Old Git

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About Old Git

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  • Biography
    Playing since the CM Italia days

About Me

  • About Me
    In a Galaxy far, far away!


  • Interests
    EUC, Growing old not so gracefully

Favourite Team

  • Favourite Team
    Liverpool, Rangers,
  1. So, since when did a sense of humour become an infraction? "Ok gotcha Ok SI you got us, the Joke is on us now, when s the real FM13 getting released" Trolling, really. Oh dear!
  2. CB was meant to come on for a crocked RB. Didn't do the switch in the drop down. Next thing I see is keeper walking off and CB going in nets. Yep, it was funny, eventually. Cheers Dogs, thanks for the public humiliation!
  3. With a mid table finish behind them after the brush with European football. Martin sat down with the squad at the traditional end of season meal. Well lads, a lot of effort went into that season, and I think we have all learned a lot, and developed as a unit well. Unless any of you want to leave now, then I don't forsee making any changes during the summer. I've already arranged for a highly talented Argentinian RB to come on to give Igor some help. Drio and I will work on a few things during the summer which should help you all out, and when we get back from the break, we'll be able to get right down to business And so, as the squad disappeared to the four corners of the globe and for some international duty during the summer, Martin sat with his trusty backroom staff and studied videos of the previous season. There were some howlers from players, and there were some obvious tactical errors that were taking place. The players mistakes could be put down to just that, they would learn from their mistakes, but would the management learn from theirs? As the squad re-assembled after the break Martin explained to the team where he thought the management had gone wrong and set about putting it right during pre-season. It would take time, but would it work. They would roll the dice and find out! And so, the team got to work. The pre-seaon matches went well, not spectacular, a little disjointed but well enough that Martin was content with the progress being made. The start to the competitive matches was less impressive as The Villains squandered chances against a tough West Ham side away and went down meekly, losing 2-0. Martin was not impressed and let the team know, in no uncertain terms. With a relatively small squad, Aston Villa simply did not have the resources to go out and buy back to solve any weaknesses and these lads would have to up their game in competitive matches. They responded magnificently in the next match at home to Newcastle winning 2-0. The dressing room was a much happier place, and a little squad rotation for the next match, a LC tie against Leicester allowed some legs to be rested, whilst giving valuable game time to fringe players. Being taken to extra time did nothing for Martin's mood and the fringe players were given a quick blast for not getting the job done more comfortably. As injuries and suspensions would no doubt occur, these players had to be ready to step into the limelight and grab their chance. Season Summary - Part One Bigger fish were to be fried before Martin could contemplate whether sufficient improvement in the players ability and cohesion would require surgery at Xmas. he had stood by these players for a long time, and would continue to trust them. A solid win against Blackburn was followed by the destruction of Stoke by 5 goals to nil. It is rumoured that Stoke manager Rob Knott was so incensed that he would not get out of the bath after the match. The big teams were to come next and this would be where the test of their improvement would be. Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham in the LC. A surprise home win against Arsenal, who in fact looked a very weak side, was followed by an extra time win against a very powerful Spurs side, in which the fringe players were again played, following Martin's long held policy of using the LC to keep fringe players fresh and lively. A spirited 1-1 draw away to Chelsea followed and with those matches out the way, things looked promising. The Villains would go on to win 5 out of the next 7 matches, losing only once, at home to Huddersfield, whilst dishing out thrashings to Wigan and Southampton 5-0 and 6-1 respectively. Drawing away to Watford, who had been playing extremely well was unexpected, whilst losing 5-0 away to Spurs, was unacceptable. This was definetely a match in which a red card chaged events, the card being given to GK Garnier, who inexpicably decided to walk out of the area with the ball in his hands for no apparent reason. The team began to wobble. With Garnier suspended for 3 matches, French U-20 international Hines came into the line-up and performed well, despite the team going on to lose 6 out of the next 6 league matches. In the LC, The Villains continued to take forward steps and would edge out Reading in the Q/F. With the January window approaching, it was time for a team meeting. Having been in the top 4 for most of the season, The Villains had slipped to 5th and any further slump in form could throw them back into mid-table, Martin let the players know that he was happy with their progress, but that they could not rest on their laurels. They had to bounce back. That Was The Window That Was Martin reviewed the squad sheets with his trusted aide de camp as the window. Unless something major happened in January, they were comfortable with what they had, despite not having a free scoring striker, things were going well. Garnier continued to improve between the sticks, despite his aberration at Spurs, Crespin and Cabano had settled well at FB, whilst Fonseca, Bessa and De La Canal were rotating well. Zhao and Visser continued to keep out Liu and Marchetti, whilst on the right flank, Garnier Jnr and Denis vied for the position. On the left, Fabbi and Policka, whilst occassionaly brilliant were at times frustrating. Up front, Vanyushin, the old man of the team at 27, Grishin and Nene competed for the lone strikers slot. With an eye to the future, Martin had acquired a couple of youngsters during the summer, a very promising Dutch U-19 forward and a Japanese U-21 international at a bargain price from the friendly club in Spain, Valencia. With the vultures hovering over some of the players, Martin sent out the scouts to find and prepare for any raid on his resources. Randy Lerner was proving to be a not so benefacting owner, demanding his money back at every opportunity, thus loading the club with loan repayments. With these loans impacting severely on club finances, players would have to be sold in order to redress the balance, but Martin was determined to get the best price he could refusing all offers until the board said otherwise. Inevitably, Visser was the first to be subjected to bids and with Martin unable to negotiate a new contract, Man Utd matched his release fee of 14m, money that would temprarily assist the ever increasing defecit. Lui had not played many games so far, but had proved himself more than capable. Unsurprisingly, not only were the players in demand, the staff were too, and two scouts were lost as The Villains could not reach an increased contract agreement with them. However perhaps the biggest loss was to happen in the last week of the window as Real Madrid, perhaps one of the richest clubs in the game forced Randy Lerner into accepting an offer of 25m spread over 36 months. Martin was apoplexic with the board, but realistic in the knowledge that he would be unlikely to be able to hang on to the better players in the longer term. Acting swiftly, Martin secured a promising CB replacement and tied up a 10m deal for a young Bolton player he had admired for a while. It may take time for them to settle, however Martin was confident that the team could remain as competitive as before, considering the fringe players coming in, all had valuable first team time behind them. Season Summary - Part Two The team talk appeared to have worked, as The Villains kicked off the New Year with an FA Cup 3rd Round win over Norwich, following it up 4 days later with a solid win against Manchester Utd. A disappointing, performance wise, draw against Newcastle led to a run of 7 straight wins, including the defeat of West Ham Utd in both legs of the LC, back to back wins over Everton in the FA Cup and League, and a good win over struggling Arsenal. The Villains could smell silverware at the end of the season as the LC final pitted them against Newcastle, but before that they faced some tricky matches. A 7 match winning streak suddenly become a 3 match losing streak, including being knocked out of the FA Cup by Stoke. Things did not look good in the run up to what was undoubtedly the biggest match Villa had played in for some years. Struggling to a 3-2 win over Wigan brought some confidence back, and The Villains took to the pitch for the LC with confidence, but not before Martin had pulled the team together for one final briefing. This is it boys, this is what you play football for, the chance to win a medal, the opportunity to become a hero to the fans that follow you, week in, week out, through thick and thin. You are by far the better team, now go out there and show the fans that you are. Give them what they deserve With Martin's words ringing in their ears, Newcastle were no match for a rampant Villa, and were summarily destroyed 5-0. Aston Villa had won the LC, the first trophy in their cabinet for many a year. The fans were delirious, the board were overjoyed, but Martin was wistfully thinking that if they could pull off the right results, the season could be even better. Euro Cup qualification had been assured, why could they not push for a CL slot. Some big games to come, but they were in the mix. With nine games to play, they still had a chance, didn't they? 5 of the games were away from home, culminating with an away match against a strong Sheff Wed side. There were a couple of tough fixtures in there, but the rest were winnable weren't they. What transpired was another case of awayitis, as the Villains would win their home matches with ease, but drop points away from home, leaving them with the need to win their last game. With one final push from the gaffer, Sheff Wed were brushed aside, and Aston Villa had secured a CL slot. Get the passports ready, The Villains are coming.
  4. After a pretty horrendous season, Martin took stock, realising that actually, they hadn't done that badly for a squad who's avergae age was 22, but what probably do with a little more depth and work on the way the team should play. Clifford had already been dumped in the Reserves, Delph was next to go, and quite frankly, as a senior player, he had not pulled his weight at all. Shortly afterwards, trabsfer requests started to come in from a number of players, who were promptly told where to go. If they didn't want to play for the club, then that was fine by the boss. Kadric departed for Sevilla, along with Dutch keeper Esajas, who promptly got called up to the Holland squad, having started only 4 games all season for Villa. Vogt was sold to HSV, much to the chagrin of Leverkeusen boss, who has been in something of a petulant mood in recent days, whilst others were shipped out as rapidly as funds could afford. In to the club came five players who would bolster the numbers. A number of the squad players were once again loaned out to Barnsley and Hibs, in an effort to get them game time, whilst Derby took Voisin and Haslek on loan. That left Martin with 24 players at his disposal for the league, and with that, he was happy. The seaon started at home with an eagerly awaited match-up against an old friend in Craig Stevens Wigan. And despite neither manager being present due to personal circumstances, Martin's boys emerged victorious triumphing 3-1 at home. What was to follow was nothing short of disastrous tho, as Millwall dumped Villa out of the league cup in a penalty shoot-out, after suffering an onslaught for 120 mins. With tired legs and battered pride, Aston Villa provided little resistance in the next three matches losing to Sheff Wed, West Ham and away to Man Utd. Immediately after the Man Utd match, Martin cancelled Sunday training and called a team meeting and when the team took to the pitch against Fulham, they looked rejuvenated, and came away with the win. Bolstered by this, the lads were chomping at the bit to get at struggling Bolton, Neil Davis, a close friend of Martin's finding things a bit challenging. Bolton batteled well, however a 1-0 win was secured to bring back to back victories, and the mood around the further incresed in capacity Villa Park was improving. Testing games were coming up, and if Villa were to do anything, these matches would show how far they had to go. The next few matches would however see a pattern emerging from Villa. After losing to both Arsenal and Liverpool, The villains managed to win two games in a row, before losing to Newcastle. And so the pattern would continue as Villa would win home matches at a canter at times, humbling the mighty Chelsea 6-1, then losing away to Spurs, struggling away to teams in the relegation zone was becoming a real problem. A number of injuries began to pile up, and at times the Villains struggled to put together a side at times. Despite this, a number of players began to moan about first team football, even tho for a period the club had only 18 fit players and they were all getting game time. Confidence was beginning to sag, and the assistant began reporting that many of the players were finding it difficult to motivate themselves for the manager. Worrying times were ahead, even tho Villa managed to remain stable in in the top ten going up to the Xmas period. And so the fans were dancing: The second half of the season continued in pretty much the same fashion as the first with Villa unable to gain any sort of momentum, or fluency in results or play and the end of season table would show that The Villains drew only 2 games all season, winning 19 and losing 17. If some of those defeats could be turned to draws, then the position would be so much better, however a 9th place finish, was still encouraging, given the relative inexperience of the team. With only 3 players over the age of 25, the squad was developing nicely, tho one position worried Martin, RB, and so he went to war with Leverkeusen over a highly rated Argentinian, and won! Having defeated both Birmingham and West Brom in the last two games of the season, Martin, the players, and the fans broke for the summer in relative good cheer. As the players left on their break Martin reviewed player performances and Younis and Shlafer were moved on Kostadinov still refuses mutual termination despite being on the transfer list for 2 years. There is a rumour that Martin may be looking for one other player, but at this moment in time, he appears happy with both the numbers and make up of the squad, however, vultures are hovering over a couple of the players and should the offers be good enough, The Villains may be forced to move into the market again.
  5. With a successful first season behind him. Martin sat down with Dario and considered the squad and it's limitations. Martin: "If we act now, we can grab some good players while the chairmans in a giving mood. Get the scouts on their bikes and find me some young blood." Grandin: "On it like a rash boss, the guys have found some tasty ones. Don't think we need to make to many changes to the first 11, do you?" Martin: "Nope, considering most were in their first season, they've done well, and hopefully with a couple of additions, the first team will be fine. What we need is to find some hard working and determined youth for the next couple of years" And so, the scouts were sent out with firm instructions, find me 3 first team players and a handful of kids to fill the slots. And so, off they went, sweeping across Europe and trawling the loacl scenes for young up and coming players that would mature down the line. The brief was simple. Their must be some re-sale value in what we find. And so the clubs in Europe were scoured and raided with no fewer than 11 youngsters being signed up, including 2 Russians and a Ukrainian. Many of these would be destined for the loan market this season, however a couple were already earmarked for the first team. And as the window opened, Martin was comfortable that they had stolen a march on some clubs, and had made some moves in the market. But there was still a couple of loose ends to tie up. As the year entered July and with the season a month away, Martin made his final moves, brining in a 19 year old Chinese International and a Dutch U-21 international to further bolster the midfield, and with the season a few weeks away, the squad was ready. Martin had spent a grand total of £37m at this point, in sharp contrast to the £65m he spent on his arrival, recouping £26m of that outlay, so for a net spend of £9m the squad had been increased and strengthened and contained an eye to the future. Having finished 5th in their first season together, Martin was confident that the first team could further improve, and that only a couple of minor changes were needed to that line-up, not necessarily in starting personnel, buy in how they played. The remants of the Pasanen era were being shipped out, if they wouldn't terminate, or no offers came in, then they were punted off to Hibs in Scotland. Wigan came in and took 4 of the new arrivals on loan to the Championship, which would be good for their development, and Martin remained confident he could find clubs for another 2 or 3 of the new youngsters in order to aid their progress. It was gowever proving difficult to offload players, even those still playing as full internationals, and Martin was left with a bulky bloated squad list. Reducing the harmony at the club by shuiping off the unwanted was the right thing to do, hopefully. Martin hoped he would be able to offload them in due course. The proof of the pudding would be in the eating, however The Villains soon encountered a hitch when the registration for the Euro Cup came around, as they could only register 18 players due to the foreigner rules, and the draw had been unkind, drawing them against the might of Galatasary from Turkey. First up for the new look team would be Ipswich away, and as promised Martin stuck with the same lineup that ended the season, with a couple of positional changes for players. With the Euro tie in mind however, a couple of the ineligible players were brought in to the bench, and they would find some action in this first match which ended in a 2-1 win for The Villains. A couple of the newbies had come on, and so the squad travelled to Turkey for their first Euro trip in many years, and shook Galatasary to the core with a stunning 2-0 away win with a match day squad of only 17 players. returning to domestic action on the Saturday at home to Shef Wed, Martin again brought in some of the new blood, with the second leg of the Euro Cup against Galatasasry in mind. A struggling 0-0 draw was less than impressive and Martin let the players know just that after the match. And again The Villains would play the match with only 17 eligible players. A fine 3-0 home win saw The Villains progress to the group stage, where they would be drawn against Feyenord, Glasgow Rangers and Tvarna. In the league hiowever, things were not going well, and the team struggled to find any cohesion in the opening fixtures, a 3-0 defeat to moneybags Shitteh was followed by poor results, the only gloss being progress in ther League Cup against Huddersfield. The team even contrived to throw away a 3-0 lead against Blacburn to draw 3-3. Confidence was not oozing from the players, and the back line, unchanged from the previous season was struggling. An away win in Tvarna brought some well needed cheer, but another draw from a winning position against Feyenord was galling for the manager to take. The Euro cup run took a turn for the worse when Vill lost 2-0 to Glasgow Rangers at home, however a thorioughly deserved win away at Ibrox meant that if they could sneak a point at Feyenoord, then mathematically they would be through. Once again, a very late equaliser denied Villa all three points, however they ahd qualified for the first round proper with a game to spare. Domestically things were not going well as the team struggled to find any fluency whatsoever, and at one point went on a losing run of 5 straight defeats and would languish in mid-table most of the season. In Europe, Villa were paired with real Betis in the first round proper of the Euro Cup and against all odd, defeated the Spanish side 2-1 in both legs. Things were getting tougher now as Olympique Lyonnaise loomed in the next round and a slender 1-0 win was all The Villains had to hang on to going into the second leg. Olympique Lyonnaise breached the Villa backline on 3 occassions however, The Villains managed to sneak 2 of their own, winning 4-3 on away goes, and so Villa marched into the Euro Qtr Final, far further than anticipated, or expected. Martin had carried out some further surgery on the squad during the Xmas window, bringing in the highly rate Chiness Internationalist Lihui Zhao to help his compatriot Liu settle, whilst snatching the talented Dario Marchetti from Wigan. Rodolph Sanogo was flogged off to Schalke, where he subsequently scored his first ever goal against Leverkeusen, much to their new managers annoyance. With half a dozen games to go, club captain Connor Clifford was dumped in the Reserves and Martin called a team meeting which worked wonders as the team went from being goal shy to playing with the freedom and expression Martin knew they were capable of, hammering Fulham, Shef Wed, Newcastle and Huddersfield in quick succession leaving a final home match against Blackpool, which resulted in a scrappy but welcome win. Despite a number of setbacks (mainly the managers absence) the team had stabilised, and the new players had been bloodied. There were no further plans to expand the squad, however the stadium expansion has been completed, adding another 8,000 punters to the gate. And with two weeks to go, Vice Captain Fabian Delph decided to announce that he wanted to leave the club. He will be allowed to in due course, but he was benched immediately ans would be listed during the summer. Mid table, after a horror season domestically, but a terrific run in the Euro Cup and Martin considered himself relatively content. The domestic cups were a complete disaster as the Assman failed to get past Wigan and Watford in both competitions. His position would be considered in due course.
  6. It had been a quiet period for Mr Martin, having spent 6 months travelling Europe and watching matches. During that time he spent a few months in Spain, watching the developing situation there as a number of larger clubs faltered. In England, he watched clubs from the top leagues to the bottom, in some cases putting pressure on struggling managers, in others, cheering on old friends at Coventry and Gateshead. His previous club Fulham had appointed that internationally renowned manager Frank lampard to his first post, and after a decent start, they fell away again. And as the season drew to a close, Martin decided that he had had a decent break, and began to declare interest in a great many jobs, prome amongst those being Aston Villa, a club he had initially applied to upon leaving Fulham, however he had been spurned in favour of Petri Pasanen, and having attended a few matches, Pasanen soon began to feel the weight of pressure upon him, and Martin's presence at Villa matches was turning the boards head. With Villa continuing to languish at the bottom of the league at the season's end, Pasanen was removed and MArtin applied for the job. Though not a rich club, they were in sound condition, had some reasonable players, to start with and a good fan base in one of the largest cities in England. Having fallen away fronm the halcyon days of Martin O'Neill and European qualifications, Martin's brief would be simple. Avoid Relegation. Martin's hopes however would be looking slightly higher up. And so begun the second Martin era at The Villains. Martin took stock, sacked most of the staff and hired Diego Grandin as his Assistant manager, who in his own words "liked a bit of clogging, when required." The pair embarked upon a radical overhaul of the playing staff, releasing no fewer than 26 players and selling a further 11, including Gabby Abghonlahor, Christian Zapata, Mar Allbrighton and Jefferson Montero. Sergio Arias was brought in from Man City, Jordan Ayew came in on loan from Real Madrid, and the clubs spending hi 65m during the summer. It would be a nervous time as the club attempted to resurrect itself and gel with so much upheaval. pre-seaon results were sporadic at best, and so the leage started. An uncomfortable defeat to She Wed on the first day of the season did not bode well, however Martin had faith in the players he had brought in, and was rewarded with an away win against Man City in the next match. Confidence seemed to ooze and the team settled quickly, grinding out some solid results, so much so, that at Christmas The Villains held top spot, having inflicted defeats upon the likes of West Ham Utd away and others, The league was tight tho, and it would only take a few hiccups to change things, and so it would turn out as injury and the strange Jan transfer window destabilising situation would prve. Despite no new arrivals and the squad remaining exactly as it was, The Villains suffered 5 straight defeats in a row at the turn of the year, and confidence was dropping. Martin called the players in after training prior to the Tottenham match, and reminded them of just how far they had come in a short space of time. They had been considered relegation fodder by most, but were up there trading blows with the best. The team responded magnificently with a 5-0 win over Tottenham and as the season started to wind down, The Villains found themselves sitting in and around the Euro Cup qualifying slots, much, much more than anyone had envisaged for the club. And Martin reminded the players that with 12 games to go, they had already exceeded expectations and encouraged them to prove themselves now, when the business end of the league mattered. Some tough games were ahead of them, and Martin asked the players to respond once more. The villains then embarked on a run of excellent results winning 9 out of the last 12 matches, losing only 2 to Everton and Arsenal, whilst recording superb victories against the might of MAnchester United and Chelsea. And as the curtain closed on the seasoo. Villa would finish amazingly in 5th position, a remarkable turnaround in the clubs fortunes. European football would once again return to the Midlands. and more importantly, Randy Lerner decided to pump some cash in, without asking for it back Next season would be one to stabilise, and hopefully push on.
  7. And so, the revolving door opened once more as Fulham prepared for life i the Premiership. A large number of fringe players were offloaded and/or released whilst Martin raided the free market once more for promising youngsters. With no money available for transfers, this was the only way to go. No fewer than 12 youngsters from across Europe were drafted in, with only 7 of the Championship winning squad remaining. This was going to be a hard season, and The Cottagers would have to be hopeful that the squad assembled was competent enouigh to at least survive the first season at the top level. Starting off with a 3-0 home win, things seemed ok, however the proof in the pudding would be against the teams at the yop end. And The Cottagers fared badly. With spiralling debts things were not going well for the club. Seasoned professonals were shown to be wanting, and the youngsters were just not coming together at all, and after the first 11 games, Fulham were languishing in 15th position. A short change in fortune saw The Cottagers win back to back matches for the first time, however a home defeat against Blackpool would prove disastrous, as they then went on to lose almost every match they played up till Xmas. Turning to the board for assistance, Martin, aware that the club needed experience, asked for funding to do so. Refused once again, Martin soldiered on, but it was beginning to become a lost cause. The squad he assembled, was undoubtedly talented, however, it was unlikely to fulfil that talent in the near term. Experienced players at the club were underperforming and not helping the youngsters develop mentally. Things were not right. As December approached, The Cottagers had tumbled toward the relegation zone, and the fight had gone out of them. There was no respite from the deapair. With his relationship with the board in tatters after numerous visits and disagreements with the boardroom and no support from the senior players, Martin walked out on the club he had brought back to The Premiership. Rumour had it that he was eyeing up a number of posts, though, he was quoted to have said that he lost all faith in the club and the controlloing bodies, and that it was best to walk away, rather than continue to cause disharmony in the background.
  8. Holligan = True, Stevens = True, Davis = True Martin, well thank you
  9. And so Martin was off to the bright lights of London, Fulham and The Championship, leapfrogging other sorry managers in the process. And the mess he found was horrendous, a broken team, low in morale, and isufficient HG players to filed on matchdays. Many of the foreign players wanted to leave the club as they were not being played, the najority of the team were old, and so some radical surgery was required. There was no money in the kitty, and the chairman was being paid 1m a month for a club loan. The first thing Martin did was find some new staff, which would help. The second thing he did was scour for HG and hungry youngsters to fill the bench. The oldies were dumped in the reserves, the wantaways were transferlisted and offered out, all in all leaving Martin with 15 players eligible for match days With a few loaness in, Fulham hit the road and with some encouragement from the manager began to put some results together, starting off with a 5-0 away win at Petreborough. From there the Cottagers began to gain some momentum, and even losing to Liverpool in the dying seconds to a set piece rroutin, could not dampen their spirits as they slowly hauled there way back into the PO's slots, and by the time the Jan window had re-opened were sitting second, above Telford on gd. During the wondow a number of the loanees would require replacing, and a number of the deadwood would be sold off to free up some funds, whether it be in wages or funds. During the early months, maintaining the same starting 11 worked well, tho Hangeland at 35 was showing signs of wear and tear and would soon find himself sidelined for one of the loanees, whilst up fron Ruiz, N'Gog and Delev, backed up by Kasami were causing havoc. The long awaited return of Jorgensen could not come soon enough, how, thankfully, with little or no back up in centre mid, Darren Gibson held his own, but that was an area that would have to be addressed for the future. In goals Stockdale still held sway, but going into the second half of the season, Martin felt pretty comfortable with what he had, including loans for the rest of the season, and that at least 7 of the squad were good enough, and young enough for the following season wherever they would play. Cottagers fans were beginning to smile once more. The second half of the season began well, and The Cottagers continued their push to the top end of the table eventually overhauling Watforf and building a 6 point lead, but disaster was only around the corner as some of the laons returned to their clubs and injuries to Danny Wilson, Bryan Ruiz and David N'Gog hampered the team. The slide began with a suspicious 2-1 defeat to Leicester which was followed by a 5-2 hammering by Stoke of the Premiership in the FA Cup. From that point on, Fulham would struggle, winning only 4 out of the next 11 games, which would see them fall from the top to third. Defeat to Norwich at home left the Cottagers having to win both their last matches to ensure promotion on goal difference. The first of those games would be away to Charlton which considering the nerves the players must have been feeling, turned into a massively one-sided affair with The Cottagers storming to a 5-0 away win. Norwich drew, so heading into the final game, 1 point was all that stood between Fulham and promotion. Mathematically, they could still win the Championship, however for that to happen Watford would have to lose to Southhampton whilst a four goal defecit would have to be overturned. Wigan at home were tough opposition, however with confidence high, The Corragers came out firing and cantered to a 6-0 home win, with Bryan Ruiz and David N'Gog on fire. The players had performed magnificently, however Watford would hold Southampton to a draw and secure the title by a point, but in London, it mattered not a jot, The Cottagers were back in the Premiership
  10. And so the revolving door at Tamworth opened as Martin re-assessed his squad for League One. Only 9 players were retained from the previous season, however Martin soon discovered that brining in any talent this year was going to be more difficult. Most of the staff were released as another backroom rebuild took place. With that sorted Martin turned to the board and requested more funds, more wages, to which he was asked to leave the room and not be silly. This was going to be a tough season, and with the first match away to Coventry, the team was woefully short of players. Despite this Stevens fears were realised as Tamworth performed a smash and grab of all 3 pts in their first game at this new level. And so The Lambs were up and running, however adding to the squad was proving to be difficult, as even though the team were now at a decent competitive level, finding players to come to Tamworth was proving to be difficult. So MArtin did the next best thing, sacked most of the staff and employed new ones. No money was to be provided for transfers as it was being used for adding some more seats and upgrading the trg facilities. Results on the park however were good, but fluctuating as Tamworth would win as many as they would lose, however as they window closed, Martin had sufficient players to field, although centre of midfield would be an issue. 15 games in and Tamworth were sitting in mid-table. However as November approached, the Tamworth board began to worry as Martin began to be linked with Clubs in the Championship. The departure of Martin was sealed after he applied for both managerial positions at Reading and Fulham. And so Martin headed for London. So long Tamworth, it was fun whilst it lasted! The Tamworth board were now in a quandry, who could they appoint to replace mercurial Martin. It was rumoured that Rob Knott, was interested, but, they wouldn't, would they?
  11. BRING IT BIG BOYS With the season over for Tamworth, Martin and Edwards decided that the only fair thing to do after there tremendous efforts was to reward the players with extensions to their contracts and a few weeks extra holidays whilst others toiled in the PO's. Having rejigged and re-signed all 30 of the existing players to one year extensions, Martin heard that a player he had admired for some time Dylam McGeouch was available in the summer having failed to renew his contract in Ireland. Securing this deal was the management teams last piece of activity before heading off for a well earned break. Financially, Tamworth were in a poor state, not exactly making money, but steadily leaking funds. With an average crowd of just over 1,300 in the BSP the management team were looking to solidify in League Two, and hopefully attract larger crowds. As the summer wore on and other clubs wheeled and dealed, Martin and Edwards sat back, secure in the knowledge that there players were more then capable of survival in League Two, and that was all they needed. A couple of seasons to bed in to the hurly burly of the big time. Whilst Martin and Edwards holidayed on the Isles of Dogs, that well known poor mans holiday resort, the board of directors anounced that the club would become a full-time outfit for the first time in it's history. On Martin's return however he quickly realised there was problems as he turned up for training to find no players and few staff. The board in their infinite wisdom had neglected to change the terms of the players contracts, and allowed 3 of the backroom staff to move on. And so Martin began to approach the players one by one to renew their contracts, only to find that their demands would now cripple the club. Biting the bullet and praying for a miracle, he would press ahead week by week as the season progressed to ensure that the first time were tied dow to FT contracts. As the season start neared the squad began to gear up for its first match in League Two, the fans sense of excitement and nervousness was palpable, however a well drilled performance by the team ensured a first win in the firts home game as a fully professional outfit. Martin however played down the result, knowing that his, at this point, still mainly PT players would struggle to compete with the rigours of Mon/Wed fixtures that would surely ensue, particularly since the clubs second game of the season was an away tie in the League Cup and sure enough, a resounding defeat ensued. Undeterred, Martin took the lads personally in training the next day rounding off the session saying "Look, it's going to be a long 48 games and we are the kid who's just seen a rollercoaster for the first time, so whatever happens, enjoy each and every ride" And so they returned to action, buildong on their initial success, and slowly, one by one, each player turned FT. The club however was leaking money because of it despite the increased average gate of over 3,000. As they did, their ability to sustain performances improved and the club began to notch up some remarkable result, non more so than a fine 4-2 win over Southend. As the players took to the pitch each week, the child like excitement of the rollercoaster ride was apparent and they played with an enthusiasm which could not be matched. If they were relegation favourites, they were going to go down with smiles on their faces, and so the results kept coming. Bouncing back immediately from the defeat to Preston, win after win was recorded, with seemingly larger clubs despatched with ease, the likes of Doncaster being destroyed along the way. Even a losing 3-0 HT score did not deter the Lambs, as Martin inspred an incredible revival to a 5-4 win by reminding them of the rollercoaster, not resorting to the screaming and shouting and fining of players some other managers turned to. And on, and on, and on the ride went, first it was 5 matches undefeated, then 10, then 15 eventually reaching 20 hgames undefeated in the league and 13 points clear of Exeter, Ebbsfleet and Southend. The Lambs competed in the JPT for the first time with the sole intention of enjoying the compettion and using it to give the remaining PT players some match time, but victory over Shrewsbuty was followed by an FA cup win over Grimby and in the space of 3 days Tamworth had provided the biggest shocks in both competitions. And by the end of Nov, The Lambs were riding the crest of a wave. All bar one of the first 11 had signed FT contracts, however the club were leaking money hand over fist. With 51 pts in the bag by Novemeber, The Lambs would surely be safe from relegation. HAving fired their way to the top of the tree, the inevitable blip was bound to happen, and the first signs of overconfidence crept in as The LAmbs suffered their first defeat in the league at home to Aldershot. The 4-2 score in Aldershots favour flattered the home team as they gave perhaps the poorest performance of the season. From that point on, League performances began to fluctuate, however the gap at the top remained fairly constant as all the other teams dropped points in their efforts to catch the Tamworth Train steaming ahead. The loss of young Brian Wilson would play havoc with The Lambs as Mike Grella struggled to make any impact, and along with Dylan McGeough and scott Donnelly, as senior players they were proving to be short of consistency. The FA Cup however proved to be a different story as Tamworth knocked out higher profile opposition in Chesterfield and Peterborough to earn a financially lucrative tie againt Liverpool at Anfield. Despite losing 2-0 The Lambs put in a creditable performance and fouind themselves in a financially secure position. The Xmas window saw MArtin re-assess his squad and being short on transfer and wage funds he hit the laon market, bringing in 3 Liverpool youngsters, a couple of Arsenal kids and a young winger from St Mirren. Moses Ademola, Ian Abbot, Slinie Nyembe and young Slattery would prove to be the stabilising forces, particuarly after Tamworth sold of two hot prospects Shalk and N'Simba to further improve the coffers. As the season hurtled upon its finale Tamworth remained top of the tree, picking up valuable draws against all the other challengers and with 5 games of the season left Tamworth were crowned champions. Tamworth were heading to League 1 and Coventry's boss Stevens was a worried man, having suffered at the hands of Tamworth with Forest Green
  12. Martin and Tamworth geared up for another season, the onsite odd-job man re-oiled the revolving door and things were soon underway as Martin recruited more players from the pubs and parks teams across the country, eventually ending up with a grand total of 8 CB's at the club. Surely The Lalmbs could find a partnership that worked out of that lot. The biggest names to join the club were the mercurial Scott Donnelly and the much travelled Tommy Elphick. As the seaon begun however, Martin became more and more concerned as it became obvious that things were not quite working out, with The Lambs continuing to ship goals in an untidy fashion and far too regularly, surrendering leads when in comfortable positions and not finishing teams off when in fornt. Soon Tamworth would find themselves, although still comfortably playing above expectations, slipping off the back of the pace setters York. Martin was going to have to do something, and do it fast, else the club would be unable to repeat the great success of the previous season. And so Martin sat down with his assistant manager and plotted: "We need to look at the way we defend gaffer, it just aint working" "Well thanks for stating the bleeding obvious, you fud" "We ain't gettin the best out of Mike, boss" "Well, no **** Sherlock!" Martin looked at the tactical blackboard and announced: "Right, here's what we are gonna do!" MArtin opened up the desk drawer and pulled out an old dusty file fuil of tech stats, formations, and tactical notes. Puliing one from the back of the file, he popped it on the table. "Jesus boss, the guys won't be able to pull that off" "They will, or they are gone" "Can't ask Mike to play there, he's never done that" "He will, or he's off" "Best get to work then" And Mike Edwards headed off to the training ground. Well the local park as Tamworth are too skint to actually afford it's own training ground. And so the changes were made, and things began to improve, slowly but surel;y the gap to Forest Green first dwindled, then expanded, came down again, until finally they were overhauled. In the FAT, Tamworth continued to defy the odds, knocking out Newport County and Luton as they pushed on. With a dozen games to go, they were right back in the mix, in the drivind seat, playing well and the fixtures kept coming. Hereford and York troubled the two main contenders for a while, however began to fade towrds the end. However the biggest collapse as that of Forrest green. Having seen their overwhelming position shrink and be devoured by the marauding Lambs, they weakly surrendered all hope. At one point, in an attempt to galvanise his troops, FGR manager Craig Stevens went on the warpath with the wily old dog, mistimed the shot completely and fell flat on his face. Having hauled themselve to the top of the league, the witches in the coven began to cast spells upon The Lambs, attempting to derail their push to the title, and as Roy Aitken pulled Southend United together, it begabn to work. The Lambs had incredibly turned a nine point defecit into an 11 point lead but soon the spells and potions began to pay off as the team captain Tommy Elphwick and the flying Dutchman were sidel;ined for the rest of the season. Experinced players, Scott Donnelly, Mike Grella abd Louis Atkins began to fade and the gap began to close as Tamworth stuttered againt bottom feeders and also rans. Eventaully, with two games to go, the gap was down to a 4 pt lead over Southend, with an away match against Southend on the cards. Martin assembled the troops and called on the great god Odin for guidance. Mike Edwards looked around the dressing room after the final trg session before the match and took stock. "Guvnor, Not liking what I see tbh. What if we dropped some of the big names for this one, threw on a few kids, and concentrated on getting the win at home to Guisely" "Risky, Mike, but you know, some of those lads look hungry, the older players look jaded." And so Martin sent out his team, scarificing Donnelly, Grella, Atkins and the Dutch Destroyer, bringing in the on loan German from Lincoln and a Viking to appease Odin. And it worked Tamworth eased to victory and the 3 pts that would seal promotion to League 2. The final game against Guisely was a formality and Martin went on holiday a happy man.
  13. Season 13/14 update added to post above!
  14. Having returned from holiday in fine fettle, Martin sauntered into his office and turned on Sky Sports News. The transfer window was open, the official transfer listed players sheet was in from the FA. Martin looked at it, tore it up and threw it in the bin. No point in getting that with no money he thought to himself. Calling in his assistant manager, he reviewed the playing staff, most were out of contract in a few weeks. "Any worth keeping for next season?" "Well gaffer, there's the german keeper, he's coming on, big Izzy's still solid, thick as mince like, but solid. Atkins up front is still only 24 and useful. I'd hang on to Gomez, good experience in the nmiddle of the park. The wee Dutchman is alright, but the Congolese lad is better. That young French Cb is ok, the full backs are mince, the rest of the players are just naff! "Right, best you get those two lazy scouts off their arses and round the public playing fields then, see if they can find some new players. In fact, call in all the staff, theres a few of them getting the hook as well" And so, once again the revolving door at Tamworth went into operation, and a number of new arrivals began to appear, most of them unknowns from the lower echelons of park football, however Martin did manage to persuade Mike Grella, once of Leeds to join the merry-go-round and Tamworth headed off into the season. The new arrivals started well enough for the first few games, with The Lambs getting early wins under their belt However things turned sour when Big Izzy was sidelined for 5 months, effectively ending his season (probably his career) and the backups proved to be less than able to cover for him. Come Xmas, and The Lambs were sitting safely outside the PO slots and once again, punching against their weight in the Division, despite the fact that the core of the squad was both young and altogether not very good. Atkins and Grella however were proving a handful for most teams, whilst the width in Hunter and T'Simba were playing vital parts in the teams consistent performance in the opponents half of the field. Defensively everything was far from solid, and despite signing 7 CB's at one point, The Lambs continued to struggle at the back. Loris Karius the young German keeper began to suffer a loss of form, which only made matters worse, and despite being the leagues top scorers by a country mile, poor defensive issues continued to be a problem. And so, for once Martin foregoed his winter break, staying with the club after Xmas, still trying to shore up defensively. The centre mid situation began to alram the club as the early promise in creativity and solidity began to waiver and key players began to fail. Martin was none too upset, as the aim was always to avoid relegation and achieve a respectable position. Humbling results against Lincoln and Ebbsfleet once again reminded the fans how fragile the team was, whilst stunning 6-0 routs and 6-2 wins were also on the agenda as The LAmbs moved towards the end of the season, bimbling through the FAT, and miraculously remaining in contention in the chase for a PO place. However, the season was to turn sour again in the FA Trophy second leg semi final as it not only went to extra time but also penalties. With the additional time played, and extra games to be played. The Lambs were in a great position to solifidy a PO place with catch up matches against the bottom teams to come. Injuries and tired legs from the FAT caused problems and The Lambs faltered. Although The FAT final had been reached, Tamworth now face a tough schedule with a vastly reduced squad, if they are to have any hope of grabbing a PO slot, and with it the outside chance of promotion. With 5 games to go and only 14 players fully fir, the Lambs were to face 3 of the top six back to back, Newpotrt Co, Luton and Hereford, and with only 3 pts separating these teams it was backs to the wall time. First up were newport County, a team fancied by many to have won the league, but in a swish of Tamworth brilliance were swept aside. Anotehr big team Luton fell at the hands of The Lambs and Hereford were despatched with some aplomb. A PO slot had been secured, and so Martin shuffled the team for the last couple of games, trying to ease the strain and give returning players some match time. The final league positions would pair off The Lambs with Luton Town. Thankfully ten days rest allowed the players to recover and they went to Luton in fine fettle, walking away with a 2-0 lead from the first leg. The second leg would provide the league with the greatest show ever seen/heard on Skype Radio. 3 injuries to big names in the team led to errors, however the biggest error was to come when a fourth player went down. Martin misread the signal and instead of replacing the injured RB, Martin replaced Gk Loris Karlius with DRC Mathias Franz. The players were gobsmacked, the fans stunned, the assistant in tears, and the listening audience were in stitches. The Lambs surrendered their two goal lead, as Franz stood statuesque between the sticks . Somehow, The Lambs held out for the remaining regular playing time and the the 30 minutes of extra time. And so it came down to penalties. And with both teams dlotting them away, Luton very comfortably against the immobile Franz, a Luton player blasted one over the bar, and as fate would have it, Franz was up next for the glory. He cooly slotted it away, the watching crowd were delirious, and the listening audience in absolute stitches. When asked afterwards why he'd done it, Martin would only say "Cos I'm a tactical genius!" 3 days on from the PO second leg, Tamworth faced Truro in the FAT final, and quite simply it was a one sided affair, with Mike Grella rightly taking the plaudits as he tore Truro apart. The PO final was probably the most disappointing performance of the whole season, a fact which disgusted Martin as this should have been the players real chance to shine. To say the rolled over would be an understatement. A complete inability to open up Ebbsfleet combined with poor possession and shoddy defensive work proved their downfall, and so The Lambs, despite their highest ever position in the BSP and winning the FAT, ended the season in disappointing fashion. The swinging door policy at Tamworth woukld soon begin, and another season would be underway!
  15. It would appear Tamworth fans are going to have to get used to their manager being full-time, but only for half the season, as Martin once again toddled off on his annual 4 month vacation. On his return, he had a look at the local paper, which announced that Tamworth had indeed finished in a comfortable mid-table slot, called the chairman to ask for more money, got laughed at, then headed off to the pub for a pint. There's always next time!