As we headed in to a new year I was looking for more consistency from my players, but had a firm eye on the now open transfer window.
Of course, we didn't have much time to focus on the window before the first game of 2022 at home to Colwyn Bay on New Years Day. It turned out to be a match that made me want to think again about that barn door. In actual fact, I wonder if we'd have hit an airplane hangar door in this match. Seventeen shots at goal. One shot on target. The Bay defenders had been busy and blocked six of our efforts, but we had to be better in attack. Defensively we were solid, and Rea put in a display equal to some of his best in a Bangor shirt. Marcus Dackers was also outstanding in defensive midfield, but I had eyes on a player that might allow the youngster to play further forward and let us use his creative side more.
(no idea what happened to that match banner, but can't be doing it again)
Mid week I made my first foray in to the transfer market of 2022 to bolster our midfield options. There is also the sneaky and devious fact that I have made Cardiff Met Uni worse with our new signing. Tom Price is our new man and he will happily do what I planned above. Despite the somewhat underwhelming fan reaction I have high hopes for Tom. Cardiff are easy prey though, what with being mostly amateur. Despite our European Bangor Bus plunder the board have been unwilling to give me more transfer funds, so raiding the likes of Barry Town or Llanelli, both of whom have players highly recommended by my scouting team, is more of a task.
I stepped up the offers of trials for a number of players before our next game, and the final game of the first stage of this year's league, at home to Haverfordwest. No less than six potential signings would come to us before the end of January, all looking for a club. It might even have been seven or eight. To be honest I lost count. Most would want too much in wages, but don't get me started oin the fact that that is another area where I feel the board are being stingy. We made a lot of money in Europe. We can't have lost it already, and if my understanding of our finances is good enough we haven't. I have little to do with that though.
The game against Haverfordwest was a rollercoaster of a match that had me feeling dizzy. The team from windy Pembrokeshire had gained promotion at the end of last season. In my season preview I tipped Colwyn Bay, the other promoted team, to spring a surprise. It has ended up being Haverfordwest that have done just that however. Much of their challenge could be down to their star man, Tom Dyson. I've tried to sign him twice now, but he always says I can't match his ambition. Probably explains why the chump is strill down in windy Pembrokeshire. Yeovil are after him now though, as are TNS. If the latter sign him I will be unamused.
We started the match in commanding fashion, securing a two goal lead by the 30th minute. We looked in control, but that is always when complacency rears its ugly head. It did so again and we found ourselves pegged back right at the end of the first half. I told the lads to concentrate and put in the same performance in the second period as they had at the start of the first. They obviously didn't listen because we found ourselves level four minutes in to the half. Midway through the half it was even worse, their front man latching on to some horrendous defending to make it 3-2.
The boys were obviously as gutted with their own failures as I was because we levelled just a minute later. Alex Babos showed just what he can do with a wonderful ball to put Serafino clear through on goal and our talisman finished neatly. We pushed hard as the match drew to a conclusion but couldn't find the winner. There were some positives to take out of the result. Babos had finally shown some form and Tom Price had made his debut in defensive midfield with what was a wonderful performance. Marcus Dackers had moved forward and done really well in a more advanced position. I was just frustrated thatw e had finally shown our goalscoring touch only to now not avoid conceding.
The only man not so happy was Rob Evans who had been relegated to the bench with arrival of Tom Price. He knew it too. He'd asked to speak to me and I could only tell him it was up to my players to show they merited a spot in the team. he hadn't recently, and hopefully he'd learn from that.
We had a two week break before our next game, in the cup against TNS, and I dove headlong into the market to improve my squad and hopefully give us back the edge we had lost. I can be nothing less than happy with the help my director of football gave me in doing this. He knows his football and made some great suggestions. Arriving at the club before the end of January are two new loanees and a youngster with a special name.
Firstly, we have a young man I have taken on loan until the end of the season but whom is out of contract at that time. I tried to sign him outright but Sunderland wanted £24k. Hopefully Ryan Wombwell will impress enough in the next three and a bit months to earn himself a contract. In truth, he is also cover for Cameron Evans who has accepted a contract with Macclesfield Town and will leave in July. I'm not really spiteful, but if he wants to leave then he can practice warming the bench now. Ever since the cheeky offer he got from Chesterfield, Cameron has been a pain in the derriere. Ryan has enough about him to be as good as Cameron.
Our second loan signing is front man pressure to try and kick Serafino's complacency issues in the butt. Paul Master is highly rated and arrives from English Premier League club West Bromwich Albion. The youngster is a natural deep lying or pressing forward but could fill in on the right wing. He's also out of contract at the end of the season.
My final signing of January was recommended to me by my director of football and I did a double take when the name came up. "He's too old, you fool", I'd said. This young winger has talent in his blood. He was born in Barcelona. His papa is more recognisable than any Z list celebrity on any celebrity version of any show on Channel 4. Someone else in football told me he was rubbish though, but I'll give him a chance for the name alone.
Please welcome Maurizio Pochettino. That's Maurizio, not Mauricio. Z's were obviously an issue for Poch. Daddy is currently flying high with Bayern. His wee lad has joined the mighty Bangor.
Don't look a whole bit like him, but the fan's ain't unimpressed. Though, if you look at the hairline.
Stop it...this don't make me continental. He might really be pants.
All that was left of January was the small matter of another derby with my chief rivals The New Saints. Myself and Scott Ruscoe had our usual spat before the match. Dear Scott has come to realise we're not as tinpot as he thought, but he never does like our pitch. Complains about it before every game. We've beaten our rivals in the last two matches in which we have faced them, and that gives us confidence. Tom Price was cup tied so Rob Evans would get the chance I told he he'd get to impress. Sadly, he was sulking. Alex Babos had had his game in which he showed what he could do and had returned to his lacklustre form. It may not have been the be all and end all but the two made for a porous midfield and TNS were firmly in the driving seat for most of the game. We managed to pull the game level deep in to the second half, and after I could deal with no more of Evans and Babos we almost looked like we might wrap up the game in normal time, with Cauterucci and Dafydd in the middle of the park.
The game went to extra time, and it was our new man up front that scored the winner. Masters latched on to Serafino's cross to head us in to the next round, and to secure yet another victory over TNS. If only we could be as competent against everyone else.
The small matter of my Player Of The Month is easier this month. Marcus Dackers has been oustanding in January. He scored his first Bangor goal and ended the month with a 7.8 average rating according to the press.
Corbett Sports Welsh Premier Football League as at 17.00, Saturday 29th January 2022
There's still time left in the transfer window, and I wouldn't say no to another new face. I've made offers of contracts to no less than three central midfielders but they've all been too damn greedy to make it work. The board feel we have the budget needed to succeed. They must think I'll bankrupt us.
Just another ten games to go against the five best teams in the league. Hopefully our new signings come good.