless game resulted with neither side threatening at all.


Achilles (11th, 10-16-9, 46points +3) v FC Eindhoven (15th, 10-12-14, 42points -11) – Match 36 of 38, Jupiler League

We were never in this game. Eindhoven had a magic man, who had two on the board before we could string a pass together. While we did draw level in the second half, two quick goals to bresciani who has only recently re-entered the side on a wing and Scholte starting his first game since I've been here having been injured. The well deserved loss was confirmed by a magnificent finish.


FC Volendam (5th, 15-12-9, 57points +7) v Achilles (10-16-10, 46points +2) – Match 37 of 38, Jupiler League

We held on for thirty five seconds, a move along the end line ended with a chip onto a head about four metres out and a simple goal. Philippe almost drew us level, as we knocked the ball around the area until someone was in position. The shot drew a pretty good save. Midway through the second half their goalkeeper wasn't so good. He seemed to have taken hold of a corner above his head, but dropped it strsight onto the boot of Bresciani. He did his best to miss it, but couldn't manage it so we drew level. Unfortunately we gave up a penalty later on, a really pointless one to a man posing no threat. And then we went to ten men, defender van Bakel picking up a second yellow courtesy of a handball in the middle of the ground.



That's an amazingly dismal run.




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May – June 2024

Achilles '29 – Dutch Jupiler League


Excelsior (9th, 15-5-17, 50points +1) v Achilles (10-16-11, 46points +1) – Match 38 of 38, Jupiler League

Finishing is a thing. There weren't a lot of real clear cut chances in this match. Those that did exist were all in our favour. We went three nil down before dragging one back far too late to be anything more than a waste of paying a goal bonus.


I took over this club in 7th, to go winless from the final ten games. That is not good.


De Graafschap (6th, 16-11-11, 59points +11) v Achilles (14th, 10-16-12, 46points -1) – Eridivisie Playoff First Round First Leg

As the snow fell we took a slightly different line up in, trying to make chances from somewhere somehow. They didn't realy eventuate except for a run yup the right by Bresciani that found Philipppe's head. With the goalkeeper having dived under the ball Philippe had an open goal from two metres out. And put it over. In the 93rd minute, we gave up a free just outside the area. It curled, it was straight, thankfully that also went over. We take a draw into the home leg.


De Graafschap (6th, 16-11-11, 59points +11) v Achilles (14th, 10-16-12, 46points -1) – Eridivisie Playoff First Round Second Leg

He has been incredibly error prone, but also the only option for the spot. Raahauge misses the game, and any remaining playoffs, with a hernia.

100 seconds in Van der Sande, responsible for some of our worst misses on the rare occasion I've played him, gave us a lead with a fairly simple finish fed by Philippe. It took half an hour them to equalise, with their first proper shot of the match. They started making more forward moves against us though, even if the shots were wild and wide. Eighty minutes they had another free kick, a long way out and thankfully directed at our very poor goalkeeper. It bounced off him, and their sole striker was there to finish. Thankfully he also kicked the ball straight to our keeper, it bounced off and we managed to clear. That should have been the loss right there. We tried to push a little to see if we could force a result. It wasn't to happen. We bow out on away goals.


James Lawrence, who I haven't mentioned much, won the fans player of the year. He played most games since I arrived, but mostly in a defensive mid position where he didn't really feature much in highlights. Philippe got most goals, he's frustrating but I still wish he was ours as he might come good soon. I still know nothing about this squad, except I can't get anything out of it.


A lot of loanees in there, I'm not sure I want to renew all that many of them.


The three big leagues finished up in May. In England the top three ran away from the pack, and it came down to last day. Chelsea's 4-0 win enough to take the Premiership on goal difference from Manchester City. Real Madrid had the title wrapped up in Spain a game earlier than that, Barcelona hot on their heels and then a break. And Inter had to win to be sure on the final day in Italy. They did so with Juventus two points behind.

In the Champions League, apparently Old Trafford counted as a neutral venue with Manchester City beating Manchester United in the final. I'm in Holland now, and no Dutch side made the knock-out rounds.


Melfi narrowly missed playoffs, recovering from the disaster I led them to.

Disaster seems to be my forte.

Season|Team            |Competition     | W| D| L| GF| GA| GD|Posn | Notes

20/21 |Sarnese         |SerieC Cup      | 0| 1| 1|  1|  2| -1|Group|                     
      |                |SerieC/C        | 7| 7|26| 16| 79|-63|19th |Playouts

21/22 |Sarnese         |SerieC Cup      | 0| 2| 0|  0|  0|  0|Group|
      |                |SerieC/C        | 3| 7|17| 25| 66|-41|20th |Resigned after 37 of 38 games

22/23 |Melfi           |SerieC Cup      | 0| 1| 0|  2|  2|  0|Rnd 2|
      |                |Italian Cup     | 0| 0| 1|  0|  2| -2|     |2nd Qual Rd
      |                |Serie C/C       |13|13|11| 47| 41| +6|11th |

23/24 |Melfi           |SerieC Cup      | 0| 1| 1|  1|  2| -1|Group|
      |                |SerieC/C        | 6| 5|10| 20| 27| -7|14th |Sacked after 21 of 28 games

23/24 |Achilles '29    |Jupiler League  | 0| 6| 7| 10| 16| -6|14th |Playoff round 1
Total  Games 146     W  29   D  43   L  74    GF 122   GA  237   GD -115
                       20%     29%     51%      0.84      1.62    -0.788per game


I finally found a club that gave permission for me to do a coaching course. I still don't even have a National C licence.

And Philippe will be back with us on loan next season. Central mid Gesthuizen and winger/forward Van der Meijs may be back as well. Offers are there, it depends on the players.

I'm struggling to fill gaps in this squad, for that matter I'm struggling to work out what the gaps are. Apart from manager ability of course.

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July – August 2024

Achilles '29 – Dutch Jupiler League



The squad has trimmed down a bit as we head into training camp. As can be seen two more loanees are returning. Syarifusin at 22 was brought in to fill the departing Belterman's position, better and still developing. Lots of players are wanted by various clubs, and there has already been discontent from not letting van Gelder go to another club in the league.

Gesthuizen won't be coming back, having moved to Eindhoven.


The board's pre-season expectations appear to be playoffs, while the media expectation is we'll probably be mid-table but not top half. My expectation is to get a win at this club before getting sacked.


As July rolled on, Euro 2024 saw Italy scrape through their semi final and then beat Germany to lift the trophy.


After some friendlies which less impressive than the scorelines suggested, and even then it one loss in the four games, it was back to business early in August.


FC Eindhoven (Expected 12th) v Achilles (Expected 11th) – Match 1 of 38, Jupiler League

The season opened slowly. Both sides seemed to be waiting back on the other, Eindhoven with more possession and doing a bit more but not by a lot. It was James Lawrence who opened scoring for us, Bresciani's free kick almost cleared but Lawrence was there to place it rhgouh the gaggle and into the goalmouth. Ant dreams of a win were crushed at the end, with Hendriks (who I'm sure scored last game too) receiving while making a steaming angled run.

That makes it fourteen games without a win, a new club record.


Achilles v SC Cambuur (Expected 4th, Last Season Relegated 16th Eredivise) – Match 2 of 38, Jupiler League

Cambuur completely controlled the game but, almost as if they were us, did not make any use of the control Plenty of shots, nothing close to threatetning. On 40 minutes, Van der Meijs took the ball down the left and maged to cut inside and Philippe for an unlikely lead. Philippe scored again a couple of minutes later, giving us a two goal lead at the break. Van der meijs again got the assist, after a short high cross from Bresciani. Canbuur pushed ahard again after the break, this time creating more real chances. Given we had a decent lead we pulled back a little, which worked for half an hour. At that point Kappenburg scored one a classic own goal to let Campuur back in. Simple intercept with nobody around but somehow he managed to just one touch it into the net. And just as we looked likely to hold on, a bit of a scramble on the line resulted in failure to clear and an 89th minute leveller.


Jong PSV (Expected 1st, Last season 17th) v Achilles – Match 3 of 38, Jupiler League

We went into this one hoping to hold out and maybe strike on the counter. Nothing happened from either team for 40 minutes, and then surprisingly four our tactic we went end to end with two players. Goalkeeper Mohammed Torun hoofed long, Philippe took the ball off an opponent ran to the edge of the area and slid it home at the right post. The second half was also a quiet one, again until very late in the game when Jong themselves right in it again. Except, thankfully, hitting the crossbar. I finally managed a win at this club.


Achilles v FC Dordrecht (Expected 17th, Last season 19th) – Match 4 of 38, Jupiler League

We're certainly getting into the swing of boring games. Sometimes that's a good thing. Dordrecht dominated, so a match with ninety minutes of nothing and a nil-all result would have to do. A two day break, with little depth, so a point was a decent result. I need wins though.


The end of the month fell on the Saturday, we have the Sunday game so have a game in hand. On the plus side, unbeaten in four starts. Just not enough of them were wins.


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September – October 2024

Achilles '29 – Dutch Jupiler League


AFC (15th, 1-1-2, 4 points -1, Expected 14th, Last season 10th) v Achilles (12th, 1-3-0, 6points +1) – Match 5 of 38, Jupiler League

I think its fair to say the game in hand didn't work in our favour. At no point in the game did we look like being threatening. For the first hour nor did our opponents, but as they pressed more things opened up for them. They got two goals in the end, the first was pretty good. The second came as we attempted to step up the attack and managed not one meaningful foray. There wasn't much other than disappointment throughout.


Achilles (14th, 1-3-1, 6points -1) v Roda JC (13th, 1-3-1, 6points +1) – Match 6 of 38, Jupiler League

No Philippe for this one, away on Belgian under 23 duty. We also had a look at bringing him in a permanent player for us, but couldn't agree terms even after talking his club down to to something barely within the remaining transfer budget.

Philippe's absence gave Syarifudin a chance in the poacher's role, and after Roda started slightly the better side he took his chance when it fell his way to put us ahead. There was some luck involved, the goalkeeper being out of position due to our man being initially dispossessed. Shortly before the break we went two up. Hilterman started the move, but it was van der Meijs cutting across on the goal line from the left and chipping to Bresciani at the far post (a move that's happened a couple of times) that applied the finish. Roda were getting plenty of corners, but rarely making anything of them. That changed on 70 minutes, a superb bit of work both by the kick taker and the flick on from the head. Ten minutes later they drew level, switching sides about five times before one of the crosses was directed slightly forward. The header appeared to have come off the bar and destined to stay out, but it didn't do so. And once again we threw away what seemed a win in the making.


De Graafschap (19th, 0-2-3, 2points -5) v Achilles (12th, 1-4-1, 7points -1) – Match 7 of 38, Jupiler League

I know we're not good, but we come in as underdogs against 19th. Philippe returned.

Underdogs with good cause as it turned out. They move the ball quickly and with precision. Far too much of both for us. After their first we dropped back to try and close the areas in our third. It didn't really work, but we did draw level shortly before the half. Philippe held back when I wanted him to go forward, but ended up finding Syarifudin, with both strikers nowhere near the attacking goal he ran into the area and crossed to Bresciani, who bounced the ball off the goalkeeper for the score. The second half saw us take some control over the game, and create a couple of chances but not take any.


MVV Maastricht (17th, 0-5-2, 5points -3) v Achilles (14th, 1-5-1, 8points -1) – Match 8 of 38, Jupiler League

We started out as probably the better looking side, but fell behind regardless. Later in the game we gotr desperate and went with a more attacking stance. Hilterman came off the bench, and in a reversal of roles scored from a Philippe cross. Bresciani involved again too, quickly establishing himself as our more important player (if not actually best).


Achilles (14th, 1-6-1, 9points -1) v Willem II (Jupiler 13th, 2-3-3, 9points +0) – Dutch Cup First Round

Well, that went badly. We looked at trying to get Darkwa in the off-season, and he pummelled us. Both Willem goals were down to him. He was on the end of one, basically on the back of his own movement and created the other. Everywhere else, Willem may have been marginally better but the game was all one man's. The board are seething at being knocked out in the first round, and in such weak style.


Achilles (16th, 1-6-1, 9points -1) v Telstar (15th, 2-4-2, 10points +0) – Match 9 of 38, Jupiler League

Jort van der Sande used to be an Achiles player but I couldn't keep him over summer. Of course that would prove painful. It took a while though, the game was on level terms on the pitch and on the scoreboard for 70 minutes. And then, suddenly, it wasn't. We somehow gave up four goal in the final twenty minutes. Van der Sande had been proving dangerous so we marked him. All that ended up doing was freeing up others, others with very powerful shots if they got free. And van der Sande got two himself. Plus we lost van der Meijs for 3-4 weeks, and that was possibly the point which really opened things for Telstar. We only once looked like touching the ball from that point, and did score from it. That was the end of the first “period” and VVV-Venlo, our next opponents, secured a playoff spot for winning it – or something.


Achilles (16th, 1-6-2, 9points -4) v VVV-Venlo (1st, 7-0-2, 21points +10) – Match 10 of 38, Jupiler League

It seems we can hold off for around seventy minutes, and then the floodgates open. VVV were clearly better throughout, but only got their first through a penalty that Pierie really didn't need to give away. He's 19 and we had been under pressure for a few minutes, so it is sort of understandable. And one goal led to two, and we went from maybe yet another draw to definitely yet another loss in the space of three minutes. The lack of wins earlier in the season is hurting now, not just due to the lack of points but also morale has taken a massive kick from managably average to quite low.


Achilles (16th, 1-6-3, 9points -6) v Excelsior (7th, 5-2-3, 17points +5) – Match 11 of 38, Jupiler League

By the time Excelsior were on the board in just under two minutes, they had 100% of possession. A new formation really hadn't worked at the beginning. Later in the game we went with something a bit more usual, and Hilterman having come on as a sub at that stage drew us level on 80 minutes. Only for our new overpaid midfielder Beja to give up a penalty and the match five minutes later. Our run of home games has resulted in all losses. And once again I seem to be leading an average team to their worst possible results.


Willem II (13th, 3-4-3, 13points + 1) v Achilles (16th, 1-6-4, 9points -7) – Match 12 of 38, Jupiler League

Our cup opponents had out played us in that match. We tried one or two things different, but right from the start we fell behind again. And again showed nothing to suggest we could make a mark on the game. We really only looked like doing anything right at the end, but took an ugly shot rather than look for Hilterman making a run into the area. Surely another sacking looms.


FC Volendam (3rd, 6-5-1, 23points +9) v Achilles (18th, 1-6-5, 9points -8) – Match 13 of 38, Jupiler League

When things are running against you, they run against you. Torun appeared to have held Volandem's first shot safely, but then almost squeezed it out behind himself and over the line after doing so. Really odd, and after 17 minutes the rot had set in. He made a pathetic dive over the ball instead of an easy stop fifteen minutes later. That's the sort of mistake that got Raahuage dropped in the first place, but he had to be subbed on coming back from injury at that point. From then on we didn't concede, but that wasn't thanks to the goalkeeping – he wasn't tested. We didn't look like scoring either, despite trying practically everything.


Things just seem to be getting worse as the season goes on. A lack of rotation options may have a little to do with that, but a lack of management is much more of an issue.




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November – December 2024

Achilles '29 – Dutch Jupiler League



Achilles (18th, 1-6-6, 9points -10) v GVVV (20th, 0-2-11, 2points -24) – Match 14 of 38, Jupiler League

I should have been confident going in at home to a team with just two draws so far. I was not.

Not often do we finda team coming out looking to play defensive against us. Normally, they attack, leave holes, and we can't do anything. This was different. Philippe had two golden opprtunities in the first 30 minutes and pushed both just wide to the left. It was left to Bresciani to draw a penalty for us to surely get on the board. At least Philippe scored that. Evan at home against last one the table we couldn't make any other moves count. Except one of theirs, on 85 minutes they drew level when Raahaugue parried a weak shot into the goal. It may have been going in if he left it alone, not sure. Dismal failure, but at least not another loss.


In between games we lost our B team manager, and some player resentment against me came up. All I could say is that I resent my management too.


Achilles (17th, 1-7-6, 10points, -10) v NAC Breda (15th, 5-3-6, 18points -3) – Match 15 of 38, Jupiler League

Just as I was about to change things due to spotting they were using the long ball to exploit gaps, they exploited that gap and opened the scoring. That cam just after half time, during the first half we were on level terms across most of the play but they clearly changed things at the half. Plugging that gap didn't help much, as their sole striker found a way through to collect a brace. And we did nothing. Bresciani came close, and Philippe has clearly lost his radar since he went on international under 23 duty. Maybe he'll find it when he goes back to the under 21s this week.


Helmund (16th, 3-3-9, 12points -9) v Achilles (1-7-7, 10points, -12) – Match 16 of 38, Jupiler League

The yips. Bresciani again hits the right woodwork, this time in the opening minute from an absolute sitter. Of course even when Helmund try to miss it falls on the line at their feet and missing becomes impossible. Seven minutes in, one goal down. And Hilterman with the woodwork from a slightly more pressured position, but unlike Bresciani finishing is supposed to be one of the things he does. At the break we had as many shots on target, but the easily scorable ones were not among them. They got an extra shot on target just after the break, corner, header, well taken actually. And a third one into the woodwork, van der Meijs' shot wasn't as easy, he tried to deftly place it, but not quite. Maybe we deserved to lose, but 2-0 is rubbish.


And its board meeting time. I expect instant sacking again. I did hope to remain until the transfer window and maybe do something about both depth and a new centre back.


And so it was. Mid-November seems to be killing season, sackings all over the place on the one weekend.



Despite all the jobs going around, nothing much of interest was showing up. This could be along wait for a club that looks interesting, and that my damaged reputation will not rule me out of.


Catanzaro back in Italy SerieC/C are one I put in for, and I was immediately rejected for the Heracles role in the Spanish Second Division B (third tier).

At year's end, the Melfi job came up. That might be a laugh, but I suspect the board have learned their lesson there.

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January - ? 2025


By mid-January, Cantanzaro finally made a decision. Not to choose me. That's why they are a strong(ish) club at their level. Smart decisions like that. A couple of other jobs looked vaguely interesting, mostly at lower levels than before so I thought I might be a chance.

Getting towards the end of January, the only interview was at Stranraer, sitting right at the bottom of the Scottish League Two (the lowest division loaded). A couple of days later they offered the role, I delayed a week hoping for answers elsewhere.

The other jobs didn't come through, so the task of avoiding last place at Stranraer now looms.


The season is 36 games long, and it looks like thankfully no relegation.

There is some pretty poor form, at least by match rating, in this squad. That is to be expected I guess.


I don't like doing it, but a boring flat 4-4-2 seems to be the best approach. I'm very concerned about the left hand side, both on the wing and in defence. There are definitely good reasons why this team is in last place. The other option that may be used is a very narrow 4-3-1-2.


Stranraer (10th, 4-8-12, 20points -11) v Edinburgh City (2nd, 11-8-5, 41points +9) – Scottish League 2, Match 25 of 36

It looked like more of the same in different shirts when in under two minutes our goal was put under threat. Thankfully, they hit the upright. I think we need the central midfield to take control, its the one place we might be competitive in some matches. And we were at least roughly level on possession without playing a low tempo, defensive game. What did come as a surprise was to take the lead, and even more of a surprise was that left back McGowan put in a superb ball for the assist. Duncan Brown put it away reasonably well, but the lack of goalkeeping showed the drop in quality in this league. We concede after the break, McGowan the culprit on this occasion being out of position and allowing a simple but well executed cross. Brown scored a second, again the assist coming from the left. The two players I had the two bihhest concerns over had provided the assists. On 70 minutes we should have conceded, a free kick was barely parried by Potts, their striker who ran on had two shots, the first again parried (actually quite well given the circumstance) and the second pushed well wide from ver close range trying to get past Potts. City did draw level aftyer 77 minutes, long range effort on target and too good for Potts. Have the lead, get a draw, just like old times.


Stenhousemuir (5th, 10-7-8, 37points +4) v Stranraer (10th, 4-9-12, 21points -11) – Scottish League 2, Match 26 of 36

Shows how much I know. I brought Lamont in as the second striker just for a look. He eneded up providing the assist, to Meldrum coming from the left wing. All my “the left is so bad” talk, we've scored three from three via the left. Shortly before the break, Lamont provided his second assist. This one required Brown to somehow retain the ball from three defenders and advance to slide it past their goalkeeper who had plenty of time to prepare and didn't. The second half didn't produce any more goals, but the closest chance was again by us. We're still last but, after Albion Rovers lost, only by one point.




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March – April 2025



Scottish League Two


Stranraer (10th, 5-9-12, 24points -12) v Annan (6th, 6-14-6, 32points +2) – Scottish League 2, Match 27 of 36

Once again we scored opening goal from the left. Brown timed a run perfectly top get on the end of a cross. That was undone late in the half with a corner, our defenders were there but just out-jumped and the goal was scored well under pressure. Midway through the second half, we went one up again. Midfielder Dailly fired a free kick from just outside the box, hit hard and placed well. A surprise, given we have no decent set piece takers of any kind. Lamont, as the other striker, had teamed well with Brown was starting to look as though he could not actually score himself. And 3-1 got us out of last place, for now.


Stranraer (9th, 6-9-12, 27points -7) v Airdrie (8th, 5-12-10 27points -6) – Scottish League 2, Match 28 of 36

The fourth time we play everyone starts with 8th and 10th, the bit that should be easy starts now.

I have to admit to not being sure what brown was doing with his first chance of the game. He seemed to stop, jump over the ball rather than a tackler, have two defenders decide not to stop him, and a goalkeeper wrong-footed for no reason. Simple finish, one up after 18 minutes. Lamont added to his assist by scoring a second, also some poor goalkeeping allowing a simple put-away on 65 minutes to make things looks safe. And they were safe loanee Charlie Moore came on the last few minutes and scored, Lamont another assist. 3-0 and three wins in a row.


I completed my National B Coaching course, and the board immediately agreed to fund a National A course. This club might be good for that.


Peterhead (10th, 7-6-15, 27points -18) v Stranraer (8th, 7-9-12, 30points -4) – Scottish League 2, Match 29 of 36

A win here would not secure safety, but would go a long way towards doing so. If we could do it.

An early goal, Peterhead tried to clear Brown's corner but he got back onto the ball and got the pass into Meldrum who hit home inside two minutes. Meldrum was on unexpected fire, in the eighth minute he fired home from the edge of the area. I still can't work out how he does anything that's not bad, but OK. We gave them a free kick right on the edge of the box as the half time whistle was about to go. Thankfully they could do nothing with it. Shortly after the break, another free kick, this one a bit further out, oin our facvour this time, and Dailly put it away nicely for the three-nil. Dailly got a second in the 61st minute, the cross from the right went into Brown who held the ball up until a player was coming past. And we could start playing a few who need game time. I even brouight on the sub goalkeeper, the one who can barely put on his gloves. Sure enough, we gave a goal up straight away. But only one, and a 4-1 win is handy.


Stranraer (6th, 8-9-12, 33points -1) v Vale of Leithen (4th, 10-11-8, 41points, +5) – Scottish League 2, Match 30 of 36

Its not often you can say a team had a careful, slow approach and scored in the 28th second of the match. But that's how Duncan Brown got our first. Practically everyone had a touch, stopping and making the easy pass. One of the few who didn't was McAuley. He was heavily involved in the second goal of the match, putting it in the back of your own net. With Potts beaten, McAuley was trying to head off the line while running toward goal so the result was inevitable. After around 35 minutes, brown got his second. He seemed out of position, basically starting almost at the half way line the play but ran hard to also be there to end it. Ross MacIver on the right doing well in the set-up as well. Their goalkeeper saved them a couple of times in the second half, Jim Watters probably should have scored but finishing is not the midfeilder's strong point. And with the following Saturday off we finished with a perfect March, four wins from four making it a five game stretch. I'm pretty sure the previous game was the first time I have won three in a row this career.


The March monthly awards were Stranraer's. Kieran Dailly won player of the month ahead of Duncan Brown. Brown won young player of the month instead. And manager of the month in Scottish League Two isn't a huge accolade, but my first personal award.


East Stirlingshire (1st, 16-6-7, 54points +15) v Stranraer (6th, 9-9-12, 36points +0) – Scottish League 2, Match 31 of 36

The top two sides away in consecutive matches might cause a hiccup, if so it would be nothing too concerning.

For the first half we were arguably onm top, slightly ahead on shots, shots on target and possession. But without a goal to show for it. Neither side had come close to scoring. The division leaders were a different side after the break, and while we held them off for half an hour the loss came with a degree of inevitability. Thomas Orr looked a danger going in, and capped a brace right on the final whistle for us to lose by those two goals.


Edinburgh City (2nd, 14-12-5, 54points +14) v Stranraer (6th, 9-9-13, 36points -2) – Scottish League 2, Match 32 of 36

Unlike the previous game, in this one the team was just disappointing. It was a pretty poor game all round from our side, low-lighted by Potts showing his lack of ability after playing far above his worth over the last two months. The first goal in particular should have been stopped by anyone; even if they didn't know they were supposed to stop the ball. In the end it was only 2-0 again, but the difference in games was that this could easily have been eight goals except it seems the team in second are hopeless at putting teams away.


Stranraer (6th, 9-9-14, 36points -4) v Albion Rovers (8th, 7-12-13, 33points -12) – Scottish League 2, Match 33 of 36

To give Rovers their credit, they did well to stop us having shots. Despite 77% possession and the ball in our attacking third for most of that, we only got the same amount of shots away as them. Even with corner after corner, nothing turned into a decent chance. It took until the 90th minute for us to secure the goal, and that came from a Duncan Brown long shot. It wasn't a particularly good shot, but it was on target and clinched the three points we deserved.


East Kilbride (3rd, 15-9-9, 54points +9) v Stranraer (10-9-14, 39points -3) – Scottish League 2, Match 34 of 36

We started under siege for about three minutes. El Zubaidi twice saving us by smart positioning when we looked gone. And yet we got a very early goal. Ben Armour has been starting instead of Lamont in some games recently, the latter hitting a patch of poor form, and finished nicely to give us the lead. And Watters found him just inside the area with plenty of space for him to but us two up inside twenty minutes. After the break East Kilbride pulled one back with some good team play, started when Dailly wasn't quick enough to run onto a ball put out in front of him. Late in the piece East Kilbride almost scored from an indirect free kick, the ricochet then picked up by their strikers and hammered goalward. Well, goalpostward thankfully.

Despite the loss, East Kilbride secured a playoff place.


We lost to first and second away, and managed to beat third away, during April. Hardly the month that March was, but only of those games was really a disappointment.


We also have secured a new goalkeeper and central defender for next season. The goalkeeper in particular should be an upgrade, should.




And the updates are now up to date with the save. I have played one of the two remaining games.

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MayJune 2025


Scottish League Two


Stranraer (6th, 11-9-14, 42points -2) v Stenhousmuir (4th, 14-9-11, 51points +8) – Scottish League 2, Match 35 of 36

There was some luck in our opener. Watters was looking for Brown, but a defender was in the way. The deflection, however, only fell to Armour who put it home with aplomb. We had arguably been slightly better in a fairly even game to that point. I need to check Dailly properly, after the break he put away another free kick to extend our lead. Just enough power and some curl, difficult for keepers at this level to stop. The game stayed pretty even after that in terms of possession and shots, but we had put a couple away where they failed to do so.


With one game to go, sixth place was confirmed. Considering how this career has gone so far and the starting point when I arrived that has to be considered a success.


Seven our players made the team of the week, with a full set of five matches having been played on Saturday.

However, off field things might be getting dicey. A supporters trust is putting in a bid to take over the club. That would not bring in any extra money, but could destabilise.


Annan (10th, 6-16-13, 34points -9) v Stranraer (6th, 12-9-14, 45points +0) – Scottish League 2, Match 36 of 36

Annan had it all on the line. I misread things earlier, last place goes into a playoff to survive. They were just a point behind 9th, and a win behind 8th, going into the final game so had all the incentive to put on a good performance.

And they did come out and outplay us for most of the opening half. Admittedly we hit the crossbar twice from long shots, but Annan had most of the ball and created more chances. Things were reversed for the second half, we looked the better side but again no real chances and the season ends with a tame nil-all.



Before the squad went on break, Chris Brown was named the fans player of the season. The right back wasn't playing much for me, with Gary Walker normally preferred in that position.

Duncan Brown won the young player of the season award, and the club's goal of the year.


Season|Team            |Competition           |  W|  D|  L|  GF|  GA|  GD|Posn  | Notes

20/21 |Sarnese           |SerieC Cup          |  0|  1|  1|   1|   2|  -1|Group |                     
      |                  |SerieC/C            |  7|  7| 26|  16|  79| -63|19th  |Playouts

21/22 |Sarnese           |SerieC Cup          |  0|  2|  0|   0|   0|   0|Group |
      |                  |SerieC/C            |  3|  7| 17|  25|  66| -41|20th  |Resigned 37 of 38 games
22/23 |Melfi             |SerieC Cup          |  0|  1|  0|   2|   2|   0|Rnd 2 |
      |                  |Italian Cup         |  0|  0|  1|   0|   2|  -2|      |2nd Qual Rd
      |                  |Serie C/C           | 13| 13| 11|  47|  41|  +6|11th  |

23/24 |Melfi             |SerieC Cup          |  0|  1|  1|   1|   2|  -1|Group |
      |                  |SerieC/C            |  6|  5| 10|  20|  27|  -7|14th  |Sacked 21 of 28 games

23/24 |Achilles '29      |Jupiler League      |  0|  6|  7|  10|  16|  -6|14th  |Playoff round 1

23/24 |Achilles '29      |Jupiler League      |  1|  7|  8|  11|  25| -14|16th  |Sacked after 16 of 38 games

24/25 |Stranraer         |Scottish League 2   |  8|  2|  2|  21|  10| +11|6th   |Took over 10th, after 24 of 36
Total  Games 174                             W  38  45  76  154  272 -118
                                               22% 30% 48% 0.89 1.56 -0.678per game


    Manager of the Month
    Stranraer               Scottish League 2         April, 2025

Initial budgets for next season suggest a modest rise in wage budget. Hopefully that can be matched by a rise in player quality.



Prior club watch:

  • Sarnese haven't come back to a playable league.
  • Melfi struggled and went to relegation playout in 17th. Letting Caso for free and Stellone for a lowball £140k may have hurt them. Giarrusso still there, not quite replicating his previous season's league player of the year performance. They ended up relegated and after seven years and 124 games at the club Beretta retired aged 33.
  • Achilles regained some ground after my departure to finish safe.


In our league, Annan lost their relegation playoffs. Player of the match in the first leg for their opponents, Cove Rangers, was a guy I was scouting. And we ended up signing. Largely to play on the left in place of Ross Meldrum. Meldrum was our only player to make the division's team of the year. Edinburgh City won promotion via playoffs.


It looks as though the support trust takeover will happen, and I'm therefore on a transfer embargo.


In the top leagues, it was all Inter Milan in Italy. The league and cup double nicely tied up. Manchester City won in England by a point, losing the final game to the runners-up having already secured the title. Manchester United won the cup on penalties. And in Spain, Barcelona won by three points over Atletico and Real Madrid, with a huge gap back to fourth. They also did the double, beating Real Madrid in extra time of the cup final. The Champions League was taken out by Paris Saint-Germain, over Barcelona.


Towards the end of June the new board gave the new season expectations. In the league, make the playoffs. If we can regain the form shown in the last quarter of last season, that should be a decent prospect. The media has us favourites to win the league. That might be pushing things.

The fourth round of the cup might be tough, Championship sides are in the third round. Second round in the League Challenge Cup should happen, if we get a decent draw maybe we could go as far as quarter finals in that.


The Betfred Cup looks an issue, managing morale in the season opening competition might be important. The groups are tough for teams at our level. One other team from each league our League 2 up to the Premiership. Top qualifies for the next round, and three of the eight second place teams. So, hopefully we just avoid embarrassment against the big teams.


We played one friendly in June, not a good one from our perspective but it was against Championship opposition so not a horror show. The new goalkeeper and defender did not have good games, hard to judge them yet though.

Edited by BadManager
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On 14/06/2020 at 02:18, BadManager said:

[Question: what's a  good free image hosting site, I shove most of my photos on GooglePhotos (from back before it was Picasa) but the links all break here even if I use a shared link]

I use Imgur. I've not had any problems using them since I started when Photobucket introduced charges.

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10 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

I use Imgur. I've not had any problems using them since I started when Photobucket introduced charges.

Imgur images don't show up large on here I've found, but I trim my screenshots.

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27 minutes ago, bigmattb28 said:

Couple of sackings, hopefully they don't deter other teams. 

Its been that sort of career. Competitive without wins, and the lack of wins results in bad morale, turning draws into defeats.

Melfi was particularly disappointing. I still think that squad only needed some tweaks before getting somewhere. But lacked depth so a key injury, and the whole team being despondent at the decision not let a key player go and advance his career, destroyed a third of the season. Byt the time things started righting themselves, the board had had enough. Which was fair enough, but it might not have taken much for things to go slightly differently. Ah well, lower level, but Stranraer are their own challenge.

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July – August 2025


Scottish League Two


As things turned the dafter we beat Dalbeattie Star in unsatisfactory style in a friendly, we drew them in the Challenge Cup. The loss to Accrington (England League 2) was expected, the dismal performance that went with it not so much.


The Betfred Cup has a higher reputation than the Challenge Cup, but for us with no hope of getting to the next round was basically glorified friendlies where we couldn't play trialists. We escaped with a late Armour goal to beat our divisional rivals to open it. Second, Hamilton Academical from the premiership. It took until the 91st minute for the to score, although we did go in very defensive. We had the better of League One's Elgin City for much of the game, they equalised on 91 minutes and won the shootout. At one point against Championship Queens Park we had 14 shots to 1, and were a goal down before eventually sneaking home 3-2. Second in the group was good, even with not advancing to the second round. The board were satisfied, they only want us to be competitive.


Stranraer v Dalbeattie Star (Highland-Lowland League) – Scottish Challenge Cup 1st Round

We were very unconvincing, Dalbeattie having as much of the ball and not looking all that vulnerable to our limited number of moves. Taking 69 minutes to open the scoring against a lower league team is not good enough. When it did come, the lob by McGowan that founf Duncan brown's head had was more luck than anything. Lamont came on later in the game, and got on the end of a long clearanc to give us a small buffer. Briefly. A few minutes latersome lax marking on the right allowed it to become 2-1. Lamont was instrumental in our lucky third goal, what I presume was supposed to be a cross was knocked in by a Dalbeattie defender for 3-1. His next cross was more decisive, Brown getting there to volley with the left foot. Th final score looks much better than most of the match did.

In the second round we are away to League One's Dumbarton. I had hoped for something easier to advance further in this cup.


The summer hasn't been kind to us apparently, before the season begin we have dropped to a fifth place expected finish. Fair enough, we have mostly added depth and little in the way of starting team improvement. There is very little difference in our starting line-up.



Stranraer v Airdrie (Predicted 7th) – Scottish League Two, Match 1 of 36

Our lads seemed to decide the goalkeeper was the target. Four clear cut shots with all the time in the world were fired straight at their goalie. On-field domination, scores level deep into the second half. Right on the 90 minute mark, Armour had another chance. This time the goalkeeper had to move a little, and managed the save. That should have been a three or four goal win, rather than a scoreless draw.


Stranraer v Stenhousemuir (Predicted 2nd) – Scottish League Two, Match 2 of 36

Stenhousemuir did a very good job of closing our forwards down early, and it took a superb long range effirt from Armour to break the deadlock imposed on us for the first twenty minutes. That was cancelled out with a Stenhousemuir run down the right, very quick counter from one our moves, a missed tackle and well hit cross. Even then Ewen could have saved it but only just got a hand on it. And again we got hit on the counter. We were having real problems despite dominating most stats. Our forwards were shut down, necessitating defenders going forward and then splat twice in quick succession. After the break an ansolute stunner of a goal sent us 3-1 down, at 21 shots to 5 in our favour.


East Kilbride (Predicted 6th) v Stranraer – Scottish League Two, Match 3 of 36

I'm not sure what we've done wrong, but we became officially trash at some point. Within 90 seconds we went down without anyone making an effort to close down anything. We did manage a hard fought equaliser, and then immiediately got slammed by another – actually the same – completely unmarked man. After the break, Armour again managed to pull one from outside the area. We do not seem able to actually make a decent move, and are relying on low percentage opportunities even when make a high number. We did get the lead back through Lamont, in the side with Duncan brown doing nothing in previous games. Armour provided the assist this time. In the end, we got the win, but clearly did not deserve anything.


Dumbarton (League 1, 4th, 1-1-1, 4points +1) v Stranraer (League 2, 1-1-1, 4points -1) – Scottish League Challenge Cup Second Round

We actually had more of the ball and more shots, but not really more actual chances. It came as no surprise then when the Dumbbarton forwards managed to contrive a move through our defenders and score from almost on the goal line just before half time. A second one, just moments later, was harsh though. We didn't deserve to be down by two at the half. Jut after the restart, Dailly had a free kick he knocked out to MacIver not all that wide on the right. His cross found Lamont, just as I was thinking of taking him off and making Brown's head more of a potential factor. They snuffed out any hope with a superb bit of footwork from Alston delivering their third. And I'm not sure they followed up with another so quickly. 4-1 was not at all reflective of the overall game. A loss, fair enough, but not by that margin.

Mind you, I can't wait for midweek matches to stop.


East Fife (4th, 2-1-0, 7points +3) v Stranraer (6th, 1-1-1, 4points -1) – Scottish League Two, Match 4 of 36

East Fife were second before the earlier matches of the round.

I tried something a little different, a rare (for me) three striker formation. Thgey weren;'t invovled early, our defence decided to just smack everything to a contested situation, of which we were winning precidely zero. The 16th minute goal against us was inevitable. It took another Dailly free kick to level the scores, after Armour had wasted two very simple chances. We pulled back to a two striker formation, and after that neither side got a look in. A disappointing game, we were lucky to scrape a point.


Stranraer (6th, 1-2-1, 5points -1) v Peterhead (8th, 0-1-1, 1point -1) – Scottish League Two, Match 5 of 36

Back to the boring 4-4-2. Almost another Dailly free kick goal, this one coming off the wall and then the upright after three minutes. Two minutes later, the Brown show. Scott Brown, on the left with Meldrum switching to the right this game, finding Duncan Brown to open the scoring. We were winning the shot count 14-6 but it wasn't counting for anything. Until Meldrum was penned in and forced to just go long from out wide. Armour again made the mistake of shooting directly at the goalkeeper's chest, but the goalie stepped out of the way for us to get a second very late in the piece. A win is good, although finishing is proving a problem this season in a way it wasn't last season – but is all too familiar to this career.


Stirling (1st, 4-0-1, 12points +5) v Stranraer (3rd, 2-2-1, 8points +1) – Scottish League Two, Match 6 of 36

The new found lack of finishing is proving very costly. With fifteen shots on the stats sheet, we had not one that looked good. Two should have been scored. We went in at half time level. After the break we went down courtesy of a free kick. As good as Dailly's efforts to be honest. Gbut the second should have been stooped, first by McGowan getting either to the ball or later his man, then by central defenders who had plenty of time to intercept, and thirdly by Potts who has been in goal again due to how horrid Ewen has been at times.


A mixed bag of results all the way through, hardly contending for the title material.



If things don't pick up soon, another sacking is in order. And well deserved it will be, too.

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September - October 2025


Scottish League Two


After a packed schedule in the opening update period of the season, this one should be much shorter. Hopefully, more consistent in the W column.


Stranraer (6th, 2-2-2, 8points -1) v Vale of Letihen (5th, 2-2-2, 8points +0) – Scottish League Two, Match 7 of 36

A classic borefest. We had all the chances, but only one even made it to the highlights and that was easily parried by the opposing goalkeeper. With teams playing more defensive against us this season, we don't seem to have any answers about how to actually get wins. I sense a nother string of draws heading to a sacking. Apparently it was my 50th birthday too.


Cove Rangers (4th, 2-3-2, 9points +2) v Stranraer (6th, 2-3-2, 9points -1) – Scottish League Two, Match 8 of 36

We were really struggling to take advantage of having the ball in their area so often. Duncan brown then made a break and from two metres out hit the goalkeeper. With Meldrum on the right again, and early crosses being a something to try and find a way to goal Brown did finally get the opener. Scott Brown, the left midfielder. It seemed like it was 80 minutes in, it had been so long coming but it was only the 20th minute. He is also the guy we signed while he was at Cove Rangers in their promotion playoffs last season. And then we gifted one to Cove. A simple shot parried, a simple rebound, parried into the post and off the post onto the back of Ewen's heel and in. Honestly. FM gives me the irrits sometime. Joe Price with the pointless penalty. At least it was saved. Ewen redeeming himself.

But after the break we did give up a second. Well hit this time, but we really should have been in front. At that point our players dropped their heads and Cove were better for the second half. Disgusting.


A very sparse September, with the cup draw at the end. We enter in the second round, and start away to lower league Brechin City.

One selection headache was fixed, by Joe Price breaking his ankle. He will probably miss the remainder of the season, leaving McGowan unchallenged as left back.


Airdrie (7th, 1-5-2, 8points -2) v Stranraer (6th, 2-3-3, 9points -2) – Scottish League Two, Match 9 of 36

In game 1 : Nil all draw

I brought Warnock in to central midfield, not be cause he is any good but because he can play a slightly more attacking role. He was utter tripe the first few times on the highlights, passing straight to opponents, easily dispossessed if he tried to dribble, and within 4 minutes was close to being substituted. And then he went forward and scored thanks to an Armour assist putting him in. That gave us a half time lead, in a game where we were utterly smashed in every position. And that was the end result. After the games where we were the better side and got nothing, this time we got smashed but got the win. We only had three shots all game, despite trying to attack.


That moved us into 5th. At least until the Sunday game was played. Due to the cups and fixtures moving, we have not played every once yet, that occurs with our next oponents


Stranraer (5th, 3-3-3, 12points -1) v Albion Rovers (7th, 2-4-3, 10points -2) – Scottish League Two, Match 10 of 36

Albion are on a five game unbeaten run apparently, seven in all competitions.

An early goal against us, we're marking their sole striker hard but he managed to find space to get on the end of a through ball none of our players even try to produce. Thankfully a mistake at the back on their behalf allowed Lamont to equalise with just seven minutes on the clock. Albion's midfield numbers were telling in possession and chances. When we did get another shot it fell to Armour who, just like Duncan brown this season, went straight for the goalkeeper. The rebound fell to Scott Brown who went near post and just beat the goalie for a 2-1 lead. By 18 minutes it was 2-2, defensively we've lost the plot. We were forced to change formation, the midfield dominance was too much. By then though we were 3-2 down with just a quarter of the match gone. Or so it seemed, a dodgy offside call saving us. The goal spree seemed to stop. It was very late in the piece when Dailly's goal line cross found Scott Brown for the 3-2 lead. And the 90th minute saw a long ball go to their only striker with two defenders chasing from a long way behind. The shot was on target, but Ewen had come off his line and cut the angels to make it a corner. I'm not sure we deserved the points, but I will eagerly take them.


Stenhousemuir (3rd, 4-4-2, 16points +2) v Stranraer (4th, 4-3-3, 15points +0) – Scottish League Two, Match 11 of 36

In game 2 : Lost 3-1

With a short turnaround the team wasn't at full fitness to begin with. Despite that I wanted a higher tempo at the start, just to see if we could do that while counter-attacking. We also marked the man who scored a brace last time, and shut down the guy who set those up from the beginning. The result, a nothing first half. We puled back the tempo early in the second half, and midway through brought on Dailly who had started on the bench. It was Meldrum though who drew a penalty in the 80th minute. And who took the kick, top left corner, but saved. Right on the edge of normal time we went a man up, but wothout long enough remaining to make anything of it. A bore draw, but that might be as good as we could hope for realistically on current form.


Brechin (Highland-Lowland League) v Stranraer – Scottish Cup, Second Round

Duncan brown came back into the side, hoping to find the net against lesser opposition. End to end long balls saw hims score after 35 minutes. That was cancelled out five minutes later, Brechin putting together a string of passes and finding a way home. Lamont gut the lead back with a solid header from just inside the box, Walker advancing from right back with the cross and assist. Right towards the end a goalkeeping error sealed it. Lamont's second was poorly hit but straight, and straight between the legs of the goalkeeper. One more round, and the board's goal will be met.

The cup draw was the following day, with Championship sides entering. We drew fellow League Two side Stenhousemuir, meaning we meet them five times this season.


There were only three league games in October, but two wins and a draw was enough for the manager's award.




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November - December 2025


Scottish League Two



Stranaer (4th, 4-4-3, 16points +0) v East Kilbride (10th, 2-4-5, 10points -5) – Scottish League Two, Match 12 of 36

Game 3 : Won 3-2

A horrible tackle on Lamont, just on the edge of the D, led to a Dailly free kick. The player was lucky to only receive a yellow, and unfortunately Dailly hit the crossbar. Again we struggled to make an impact against an inferior team. Well, in theory inferior, we were actually on level terms in general play and the 70th minute loser was not that big a shock. We blew, yet again, a chance to make a move on the table.


Stranraer (4th, 4-4-4, 16points -1) v East Fife (2nd, 6-4-2, 22points +2) – Scottish League Two, Match 13 of 36

Game 4 : Drew 1-1

Fifth minute and a bullet pass from Meldrum, low from the right was volleyed home by Brown. Unexpected bit of one off showmanahip in the move, really not the sort of thing to rely on. Brown almost had a second not long after, that time a short chip onto his head from Meldrum. And just before the break, Meldrum scored one of his own. Turner, in the side as Itry to get the midfield right, somehow squeezing the ball between defenders for the straight-forward putaway. With twenty to play we were very lucky not to concede. Tyhe shot too the inside of the upright and came straight back at East Fife attackers, Mutch could lamost have given a penalty in the challenge but Walker did well to get in and clear. Just before the end a Turner long ball found Brown right on the end line, he cut the ball across to Lamont streaming in at the far post and 3-0. Stenhousemuir only drew, and we moved to third; however briefly.


Peterhead (10th, 2-6-5, 12points -3) v Stranraer (3rd, 5-4-4, 19points +2) – Scottish League Two, Match 14 of 36

Game 5: Won 2-0

Once again, we looked out of place and got smashed everywhere by bottom of the table. And that led to a goal conceded right on the half time whistle. Things got no better in the second half. We barely toucxhed the ball all match, and after 80 minutes were down by two.


Stranraer (4th, 5-4-5, 19points +0) v Stirling (1st, 9-1-4, 28points +11) – Scottish League Two, Match 15 of 36

Game 6: Lost 2-0

A superb assist from Meldrum, hopping over a sliding tackler before corssing to the far post and Scott Brown. The finishing header was a bit lucky, but we had a lead after 12 minutes. Lamone could easily have given us a second after twenty minutes, instead he had to wait until almost the 40th to put away a more difficult, but still not that difficult, chance. Stirling replied immediately, from the corner and two heads. That was far too well crafted and executed for us to handle.

We brought three subs on later in the game, two of them provided our third. MacIver on the right, to Kerr Hay, who I need to find a place for. He was brought in really to play an attacking mid role but we rarely use such a formation at this stage. Stirling looked to have cleared a corner, but the ref blew for a penalty. Hay missed the kick. Stats suggested Stirling were the better side, although quality of opportunity definitely fell our way.


Stranraer v Stenhousemuir (League Two, 6th) – Scottish Cup, Third Round

I'm not sure that rain did us any fovours, and certainly early Stenhousemuir were the only side creating opportunities. Lamont was forced off through injury, and that was the only time I saw our forwards in the first half. Dailly picked up a groin strain midway through the second half, and really need to come off but I had to hope he could run it off somehow. And on 88 minutes were sunk, after almost working our way into the game a little in the second half – although never producing a shot of any note. A longish ball, Ewen came off his line but was beaten to it by the head of Mackay-Steven, a dangerous player who only I saw late had come off the bench but was being heavily marked. That header went over Ewen and just snuck inside the goalmouth. That was nowhere near good enough, and one round short of the board's minimum for the cup. We now only have league games for the remainder of the season.

Dailly will miss two or three weeks, Lamont unavailable for one week.


During the week Duncan Brown adds to the injury list, for two or three months.


Vale of Leithen (3rd, 5-7-3, 22points +6) v Stranraer (4th, 6-4-5, 22points +2) – Scottish League Two, Match 16 of 36

Game 7: Drew 0-0

Lamont was available in the end, Armour coming back in to start up front. But Leithen were the better side early and capped it with a string of short passes at the edge of the area and a very nice finish on 18 minutes. Meanwhile, we didn't even realise their third of the pitch existed. When we finally did get the ball up there, Armour missed a simple header and later put in one the worst sprays in sporting history. But he did score on 38 minutes, thanks to a lot of luck with attempted Leithen clearances banging straight in Leithen players. With us struggling to make any real moves as the second half settled in, a superb cross from Meldrum was met by Lamont on the near post, only for the shot to put wide. Armour had a possible penalty denied, and a shot which he hammered blocked in pretty handy style, for the game to finish in a draw. Despite being outplayed early, we possibly could have stolen it late – the draw is a fair return overall though.


Stranraer (4th, 6-5-5, 23points +2) v Cove Rangers (6th, 4-7-5, 19points -1) – Scottish League Two, Match 17 of 36

Game 8: Lost 2-1

Lamont's respite from injury didn't last long, he was off in the third minute of this game. That allowed a switch to a 4-4-1-1 and Hay to get serious game time. And that was just about all the action for the match. Or so I thought. On 70 minutes we got the lead through an Armour header. The move had been thwarted three times by not having anyone forward of the ball, a downside to a one striker system with hay staying back more thatn I was planning on. But eventually Scott Brown was found out wide and volleyed in a cross. The reply almost came immediately, but Ewen managed to slap a good looking effort off for a corner. From that, a goal line scramble, a hard hit shot that ricocheted off McAuley before he knew about it. Both sides had one close near miss very late, but we got the points.

We still lost ground on third, Vale of Leithen had a 7-1 smashing over second placed East Fife.


Dailly returns to some fitness, and will play in the under 20 (which allows a few over age players) to build fitness.

On the flipside, Kerr Hay will probably miss a little time. The attacking options are starting to get a little thin.


Stranraer (4th, 7-5-5, 26points +3) v Airdrie (8th, 3-8-6, 17points -3) – Scottish League Two, Match 18 of 36

Game 1: Drew 0-0, Game 9: Won 1-0

This was Ross Meldrum's 301st game for the club, equalling the club record at 27 years old.

Tghe landmark game did not start well, Airdrie straight up the middle for the quick advance and sacore. And then rapid up the left for cross and score by the same player. In twenty minutes, Hogg had a pair. At that point we switched back to the 4-4-2 and tried going more direct. That got us into the game, but not onto the scoreboard. Which all meant a very bad loss, particularly at home where our form has been holding up for the most part. We're 8th of 10 on away games.


Fourth at the halfway point, just in the playoff spot but not with any real grip on the place.


Albion Rovers (5th, 6-6-6, 24points -2) v Stranraer (4th, 7-5-6, 26points +1) – Scottish League Two, Match 19 of 36

Game 10: Won 3-2

Dailly and Lamont both came back to the bench, and should be starters again soon.

A stunning strike from Watters on 33 seconds. The Meldrum cross was cleared, but he found the ball and put it away before Albion's defence could recover. I'm not sold on any of oiur central mids, but every now and then they all can all produce a moment like that. Watters scored again in the opening minutes of the second half, this time it was an own goal. He got his head on a corner, but not to very good effect. A few minutes later we scored from a corner of our own, this one went to ground, Mutch didn't pull the trigger but Darren McMillan did, as a fifth pick striker he needed a goal while he has an opportunity. Despite one serious Albion attempt, it stayed 2-1 in our favour.


We finish 2025 by losing our assistant manager to Ayr, where he will remain assistant.


We are not really showing the form of a side bound for promotion. Quite hit and miss.


Just 22 goals is a serious issue, given most of the time we're trying to play an attacking brand.


There is nothing particularly planned for the upcoming transfer window, but maybe something will present.

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January - February 2026


Scottish League Two


After poaching our assistant, Ayr also took a coach. So that's two ads we have running now, and a shortage of coaching in the interim.


Stranraer (4th, 8-5-6, 29points +2) v Stenhousemuir (7th, 4-9-6, 21points -8) – Scottish League Two, Match 20 of 36

Game 2: Lost 3-1, Game 11: Drew 0-0, Cup: Lost 1-0

A danger game then.

A lot of yellow cards were displayed in the opening half hour or so, and McGowan will miss the next game through suspension leaving us without a left back option. Although we are looking at one possible free move from the lower leagues for that position. Stenhousemuir were the better side, but neither team were a scoring side so a nil all result. Its not ideal, but we had to take it.


And our under 20s manager has moved to England, to take the main job in the eighth tier (I think).


East Kilbride (10th, 5-5-10, 20points -6) v Stranraer (4th, 8-6-6, 30points +2) – Scottish League Two, Match 21 of 36

Game 3: Won 3-2, Game12: Lost 1-0

I wish I knew why we struggle so much against the sides at the foot of the table. East Kilbride made all the running in the opening half. We didn't manage a shot until very late in the half, which did give us a stolen lead. On resumption that was rectified, we gave the ball up cleanly to someone far too quick for our guys to even begin to chase down and too good in the one on one. We almost stole the game in the final minutes, with four very easy finishes fluffed inside about 50 seconds. But, overall, getting one point was a steal.


Between games we picked up a central midfielder on loan. Jordan Ramsay can't cook, but he gets angry and swears a lot, and it is Scotland, so they might be related.


East Fife (3rd, 9-6-6, 33points -5) v Stranraer (4th, 8-7-6, 31points +2) – Scottish League Two, Match 22 of 36

Game 4: Drew 1-1, Game 13: Won 3-0

MacIver came back into the side, and just after jalf time went for a run up the right. He cross found Hay, who fluffed it. But so did their goalkeeper, knocking it into the post, back onto himself and into the net. A lead without paying a goal bonus. That was nullified ten minutes later, through a good finish running away from the goal making the angle very tight.


Stranraer (4th, 8-8-6, 32points +2) v Peterhead (9th, 5-8-9, 23points -5) – Scottish League Two, Match 23 of 36

Game 5: Won 2-0, Game 14: Lost 2-0

We were getting opportunities, even some reasonable ones. It took half an hour to score, however. A corner cleared only as far as Hay waiting on the edge of the box who managed to get the ball through some congestion and in. He was playing as a shadow striker again, with only Armour starting truly up front. Hay again after the break, Armour feeding a through ball that either Hay or MacIver could have run onto. The better, at the moment anyway, finisher was first there to double the lead.

That temporarily moved us to third, but it was a midweek game without a full round of matches and East Fife have a game in hand.


East Fife won their game on the Saturday, and the last four teams from League Two departed the cup in the fourth round.

Joe Price and Duncan Brown are back in part time training. Price probably wouldn't play ahead of McGowan, when fit Brown will be given a chance to see if he finds form (and goals).


Stirling (1st, 13-4-6, 43points +14) v Stranraer (4th, 9-8-6, 35points +4)– Scottish League Two, Match 24 of 36

Game 6: Lost 2-0, Game 15: Won 3-1

Ramsay's first goal for us had a bit of luck, the goalkeeper should have stopped it once he got there, but we had an early lead. Maintaining it would be tricky. Ninety seconds. Except Ewen managed to get a glove and knock it our for a corner. It ended up being ten minutes longer than that, an excellent bit of team work to draw our defenders and create open pass opportunities in the area. We were definitely outplayed but managed to hold off for a draw with only a couple of close escapes.


Stranraer (4th, 9-9-6, 36points +4) v Vale of Leithen (2nd, 10-9-5, 39points +14) – Scottish League Two, Match 25 of 36

Game 7: Drew 0-0, Game 16: Drew 1-1

We had most of the attack early, despite not going out particularly attacking tactically. It paid off after half an hour, Meldrum from about 20 metres took the shot and a slight deflection helped him beat the keeper. Leithen's goalkeeper was unlucky to be credited with an own goal ten minutes later. Technically true, but Ramsay had just about got it over the line before a glove was laid on it, to knock it first into the post, and then just behind the line. The second half was more even, and with no goals. A handy 2-0 win, but everyone around us won as well.


Cove Rangers (7th, 5-10-10, 25points -5) v Stranraer (4th, 10-9-6, 39points +6) – Scottish League Two, Match 26 of 36

Game 8: Lost 2-1, Game 17: Won 1-0

We finally had someone reach double figure goals for the season, Ben Armour almost walking the ball to the line after 50 minutes thanks to a well placed Hay pass. Overall, Cove pushed us in some ways without really looking all that likely to score.

Second and third drew against each other, allowing us to leapfrog both.

12 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Very close for second.

Nice one, Nobby.


Airdrie (9th, 5-10-11, 25points -9) v Stranraer (2nd, 11-9-6, 42points +7) – Scottish League Two, Match 27 of 36

Game 9: Won 1-0, Game 18: Lost 2-0

While we controlled the possession numbers, after a slow start, we weren't relly producing anything. After 75 minutes we fell behind on Airdrie's second shot of the game. A very patient set of passing, with a good ball over the top allowing their only striker to get in behind our defence. Ewen probably should have stopped it, but didn't lay a glove on it in the end. And that was it, we never fired another shot. Second place lasted one game.


Stranraer (4th, 11-9-7, 42points +6) v Albion Rovers (6th, 9-10-8, 37points +2) – Scottish League Two, Match 28 of 36

Game 1: Drew 0-0, Game 10: Won 3-2, Game 19: Won 2-1

Another game where we should have been able to get on top but looked inept throughout. Thankfully Rovers didn't punish us in the way we deserved. Nothing was working for us, completely outplayed, but scrounged a draw. Every time we look like we are starting to make a move on the table, we produce a string of results like this. At least fifth placed Stenhousemuir lost, we retain the small gap.




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March - April 2026


Scottish League Two


And look what the next game is.


Stenhousemuir (5th, 9-12-7, 39points -1) v Stranraer (4th, 11-10-7, 43points +6) – Scottish League Two, Match 29 of 36

Game 2: Lost 3-1, Game 11: Drew 0-0, Cup: Lost 1-0, Game 20: Drew 0-0

But before that, Yeovil Town in England's League Two offered an unexpected interview. I didn't intend to take the job, if offered, but attended anyway. I don't think the interview went well anyway.

Despite the stats showing we had more shots early, we were really on the back foot. An opening goal just after the half hour mark came as a surprise, MacAuley with a header from a corner put us in front. Despite the flow of the game we managed to hold on and get the win, playoffs are not definite yet but that makes them more likely.


Ewen gets his twelfth clean sheet of the season, a new club record apparently.


The Yeovil response came through, and so in my next match I am managing Stranraer.


Stranraer (3rd, 12-10-7, 46points +7) v East Kilbride (9th, 8-7-14, 31points -10) – Scottish League Two, Match 30 of 36

Game 3: Won 3-2, Game12: Lost 1-0, Game 21: Drew 1-1

After a start where we barely touched the ball we moved to a more possession based game. Half an hour into the game, we opened the scoring with Ramsay tapping in from about half a metre. Scott Brown's cross from almost on the gal line just inside the box allowed Ramsay the perfect run. Despite one very close call, we held the lead to the break. The second half was pretty quiet. I would have liked to have put a couple more away, but the points are the main thing.


Stranraer (2nd, 13-10-7, 49points +8) v East Fife (3rd, 13-10-7 +2) – Scottish League Two, Match 31 of 36

Game 4: Drew 1-1, Game 13: Won 3-0, Game 22: Drew 1-1

The match started with East Fife looking the goods, and managed to feed the dangerous Scott Shepherd to a clear finish. Ewen managed to block, but only to ricochet back into Shepherd and from him without directing the ball it bounced into the goal. Ten minutes later we also scored from almost of the goal line, MacIver on the right finding Armour to level things. Sheperd's pace again proved a problem, with a ball over the top he was running on to. Gary Walker grabbed him to stop him, and got an instant red for his efforts. We had to go defensive at that point.

Early in the second half Shepherd escaped his marker again, heading home from a metre out. Not surprisingly, we were never able to mount any sort of threat after going down a man.


And apparently I am now second in the “sack race” in the division. Seems harsh. I guess with only ten teams, once there has been a sacking or two even a stable job could show up among the sacking favourites.


Peterhead (10th, 6-11-14, 29points -13) v Stranraer (4th, 13-10-8, 49points +7) – Scottish League Two, Match 32 of 36

Game 5: Won 2-0, Game 14: Lost 2-0, Game 23: Won 2-0

With Ewen injured, Potts took his spot in goal for the first time in a long time.

As always when playing bottom teams, we struggled badly. Peterhead outplayed us everywhere regardless of anything we tried. It wasn't long before they forced their way through for a simple put-away. After the break, things only got worse as Peterhead's Milne struck from an angle twenty metres out despite the pressure applied to him. And then they managed a third right on full time, an absolute blast of a shot.


Stranraer (4th, 13-10-9, 52points +4) v Stirling (1st, 17-6-9, 57points +16) – Scottish League Two, Match 33 of 36

Game 6: Lost 2-0, Game 15: Won 3-1, Game 24: Drew 1-1

Within two minutes we were a goal down, a headed attempt at a clearance made no distance, no clearning, and an easy finish. 17 seconds after the kick off Armour had levelled the scores. And before seven minutes were gone Armour had two goals, both from close range, and Hay two assists. Armour had a one-on-one in the sixteenth minute, but his attempt at a quick hattrick was blocked and the ball went wide to the sideline. And then things slowed down, for a while. Stirling's Main got on the end of a long ball, fired away at the near side, and had the shot blocked by Potts with five to play in the first half.

Another one on one after along ball, and Armour again hit it at the goalkeeper. Stirling pushed hard late in the game, and in the 90th minute managed to scramble a goal to equalise. Again we had the opportunity to clear and failed to properly connect with the attempt. The resulting chance wasn't quite so simple this time. We are progressing poorly as the season ends, and playoffs near.


Vale of Leithen (3rd, 14-12-7, 54points +16) v Stranraer (4th, 13-11-9, 50points +4) – Scottish League Two, Match 34 of 36

Game 7: Drew 0-0, Game 16: Drew 1-1, Game 23: Won 1-0

We brought Duncan brown back to start, just to get match fitness in. I wasn't expecting him to play the full ninety.

A good flick on header allowed Hay to run into the box and fire. The keeper managed to get a leg in the way, and we did nothing with the resulting corner. Getting close to half time Brown was looking a bit rusty, but in a nice ball from the left that Hay was almost onto when he was brought down, halfway betweenm the six yard box and the penalty spot. And that was the spot from which the first score came straight through the goalkeeper. There was still time before the break for another, again Hay. Hay fed him running to the left, he turned and scored on the near-side.

Ten minutes after the break Hay had a golden opporunity for a hattrick, but went well wide across goal. Brown again feeding him. Just shy of 70 minutes, he did get a third. MacIver's cross seconds earlier had been poor, bur this one was weighted perfectly over the keeper to Hay's head on the far post.

That secured a playoff position for both teams, we are in fourth but at least that is secure.


And on that goal being secured, the board offered a new one year deal. I accepted.


Stranraer (4th, 14-11-9, 53points +7) v Cove Rangers (9th, 8-11-15, 35points -9) – Scottish League Two, Match 35 of 36

Game 8: Lost 2-1, Game 17: Won 1-0, Game 26: Won 1-0

It was tempting to make a lot of changes to ensure some match fitness among bench players before playoffs. But also risky.

We dominated the stats early, but it took some luck to get a goal. A long free kick was headed into the upright, and defender MacAuley was there to shunt it home. The seocnd was even luckier, MacIver's cross was low and easily cut off, except not so easily it turned out as the defender seemed to only get the outside of his boot to the ball, just enough to turn it in for 2-0. 68 minutes in, and another own goal from a mAcIver cross. This time it was aimed at Hay, but the defender got there marginally first and scored with more precision than Hay was likely to.


It had been obvious for a while, but Stirling finally secured the league title with one game to spare. Cove Rangers still potentially face the relegation playoff.


Next update, at least three matches, and maybe some transfer news. Its a Wprld Cup year, but that will probably finish in July and be in the July-August update.



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