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This is Notts another Hollywood drama


Blarney
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2020 Vanarama National League Season End

Wrexham may be the new darlings of the league but they're not the only team in the Vanarama National League.  So whilst they're grabbing all the headlines with their Hollywood affairs and flair we're going to go in another direction.

We're going to take Notts County, the oldest football club in the world... and we're going to lead them back to prominence.

Or to prominence as the case may be.

See, Notts has been around since 1862.  That's over 150 years for those keeping track.

And in those 150 plus years of football, Notts County has spent exactly 4 years playing top flight football since the 1925/26 season.  And in all that time their highest finish is 3rd place, which they have attained twice in their history.  They haven't even been above the 3rd tier of the EFL in 26 years.

And the past 2 seasons?  A new low for Notts County as they were relegated to the Vanarama National League after the 2018/19 season.  And despite 3rd and 5th place finishes the past 2 years, they haven't been able to win their playoff games and gain promotion.

So what's wrong?

Bad management.  Bad ownership.  Poor recruitment.  Dismal decisions on the transfer market.

Look it's really not a story that's unfamiliar to a lot of "smaller" clubs in English Football.  The fact of the matter is when you have a football club in almost every single little small town and borough across a small nation, you're going to have a lot of clubs with financial issues and management issues.

But Notts County isn't really a small club.  Or at least they shouldn't be.

They play in a beautiful, larger stadium.  They play in a wonderful town with 10's of thousands of fans available to them.  Granted they share the town with Nottingham Forest, and The Reds have always been the bigger club.  They've spent far more time in top flight football and have actually spent 4 seasons in the Premier League, which Notts County can not claim.  Forest is firmly entrenched in the Championship currently - spending the last 13 seasons there... another claim that Notts County can't make.

Let's start with management.

Since 2010 the Magpies have had 15 different managers, none of which have really had much semblance of success.  However, once again, this isn't news.  Just look around English Professional Football.  More than any other sport in any other country the management carousel is alive and well in football.  Recent statistics show that the average football club manager in England holds their job for just over 14 months before being sacked.  So coming and going isn't news.  Clubs just don't hold on to managers for one reason or the other.  And it's not always just about winning or losing.

Granted it's probably not best for clubs to not have some fluidity in their programs.  It can't be good to continually have a new direction every couple of years... but since that's the way that vast majority of clubs operate, you can't blame a lack of success on it.  Or maybe you can, but nobody is going to listen.

How about ownership?

Same thing honestly.  Professional football has become a way for billionaires to live out some football fantasy they've had their whole lives and own their own club.  Just take Wrexham for example.  What do Hollywood Reynolds and his best friend know about owning a football club?  Nada.  But neither do most other owners.  It's either an investment or a passion.  And since a good majority of football clubs in England don't make for good investments... it's probably better if it's more a passion.  This is what brothers Christoffer and Alexander Reedtz have said their ownership of Notts County is to them.  Granted, they have dreams just like every other owner of building the club up and having success and making it to the Premier League... although with the Reedtz brothers they haven't really spoken much past a goal to get to the Championship.  However, it's probably a little deeper with them.  They own a football analysis company called Football Radar and they have been wanting to reach into the lower English leagues with this company and expand operations.  And what better way than also owning a small club and using their company to expand said club.  Not that there is anything nefarious about that.  No, nefarious would be the previous ownership that pretty much ran Notts into the ground.  Of course there is some concern about whether or not Notts or Football Radar is really number 1 on the minds of the new owners and really how much money they may be willing to invest.

But winning usually has a way of setting the course straight.

Unfortunately, as we've said, Notts hasn't been doing much of that lately.

That's where Robert Hogue steps in.

In our tale Ian Burchnall - who took over the reigns of Notts in March of 2021 - was fired at the end of the season after not winning in the National League playoffs.  The Reedtz brothers expressed an interest to go in another direction after 2 straight disappointing seasons.  They turned to 26-year old Robert Hogue.  Robert had been with the team for several years as sort of a jack-of-all-trades employee.  He worked in the scouting and development department under the Head of Youth Development, David Plant.  He assisted with scouting and tactical analysis. 

He was born and raised in Nottingham and a graduate of Loughborough College, earning a degree in Sports Management.  He had been a lifelong Notts County fan and was achieving his dream of working for the club.

His hiring as manager certainly raised some eyebrows due to his youth and lack of managerial experience, but that was exactly what the Reedtz brothers said they were looking for when they hired him.  Analytics was their life and Robert Hogue showed a flair and passion for the same thing.  It was what won him the interview and in the end won him the job.

At the press conference announcing him as the new manager, Robert stated his one goal was to rebuild Notts County into a model franchise.  "We will take the building blocks we have with this club and expand upon those.  This is a new era of Magpie football.  When the fans show up this coming season, expect to see the differences on the field and off.  We are not happy about where we are as a club.  We know the fans are not either.  We will not stop until we rebuild the faith with our fans here and abroad.  Change starts now.  Change starts with me.  This is my promise."

The new era starts.

This is Notts County football.

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Introducing Robert Hogue

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The 26-year old takes command of a Notts County team mired in obscurity in recent years.  Years which have not been kind to the oldest football club in the world, with them reaching a new low 2 seasons ago when they were relegated to the National League.  And although they have managed to make the playoffs each of the past 2 seasons, they have failed to win promotion and so for a 3rd straight year find themselves fighting for relevance.

Robert is a fan of analytics.  He has said it's the future of sports. 

Much like sabermetrics has captured America's past-time, Major League Baseball, Hogue has stated that football needs to evolve as well and come to a more clear understanding of numbers.

This thinking obviously resonated with the Reedtz brothers, who own a football analysis company themselves and rely on data to produce results.

Hogue has also stated he's a fan of attacking football.  "Goals are obviously the number one currency in football.  Without them you can not win.  I do not play for draws.  If you're playing not to lose, you've lost already.  My way of football is to attack and keep our opponents on their toes.  It requires a commitment to the fundamentals of the game.  It's fast-paced and hopefully exciting for the fans.  But it also means that the players have to be on their toes as well."

It remains to be seen how this hiring will affect the club or whether his youth will be a detriment or a boon.

Needless to say opinions have varied wildly on the subject since it was announced.

Robert Hogue has said he's ready for the challenge.  All that's left is to put up or shut up... as the saying goes.

 

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Meadow Lane

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Meadow Lane has been the home to Notts County FC since 1910.

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It is a wonderful football stadium that sits along the River Trent.  It holds around 20,000 screaming, faithful fans in and around the beautiful city of Nottingham, which lies in the central midland area of England.  Of course the most famous thing about Nottingham is the story of Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest, which everyone knows.

We said that Meadow Lane lies right on the River Trent, but it doesn't stand alone in that distinction.

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You are, in fact, not seeing double.

Right across the river is the City Ground, the home of Nottingham Forest... arch-enemies to Notts County.  Aargh!

They're bigger.  They're better.  They are everything that Notts County aspires to be.

Nottingham Forest have definitely been the standard bearers for Nottingham.  They've spent the past 13 seasons in the Championship but prior to that were in the Premier League for a total of 4 seasons.  That is a distinction that Notts County can not claim.

So yes, the fans of Notts County don't have to look very far when at Meadow Lane to see what all they aspire to be.

New manager, Robert Hogue, has stated it's a process.  But the end desire is to be in the Premier League.

That process starts now.

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

It begins.

Hogue has taken control of Notts County and has promised wholesale changes to the team inside and out.

Those changes begin with the staff.

There are quite a few holes to fill to begin with.

That's always the easy part.  The harder part is telling people that have been employed by the club that they no longer have a position and need to find employment elsewhere.  Even for the most hardened veterans this is no simple task - or at least should never be.  For a 26-year old first time manager that's firing people that may have more time in their job than he has on the planet... definitely not easy.  But necessary.  To succeed on the pitch, you have to be able to succeed in the backroom as well.  Analytics, tactical, youth development, scouting, fitness, mental preparation... are all important to the success of any football club.

And the simple fact is for Notts County some of those things have not been up to par and others have been neglected completely.

The scouting department needs an almost complete overhaul.  Currently we have no head scout and no scouts employed with the club at all.  Our Director of Football, Richard Montague, is probably secure in his position at the moment.  He's not bad, he's not great... but we'll probably let him ride out his contract rather than pay a separation fee.  We are in need of a Technical Director however as that position is not filled either.  There's a lot of work to be done to get this department up to standards.

My coaching staff consists of Michael Doyle as my assistant.  He is 39-years old and still plays part time as well.  He's obviously on the backside of his playing career but he's an extremely knowledgeable player and quite capable assistant manager.  One day he may actually even take over his own team but I'd like him to stay with me for now when he ends his playing career.  Robert Plant is Hogue's former boss and Head of Youth Development.  He is excellent at working with youth... but very average at best at judging their ability.  He - along with the Head Performance Analyst and the regular Performance Analyst currently on staff - will need to be let go.  We absolutely need to upgrade those positions.

And then there is the medical staff which needs a complete overhaul as well.  Our Physio department is just horrible, there is no other way to put it.  And we currently have no sports scientist on staff.  

I hope the Reedtz brothers recognize the importance of filling all these positions.  You don't get to play with the big boys unless you're willing to pay.  Granted where we are currently on the English Football map means that we're not going to be able to go and just get anyone and everyone we want... but we certainly need to pay to get the best we can.

------------------------------------------------------

Update

So far we've spoken with several individuals we had targeted.  This is going to be slightly more difficult that I anticipated.  With Notts sudden downfall and relegation to the National League a good number of applicants don't view us as a particularly interesting or viable step forward in their careers.  We have had to typically look at older individuals that are wanting a last chance to prove themselves... or younger that also want to prove themselves.  But we're certainly not attracting the cream of the crop.  Perhaps I was a bit too quick to judge the staff we already had here, it seems we're really not going to get realistically much better, but I still hold out hope we can upgrade a few positions.

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The Squad

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So it's not that hard to see why this team has been struggling.  We are absolutely bereft of depth and top talent.  We're a younger squad, which is nice, but without depth we don't have much room for error.  Nor do we have the depth to be able to sell off players to make money either... which is then needed to acquire other players.

On that topic, let's look at our youth squad.

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This is even more depressing.  Not only do we have a lack of talent but we seem to also have a lack of understanding of the capabilities of our players.

Part of the problem is our youth facilities to begin with... they are practically non-existent.  

Average training facilities, below average youth facilities and adequate recruitment doesn't scream a well-oiled machine.  This is going to have to change and change almost immediately or we're never going to be able to reach our goals.  I hope the board understands this.  Granted, I would imagine they're going to want to see results before they start to throw a lot more money into the club, and I can understand that to some degree.  But there is that age old adage that it takes money to make money.  

We can not and will not ever succeed as a club if we don't at least pretend that we're better than we currently are.  We may be in the National League, but we don't have to act like that's where we belong.  Because we don't.  If we want to be better, we need to start being better.

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Punch said:

:applause:

Looking forward to following this journey.

Good luck.

I apologize for the redo... I just got started and realized that it fit better in this forum rather than the other.  I want to make the journey more encompassing rather than just a story being told.  The story is just a part of it.

This team is very interesting... you can see the parts there, but they don't fit and certainly aren't good enough.  

They're a club that should be better... they have the city, the fans, the stadium, some decent players... but you can also tell all the things they aren't doing right.

Hopefully we can fix that in this pretend world.

Edited by Blarney
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Getting started

So I've had more time to look things over and they are definitely somewhat bleak.

I mean we're in the National League so I don't expect we will have much problem being competitive this season compared to most other squads.  I do know a few, Wrexham included, that will definitely put up a fight, but we have more than enough firepower to win more than we lose this season.

It's going forward that is the bigger question mark.

Looking over the team we have a decently solid core to start building around.  Francis, Vincent, Nemane, Knight and Wootton are all capable players in the midfield, attacking and striker positions.  No, none of them are probably future superstars and we certainly don't have anyone like that in amongst our youth either... so that is problematic.  But capable players... players that can help us win.  Absolutely.  At least for now.  They're worth building around while we get better.

On the backside there are far more problems.  We truly have nobody there that is younger and even a somewhat quality player.  Not only do we not have depth we don't even have someone that I'd feel confident in saying they're a good fit for the starting 11.

Beyond getting my staff in order... I need to get on the transfer market and just start obtaining players.  The one thing we do have available is some cash, at least in the form of transfer budget.  We're tapped in the wage budget so I'll have to move some funds around or inquire as to whether or not the board will increase the wage budget a bit, it's pretty slim right now at 36k and 32k already being used.  But with 500k available in the transfer budget I at least do have some wiggle room.  I'm probably not going to be going after any players right now that cost a lot to acquire, we're just not in a position right now to want to do that.  However, we do need players so anybody available on a free transfer is someone I probably want.  And if I can find some "decent" players for a little bit of cash, I'm going to be looking there as well.  Right now we have only 22 players... and half of them are nothing but taking up space.

This is the definition of needing to get better.

The truth of the matter is I'm probably going to be looking at selling quite a few players as well.  Anybody that's over the age of 26, 27... they have no future on this club.  As soon as I can get a decent price for some of these guys, they're going to have to go.  We need money.  We need youth.  We need to build for the future.  In fact one of the goals of the club from the board is to acquire players under the of 23... and I certainly intend to do that.  At least as far as my funds will allow me to.

We're getting started.

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The Pre-Season

Things are shaking.

And moving.

Let's look at how the month of July turned out.

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Not bad.  I'm slightly disappointed with the 0-2 loss against some team named Partick Thistle.  Not sure what happened there.  Other than that, we did okay.  Nobody puts much faith in pre-season, it's just there to warm you up.  It's honestly very difficult to take anything else away from it.  

So I said we would be making some moves, and moves we did make.  We had a lot of holes to fill and hopefully we did that.

Here's the "big" names we brought in.

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We'll start with Jake Eastwood.  15k was a pretty cheap price to pay for a serviceable keeper, which is more than we started with on this team.  He immediately comes in and becomes our number one option.  We'd still love to find another youngster somewhere, but for now this will work.

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Our next biggest concern (well actually our biggest but I really wanted a new keeper) was our defensive backs.  We had literally nobody of worth at this position and no depth.  We needed to grab a couple of players here at least and the first we targeted on a free transfer was Bwomono.  I'm actually surprised to find him for free considering he's not a bad player and definitely has some worth.  He immediately becomes our first option and will play most games.

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So we had approached Wootton early in the pre-season about redoing his contract since he has just one year left and he balked.  Also my staff informs me that they don't think he will re-sign.  I'm hesitant to put him up on the transfer market right away because he brings a lot to the club but I had to look to the future.  Hector-Ingram was there for a free transfer and I couldn't pass him up.  Whether he takes Wootton's place on the club or sticks as an outside attacker remains to be seen, but he has value at both positions.

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Again, needed defensive backs.  Medford-Smith was there available for the taking and we couldn't pass him up.  He'll be in the starting 11 most nights.

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Are you sensing a theme here?  I said we needed defensive backs and this is the 3rd we acquired.  Hutch is probably better off as a backup option, but since all I had was backup options on the team... he's probably a starting 11 player for me most nights.

We also were able to fill most holes on the staff as well.  The board did balk at some expenditures but mostly I was able to get the guys I wanted.  Actually that's not completely true, I didn't really get anyone I wanted, because none of them wanted to come work for me (or at least for Notts at this time - like seriously I had a 19-year old kid that was looking to be a scout tell me that Notts wasn't a good option for him... 19... the @#$# on that kid).  But in the end I was able to fill all the positions and at least for now that's better than not having staff around me.

We have one more pre-season game at the start of August and then things kick into high gear.

I'm ready to get things rolling.

 

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August 2021

We are off and running.......

well after 1 more pre-season game at least.

But here's how August turned out.

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A draw ends our pre-season which was mostly more good than bad, but we don't care about that, we care about the start of the season.

And it started very well with a game one victory over Barnet in a 6-3 rout.  It was actually a bit of a letdown because we were up 5-1 about midway through the 2nd half before we allowed back-to-back goals to bring the game to 5-3 before we scored another late goal and put more distance between us.

The game against Torquay was much tighter but ended in a 1-0 victory.

And then the darling's of the Vanarama League... Wrexham.  2-0 and they were sent away with nothing to show for it.

So 3 up and 3 down.  3 victories for the good guys with 2 shutouts.  It couldn't have started much better for us, although it appears we used up a lot of goals in our first match, but you really can't expect to score 6 every game, can you?  No.  I'll take victories however they come.

Here's the table following the short month.

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4 teams escaped the month unbeaten but only 2 teams with 3 victories.  Both Bromley and Stockport were predicted to be amongst the top 5 teams in the league this season (with Notts, Grimsby and Wrexham joining them) so it's not shocking to see them doing well.  We just need to keep pace and play our game.

Let's look at some stats for these few games.

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It's very early so there's really not much to discuss here.  It's just a few games so that's not really going to tell us much.

Here are a couple of predictions for how the season will play out.

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And with that it's on to September.

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September 2021

Let's get right in it.

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So my concerns at the end of the last month continued in to September.  We just couldn't score and we have far too many good players to not be scoring.

Something had to change so I messed with the tactics a bit.  We had been going with a traditional 4-3-3 formation but I changed it to a 4-2-3-1 going into the Wealdstone game and it definitely gave us immediate improvement.  And we won the next 3 games after the change.  I never like looking at things short term or taking too much from it, but this is a game of change.  If something isn't working, tweak it and see what happens.  I'll watch and see how it works going forward.

Here's how the table stands now.

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There are definitely some teams having good seasons.  Aldershot for instance still hasn't lost - and played us to a draw at the start of the month, which has been their downfall so far.  No losses but 5 draws in their first 8 games.  6 other teams - including mine - still only have 1 loss on the season as well.  However, we're holding on to the top spot for now and playing well.

Let's look at the player stats to this point.

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Wootton is having an excellent season so far.  I still can't get him to sign but I'm hoping that as the season goes on he either will or I'll have to find a transfer partner for him.  Luckily Hector-Ingram is having a fine season so far playing on the wing but I feel he could step in at the striker position if needed and I wouldn't lose a beat there.  You'll see I acquired another player as well in Zain Westbrooke and he's been in on a few games for me now.  It's nice to see my acquisitions playing so well, without them I'm not really sure where we'd be this season.

Here's Westbrooke.

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And here's our team stats thru September.

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We're first in goals, up there in average possession.  Leading the league in average attendance, which is nice to see.

How about our general performance.

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I'm pretty pleased with this graph.  Again, lots of goals scored, very few given up.  Our tackles won ratio and pass completion ratio are both very good.  As is our shots per game and shots on target ratio.  Overall our stats are right there where I'd want them to be.

It's on to October.

And hopefully more of the same from the first couple of months.

 

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Posted (edited)

It's a green October

It doesn't get much better than running the table for the month.

Let's see the results and the updated table.

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6-0-0 in the Vanarama National by a combined score of 12-5 is always nice.  And a win in our Qualifying Round of the FA Cup as well to advance there.  Very nice.

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And oh by the way, look what a little winning gets you.

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That's right.  The board finally comes through after refusing to raise the budget they acquiesce and agree to spend a small fortune and upgrade the youth facilities which were in dire need of getting an upgrade.  Now we just need to keep winning to justify them continuing to have faith in me and the team.

Let's look at updated team and player stats.

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We continue to see our name and the names of our players in lights and that's what we like to see.  Attendance is strong, players are happy... for the most part.  The board is relatively happy - and spending money.  Our acquisitions continue to impress.  All-in-all it's a good start to the season.

There is one cause for concern.

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Our tackling is horrendous.  I mean we're winning so I'm not going crazy over it, but we're too talented to be this bad.  We are far worse than any other team in the league in this category and it's not even close.  If we were losing, I'd be throwing things.  As it is I'd like to figure out the cause.

Regardless we're winning.

How long can this go on?  Who knows.  I think we've established ourselves as the class of the league, rightfully so.  There are a few other teams having good seasons so far with minimal losses but we're definitely starting to pull away.  This is when you take destiny into your own hands.  Nobody else controls our future but us.  Continue to win and automatic promotion is ours.  But it's still a long season and a lot could happen.  We're going to try and avoid any stumbles.

 

Edited by Blarney
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Posted (edited)

November/December 2021

Stumble....

Well not completely... but after a green month in October, you come to expect perfection.

So we stopped being perfect but maybe in the end it will give a little kick where it's needed.

Let's look at how the year ended.

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So yeah my expectations are pretty high that I'm concerned about a loss and a couple of draws, mixed in with a bunch of wins - including a 2nd round FA Cup and 3rd round FA Trophy victory.

But it goes deeper than that.  I'll get in to the stats here shortly, let's look at the table.

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So let's be honest here, there isn't really much of a competition left.  Barring some great downfall this is our league to win, quite easily with the way things are going.  There are some teams still having good seasons... Barnet, Wrexham... both have minimal losses on the season, but those draws are keeping them down.  Could be worse, could be Aldershot with only 4 losses so far this year... but only 7 wins also.  Just good enough to not lose, but not good enough to win.  Or Dover with only 1 win and a negative 22 goal difference.

Hey, we're getting a little media attention now also.

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Unlikely promotion challenge?  The bookies picked up for 2nd place this year....

Anyway, I said I had some concerns, let's look at the stats.

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We have some players putting up good numbers.

Let's look a little deeper at team stats.

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First in goals, not particularly surprising... but it's not like we're blowing some other teams out.  Like I said, many clubs are having good years.  Still, better to be scoring goals than not.

Goals per game.

138804074_goalspergame.png.3b140e95f73509c6aebdbbf53273717b.png

Right up there, but not like we're head and shoulders above everyone else.  We're just good enough to be good, but not good enough to be great.

Shots per game.

shots.png.e54781ba6443c88107fab37f9b8b2751.png

No surprise here, we put up a lot of shots per game.

But how about the on target ratio.

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Again, tops of the chart... but not especially better than some other teams.

Conversion rate.

1033482980_conversionrate.png.6595ae7b38008a67d455424db35663a8.png

This is where we start to see the cracks.  We score a lot of goals because we put up a lot of shots and our on target rate is good... but our conversion rate is okay, not great.  I mean it's still upper half so I'm not necessarily complaining or worried but there's just that... just that little whisper that says we're good, but we're not as good as we should be.

Average possession.

possession.png.db3f6df53621861fe8004c7b032ab7c0.png

Possession is good... but again not necessarily better, just good enough.

Pass completion ratio.

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Still good, not great.

Okay so I'm nitpicking but I'm looking ahead of this season now.  I know we're a young team so I expect that we will grow and get better.  However, what I'm looking at here is a team that's good enough to dominate the Vanarama National League - which we are - but not necessarily good enough to take the next step in League Two.  We definitely still need to upgrade some positions and as I said grow as a team.  My biggest concern right now money.  We still have a very small wage budget and we're already maxed out which means I can't bring anybody else in at the moment... and I'm not really finding many (or any) teams interested in taking some of my players off my hands to free up cash.

Anyway that's months away still and we have the season to finish here.

Edited by Blarney
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Posted (edited)

Performance Review

848365997_performancereview.png.1c66a0da913b4e8306c8e3256993e2cb.png

Damn these guys are needy.

We're dominating the National League.  We've advanced in the FA Cup and FA Trophy.

And they're disappointed in the results we're getting on the pitch and giving me a C- rating?

I didn't realize I had to go undefeated to get any credit from them.

Heck, I'm only rated a C+ in transfers despite the fact that it's only because of my transfers that we're winning.  Without them we're probably a middling club at best.

Guess we'll try harder.

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Posted (edited)

January 2022

Welcome to a new year!

Let's get to it.

826621078_January2022.png.5a0a4e3528a5b05d9c2844dc9f5c2ef7.png

So the winning continues.

Let's look at those FA Cup games.  Granted it's Gillingham and yeah they're bottom of the table in League One... but it's still a big match for a National League club.

Game one.

1631212261_FACup3rdroundgame1.png.3ce280dc0ddad7b5e900418aaa32f2e9.png

This was a very tight game where honestly Gillingham controlled the match from pretty much start to finish and went ahead in the 85th minute.  I honestly thought that was game, set and match until our late penalty kick - and I mean late since it came in the 93rd minute - put us in for the draw.

It was all up to game two.

1756533281_FACup3rdroundgame2.png.c624c470d30c60587547b94582deab71.png

Now that's a game.  We game out firing and were much better in this match.  Our possession rate was better.  Tackling was good.  We grabbed the all important first goal in the first half, then got another quick one in the 2nd half.  Then held off Gillingham for the rest  of the half for one of our bigger wins of the past 15 years.  We do have one FA Cup title in our history but it was waaaaaaay back in 1894.  We were also in the finals in 1891 but lost.  In recent history though... the last time we even made the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup was back in 1990/91.

We have Everton in the next match... we'll be prepared.

Let's look at the table now.

313263273_januarytable.png.61804e6ef0f205304a5335d549259fb5.png

Still running away with this one.

Nothing much of note there.  We just need to keep pushing to not experience any letdowns.

 

Edited by Blarney
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FA Cup

vs Everton

Dreams sometimes end

1046194714_FACup4thround.png.f65d99b206156f18d1cf4fd83ff6b1df.png

It really was an excellent first half.

Everton absolutely controlled the match but couldn't get past our defenses until the 40th minute.

Still going into the 2nd half they were only up 1-0 and we had faith we could  turn it around.

But it wasn't mean to be as they came out firing and scored again in the 59th minute.

At that point I changed tactics and pushed it to attack from balanced... but still couldn't get anything past their keeper.

Statistically it wasn't close and I didn't expect it would be.

They controlled the tempo, possession, shots and deserved the win.

I told the lads I was proud of them regardless.

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Posted (edited)

February

Let me take you back to January... when I said "we need to keep pushing to not experience any letdowns."

Either I am prophetic or just plain stupid because you never open your mouth and ruin a good thing.

Let's see how the month went.

February.png.1377455d08ddaf9d5c371555c4c055a6.png

So what happened?

Well I wasn't that concerned about Everton, I assumed we'd lose there.  However I wanted to give it our all so I put my best 11 out there to start.

That game came on the heels of 7 games played in January with 4 of those in the last 2 weeks, basically one every 3 or 4 games.  This is where our lack of depth really came back to haunt us.  After playing 4 games in 13 days, we had a 6 day break before we played Everton.  We lost.

But then we came back 3 days later and played again... and lost.

4 days later and lost.

3 days later and got the draw.

My team was exhausted.  We played 9 games in the span of a month.  Half my guys were on fumes and we played like it.  It was not good.

But we pulled it back together and dominated against Halifax.

And we destroyed Woking with 7 goals for... however our defense was non-existent as we gave up 4.

We were still tired and it showed.

So how does the table look now?

609879296_Februarytable.png.68ce3952811ff9ebb3ab07d69a179544.png

We're still up by 12, but we were up by 14 last month.  I'm still not concerned - should I say that?

Let's look at player stats.

371478641_playerstats.thumb.png.f367fb0239ab41f68b891de4680a37e6.png

And team stats.

1720875123_teamstats.thumb.png.664e554899e0fc6e6d48a86005419a6b.png

I'm not saying anything else or making any predictions.

Let's move on to March.

Edited by Blarney
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Vanarama National League Champs

trophy.png.a8e25869200246a44f636593694e0a50.png

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Although the title really wasn't much in doubt after about the first few months of the season (at least in my mind), we put it officially to bed with 7 games left and then coasted to a finish.

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In fact it was a record breaking season on many fronts.

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Most wins, most points as a team... Wootton missed most goals by a player by 1 but otherwise was absolutely fantastic all season.

We absolutely took the National League by storm this year.

Really other than a small blip in February... it was almost a completely magical season.

We even outperformed expectations in the FA Cup as well.

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Posted (edited)

225699405_endofseason.png.b706f92b94ca4fadae45e1e7d32537f5.png

So financially how did we do.

1482927230_yearlyfinances.png.62723bf1a0ae53b9e7629a0581253902.png

So although we're not a small club, we are.  In fact our finances are probably just about as important as our winning... possibly even more so, but they do go hand-in-hand.

So we did alright.  We had to make a lot of moves and bring in a lot of players for now and the future.  We also spent a pretty good amount of money changing staff so there were a few more monetary losses than possibly counted on to start the year.  We had a decent attendance record for being in the National League and hopefully our promotion will increase that total even more next year.  But in the end we made money and that's what's important.

Here's a look at all the moves we made bringing guys in for the year.

992485836_newarrivals.thumb.png.37778d0c52e0d4ef0c328308d9e76988.png2120957367_arrivals2.png.1e09b272a447d23db7e14859b2a5b431.png2047632459_arrivals3.png.6e3639841c9e2849af398320dbad3a8d.png

That's 17 new faces, the vast majority of them on free transfer... which was a boon for us.  The VAST majority of our intake paid off for us in the end, maybe even more than paid off.  I don't think there's any way we even sniffed the playoffs this year without half these moves... and definitely would not have gained automatic promotion.

Eastwood was our #1 goalie all year long and very good.

Vincent, Medford-Smith, Francis, Westbrooke, Hector-Ingram, Semple and Bwomono were all starting 11 picks for us.

That's 8 starters that we picked up at the start of the year.

Hutch and Nemane were big off the bench as well.

So basically we turned over almost the whole team... and it could have absolutely backfired and ended up with me having a very short career as Notts Co manager.

But it didn't.

And we raised the flag because of it.

Let's look at player stats.

802507069_playerstats.thumb.png.c9e5bbf3ee8900b47717ad69fc86493e.png

And team stats.

1805411469_teamstats.thumb.png.da7e80b99471736d20aa19b56aaa449c.png

So not only did we set some Vanarama National League records... but we set some team records as well.

1814349397_teamgoals1.png.e0312106c91a230dedb357d1eefe3fa4.png

Most points in a season.  Most League wins.  Fewest League defeats.

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Most overall goals in a season.   Most assists by a player.  Most clean sheets.  Most player of the match awards.  Oldest goalscorer.

1212857207_teamgoals3.png.ea69de32090446e1c93357414dc3e222.png

Most matches won in a row.  Most matches without losing.  Most matches without conceding.

Yes, it was a very good year.

And going into next season... we'll have a transfer budget of 150k and a 78k player wage budget.

The transfer budget is what it is, we're still probably not going to make a big splash with just 150k... but the player wage budget is a pretty big thing since that's about 20k more per week than we're currently spending and allows us to give out some nice shiny new contracts when necessary.

We're probably going to spend most of our time swimming in the kiddie pool still this season and looking for free transfers and low cost additives to the club.

Hopefully it will be enough to help us avoid relegation, which I think it will be.

299662546_20222budget.png.14517d8e722bd58ebaf2041edfbc7e1d.png

Here's looking at a great new start to the new season.

Let the games begin.

 

 

 

Edited by Blarney
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2022/2023 Season Preview

So it's almost time to put last year behind us.

What happened in the Vanarama National League doesn't much matter any longer.

We're looking ahead to League Two.

Well after we attend to just a little more business.

Let's look at how the other English Football Leagues fared last season.

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Liverpool makes it 2.  After winning the championship in the 2019/2020 season they come back in the 2021/2022 season and make it two times since the shift to the Premier League.  Man City fell just short of making it 2 in a row and 4 times in the past 5 years but settle for a near photo finish with just 1 more loss making the difference.

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Fulham has an excellent season with 26 wins on the book to gain the automatic promotion.  On the other hand Nottingham Forest falls out of the Championship for the first time in 13 years.

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Sunderland takes the title in a tie with Charlton but both clubs had excellent seasons and end up gaining promotion.  Charlton is back in the Championship after a 1 year absence.

2121101701_leaguetwo.png.61094d830097d9ac797f883569c82d62.png

Northampton continues their roller-coaster ride of gaining promotion only to get relegated the next season by going back up to League One after dropping down last year.  While Scunthorpe and Barrow have absolutely forgettable seasons and find themselves on the outside looking in to the Football League.

There were a couple more awards to look at from last year.

How about manager of the year... and it probably isn't a big surprise who won.

268260050_manageroftheyear.png.4ce7cdb584210011f17fb92e6571f2c3.png

After dominating the league in his first year of management it would have been a total shock to not see Hogue win this award.

How about player of the season.

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It couldn't be anyone but Kyle Wootton.

But... doesn't it say Wrexham?  Yes, it does.  We sold him before the last game of the season.  He refused to sign a contract extension with us and we had no choice but to let him go.  The sad thing is we only got 5k for him.  We tried to get more from a couple of different clubs but nobody would offer anything for him.  So in the end we settled for what we could get.  Regardless, he had a tremendous season for Notts and was a big reason we did as well as we did.  We wish him well with Wrexham.  Except for when he plays us since Wrexham gained promotion as well.

So it's time to look forward now.

And new arrivals.

The transfer market is open and we've already made a small splash.

1972743116_signings1.png.18e9e5ac0b6fca4471960991e9c51bb3.png140431171_signings2.png.cd64937e51730ad4a59cca24218f706b.png

You read that right.  5 good signings so far and not a penny spent from the transfer budget.  The increase in our player wage budget was a nice boost to us as we went from around 55k to 75k which allowed us to sign some nice contracts and bring in decent players on a free transfer.  No we're obviously still not shopping with the big boys... but these are quality players that increase the quality of our club overall.  And give us much needed depth as well that we didn't have last year.

Let's have a peak at what the bookies think.

1348412876_scorerodds.png.e045d80209723affeb36c3c9859c415f.png

Well we don't like to see Wootton's name there at the top after the incredible season he had last year.  But it's even worse not to see any of our players here.

What about top player.

981569114_topplayer.png.be10770095b8323bdac30d29bb067e45.png

As much as we don't like seeing none of our lads on the scorer list.... it's even more of a gut-punch to not have anybody listed as potential top player.

That just means we get to prove everyone wrong again.  I think we have a couple of guys that might shock some people.

So what do the bookies think of our chances in the league this season.

2029486231_predictions1.png.36a16cc570101c6733dc081493741314.png

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Really not bad at all.  Even though we just gained promotion the bookies think we're a quality club and will be easily safe from relegation and potentially even challenging for a playoff spot.

We will take that.

Now we just have to prove it.

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Hey guys or whoever is reading this.... I'm putting a pin in the Notts drama.  

I took a few days off to learn a bit more about the game and have been reading a lot of stories here and watching some on youtube as well.

Truthfully I've been taken in by the Wrexham story, especially since there are about a dozen saves on the tube that I've been watching to get ideas on storylines and the such.

And since I really sort of started to not feel this save as much as when I first started I wanted to take a break and find some inspiration elsewhere.

At first I really thought I was going to do an Irish save but I still want to try and do an English football league one first... so I turned my attention to Dover but after looking them over and seeing their general state of despair........ that's one I don't think anybody could tackle.

And I keep being drawn back to Wrexham even after I said I wouldn't.  I looked around on these forums and saw a couple... but none that appear to be being updated so maybe everyone loses interest with them, although as I said there are a bunch being done online.

So I apologize but in order to keep my interest up I'm going to push pause on this one and maybe come back to it later (or restart it after I see what I can do with Wrexham).

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