Simply Perfect

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  • About Me
    Milton Keynes
  1. Spent 3 successful seasons at Wrexham before I replaced Steve Evans, beating the bookies favourite Neil Redfearn to the role. He's still my HoYD, although I've lost 2 U21 managers in 2.5 years. Also lost Charlie Taylor in my first month, some genius had put an £11m release clause in his contract and we were already £30k overspent in wages. Replaced him with Tyrone Mings who was on the list at Bournemouth for £750k and gave me the cash to bring in Josh Onomah from Spurs plus a few freebies like Dominic Ball and Christian Walton. We went up in 2nd and I strengthened again. Teddy Bishop was out of contract and got him for.compensation of £2.2m. Demari Gray was an expensive buy from Spurs as was Ryan Nyambe from Blackburn but the board gave me another £25m which added Lewis Baker, Nathanial Chalobah and James Wilson. We beat Spurs to 4th. We added Jack Grealish from relegated Aston Villa, Timo Horn replaced Silvestri, Andrew Robertson came in from City, Jon Flanaghan from Hull. Ryan Kent had spent my Championship season on loan but Liverpool wanted £25m to make it permanent. A year later I got him for less than £4m. My best signing has been Matthias Sammer as DoF. He moves players so easily, which Coppell couldn't do. With Chris Wood heading to Huddersfield it leaves Cook, my captain, and Byram as the only two originals. The board has just given me another £41m to spend, our facilities have been massively improved, the purchase of Elland Road will be finalised in the summer and we have drawn Barcelona in the Champions League knock out stages. Things are looking very good indeed!
  2. After 5 goals in 36 games for Manchester United in 2015/16 he appeared just 5 times the next season, leading to a £12.75m move back to Everton, where he appeared to play deeper, in midfield or wide on either flank. Over three seasons he played 71 times and scored 13 goals before a free transfer to Seattle. His staff attributes indicate he'd make a fairly good attacking or shooting coach, with a working with youngsters rating of 16 too. (I'll have to keep tabs on him!)
  3. It's always worth a look at former players. I brought Caulker back to Spurs as, along with needing a CB, he meets the HG at club criteria.
  4. I usually do one save where I take a club as far as I can. For example, I won the Champions League with Barrow in FM08 and with Luton in FM09. In the last few years though, I've got to the Premier League with Chester and Stockport and not been able to attract even players with reasonable potential to play in the Premier League. I started higher with MK Dons but after getting to the Premier League, I was missing out on players to the likes of Ipswich who were offering lower wages and predicted to finish 20th in the Championship. However, getting promoted too soon isn't a thing. Even with MK Dons, having won 4 points after 8 games, I took the Spurs job. Dons went down under Sean O'Driscoll who then spent £15m (outside of the £6m I spent on Lewis Cook, my biggest buy had been £350k) to win the Championship. They may end up going down again but with two seasons in the Premier League, one in the Championship with parachute payments and, if they do go down, up to four more seasons with parachute payments they easily have the money to upgrade their facilities to get the best out of young players and players that they can attract.
  5. Finally catching up with this and not sure why I haven't until now. Up until about 18 months ago, I lived about half a mile from Euxton Lane. One of my colleagues had a meeting with Bolton to stop them from retrieving footballs that they'd kicked on to the railway.
  6. I shook the hand of Simon Weaver and he disappeared down the tunnel, presumably to attend to his press duties, but his players showed a touch of class, staying out on the pitch as our players did a lap of honour and then, once the league officals had constructed their rickity looking platform, applauded as our players collected their league winners medals and Mark Lees lifted the Vanarama Conference North title. The players jumped up on down on the rocking structure as I stepped down to shake the hands of my staff. I tucked my own winners medal in my pocket and hid out towards the back of the squad as they posed for their official league winners photo, before undertaking another lap of honour with the league trophy. 'We are the Champions' blared over the PA system as I headed down the tunnel fielding a few questions from BBC Radio Manchester's Joe Williams before heading to the press room for the official press conference. Williams, that snake Mark Phillips, an over-enthusiastic journalist from BBC Radio York whose name I didn't catch, Gary Pratt from the Non-League Paper and the delightful Miss Phillips formed the waiting press as I answered the standard questions. Yes, I was delighted we'd won the match, the players had worked hard. Of course it was great to add silverware to the cabinet. I was a little lost for words to learn that Stockport legend Jim Gannon had hailed me as a 'wonder-maker' but was more disappointed to learn that Simon Weaver had fumed in his press conference, amazed that his team had lost the match, and labelling our performance as ordinary, and Mark Phillips was only too happy to share that Weaver had proclaimed that Stockport would soon fall away, based on today's performance. Ashley Phillips was surprisingly quiet as the BBC Radio York journalist threw in some questions, about Jordan Fagbola's 100th appearance and us being the most proficient tackling outfit in the league, which, while showing that she had done her research, changed the flow of the conference. Feeling a little awkward at the change of pace, I answered cooly, while playing with a piece of card that had been on the desk in front of the various microphones. Finally, after addressing Gary Pratt's question on my ambitions for next season, I made my exit. As I headed back for the dressing room, I ran into the chairman, Matthew Taylor, whose shirt and hair were soaked with champagne. Catching me completely by surprise, he gave me a bear hug, and told me that he was footing the bill for a team meal in a restaurant in Deansgate that night. In front of me, he reviewed the match, revelling in the delight of the penalty decision, Rutherford's goal and the brilliant saves made by Ormson, grabbing my arm or lapels after each highlight. "What a wonderful day!", he beamed as I silently, stoically nodded. "So, are you going to call her?" he asked, before skipping away to review the game with the next member of staff he ran into. I looked on bemused before looking down at the piece of card that I still had in my hand. On it, it read "Drink?" and had a mobile number scribed beneath. I flipped the card over, to see the business details of my favourite MEN journalist. "What a wonderful day, indeed", I said to no-one in particular as I pocketed the business card and headed towards the buoyant Stockport dressing room and a champagne soaking. *** The end ***
  7. Thanks very much, Mr Horse: I don't feel worthy of such praise, but all feedback is gratefully received! At half time, I kept things very simple. They were doing everything I'd asked of them and to keep doing it. The next twenty five minutes passed much like the last twenty of the first half: we were containing Harrogate and keeping the ball well but weren't fashioning any real chances for ourselves, with the only real incident being Danny Murray replacing his namesake, who had begun to tire. Just shy of the 70 minute mark, Dominic Rowe ran on to a Turner pass down the right channel. Fagbola made a tired clearance, straight to Meynell. His shot spun off Mark Lees and dropped for Rowe whose volley brought an excellent save out of Ormson. Shortly after replacing Fagbola with Danny Gregson and Lofthouse with Scott Spencer, Tom Peers stung the palms of Zizic with a rasping twenty yard shot. Harrogate were keeping possession well, with the left channel work of Shane Killock linking with Mukendi bringing Featherstone and Lenighan into play. Frustrated by this resurgance, Baker gave away a cheap free kick, twenty yards from goal. The players didn't organise themselves quickly enough and Featherstone fired the free kick at goal, with Ormson scrambling across from where he'd been trying to buld his wall, his right hand sending the ball away from goal, but not out of danger. Lenighan blasted the loose ball at a narrow angle, but Ormson stuck out his left hand and pushed the ball away from goal and out of the box. As Harrogate regrouped, we set out our banks of four and five but were undone by a long punt from Zizic. Duxbury over-zealously leapt in on Jake Speight at the edge of our box and surrendered another dangerous free kick. Ormson barked out instructions, a four man wall quickly constructed but Turner sent his free kick high and wide. At the other end, Spencer released Peers, but Zizic kept out the Chester loanee's left footed effort. As the clock moved past the 90 minute mark, Spencer sent Rutherford through but the winger found himself crowded out by Killock and Matt Heath. Ormson sent a free kick into the corner for Rutherford to chase, with whistles howling around the stadium until the referee made a whistle of his own, and the fans erupted. Stockport 2-0 Harrogate Richie Baker (pen) 21 Paul Rutherford 25 Player of the Match: Ian Ormson (Stockport) Attendance: 5,146
  8. The first five minutes were nervy, both sides squandering possession with relative frequency. The first chance fell our way, Bobby Lofthouse heading a Richie Baker clearance out to Paul Rutherford. Rutherford took the ball in his stride and lifted the ball into the box, but his cross was a little behind Tom Peers and his header bounced wide of the goalkeeper's right-hand post as applause rippled around the stadium. It would take another ten minutes before another chance would be fashioned, Ian Ormson saving from Henoc Mukendi after the Harrogate striker had picked up a loose ball in midfield, sent it wide and rushed into the box to receive the cross. Harrogate were growing into the game as I barked out instructions for the players to keep the ball having seen Glenn Belezika with a crunching, but adjudged to be a fair tackle on Mukendi and Nicky Featherstone shooting narrowly over from twenty five yards. Our change in style paid off almost immediately. From a throw-in halfway into the opposition half, Scott Duxbury found Nathan Woolfe in the box. As the winger tried to turn, Lewis Turner bundled into him from behind and the entire Stockport bench, me included, leapt to our feet as Mr Rushton pointed to the spot. Baker stepped up and slotted the ball out of the reach of Danijel Zizic's left hand and into the corner. We were doing a good job of keeping possession, with Woolfe tucking in regularly to offer his support to Baker and Cameron Murray to keep the ball away from Harrogate's central midfielders. This created a lot of space on the left side, which we exploited, Baker feeding Duxbury who feined to cross before poking it to the sprinting Woolfe. Just outside the six yard box and rapidly approaching the byline, he fired the ball low across goal, where it met Rutherford, who had run free of his marker Rhys Meynell and had no problem in tapping home unopposed from all of two yards. Less than 25 minutes had passed, and we had the game in control. The game began to get a little untidy over the next fifteen minutes with Jordan Fagbola, Duxbury, Simon Lenighan and Fetherstone picking up bookings.
  9. Great stuff so far, not that we would expect any less.
  10. You flatter me, sir. Good to see Rat Pack still going! *** I was alone in the dressing room, adjusting a set of magnets on the board, 11 blue magnets representing us, 11 red magnets for Harrogate. It bothered me slightly that we didn't have yellow markers, given that's what we expected Harrogate would be wearing: but if these are the sort of sacrifices you have to make to keep the club solvent and profitable, I decided that I could probably live with it. Ali Gibb, the club physio walked in, interrupting my thoughts. "How's Robbie looking?", I asked, referring to my only permanent signing, Robbie Parry. He'd suffered knee ligament damage back in March and hadn't trained since, but had been named amongst the substitutes. "Ok. He's some way short of match fitness, but his movement's ok. If we end up in the play-offs..." "We're not going to be in the play-offs", I answered sternly. "But if we do..." "We won't". The tension lingered in the air, my eyes locked on Gibb, as he shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other. After what must have felt like an age but was probably only a few seconds, before I uttered "Sorry, it's just, you know..." I tailed off, not knowing the words to finish. Gibbs nodded his understanding. "All I was saying was that he probably wouldn't be fit to play. He won't need to though. It's going to be a wonderful day!" I smiled sheepishly at my physio as he made his way out of the dressing room. I was annoyed at myself. It was the only time today that I'd snapped. Better now than in front of the players though. I made my way back out of the dressing room and away from the door just before the players came back in. I always wanted to make an entrance to grab their attention before reminding them of the little things we had to bare in mind from that week's training. With the dressing room door closed and the tunnel empty, I made my way return. My messages were succinct, although I was never sure how useful going through their attacking patterns and what to be doing on set pieces was. We'd worked on it in training, and if the players hadn't got it, me telling them about it again wouldn't change that. I dismissed the thought from my mind and looked around the dressing room. "You know what you have to do out there, gents. It's big, I can't deny that...but it's even bigger for the 5000 fans who have come here today to see you, to support you, to see you win this. Leave everything on the pitch, come back in there at ten to five knowing that you have done everything that you could have. For this club, for yourself, and for those people." As one of the officials banged on the door to signify that we were to head out, Mark Lees screamed out something unintelligible to my Northern Irish ears, and the rest of the team joined his battlecry. Dave Conlon swung open the door and Lees led his troops into battle. I was last out of the dressing room and walked straight into the thrust-out microphone of Ashley Phillips of the Manchester Evening News, remarking that my team selection hadn't raised too many eyebrows and asking if I was confident. "Phil, press", I called out, and my assistant came back to field the journalist's pre-match questions. It wasn't anything against Ashley: quite the opposite, I had something of a crush on her, but I tried not to speak to the press much and I certainly didn't want to do it right now. Phil Brown joined the bench a few moments later "She's a tidy piece, that girl. I bet she's a real...", I shot a glance at my assistant and he cleared his throat, turning his attention to the pitch as Harrogate kicked off.
  11. Thanks 10-3, it's good to be back. It's only been five years...! *** It was a few minutes before 10am when I arrived at EP, following the hour long drive. To emanate confidence I made sure to give a wide smile and a friendly greeting to everyone that I passed on the way in: the steward who let me into the car park who declared that it was going to be a wonderful day; Laura on reception; and Richard, our kit man before reaching the sanctity of my office. I closed the door, turned on the radio and flicked through the Stockport Express that I'd picked up on the way in. A big crowd was expected for the game, over 5000 people, which would give us our highest attendance of the season. Skybet had us as slight favourites for the game. Harrogate manager Simon Weaver had agreed that Stockport were overachieving but admitted that we had to be treated as a very good side. I hadn't taken it as demeaning, but had made sure that the credit went to the players. Mark Phillips, in his column, continued to exude negativity proclaiming that the club would continue its ability to let our fans down by blowing it today. "McCreery has already masterminded the collapse of an 11 point Championship lead: there's absolutely no reason to believe that he won't deliver the ultimate disappointment this afternoon". Charming. Training had gone well. We'd had a meeting before Wednesday's video session, and the players looked relaxed during Thursday's full session and Friday's pre-match session. They certainly sounded relaxed as they streamed past my office towards the dressing room. It was just before 2pm when Phil Brown came in. "Ready boss?" I looked up at my assistant. "As I'll ever be", I responded, and took a deep breath before following him to the dressing room. The players began to quiten and sit down as I proceeded through the door. "Right gents, the team. In goal, Ormy...", my eyes moved over to my 20 year-old goalkeeper Ian Ormson who had dislodged Danny Hurst and established himself as the No. 1 over the last few months, and he offered a silent nod. I looked at each of my back four as I read out their names: my captain Mark Lees, Glenn Belezika, Jordan Fagbola and Scott Duxbury. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a slight grimace on the face of centre-back Danny Gregson, who would be on the bench. "Achoring the midfield, Richie,", Richie Baker loosened his neck, "partnered by Cameron Murray". Murray looked up, and smiled. The York loanee had been out after suffering whiplash in the win at Gloucester the previous weekend but neither Danny Murray nor Jamie Milligan, both of who had complained about a lack of first-team football, had done enough on Tuesday night to make me think that Cameron wasn't the best option. Soutport loanee Paul Rutherford would start on the right wing. When I said that Nathan Woolfe, would start on the left, Bobby Lofthouse had looked disappointed. Lofthouse had started the season on the loan list but a move had never materialised and he'd eventually ousted Woolfe from the first eleven. His spirits were immediately lifted when I told him he'd be in the central attacking role. It also meant that ex-Everton attacker Scott Spencer would be on the bench, as Chester loanee Tom Peers, who had 27 goals in 40 appearances after initially joining as back up to Chris Sharp while Spencer and former striker Kristian Dennis were injured, would start up front. The players followed coach Dave Conlon towards the pitch to go through their warm-up routine.
  12. I hadn't slept. I'd always been a bit of an insomniac. When I went to school, it was a Sunday night issue, and reoccurred when I entered the real world, after university. Since joining Stockport County a little over nine months ago, it has become a Friday night issue. Tuesday night games didn't cause me such issues, but they usually followed half a day at the office before heading to Edgeley Park for the match or Park Road for the coach to whichever northern town we were visiting. On Saturday, there was only the game, and this Saturday, it was the biggest, and hopefully final, game of my first season. All I'd heard over the past few days was how wonderful an occasion it would be. It had been a great season for Stockport. When I got the job, I was told to finish the season in a respectable league position. Reach the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup. Make it to the first round of the FA trophy. We'd reached the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup, losing in a replay to Boston United and missing out on a trip to Tranmere. We had somehow managed to win the FA Trophy although we'd met only one Conference side, relegated Welling, on our way to beating Barnet 4-1 at Wembley. The league though had been our coupe de grace though. We'd started strong and had amassed an 11 point lead at the top of the table before our first defeat of the season, to Bradford Park Avenue in the last game of 2014. Our lead had been whittled away and on the weekend that we played in the FA Trophy final, we were top due to goals scored, albeit with a game in hand. Following our draw with Oxford City on Tuesday at EP, as the fans call it, we now sat three points ahead, but with a poorer goal difference than Harrogate. As if it had been written in the stars, we would play host to them on the final day of the season. It wouldn't be such a wonderful day if we fell at the final hurdle, would it? I stood in the shower a little longer than normal, trying to shake the cobwebs off. Today, more than any other day, I had to appear sharp, irrespective of how tired I felt. Every time we walked out on the pitch there were butterflies and today was no different, although it felt like another army of caterpillars had grown wings. I convinced myself that the guy in the mirror looked like a confident, composed professional. My white shirt was crisp, my club tie was windsor-knotted around my neck, my shoes were shining like new. Time to go.
  13. In this particular scenario, promotion is a very good thing. The financial benefits of one year in the Premier League are huge. I took Eastleigh to the Premier League in successive seasons, but couldn't buy anyone when I got there: even average, unwanted Premier League players weren't interested (as it happens, I was offered the Turkey job, without applying, took it in mid-July and ended up doing that before getting the Everton job in November and pulling double duty). Eastleigh, despite beating Manchester City on the opening day, went down with around 15 points. So, as some of the others have said, don't over-extend yourself. If you can, negotiate out promotion pay rises, and negotiate in relegation wage drops, or at least make sure the wage drop is considerably more than the rise. Be prepared to go straight back down. Strengthen where you need to and where the player coming in is better than you have (without stifling the development of your youngsters). Don't underestimate the benefit of experience if you can get one or two wise, old heads who can still 'do it'. Try to get investment in your facilities, particularly as you have talented youngsters: a season playing against high quality players will be good for them. Take the cups seriously as they're a good way to build momentum, particularly if you're taking a weekly tonking in the league. If you go straight back down, you'll get £11m more than the teams around you for four years (I think). Invest that in facilities and talented youngsters and when you go back up, you'll be in a better position to stay up. Good luck!
  14. Who are you managing? Tottenham and England How long have you been there? It's October 2026 and I joined Spurs, replacing Marcelo Bielsa in November 2016, so almost 9 years, having taken Chester to the Championship in successive seasons (as well as an FA Cup final, which we lost to Swansea, who offered me their manager role 7 days before I got the Spurs job). I replaced Roberto Martinez as England manager in July 2022. So far, I've matched his record: European Championship Winners, Confederation Cup Winners and, oddly, 2nd place in the Confederations Cup Fair Play. How has your season been so far? 3rd in the Premier League after 6 games, but we've won the last 8 seasons after I salvaged third in my first season. England are top of the World Cup Qualifying Group with games against Scotland and Ireland left to play. Who is your key player and why? Reigning World Player of the Year and World Golden Ball Winner, central defender Victor Trilles, a £45m signing from Real Madrid. England's key player is probably Chelsea striker Ryan Jermy, although it's not that clear cut. What are you long term ambitions for the club? I have seven consecutive Champions Leagues and would like to make it to ten and beat Real Madrid's record. With England, it's win the World Cup, which Roy Hodgson managed in 2014, although Martinez and Mancini both failed. I suppose long-term I'd like to go back to Chester, who got relegated last season after 6 in the Premier League under my replacement there, David Moyes, and take them to a a title and a Champions League. How is your relationship with the chairman? Jay Batey replaced Daniel Levy and while I could get anything out of Levy by questioning his ambition, I can get nothing out of Batey. Our once state-of-the-art facilities have declined slightly recently and despite having £137m in the bank, Batey won't bring them back up to the level that I want. Do you have much money to spend and if so, who would you like to sign? £224m, with over £1m a week spare in wages. I tried to sign Ryan Jermy when he left Arsenal, but he joined Chelsea on a much worse contract (and a lower transfer fee). My target for the past few seasons was David Calero, a Real Madrid attacker. I had a £140m bid for him accepted in the summer but I couldn't meet his contract demands... or even come close... What are your philosophies regarding a) transfer policy? Buy young, develop, and when that player is good enough to compete with the existing first team player, they get integrated in the cup games and the easier league games. When I have confidence that they're as good as the first team player, I see if I can drum up any interest in him. and b) selection policy? Rotation. I have an established first team, but for young players breaking in, I'll play them in the cup and easier games to ensure my first team is as close to 100% as possible for the bigger challenges and European fixtures. Which of your players exemplify this transfer policy? One good example is a Turkish midfielder called Metehan Sen. I picked him up on a free when he was 22 and he quickly established himself, allowing me to sell Douglas Costa to Real Madrid, which in turn allowed me to sign their 17 year old right winger, Victor Nanclares. Within a few years, Nanclares had developed to a similar standard to Sen, but was a number of years younger. This allowed me to sell Sen to Inter for £25m. How do you see the relationship between yourself and your fans? Great. They love the success we have. They don't get the transfer policy, understandably, as young players replace the big names, sold to other teams and lauded as marquee signings. One really annoying instance was selling a defender named Gavin Branagan. He was 24, hadn't developed to the standard I had wanted and I had better prospects that I wanted to develop, so I sold him to Derby for £4.6m. For a full season, they were distraught. He moved on to Manchester United for £10m four years later, but hasn't established himself there.
  15. If it's the loan/free transfer deadline, you're outside of the transfer window meaning that you'll only be able to sign loans domestically. As for the board takeover, it really depends. If it's a director taking over, you'll probably be fine. If it's an external takeover, you may get news items of whom the incoming chairman would like to bring in... however even then, it's not guaranteed you'll go. I went through a takeover at Preston, with the new board apparently wanting Liam Rosenior to take over. I was told, with no additional funds, to win the Championship. I finished 6th, won the play-offs and kept my job. So, in answer to your question, it's possible that you'll lose your job, but not guaranteed.