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The suit in the sewer unemployment challenge

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They say that the cream trickles down from the top. In footballing terms that means that the wealth, the talent and the beauty flows vertically, filling each division as it passes down the football pyramid. I'm at the bottom, in the sewer of English football- Oh, and I'm wearing a suit.

This is an unemployment challenge. I have opted to be a suit manager (tactical pushed to maximum). As for my experience I have no badges and a brief stint in the sunday league. I tell the PA to apply to everything and go on holiday while the offers pile in! 

Bromley, from the vanarama conference national take a punt as do Chelmsford a league below. I opt for relegation battlers Chelmsford as I need time to learn the game. The expected top half-finish with Bromley won't give me that. 

I sign the contract to the princely tune of £425 per week and get to work. 

Holiday's over.

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Chelmsford are relegation fodder so I've opted for a counter attacking strategy given that i'm expected to get pasted by most sides and I've got pace on the flanks. The key positions are the defensive winger, the ball winning midfielder and the defensive forward. All these roles are automatically set to press and I'm hoping this will get the team hunting in packs in a controlled way, not letting the opposition recycle attacks and hopefully sparking some quick counters. I'm also gonna need support for my lone forward so I set one of my central midfielders to attack. Flat back four for safety. I've set the team mentality to highly structured because I don't want the team messing around trying rabonas and falling on their arses. 

It's up to Chatham today for a friendly where I can see if any of this works.

Edited by trickyzip

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Chatham (away)

We win. 3 nil. Bagosun Graham gets two assists and Daley scores a brace. The last goal is a ball over the top that Bricknell slots away. It's a messy first half and Chatham make a few good chances but take none; largely down to Dibble who impersonates a brick wall made from Gordon Banks. We counter well enough and the goals soon come, from the flanks which is pleasing. Second half we shut down the game nicely. The biggest worry on first look is set pieces. We do nothing of note from ours and absolutely **** ourselves whenever they knock a corner in. I make a cuppa coffee and watch the tape.

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It's Witham away up next in the pre-season tour of Nowhere. Never heard of them, never will. I keep the same team and tactics as we only have two games till the season starts and we need consistency, match fitness and familiarity, fast.

It's a turgid first half. No chances either way except for big man Bracknell who slices into the side netting at the stroke of half time. Lee Sawyer's gasping for air in the dressing room so I throw on young Harry Morgan. We go 1 nil down in the 60th. Ravenhill cuts inside and thumps one past a hapless Nibble. We create some good chances and Morgan eventually equalises. Bricknell wastes a hatful and we draw 1-1. The players trudge off exhausted. I give them the hairdryer and demoralise half the team.

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The bus is very quiet on the way to Averley. It's the last friendly before the season. Some of the players won't look me in the eye after my outburst last week. We need a win here to take some confidence into the season. I name an unchanged line-up.


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It's another tight first half. Bastard Billy Bracknell misses a couple of sitters and Daley limps off clutching his rib. We lose 1-nil. I look at the squad and decide it's not enough. It's time to go to market.

Turns out we can't go to market. We're broke, stone broke and the squad is thinner than a glass of water, no left-backs, one replacement midfielder. When I get back to the office a grubby man is waiting for me with a pitch fork. "pitch dimensions?" he grunts. I look at the framed photograph of Arsene Wenger on my desk and then push it, face down. "Long" I reply.

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Oxford City (away)
This is it. The first day of the season, nerves tingling, fingers jangling, injuries hampering. I name an unchanged squad but change the BWM to a centre mid as we've given away too much space in the friendlies. Friendlies are friendlies. This is competition. We're unfit, under-staffed and inconsistent but, are we ready?

Oxford City are shoe-ins for the title. The play a 442 with the wide players pushing up. I'm confident they'll attack me as they're at home and better in every department. On the plus side my 451 should provide me with enough defensive cover. Captain Mark Hughes will have a lot of work to do in the DM position. Star man Luke Daley is out injured so I bring youngster Jack Barham on the right wing. Everything else is unchanged. 


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We start brightly. Solid as a rock and putting together some passes of our own. Ebenike goes close with a header from a corner just glancing wide. Then a hopeful ball over the top sends Bricknell into the clear with just the goalie to beat. Side netting. He misses another similar chance just before half-time then picks up an 'injury'. Bruised shin. He misses the best chance of the half seconds before the whistle. He's knows he's been poor so there's no suprises when I haul him off and throw on young Billy Hunt. The second half is more of the same, we defend well and I feel we could nick it. It finishes 0-0.

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Could nick it! We absolutely battered them. Five chances to their one. All hail the counter attack. The only worry for us is that we didn't score, we need all the points we can get and dropping two here is gonna be costly.

Hampstead Hemel (Home)

It's the first home game of the season and the legions of fans (572) turn out to watch the team against Hemel Hampstead. Jack Barham can barely stand up after the Oxford game so Rob Girdleston (right back by name, right back by nature) replaces him on the right wing. Pre-season hero Harry 'one goal' Morgan comes in for Lee sawyer in the attacking centre midfield role. Billy Hunt replaces the profligate Billy Bricknell and I hand debuts to Marvel Ekpita and Damien Green. Centre Back and Right Back respectively
Only having a days rest from the Oxford game is why I make so many changes and it highlights how small my squad actually is. Most of the incoming players are being played out of positon. The big test today is whether we can play on the counter against teams of similar stature to ourselves and whether we can play on the counter at home. It's not gonna be pretty.


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It's a win. Our first win of the season. Harry Morgan has blinder, Billy Hunt opens his account and Girdleson provides the assist. The fans chant "are you Vardy in disguise" for Billy Hunt who chases every ball and is a general nuisance up front. 1-nil is never comfortable but we give no chances away and make three of our own. 4 points from two games and up to 9th in the league, what a boon!

We're back on the training ground when my U21's manager Larry Bayford approaches, a worried look on his face. He pulls out a dossier on match preparation, tactics, stats numbers. I groan and organise the lads round the penalty area. Time for set-piece training.

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I hate set piece training but as a counter-attacking team goals from corners are gonna be invaluable. I make three routines. far-post, near-post and penalty spot. Larry wanders off muttering about a lack of plan b but I pretend not to hear; I mean Plan B, who needs a Plan B.
Hayes and Yeading (Home)

The matches are coming thick and fast. We're favourites here and it's a relegation six pointer. Hayes and Yeading play a 442 so I stick with the 451. Star man Luke Daley returns to the line-up. I move harry Morgan to the left wing to rest Graham and restore Sawyer to central mid. Girdlestone goes back where he belongs at right back and Billy Hunt keeps his place after scoring the only goal last match.

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49 seconds in we get caught ball watching and Benyon slots away at the near post. It's textbook stuff and we should really be doing better. I suddenly realise that  I left a make shift centre back in the squad, Marvin Ekpita. I can't make a change this early so I stand on the touchline with the words "Plan B, who needs a Plan B" echoeing in my head. 
Marvin Ekpita is having a shocker. He's at fault for the second as he loses Ehui for Hayes' second. Fenlon is getting the assists so I tell the players to close him down. Moments later so called 'Star man' Luke daley blazes over the bar.Marvel Ekpita scores from a set piece! It's now 1-2. In the dressing room I tell the lads they've been unlucky. I sub off poor Marvin for the solid Mark Haines. Billy Hunters' been chasing shadows all game so I hook him, Harry Morgan too. In come Billy Bricknell and Edogan Graham. Hayes shut up shop and its a half of few chances Bricknell spuns a fanastic chance to equalise 5 minutes from time after being sent clean through on goal. 
Final whistle Chelmsford 1 Hayes and Yeading 2.
Plan B who needs a Plan B

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So it turns out we don't need a plan B. We just need to take our chances.
5 bloody chances to their two. They score them both. I take a portion of the blame for accidentally fielding distaster man Marvin Ekpita who is at fault for both goals. I file him under the emergency only category and get Bricknell, Daley and Hunt training on their finishing.


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He's the laughing stock of the town!

Bishop Stortford (away)

Bishop Stortfort are 2nd in the league.They play 442 and they think they can batter us. In Byrne Hewitt and Karl Hawley they have a couple of top strikers and we need to watch out for midfield maestro Omar Rowe. I make three changes from the side that lost to Hayes and Yeading. Bagosun Graham replaces Lee Sawyer, Billy Bricknell for Billy Hunt and Mark Haines for Marvin 'calamity' Ekpita. I move Harry Morgan into centre mid. Jack Barham replaces a fatigued Luke Daley. 


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I mark Omar Rowe tightly, Tell the lad to show Hawley onto his weaker foot and then pray. Stortford are dangerous be we knew that and we limit their chances well enough. Harry Morgan excels again in the central midfield berth and he hammers a freekick onto the cross bar. Jack Barham reacts first and slots the rebound into an open net. 1-nil. Graham goes down with a twisted knee but I tell him to get up and get on with it. We're playing well but just before half time Omar Rowe is given far too much space and crosses in for Buchanan to tap home the equaliser. We show Rowe onto his weaker foot. In the second half we dominate but again  we can't take our chances and leave with a well earned point. 

The following day my Physio tells me Graham is out for 5 (FIVE!) weeks. We don't have another left sided winger so I scour the market desperately. Stephen Brogan stands out

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I mean he's not gonna improve the squad but at the moment I just need to slap a plaster on the left wing. He's got experience, a bit of pace and is probably worth a gamble; I scout him for two weeks.

Whitehawk (away)

So it's another away day and I've made another cock-up. I make my unfit players available for an u21's game and a few first teamers are thrown in. My best player, and only player capable of covering on the left wing,  Luke Daley is knackered. Oh well. 
It's another 442 to play against and my scout points out that Whitehawk have low aggression ratings I resolve to kick them off the park.Luke Daley comes in for the injured Badogun Graham, Damien Green replaces a tired Marvel 'not to be confused with Marvin' Ekpita and,  the excellently named, Skepelhorn makes his debut at centre forward.

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 Barham rattles the post with an absolute worldy but Whitehawk CF Mills is dropping deep and is dominating the game. I get Hughes to man mark/ physically assault him. Sam deering is being given the keys to the kingdom on my left flank so I show him to his weaker foot in an attempt to stop the barrage of crosses that are flying in. Skepelhorn who has been linking up well all game polishes off a great passing move to make it 1-nil, then we almost give the game away, by losing the ball outside our own box. I'm forced to make changes at half time due to fatigue. Damien Green and Luke Daley come off. Marvin the disaster and Lee Sawyer come on. Harry Morgan moves out to the left. We are under the cosh second half. I switch to defensive and retain possesion to try and stop the flow. Ofori is subbed on and makes mince meat of Marvin. I tell him to man mark him tight. Then I change Hughes to an anchor man, Barham to support duty and Skepelhorn becomes a defensive defensive forward. They throw everything at us and eventually we give (Marvin lets ofori go for the goal if you must know). It's a nervy last few minutes but we hang on for a point.

St Albans (Home)

With our form teetering we welcome St Albans to the Chelmsford Sports and Athletics Centre (catchy I know). Skepelhorn keeps his place after opening his account last match.

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It's an absolute classic lower league match. By which I mean, no goals, no chances and 50 fouls in all. We trudge around the pitch kicking players and achieving nothing. The same from St. Albans. After our bright start to the season we look to be fading fast. This makes it no wins in four.

Maidstone (away)

It's the last game of August. The leaves fall from the trees and the pitch is dashed in colour. A win here makes for a decent start to the season. Maidstone are bottom of the league the combination of our incisive counter attacks and their weak defense should make for a routine win. Bricknell comes back into the fold and Lee Sawyer moves out to the right wing. Maidstone play a 4231 and it will be interesting to see how we match up today.

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It's a game of many chances but it's Maidstone who break the deadlock. In the dressing room I tell the players they're unlucky but I know its not true. Our opening season goodwill is all but drying out and we find ourselves just a point above the drop in 17th. It's gonna be a long, cold winter. I stick on the tape and have a cuppa.



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Edited by trickyzip

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