With the release of FM17 at our doorstep, I thought I'll take a bit of my time and go to FM15 (the only FM I have), to try and prove to myself that I'm not as bad as my managerial careers suggest, and write my first FMC update topic. I'd also like to apologize for any language mistakes I make throughout my updates - I'm not a native English speaker and I'm still quite young. Humans learn from mistakes, don't they?
I started the game with ten nations and quite a handful of leagues:
England - Vanarama North/South and above;
Germany, Italy, Spain & France - Third Divisions and above;
Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Ukraine & Brazil - Second Divisions and above.
I gave myself no coaching qualifications and sunday league experience, and named myself Bernard Zygier(don't ask...).
And the game started!
A few unsuccessful job applications as expected, searching for job we go.
I was determined to get to work, and on 25th of September 2014 I took Player-Manager Chris Barker's role as Manager of Aldershot in the Vanarama Conference.
First Season(2014/2015): Aldershot
I shared the board's expectations for a mid-table finish, and I thought I won't put much attention to other competitions, such as the FA Cup. I knew I couldn't wish for any upsets with Aldershot.
The beginning of the season was quite disastrous, first four games being two losses and two draws (0-2 Gateshead away, 1-2 Dover away, 1-1 Alfreton home and 1-1 Chester away, respectively). Then, I managed to get a good 2-1 win at home against Bristol Rovers(they scored a penalty).
I then got pretty annoyed at my team's poor form when Dartford beat us 3-1 away, but I tried to calmly approach the next game, which was in the FA Cup qualifiers against an Isthmian side Ramsgate.
After conceding a silly penalty and getting our defence sliced apart by a through pass in a span of 3 minutes in the second half, Brett Williams came off the bench and scored the consolation goal. We lost 1-2.
Naturally, I was quite disappointed, as I predicted a comfortable win, but The Shots continued to shock. The coming fixture, an away match with Gateshead in the Vanarama Conference, ended in a humiliating 7-0 loss, followed by a good 4-0 win over Kidderminster.
At that point I was really confused about what tactics should I use and how to approach the games.
I got introduced to November by a 0-2 loss to Eastleigh (at that point I was 20th in the division, quite far below my expectations) and signed 21-year old Dan Bennett on a free transfer. He had a solid debut (7.40 post match rating) but unfortunately got a yellow. I gave him a go in the first team in place of Chris Barker, who was in quite poor form (6.38 in last 5 games).
I wasn't quite troubled by injuries but the amounts of fouls commited by my team were worrying me quite a bit.
Next match, an away 0-1 loss against Southport, my worries were confirmed as right-back Glenn Wilson received a straight red card for a bad tackle. This meant that my player supply was getting quite thin, and I couldn't allow any more suspensions. I generally held onto fluid, standard/counter-minded 4-4-2 and 4-1-2-3 formations, but I knew that change was necessary - it couldn't be just extremely bad luck, could it?
Next fixture - an away match against Wrexham wasn't a fixture I was expecting to get any results from. Wrexham were on a 11-match unbeaten run and were 1st in the division, while I was barely hanging above the relegation zone. The only thing I wanted was to not get humiliated.
Exodus Geohaghon recently came back from injury and I thought I'd give him a chance - I was very reluctant to let Chris Barker play after his shocking 4.10 performance, though I put him on the bench, aiming to let him play in the second half.
I got shocked positively, as we've managed to clinch a narrow 1-0 win! Chris Barker and Brett Williams came off the bench in the 54th minute, and Brett managed to get us a late winner(85').
I got a tiny boost of confidence, I was 4 points clear of the relegation zone. That made me confident ahead of the Macclesfield fixture at home, though I knew that I could lose - I was determined not to let that happen.
My main strikers didn't quite deliver, so I gave transfer-listed Andre McCollin and benchwarming Brett Williams a chance in the first team. Brett's goals lately were quite essential, so I was hopeful he'd score against Macclesfield, who were 15th in the Conference at the time.
Damon Lathrope, my defensive midfielder, won the Goal of the Month award for November. Against Kidderminster(4-0), he scored a bent effort from 24 yards out which went in off the keeper's near post.
December came, and in the FA Trophy I got drawn against Concord Rangers from the Vanarama South. It was a must-win fixture - I couldn't let them be another Ramsgate.
A 1-1 draw at home with Macclesfield, I was satisfied but at the same time knew my team could do better (5.80 from Dan Bennett, earning Chris Barker a go in the starting XI). We got an early lead only for Macclesfield to equalize in the second half. Brilliant.
Even though I was(and still am) instructing my team to stay on feet when tackling, they commited enormous amounts of fouls (20 to Macclesfield's 12). Worrying.
Widdrington spotted at The Recreation Ground
Eastbourne Boro boss Tommy Widdrington was seen at The Recreation Ground during Macclesfield's Vanarama Conference 1-1 draw with Aldershot.
Speculation in the media suggests that Widdrington may well have been taking a closer look at Dan Bennett, who he is rumoured to be interested in signing.
Well, he's not going to sign Dan after that performance, is he?
Anyway, I noticed that the acronym for the FA Trophy is FAT, hehe... and I also noticed that my sense of humor is terrible, but let's continue!
Concord Rangers match ended with a 2-0 win, I could be expecting a bigger margin of a win but I was satisfied, we had 23 attempts on goal to their measly 4 and had 59% of possession for their 41%. Good win.
Ryan Jarvis got himself an assist by catching up to a powerful through pass from Matthew Saunders and crossing it into the six yard box for Brett Williams to head it far post and give Aldershot a lead. Ryan also managed to score after receiving a pass from substitute Mark Molesley and dribbling past Lewis Thomas to put it left bottom corner.
It was the second time in the season I could honestly tell my team they had done a good job. It was a nice confidence boost.
At that point, Brett Williams earned himself a safe place in the starting XI, but I was getting worried about the availability of my players.
Josh Scott just returned from an injury which left him out for, fortunately, only two weeks, and Glenn's suspension just ended.
Aldershot doesn't have a big supply of players, so I hoped that the foul streaks will end.
I approached the next fixture, an away match versus Welling, rather cautiously, but with high hopes. They were up there in the division(6th) but I didn't forget my Wrexham win. I wanted to distance myself from the relegation zone as soon as possible.
Strangely enough, we were favorites for the match even though there was a, quite gigantic, gap between us (6th and 20th?)
And as I expected we got banged. 3 - 1, Dan Bennett red-carded, their player also red-carded, and at this point I'm just plain confused.
I'm telling my team to not get stuck in yet they commited TWENTY FIVE fouls!!! I even received a fine of 750 pounds after the match because I "can't control my players"! What the hell?
I have more attempts on goal yet my players get plain horrible ratings like 5.70 or 5.60 because of wasted chances.
What am I supposed to do? What can I change? Am I that bad or is it not my fault?
Anyway, after this disaster of a match I fell into the relegation zone.
Followed by a 3-1 loss against Barnet, I was just hopeless. Maybe Aldershot isn't the team for me, or maybe I'm not the right manager.
Anyway, the next match was an away match against Woking. I didn't even care about the result. Chris Barker was just pissing me off with his promises of getting better and making gajillions of mistakes every match. This was his last chance.
Backroom staff suggests setting Chris Barker's status to Key Player. Pfft, why should I consider the most underperforming player a key member?
The result against Woking quite surprised me - we were leading 2-0 for quite a long time, only in the 83rd minute our rivals managed to score a consolation goal.
Matthew Saunders got a 9.00 and the match gave me a bit of positivity. A win over the club's rival will give me a bit of support among the fans.
Aldershot Town boss comes under scrutiny
The Aldershot Town hierarchy appear to finally be losing patience with manager Bernard Zygier, according to BBC Sport.
BBC Sport are declaring that a bad result against Barnet in the forthcoming Vanarama Conference match could seal his fate.
I needed to win. I HAD to win.
A side note, Brett got the Goal of the Month for December award. Against Barnet, he ran the entire pitch from our to their goal and finished it near post getting our only consolation.
This fixture could seal my fate... it's a Barnet away match.
The Barnet match's result left me absolutely flabbergasted. We won 6-4. Goals were flowing freely like the goalkeepers weren't even there - it was by far the weirdest match I've ever attended!
Brett scored 5!!
The next match was an a home fixture versus AFC Telford. I was quite confident, but I wanted my players to regain consistency. Barker was again, not on form (6.50 last 5 games) and that is worrying for a vice-captain.
I played a wide 4-3-3 against them and I think I've finally created a decent tactic! This method of playing has finally been able to get the best out of my wingers, Jaydon Gibbs and Tristan Plummer. Barker finally had a good game (7.10)
It was a good game for our midfielders - Damon Lathrope and Sam Hatton both got on the scoresheet and Matthew Saunders got himself a great assist from a free kick. Jaydon, our right winger, scored twice. Sam Hatton scored a great long-range goal off the bar. The scoreline at full time was 5 – 2. Great!
After that, I signed Graeme Montgomery as an emergency player in case Tristan is unavailable. It gave me a bit of confidence - the player supply looked more sturdy.
We beat Chester 2-0, it was a win I was very happy with - it was proof that I'm onto something with my wide 4-3-3 tactic. Jaydon Gibbs and substitute Brett Williams scored.
Then followed a 0-0 draw with Kidderminster, a bit frustrating since we dominated the game. Nothing of note, though our number of fouls is starting to decrease, which is good.
An away match with Lincoln won 2-1. We went down by one goal before half time and managed to equalize in the 57th minute. It was looking like a draw but fate was on our side as we were awarded a lucky penalty in the 83rd minute, converted by Josh Scott.
After that I took a bit of a break from managing my virtual team to refresh my approach to the games and returned eagerly to manage Aldershot’s FA Trophy match against Bradford. With each fixture my hopes were rising – maybe, just maybe, we can even win it, despite the lack of interest I showed this competition at the start of the season.
As Graeme Montgomery was cup-tied, I thought I’ll let him debut after this match in a home fixture against Dover.
I took a bit of my time to tamper with some tactics ahead of the Bradford match. I though I’ll let myself experiment a bit. I came up with a 4-1-3-2 formation, the aim of which was to exploit my midfielder’s crossing which is above average and combine that with a very good for this division heading and quite tall strikers (both Josh Scott and Brett Williams are 188cm, or 6’2’’).
The game ended in a dominant 4-0 win. I was very happy to notice that most my players were dominating in the air, which I planned to use as a way of improving my performances in the division. Brett Williams got two goals, a header and a finish, captain Glenn Wilson scored a header and Ryan Jarvis scored a good finish capitalizing on mistakes of their defence.
At that point we were on a 7-match unbeaten run in all competitions, 15th in Vanarama Conference and most players seemed to find really good form. I had two decent tactics(4-1-3-2 and 4-3-3) and another one which I had to work on, preferably a 4-4-2 due to its versatility and width, which suits both my style of play and the players’.
In the last few matches it paid off to analyze the opposing team more thoroughly, so I took some time to ensure I can win the Dover match. I noticed that they were second in the league for pace, and that was quite worrying, but I happily saw that they were 23rd in the division in terms of passing. I thought I’ll hassle them so they make mistakes in passing. Their most used tactic is pretty unusual though, as it is a 5-3-2 formation which includes a sweeper keeper, someone which will undoubtedly be a problem to overcome.
I used a 4-4-2 variant of my tactic and got a narrow 1-0 win. Our debutant managed to get an assist as he crossed it from the left edge of the penalty area onto the other side to the unmarked Molesley to score a nice close-range volley with his weak foot. Other than that nothing of note happened in that match.
We were 12th in the league in a 8-match unbeatable run (6 in the league) and so I approached the next game against Altrincham rather calmly.
The result was a frustrating 0-0 draw. I was very disappointed with the form in the final third – centre-back Dan Bennett was who posed the most threat for Altrincham with his good heading.
Nevertheless, I focused on the upcoming FA Trophy quarterfinal against Barnet.
As I was losing money I proposed a mutual contract termination to Andre McCollin, who I abandoned early in the season due to lack of necessary attributes and poor form in games I fielded him. He had a nice 17 aggression, but that was about it. Poor decisions and composure, pretty awful work rate and positioning... he just wasn’t of the quality I wanted to potentially get promotion next season and not to get hammered in Football League Two.
Andre refused to terminate his contract and made quite a big deal out of it, his morale dropping and him complaining to team mates. I wanted him out of the club as soon as possible.
What a frustrating the game with Barnet was! We dominated the game for the whole match only for them to equalize with goals in 89th minute and in injury time. 2-2 draw at home, we have to win in the second leg or else we’re out of the cup. Glenn Wilson disappointed, as did Tristan Plummer. Brett Williams, our leading goalscorer, out injured because of a broken wrist. Great.
I’m satisfied though as we won the second leg 3-2, them scoring their second goal very late in the game (83’).
After that match, I tampered with training a bit. I had plans for developing a very unusual, strikerless tactic and recently transferred Graeme Montgomery had the attributes to play main scorer threat pretty well, optimistically saying.
His attributes are good, especially considering the tier he plays in. The attributes that pulled my eyes the most were, of course, his long shots, but his flair, finishing, dribbling, technique and composure will make him a good attack force in a strikerless formation, and as a bonus he’s already competent at AMC, which will undoubtedly make training him a lot easier.
The only thing I’m really concerned about is his quickness, but that’s something I’m aware of and will train him to improve.
And he pretty much sucks at heading, but that’s not concerning.
I tried the strikerless tactic in the next match, against Welling. We won 2-1, leading 2-0 at half time, and it was a win I was satisfied with despite it’s narrowness. It showed signs of things to come with this new tactic and it’d be great if I managed to create 3 decently functioning tactics, as it’d allow me a lot of versatility during seasons.
After analyzing the match I came to a few conclusions:
* We intercept passes pretty well – Geohaghon alone made 19 interceptions.
* We may possibly suck at crossing – I’m not sure about that one, we’ve completed only one cross during these 90 minutes, but then again so have Welling. I’m going to have to look into this a bit more.
* We’re making a lot of key passes (as in, passes that break down our opponent’s defence).
* Despite making a lot of them, we’re not creating chances (1 CCC and 1 HC in the match).
Jordan Roberts came back from the Chelmsford loan and I thought I’ll give him a chance to start in the match against FC Halifax, one place above us in the league (we were 13th).
We were leading 2-0 the entire match, it was nice and I was happy that we’re getting a clean sheet, FC Halifax score from a free kick 10 seconds before the end of injury time. Twats.
Putting aside the lack of clean sheets, I’m pretty happy with our form! We are 10th in the league, and we may just qualify for the play-offs if players keep consistency.
I took a tiny break just then and thought about the team a little. I’ve raised my expectations and I think I’m able to guide Aldershot to the playoffs, unless, of course, we get a slump in form that disallows us from doing it.
I signed an 18-year-old Ivorian attacking midfielder on a free transfer in hopes of him developing as my youth setup is just a joke, with no actual players, only these „shadow ones”. I hope that changes when I get a youth intake.
I tried to also hire a Jamaican defence coach to improve training quality but the board disagreed to the move and cancelled the talks on my behalf. I tried to talk them out of it, but naturally, Azeem is a stubborn man and didn’t allow another staff member.
Braintree match in the FA Trophy semi-final ended 3-0, left back Nutter scoring two penalties and Tristan Plummer putting a nail in the coffin in second half’s injury time.
Followed by an annoying 1-0 loss to Alfreton we’ve only managed to draw the next leg with Braintree 2-2, but nevertheless we were into the FA Trophy final!
And guess who we were going to play in the final?
That’s right. Our fiercest rivals, Woking.
I tried not to think about the cup match and focus on the league games as I intended at the beginning of the season. Matches flew one after another, 1-0 against Dartford, 3-2 against Macclesfield. We were doing great.
But then we lost 4-1 against Southport. And then 2-0 against Chelsea Under 21s. And then 1-0 against Bristol Rovers.
Then followed the Woking match. I was quite anxious – Aldershot winning it for the first time would be a great boost for fan’s and board’s support of me, and losing in the final would be a big personal disappointment.
Anyway, we went into the match.
First half began. Ended. 0-0.
Second half began.
Brett Williams scored in the 75th minute.
Second half nears an end.
Charles Banya scores in injury time.
Second half ends.
Extra time begins.
105th minute in extra time – Geohaghon’s throw-in near their penalty area. Throws it to Gibbs. Gibbs passes it back. Geohaghon crosses it – Tristan PLUMMER! Shortest player on the pitch heads it into the net! 168cm(5’5’’) tall!
We won the FA Trophy!
Very happy with that win, quite nail-biting stuff!
With the cup out of our way we could put our focus solely into the league. Confidence was high, but looking at the league I know we couldn’t possibly qualify for the playoffs, but it’d be nice to finish the season in good form.
3-1 loss away against Forest Green Rovers. Dissatisfied with the collapse after taking the 1-0 lead.
Dominant 3 – 0 win over Torquay. Finally a clean sheet. Josh Scott scored after just 55 seconds.
With high confidence we approached the Braintree away fixture and got hammered 4 – 0, but it was largely due to my tampering with tactics. I couldn’t hold myself and it’s my fault.
Then a 4-3 win over Wrexham. We were leading 4-1 at half time, so the second half was a disappointment. They were to score the equalizer in injury time, but the goal was offside. Relief.
Then a 4-2 win over Chester. Josh Scott scored a hat-trick and the match would’ve ended 4-1 if Jaydon Gibbs didn’t concede a pen. Happy with that win nonetheless.
We ended the match in an exhilarating 3 – 2 win over 2nd-in-the-league Grimsby. Brett Williams scored a hat-trick.
We then played three end-of-season friendlies against Binfield(3-0W), FC Cherbourg Football(1-0L) and Bristol Rovers (2-1L).
This is how our season ended.
Before the update ends though, I’d like to briefly mention two interesting prospects from the 10th of March youth intake: midfielder Alex Bell and centre-half Robert Swaby, who are 15 and 16 years old respectively, have gathered my interest as they both have been given five stars for potential by my backroom staff. The two youngsters, especially Alex Bell, have put in some outstanding performances for the U-18 team. I’m interested to see how they develop. I even gave them a chance in the first team against FC Cherbourg football, though it was to be my undoing as, while Swaby only disappointed(6.00), Bell was rolling on the floor exhausted by half time.
I’m going to treat the summer break as time for me to scout for new talent to bring into the team.
I hope you had a good read. Let me know of your opinion, and let’s all have a disco!