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Mandy42

wols dna ecin, kcab eht morf ti gnittih, dlrow eht dnuorA

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Don't worry, if you've made it this far with your decoder ring, the whole thread isn't going to be written like that!

So my Valencia "Nemesis" died a death, this might seem stupid but when I reread my previous Chelsea thread (where I had first come up with the idea) I noticed that I should have taken over Sevilla not Valencia and getting it wrong bugged me... I lost all interest in the save and just couldn't motivate myself to continue, thus back to the drawing board!

After at least 10 minutes consideration and a trawl through the forums I have decided upon 2 saves, running concurrently to try keep my interest and variety up. Yes I hear you cry, I struggled to keep my teeth into 1 save, how will I manage with 2, well, you may well be right but lets see what happens shall we. You can all shout "I told you so" at the end of the thread :P

So thread 2, this is inspired by some of the wonderful career threads I have read during my short time here, I'm looking at @Makoto Nakamura and @andychar who will work anywhere and win anything and who I enjoy reading and following very much.

Thus I will be attempting an around the world thread to offset just how vanilla my latest Chelsea save actually is. However my personal twist is that I will be starting at Z, as I am in no illusion that I may not finish this :P and I am sure many other people have been in this position, and that means that the countries at the back end of the alphabet are well and truly neglected. But no more! I will champion these countries, my global journey begins in Zimbabwe. 

I would like to thank Michael Itner for his leagues megapack which has allowed me to embark on this mammoth task!

Basic ground rules:

I will move on in reverse alphabetical order (which might be a challenge all on it's own)

I will have 3 leagues loaded at a time

I will start in the bottom tier of every nation

I will win everything there is to win in my current nation before moving on to the next

I will start as myself, with zero managerial badges (for the first time ever) and Sunday league football reputation (which is still more than my real life self!)

Finally I will not be rushing through as I am in no position to emulate the immense pace of @Makoto Nakamura so this could end up being my life's work!! 

(Also anyone who can offer any help on how and when is best to add and remove leagues would be hugely appreciated! as I am very much a journeyman virgin)

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The face might be randomized, but I would so wear that outfit!

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I randomly selected a team to start with, I am in the Flame Lily hot seat! was meant to be!!

This save is being run concurrently alongside Back to the Future because I'm cheap

As always thanks for reading

 

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So we have landed in Zimbabwe, the other leagues loaded are leagues.thumb.jpg.9248dce7adaa5d476fee2fbfa43db194.jpg

We have taken control of Flame Lily, who are from Chikurubi in Harare, though the only thing I could really find about the area is the prison. 

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We play our games at Rufaro Stadium in downtown Harare, I'm pretty sure we groundshare as that thing looks huge!

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Do you think they saw the Englishman coming and went for patriotic kit colours to make me feel at home? Also our finances are listed as "Okay" yet our overall balance is 25 quid, I am in a brave new world now!

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This is my current squad, I loaded up attacking stats for a giggle, my goalkeepers finishing is as good as my 2nd choice striker, I might put him on penalties!

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I intend to turn this man into a club legend simply down to his name alone!

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Good luck with your career :thup:

As for the add/removing leagues,I resign when I've won everything before adding and removing leagues.The add/remove leagues button is usually with the following 

yRMI6lu.png?1

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right then, eyes down for some Zimbabwe football, must say this is all very new to me, don't have a single professional player! Also as it turns out I don't have any staff either, luckily that isn't my problem to solve and my chairman decides to go find some people.assman.thumb.jpg.9efe3ac63b09f835999a2d04e25bb074.jpg

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There we have it an inodus of staff (opposite of an exodus obviously!) And with our new found staff we are given the following expectations

 

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Finish "around" the top of the league, seems slightly more vague than I would like, and potentially open to too much interpretation, might be because I don't speak the local language.

I also don't understand the following

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So we are in Lower Division group C and there are 13 lucky teams in the group, yet our odds show a whopping 31 teams!

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Am I supposed to finish just top of my group? Or near the top of the whole 31? Guess it will be fun finding out the ins and outs of the various different league systems as we move on.

 

Speaking of moving on, it took me far longer than it should to realise that I don't have any badges and that I could do with working towards them. Thus I went for it

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He went for it, which is awesome, however in truth I was only reminded because  of this

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So my Assistant manager is going for his A license, I'm going for my C license, that won't cause any tension at all!

 

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We had 1 friendly booked in 30+ days away and I wanted to give the lads some more game time, the 3 clubs I picked were chosen on quality of name alone!

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3 Snakes on a badge, that right there is pretty cool!

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I normally go into some detail about the formations of them and us, about the players I pick and why, bit hard when every single one of them looks the same ;) Though playing at 3pm in 35 degree heat seems a little savage!

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I am taking solace in the fact that Black Mambas were a "big name team" when I picked them to play a friendly, but if all my games in Zimbabwe are going to be this hectic I might be dead by the end of the season, that or my players might. Every single one of them was exhausted by the end, including the subs I brought on. The 1st half we played at a high tempo and soared to a 6-2 lead, we were 4-0 to the good and my club legend to be McKop was the 1st goal scorer under my reign, it was due to be magical. However, due to tiredness I changed the formation to a 4-4-1-1 sit in and counter tactic that was much less physically demanding, but we nose dived after half time. 6-6 draw, was amusing to watch, we could have won it in the 4th (out of 5) minutes of injury time but their keeper made his only save of the game from our in swinging free kick. Oh well, next friendly in 7 days, didn't want to over tax the lads with more than 1 a week. I put them all on Sundays so they could have an excuse to skip church and it would be played on a day off from their day job. 

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52 minutes ago, B.W.G said:

Good luck with your career :thup:

As for the add/removing leagues,I resign when I've won everything before adding and removing leagues.The add/remove leagues button is usually with the following 

yRMI6lu.png?1

Thank you for the advice, and for the follow :) hope you enjoy reading

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Good luck with this. You have successfully found my fetish of completely random countries!

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2 hours ago, andychar said:

Good luck with this. You have successfully found my fetish of completely random countries!

Thanks, you must be so proud! try not to cry :D

 

1 hour ago, Makoto Nakamura said:

Good luck Mandy! are Chicken Inn still in the Zimbabwean structure?

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Thanks for the support Would appear that they are, they even have players under contract! which is dizzying compared to us at Flame Lily!

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so before we go much further, have I mentioned that I haven't ever really been out of top leagues anywhere in the world! Thus this whole greyed out player thing, I didn't really pay much attention until I noticed that my players names kept swapping week to week. So I went to the scouting centre and I got me some permanent ones on free transfer and signed them on amateur contracts. Though 3 of them can't sign until the window opens again in July, so I've got all of 8 actual players, the rest I will string together on a week by week basis, not the most auspicious of starts.

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Was a decent game, though not many people will know what with only 93 watching it! Was a little squeaky bum time after me conceded the goal, but we dug in for the win, hope we can do so in competitive games.

 

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This was the opposite of the Black Mambas game, we started poorly, we were 2-0 down in 5 minutes. But we smashed back 5 goals in reply, my new players Derby Duri and Vindai Madamombe running riot in my central midfield. 

I was a little taken aback by the almost England test cricket style collapse near the end of the game. But we hung on again.

 

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We have a face! Another new signing, but more on him later. Derby scored 2 in 2 games, and he did that just as I was waving frantically for him to be subbed after he pulled up with a bad leg. Tawanda Masuku is probably the closest thing in Zimbabwe I am going to get to a wonder kid! He is 16 and hopefully can slot away quite a few goals for me! This game was annoying, as I have noticed a trend occurring, most of the goals that I concede are long punts up field for the opponents to run onto behind my defence, I have tried dropping my defensive line back to compensate but it keeps happening. This game however I can cope with the loss. After they had a player sent off I pushed the players forward to go for it and they caught us on the break. They apparently should have been expected to spank us, so them sneaking a stoppage time winner because I made a tactical gamble, that isn't the end of the world.

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New title odds, not sure I approve of staying in the same position and having our odds lengthened, doesn't speak to confidence in my new signings!

Though I am quite happy with this guy. Keeping my fingers crossed!

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That is the end of the friendlies, into my 1st season we go! 

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19 hours ago, Pattric_b said:

Good luck in Zimbabwe 🇿🇼 hope you don’t get lost out there!

thanks! I'll try not to, its both exhilarating and at the same time really frustrating, but we shall see how we get on  

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1009805753_facialhair.thumb.jpg.38621e22d662aadf9f1639ed0645efad.jpg

And we are off, no badges, no previous experience, just a fabulous moustache and a whole lot of hope, lets see where this journey takes us!

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It doesn't take us very far! less than 10 miles in what must be a local derby to start off with.

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It seems strange that we are favourites, especially as my backroom staff announced we should play defensive before I saw the odds. I told my team that we should play defensive and they pretty much all swore at me! So we agreed to go out balanced and see what happened. Also, the two players that are unregistered, I swore I registered! and the guy out injured is by best flaming midfielder. Well that's not entirely true, Duri is my best midfielder and he is only just back from a sore ankle so he might not make much headway. One final note on my left wing back, he's a free spirit, and he thinks the rest of my back 4 smell, plus he is useless as a full back or anything else that has him standing in line, so he plays further forward.

 

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I can't say that was expected... we'd conceded 14 goals in 4 games in pre season, winning 1 drawing 2 and losing 1, so the clean sheet was the last thought on my mind. Not sure the referee could afford a set of cards as some of their fouling was repeated and quite heavy! The pick of the goals was Nigel Chirinda's free kick which the goalkeeper should have done better with but was only able to palm up onto the bar, and any goal that goes in off the bar looks infinitely better.

After the game we were top of the league, but the Chairman knew just how to bring me back down to earth.

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into the Zimbabwe Cup 1st round, the chairman wants me to secure passage to the 2nd round and that's it.... though remember in order for me to be able to move on from this country I have to win everything.

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Drawn against another Lower Division side, and we have been made even bigger favourites than the previous game

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My 16 year old Poaching wonderkid who for some reason I couldn't register for the league, can play in the cup, so he does. 

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Will have to see if we can cope with their extra man in midfiel

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Not what I needed with another league game in 4 days, we deserved to go through, their keeper kept them in the game in normal time, their only player with a rating above 7. The red card swung the game in our favour in extra time, allowing two of our midfielders to get onto the score sheet in the next 30 minutes and Lincoln to score his 3rd goal in 2 games. Our expectations for this competition have been met, which is more than I could have said with 85 minutes played, but I can't help but think there will be a hangover in our next game.

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Back into the league and we have a problem, I have noticed that the players who don't have a contract, who just hang around the club to see if they can play, they don't train, they don't overly improve their match fitness, they have a sliver of red in every position they are put into on the tactics screen and they can wander off as and when they feel like it with no notice. All of this is, well bad, so I gave a couple contracts, which didn't cost me anything they signed up on amateur contracts and suddenly they can achieve things like turning up for training and full green circles in preferred positions, all of this is good. However, these players became squad players after the transfer window closed, which means they are unregistered for the squad and are thus suddenly ineligible for the next league game, which is bad. The next registration window is in June, which is 8 weeks away, have I just shot myself in the foot only my 2nd game into the league?

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Home again, favourites again, though not by just as big a margin.

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I have 2 defenders, 1 midfielder and 1 striker left who actual are contracted to the club, all of whom played close to 120 minutes 3 days ago and are unlikely to see out the match

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They look in the mood to soak up some pressure away from home.

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That was frustrating, I can't say I truly got FMed because I made a rod for my own back with the squad status debacle, however once again their keeper was their only stand out player, and oh my did he stand out, it was like trying to get the ball past a cat on cocaine. 2nd half we got worse as I knew we would, my trio of players with any positional preference were fading fast and had to be substituted. Patrick Phiri shoulder barged his way through one of their players trying to nip in and steal the ball from their throw in and the ref decided to give him a 2nd yellow. I guess from that free kick they won the corresponding corner, I have to guess because the corner was their only highlight the entire game, we clear the 1st ball but they manage to recycle it down our right where we are the man light. They get the ball into the box and bullet a header past our keeper. We play 4 minutes of stoppage time and I throw caution to the wind in my fury and switch us to very attacking, we push for the whole 4 minutes and force two more very spectacular saves from the snow rolling kitty in their goal. The final whistle goes and we weren't top of the league for long!

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Love it!

I was going to do an African save myself, as there can be some really top young players coming through. I was going to manage in Guinea or Senegal. But opted for Asia instead. Will be following to see what I missed out on!

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9 hours ago, Pechorin said:

Love it!

I was going to do an African save myself, as there can be some really top young players coming through. I was going to manage in Guinea or Senegal. But opted for Asia instead. Will be following to see what I missed out on!

thanks for the follow, hope you enjoy reading, I'll be in and out of everywhere with the reverse alphabetic nature of the save, so your Africa will be sprinkled in

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Last game in March, 

away.thumb.jpg.e645e0be7ab39a26931952f601fbca29.jpg

Yet again we are seen as favourites, I might need to revise my opinion of our chances, but that pre season was just shocking

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7 hour drive down to play, hope we get there before the sun goes down... BAH BOOM

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That looks very narrow, hopefully we can exploit out wide

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So mid week I realised I had offered even more contracts to players who I wanted to turn from same day casuals to proper players. I didn't fancy paying another game with 3 blind mice and a sheepdog. So mid week, I worked some voodoo magic and suddenly I had 10 more players registered in the squad. I clicked on one of the "unregistered" icons and it brought me to the squad registration screen. There was a lot of ineligible on the list and I thought it was just mocking me as I couldn't change anyone. However after a few desperate spams of the "auto select" button I found that players were being added to the squad! I clicked confirm quickly before I undid all my hard work. I don't understand what happened as there seemed to be no pattern to who was allowed and who was left out, but I have renewed hope now that I have more players.

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That hope lasted all of 8 minutes, the worst possible start after we lost the last game, I wondered whether this was going to be the story of our season, the team that should finish "around the top of the league" but couldn't get the job done. Then I remembered the point of this save, this more than any other I have played is about the journey, if I don't get it done with Flame Lily I look for another club where I can get it done. They scored their 1st goal from a throw in from our right, that they worked into the midfield just outside our box and let fly with a long range effort. On 27 minutes they had a throw in from exactly the same position, we had created nothing in that time. They work the ball into the middle and just as Tito is about to pull the trigger, Duri steps in and steals the ball, he unceremoniously punts the ball up field in what I presume is a pointless clearance. Lincoln is running onto the ball, he's the better striker of the two and it is him who is collecting the ball on the left wing, I don't fancy our chances. He crosses, Master Matore takes a touch, which brings the Sundown defender back into play, I fear the chance is gone, but with a low, steady drive, Master beats the defender and the sprawling goalkeeper to tie us level.

The 2nd is a thunderbolt from a corner, the ball drops halfway between the near post and the edge of the area and our left wing back hurls his foot at it. At 1st it looks like its not only going to clear the goal but the stand as well, but by some miracle it keeps down just long enough to nestle into the roof of the net! The 3rd is a carbon copy of the 1st, we break on them, Lincoln delivers a more measured low cross and Master taps home with ease.

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That concludes March, 4 games, 3 wins and 1 loss.

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April sees us go head to head with the current top of the league!

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I was feeling a lot happier about this top of the table clash, when I was actually 2nd in the table and not 4th, also 2ndly when I found out that ZRP stands for Zimbabwe Republic Police, nothing like a bit of police corruption to influence the results and see them top of the league? We will see.

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They are favourites, probably some kickback system going on with the bookies 

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They are favourites even though we are at home, great. I was expecting a lot more blanket 4-4-2, maybe it's the Englishman in me. We continue with our strange concoction that sees us get the most out of the majority of positions

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21 fouls? not convinced we are that dirty! probably the ref being in the pocket of the police! We got off to a fantastic start, A Matore strike being saved by their keeper only for the rebound to fall to Lincoln in the 6 yard box, he's a poacher for a reason! They grew into the game and equalised before 20 minutes was up, annoyed that neither of my goalkeepers are available since they signed contracts, the sooner the registration window re opens the better! Crispen scored a great goal after Duri had a shot charged down on the edge of the area. Then our Nigel put some daylight between us and the fuzz with a curling free kick from the right corner of the area.

2nd half they made it tense, a particularly soft penalty got them back into the game, and then we played 5 minutes of added time! Of which we actually played 7! Not looking forward to the returning fixture where they probably have the refs family hostage in the crowd...  

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13 hours ago, andychar said:

Great win there. Time to take charge of the league!

if only....

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Could get used to this 1 game a week lark, gives me plenty of time to check out all the national parks!

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Making this post from work, so you will just have to trust me that it's a 4 and a half hour drive to play away at Barbourfields Stadium, we sit second on goal difference and we are away to 10th, looking at their form it seems the perfect opportunity to take @andychar's advice and "take control" of the league.

 

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Packing the midfield at home.

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Sticking with the same starting 11 what with the week between games helping us out.  Vindai Madamombe is back from injury and available from the bench

 

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Well we took control, it just didn't last all the way until the end of the game! My players don't seem to understand the different mentalities that we are trying to use. They have no problem with attacking, pre season was a montage of us scoring goals and then being undone by long punts up field where we had a 1v1 or a 2v2, not the sort of thing you want happening when you are 3 goals to the good. However turning the dial the other way to cautious and defensive has seen us spend long periods of the game generating nothing at all and then conceding to a set piece or a lucky deflection. This is compounded by my back room staff wanting me to be cautious into most away games, where as the odds, and the media seem to suggest we can steamroller anyone.

I can't honestly say we deserved the win, we started well, but we always start well, Lincoln has 5 goals now in all competitions and 3 of his 4 league goals have all come within the 1st ten minutes of games. But we always have a dip, either at the end of the 1st half, or towards the end of the game. It is probably partly down to the fact that my bench rarely strengthens the starting 11, as I have no effective cover for my whole left side. Once again, the registration window can not come soon enough.

 

 

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Another week, and it is the 1st in a 2 week span of playing Blue, this week its the Gers and next week its the Swallows.

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Our draw was enough to take us top as we were only 2nd on goal difference. I am getting used to being favourites, and understanding it probably has little bearing on the outcome. I agree we are inconsistent, however the difference between our inconsistent and their strong is as little as 1 goal we conceded away from home.

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That looks rather attacking for an away day display

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 Vindai Madamombe made an appearance off the bench in the last game and is just about fit enough to start today.

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I'll take that all year long against 2nd in the league, I would also take Madamombe and Duri staying fit to be my midfield partnership. They both like to play central midfield attack, which is a problem if I let them both do it, as it leaves us mega exposed. However Duri is slightly less than terrible as a deep lying playmaker, so he pulls the strings while Madamombe streams forward. For our 1st goal, Matore had a strike charged down, the rebound fell out of the area to Duri who coolly slotted in Madamombe for a simple finish.

Conceding just after kick off made me wonder if we were going to capitulate again, but a laser drive from the left corner of the area from our marauding wingback put us back in the lead. Twice now we have played 2nd in the table and twice now we have gotten all 3 points. 

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Last game of the month, and its another blue one

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Took me a while to realise we were going to be playing in red! We are once more second on goal difference.

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That's more like it, generic 4-4-2

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Once more the same team as last week due to a week between fixtures

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This was very frustrating, they were 11th, without a win and they created very little, one deep cross from a corner, a header and it's in the onion bag and we are behind. Once again my backroom staff wanted a cautious approach, however we were playing a team 11th without a win, I went with positive, despite my acceptance that last time I ignored them we only drew. We generated nothing, for the whole 1st half nothing of any note happened. We were hovering around equal shares of possession so I figured a change to balanced at halftime would allow us to get our heads up, and do more with the ball, in the 2nd half the chances would come.

We wasted a few opportunities wide of the post but still created nothing of real threat. Then they scored, I lost my rag and moved us up to attacking and suddenly we were a different team. We cut them apart, all of our 5 attempts on target came in the last 10 minutes of the game, plus a few more glaring misses which I am still having nightmares about. We were at our most effective 3 mentalities away from where my backroom staff suggested we play. I guess I should not be surprised they are likely a caretaker a corner shop salesman and a taxi driver, I need to remember where I am and that the bright lights and big cities I am used to are a world away.

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Wins against the bigger teams around us have kept us in contention, I need consistency going forward, or the registration window to come through before too big a gap develops.

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May sees us with another 4 games, though only 3 in the league, a big gap to the last game might mean there is another cup round to be squeezed in. I intend to play the cup game to win, hoping to create some consistency and momentum. The last game of the month against Hunters is the big one, they were the last unbeaten team in the league, until Blue Rangers put 5 past them. I am hoping that everyone stealing points off everyone else trend continues.

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Unfortunately real life and a game that has been re released 15 years since it first came out, have drastically cut down on my gaming time. However an honourable mention in the awards thread (for this save) and the aim of actually getting out of Zimbabwe has brought me back to it! Though there might be a few changes to the posting format from here on out. I hope you continue to enjoy it!

Home to a struggling Circle Utd to kick off the month. 

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Next up the Zimbabwean Cup 2nd round. The first time in my coaching career I have (been in a cup competition) but also where I have been told "I need a miracle" to get anything out of the game. Our opponents Caps Utd are 3rd in the Premier Division.

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I started off with a defensive mentality, but we produced nothing. When we went behind I moved us up to positive and we scored straight away. So I stupidly left us at positive hoping to continue to cause shocks. No shocks caused!

Back in the league for the remaining two games of the month. 1st up Falcon Gold away from home

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Final league game of the month saw 2nd place Hunter come to our place. We needed a win to keep the pressure on Blue Rangers who currently sit top of the table.

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After a fast start it turned into a very cagey 2nd half. We had multiple chances to make it safe! But we couldn't take advantage of the chances we created. Didn't help that Blue rangers scored 6 in their game!

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That means approaching the mid point of the season the table looks like this

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Three points and 6 goals is what separates us from top spot. 

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4 games next month we need to be getting results from if we intend to go up. Also the last 4 games before I can reregister for the league squad. Get all the players I signed to contracts after the registration window closed into the squad!

 

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Christ I must be slow. I have only just realised what your thread title is. I even had a proper look at it the other day. :lol:

snoitalutargnoC :applause:

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1 hour ago, Jimbokav1971 said:

Christ I must be slow. I have only just realised what your thread title is. I even had a proper look at it the other day. :lol:

snoitalutargnoC :applause:

sneak up on it from the side don't stare at it straight on :D

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It's June, just before the halfway point of the season and we are 2nd in the league, everything to play for. Also, with us being in Group C of the lower league I have no idea what happens at the end of the season with regards to promotion and relegation. I also, kinda like not knowing. Before we get into the results, some off the field housekeeping first.

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National C License is in the bag! Now I take it if I leave the club and I have them paying for a coaching course does the course get cancelled? Or will it finish because they've paid for it up front?

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Never had this happen to me in any save before, like the fact this game has this much depth too it. Though in my opinion, pretty brave for an 18 year old in Zimbabwe! 

Right down to the football. First up Lancashire Steel, who I wanted to beat because I am from Yorkshire, and because they were 12th in the league.

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Balls... We were out played from the moment we went in front. We started to claw our way back into it after 60 minutes and I have to say I was overjoyed at the thought of getting out with a point. But no!! Thought our title challenge was over right there.

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Sundowns did us a huge favour limiting the damage

I fear the worse losing to the "worst" team we would face this month.

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Benyu gave away the penalty in the 1st 5 minutes, hope he wasn't aggravated by negative comments about him coming out! They never looked like adding to their lead and it seemed only a matter of time before we sealed the deal.

I still didn't think we were playing overly well, so I laid into the players before this next game wanting a reaction

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I got 1 in the 1st half, 4 goals in the opening 10 minutes, 4 goals from our 1st 4 shots on target. Then we fell asleep for the last 53 minutes of the game. Still everyone loves a record

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Final game of the month

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My back room team felt I should play this game cautiously, instead we went into it the same way we approach every game. Attack, Score more goals than the opposition. Probably why this is only my 2nd clean sheet of the season!

 

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Blue Rangers dropped further points to ZRP FC, which means with 10 games to go (and  with everyone in the mini league top 4 to play) we have put ourselves in the box seat, but it's far from over.

 

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Only 2 games in July, against the team that held Blue Rangers and the team that beat them last month. Hopefully now the registration period is open again for the squad I can get all the players I signed brought in. Right in time for the run in

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There might only be 2 games but going deeper into the season they just keep getting bigger and bigger

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The team that held Blue Rangers to a draw, and our 2nd clean sheet in a row. Though would be nice if my players could turn up for both halves of a game! Or is that just greedy?

Next up Away to the Police

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We went there attacking (what else were we going to do) and the squad thought I was out of my mind! Being too adventurous. We had 2 goals ruled out for offside before a free kick ricocheted off the goalkeepers back and in. Calmed me down! as the longer it stayed 0-0 the more I thought we were going to pay for not taking our chances. 

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Blue Rangers kept up the pressure by not dropping any points.

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Three clean sheets in a row! wonder what those contracted players are doing at the back.

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The 4 team "mini league" at the top seems to be down to just the two teams. Us and Blue Rangers, keeping my fingers crossed that they drop points.

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However if we beat them in August then all we have to do is keep matching their results to stay top. Going down to the wire in the 1st season of the journey

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August the month of my birthday, again only 2 games. Though one of those is against our closest challengers Blue Rangers, one day before my birthday!

But before then we have another Rovers, Bantu Rovers.

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What looked like a forearm smash in the 2nd minute effectively finished this as a contest. There was little banter from the single Bantu Rovers fan who had made the trip. I calmed the team down after the 1st goal as I didn't want any stupid mistakes or injuries before the up coming top of the table clash

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Blue Rangers did what Blue Rangers do.

Two week gap, but the game that is likely to shape the whole season is here.

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They didn't lay a glove on us in the 1st half, not registering a single shot. The penalty at the end of the half summed it up with Tawanda Masuku being scythed down from behind out of pure frustration as he was clear through. Unlike the Bantu game I kept the foot to the floor all the 1st half. In the 2nd half I brought us back to balanced and they began to pin us back. A Masterful free kick into the top corner from Master Matore helped me hold my nerve and not revert back to balls out football in the closing minutes.

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Those results see us sit top with 6 games left, though Rangers still have a game in hand.

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The fullest month left on the calendar with half our remaining fixtures spread across it.

Finally, everyone loves a record, this month we smashed 4!

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God I'm going to miss completely random locations!

Going well in Zimbabwe, won't be long till you're moving on.

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14 hours ago, andychar said:

God I'm going to miss completely random locations!

Going well in Zimbabwe, won't be long till you're moving on.

yeah but London called, and you answered, you might not be the hero they need, but your the hero they deserve!

You can live vicariously through me anyway :P 

And yes! promotion is in sight, then the question of whether to stick or twist if there is a better club available in the higher tier 

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Three games in September out of a total 6 remaining.

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A pattern is emerging, Three games in a row now at least 1 goal has been scored from central midfield. Chasten Ngondonga has now scored in 3 games (his 1st three games) in a row

Elsewhere

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Blue Rangers are beginning to feel the pressure. Next up for us is bottom placed club Circle Utd (we all know what happened when we needed a win against the previous bottom of the league)

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No such slip ups this time, with both Derby Duri and Chasten Ngondonga scoring for the 2nd game in a row. Chasten is now 4 from 4.

Elsewhere

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Lancashire Steel doing the business again! Safe to say Blue Rangers lost their way and their heads in that game. Can we capitalise against Falcon Gold?

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Didn't think it was going to be our day when Tawanda Masuku had an early penalty saved, the two travelling fans loved that! However a perfect hat trick from Nigel Chirinda, one from Masuku (just as the coaches wanted to pull him off for not playing well) and the stable Chasten Ngondonga goal (5 from 5!)

 

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Only the one game in October, and it's at the end of the month. The title could be well and truly decided before we go anywhere near a ball.

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Blue Rangers won their last game to keep up mathematical hope of winning the title. Though the gap is 10 points, with only 12 available to them.

Away from the pitch!

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Our 17 year old no nonsense centre back is a Zimbabwe international!

And we set another record

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Edited by Mandy42
floating image!

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Only one game for us this month! but before we kick a ball

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Blue Rangers do enough to mean we actually have to go out and win our game in order to be crowned champions

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Well that wasn't worth waiting all month for! What a bunch of pussies.... told them before the game we were only 1 win away from securing the title, lets go out and get it done. They told me I was putting too much pressure on them. (They had just won 10 in a row! they only needed to win 1 more and that was that.)  We weren't unlucky, we weren't outplayed we were just crap. The players body language from conceding the goal till the end ranged from nervous, anxious, to disinterested! Which led me to the real beauty of this save, I don't like this team, and I don't have to stay if I don't want to. Lets get the league campaign over with and get the hell out of dodge asap.

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Final two games next month, against Lancashire Steel, who beat us when we played them last

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Blue Rangers drew their game 1-1 to keep the title alive into the final month, though at this point any points we pick up secure the title, and we would have to have an insane goal difference swing to be pipped on the last day.

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Final month of the season and it is safe to say I have lost it with my players after the performance in the last game and their attitude to boot. I've pretty much withdrawn into myself in the lead up to these final fixtures, not been going to press conferences, not dealing with pre-match briefings or talking to any of the players who are complaining about a lack of football. Sod them all!

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I leave the assistant manager to talk to them before the game, and at halftime when we, again, are playing poorly. We limp over the line, and that is that we are Champions! I decline to talk to the players after the game and I send my assistant to the press conference. Then, with it in the bag, I go on holiday.

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They get this result without me, amusing that Gwere was supposedly on his way out of the club last time I talked to him. The following pops into my inbox which I find confusing.

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So we are promoted, but we miss out on the title? But at the bottom it says we won the title comfortably? Colour me confused. Anyway, before I go off on holiday again, I make the most of the euphoria at getting promoted

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By 8 points in the end, although it felt much closer a couple of times.

End of season awards and review (though I was on holiday so didn't attend)

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We also added a few records to our current total

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I've been given a new deal for a year at £140 a week, I wasn't there (on holiday) but I accepted! The club intends to build a new stadium seen as apparently we don't have one, and we have turned semi professional, which means I now have to deal with wages and contracts / non contracts and appearance fees. Fantastic! 

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Only one Premier Division job came up (they finished 13th) and they didn't want me. I declined to talk to Flame Lilly about what they could do to stop me talking to other people. If we get off to a flyer then I might stay, if we don't then I will be looking to move on. Getting excited again!

 

 

 

 

Edited by Mandy42

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Right then, 2nd season in Zimbabwe, 1st season in the Premier division, and nobody else wants me! So I am still at Flame Lily and will see how we get on this season.

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We are expected to battle against relegation this season, which I hope will not be the case! However we were rock bottom at 450-1 to win the title, with the changes I have made to the squad moving up 2 places is a bonus, however we are set at evens to go straight back down. Speaking of changes to the squad, there was much cleaning of house before we even looked to bring in any new faces.

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The most surprising name on the list must be Lincoln Saramya last seasons top goalscorer with 18 goals, the back room team informed me he was surplus to requirements and I got rid of him before I could think myself out of the decision. The others were either too old, not good enough or both, with the top 3 all demanding for more play time even though there were better options ahead of them at the club. I have read in other journeyman threads that there is a certain freedom in being able to simply ignore or dispose of anyone who wants to play more, and I must agree not having to jump through hoops to keep players happy is rather liberating.

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These are the players that were not interested in signing actual contracts with the club. Having gone semi pro this season we now have a wage budget and everything! However when I went to offer everyone contracts, they all wanted "non contracts" with appearance fee money and other bonus'. Once more, having never done this before I did wonder what was going on, my questions were answered when people began making offers for my "non contracted" players. I quickly offered proper contracts with a weekly wage and everything to the players I definitely wanted to keep. The weekly wages ranged from £90 a week at the top end to £6 a week at the bottom. Those above either wanted too much, or were not interested when they got deals elsewhere.

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Coming in, Tawanda Macheke (who I am leaning towards nicknaming "The Machete") is a striker with previous Premier division experience. I want to get him off his £210 a week appearance fee onto a proper contract but currently not interested. Reward Muza is a backup goalkeeper. Collen Muzawazi is a 34 year old back up striker, Farai Masusuyne is a midfielder who can play anywhere across the midfield and Tawanda Masuku is the player who left the club to sign for Mufakose Utd FC, then who resigned for us 5 days later after I offered him a contract not a non contract.

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Finally, coming in, in July is a left back who will likely go straight into the 1st team. So to Pre Season, I haven't picked any of these friendlies and am slightly disappointed that we won't be testing ourselves against more difficult opposition.

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Only the two games in February and the same scoreline in each, glad to see my strikers hitting the net, plus Lee Maphosa, playing at left wing is a nice surprise and has a decent free kick.

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Next month in March we play two more lower division sides to finish off the friendlies before two home games against teams expected to finish well inside the top half this season. Be an early indication of how we measure up!

 

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Before we go any further I completely forgot I had created this, seems a bit out of place to put it here, but I didn't want to put it in at the end of last season as an edit and end up with people missing it

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Let me know if there are any stats you don't care about, or indeed things you want adding in!

Now, to the end of the pre season and the start of the Premier division. Our next "friendly" game was against the team that ran us the closest last season Blue Rangers.

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Although I told the players that this game was all about performance and fitness and not a result, as soon as we went behind after 8 minutes I demanded more. The players looked a bit stressed when I wanted more out of them but Lee Maphosa continued his fantastic pre season with a clinical finish. The penalty looked rather soft to me, but I wasn't about to complain, especially when we were poor into the 2nd half, undone by a routine set piece for them to draw level. An injury time winner saw us take the win, but an unsettling reminder that we might not have the quality to compete with other Premier division sides as we still have the majority of the squad who sometimes struggled in the lower division.

Next up, last friendly, Cranborne Bullets, a team I only ever seem to play in pre season friendlies.

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We maintain our 100% record against them, and their goalkeeper kept it from being a cricket score, but again, not a huge step up in quality from this time last year against the same opponent.

Which brings us to the season itself, at home to Highlanders, a team tipped to be in the top 10 when the dust settles. We are at home, and I want to see what we can do, so I send them out like every other game, to attack.

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Once again, their goalkeeper, or the lack in quality of our finishing was our undoing, the had 2 shots the entire game, neither of them on target, hopefully we won't look back at the end of the campaign and see this as 2 points dropped.

The cup is next, the board wanted the same as last season, a place in the 2nd round, we got a crap draw against another Premier division team and the media informed everyone that we needed a miracle to get through. Away to Chapungu Football Club, I decided to field a weakened team, as the extra 5 teams (and thus 10 games) in the Premier division season, meant the games were coming faster than they had the previous year.

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Bit annoyed only 1 supporter decided to risk the chance of the miracle! Story of the game is us missing a penalty in the last 10 minutes, Tawanda Masuku missed during the game but showed balls to slot in his spot kick during the shoot out. I was annoyed when he missed it, but in the end happy for it to run to penalties as they threw everything they had at us in extra time and it seemed like only a matter of time before we would heart breakingly concede late on.  Oh well out of the cup we go, can focus on the league!

Second league game was also at home, against Chicken Inn, a team tipped to finish in the top 6, for the 3rd game in a row I sent my players (now a full strength starting 11) out with an attacking mentality (one they felt was wrong for the strength of our opponents 

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For the first half hour we completely bossed the game and it felt amazing, when they scored after 39 minutes I got worried, especially as it appeared they had fouled one of our players in the build up. When we went down to 10 men in the 2nd half after a stupid horror 2 footed tackle from our left back, I feared the worst. I took off the Machete and replaced him with my spare left back. To say we were down to 10 men the game didn't really change, I kept us attacking and we still bossed it for long periods. Lee Maphosa pressed their defender high up the pitch, stole the ball and calmly sat the goalkeeper down to slot it past him into the bottom corner. I thought a two goal cushion was a good a time as any to pull us back to a balanced mentality, however we conceded 3 minutes later. I feel my team only knows how to play with an attacking mentality, as I reverted back to it for the closing 10 minutes and our attacking endeavour won us a penalty and restored our 2 goal lead.

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That leaves the table after the 1st month of league action like this

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I'm not convinced we are going to stay there but it will be nice to look back on when we are further down near the bottom.

Next month is no easier

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6 league games, the most we played in a month last year was 4!

Off the pitch I finished my B license but

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It appears I can go no further until the end of the season!

 

 

 

 

Edited by Mandy42
keyboard spasm lead to early post!

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There has been a few weeks delay while I battled valiantly against man flu, work, and a rather amorous dog, but as much as I was dreading continuing the save and my inevitable slip down the table I wasn't going to give up on my life's work so easily. I have decided, that seen as my star can only burn so brightly for so long before the other teams and managers figure us out and we drop like a Deathpool protein joke in a crowded lift. That I will revert to a post per game. Better to capture the emotional rollercoaster (and up my post count!)

So FC Platinum are our next opponents, I don't have a screen shot but I remember reading in this save that they are the most "famous" or recognisable club in Zimbabwe, no, I hadn't heard of them either. We face the impossible according to the pundits, but then we faced the impossible in Chicken Inn last game and we turned them into peeled nuggets (blatant steal there @ManUtd1

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I love Impossible, I eat it for breakfast, the difficult part is passing it through the toilet the morning after! Actually the difficult part is convincing my players to go out and play the football I want them to play (go for the jugular attacking football) seen as we don't seem to be able to do anything else. Facing the impossible 2 weeks in a row, and yet again my team think i'm a few nuggets short of a happy meal by wanting them to go away to the most well known team in the country and kick their teeth in. As a halftime warm up exercise the subs will be going into hell after Hitler.

From kick off Platinum keep the ball for the full first five minutes, I am beginning to wonder if I have finally met my match and we won't get a touch, but although it looks nice and fancy, they can't fashion anything with it and the most interesting point in the opening exchange is the fact they have the first white player I have seen in my managerial career. Washington Jaravani, he is Zimbabwean, though I believe he was the product of a holiday fling and named after the place of his conception, with a hotel bell boy named Chuck. 

Moving swiftly on, on 7 minutes we have our first meaningful touch, it's a free kick just outside their area. halfway between the right corner and the D (no not that D you filthbags). Tawanda Masuku stands over it, he isn't a very good free kick taker, but then none of my players are, this is going into the wall, or wide, IT'S IN THE NET! Looped up over the wall, the keeper takes a step the wrong way and diving back he can only push it into the roof of his own net! 25 yards out, he can take every free kick for the rest of my time here! On 11 minutes he has another free kick from more or less exactly the same spot on the opposite side of the box, this one slams into the wall, Platinum recover the ball and charge down the right with only a last ditch block stopping a dangerous cross, we concede a corner. MASUKU! YOUR'E NEVER TAKING ANOTHER FUDGING FREE KICK EVER AGAIN!

We clear the resulting corner but they recycle the ball and work it around for a couple of minutes, ending in a sexy looking reverse pass behind our centre back pairing which has to be cleared with another last ditch tackle from our right back. We hoof it clear and I breath again. We get the ball back and Derby Duri brings the ball out, he tries play a through ball looping over behind their defence, but a back pedalling centre back cuts it out with his head. However his feeble header only reaches as far as Duri, who deftly heads the ball into the very space he was hoping to put his through ball. Masuku isn't sulking about being taken off free kicks and is onto it in a flash, he feeds the Machete who hits it 1st time from just outside the area. The keeper is stranded by the 1st time strike but it bounces plum off the post and he sheepishly drops on it. I hope we don't regret not converting that come the end of the match!

17 minutes, Masuku is back over a free kick, apparently nobody wants to tell him I told him never again, this one is from the left, and again it's into the wall..... His ass is mine at halftime. At least we collect this one and force a throw in on the right. We have a man standing short for the throw in, the rest are in the box. The ball gets thrown into space running towards the byline for the short man to run onto, once there he hesitates before crossing, it somehow misses the pack of bodies in the middle and reaches Lee Maphosa at the back post who has the simplest of tap ins with his head! 20 minutes played and we are 2-0 up. It's been called back for offside! now that's just stupid! He's an even worse goal hanger than the urban dictionary definition (it says 6 yards) he isn't even a yard off the post. The stupid part is, if the crosser had delivered the ball backwards it wouldn't have mattered. BALLS that's 2 goals we could most certainly have done with. 

21 minutes, it's now Platinum's turn to be stupid, we run the exact same throw in routine from the exact same spot and they don't handle it any better, this time the cross is deeper, beyond the back post and Maphosa is onside, his header comes back across goal and Masuku gets in front of his defender and taps home from well within goal hanging distance. Now it's definitely 2-0, some daylight finally!

24 minutes, Masuku has a free kick more or less from where he scored the 1st one, it's low and round the wall but the keeper get his hands to it and saves it.

28 minutes, they are coming forward, playing neat triangles trying to pull our centre backs out and then dinking the ball into the space they create, Amidu just manages to get a header onto one such "dink" and we work a triangle of our own which frees Duri to surge into their half. He goes for one of his trademark looping through balls but the defender is right there and it looks like it's going to get cleared. The defender stumbles and the Machete is onto it! He's into the area, sits the keeper down and chips it into the bottom right corner. Boil my ball bag! that was beautiful. Worth every penny of his £3 goal bonus.

36 minutes. Platinum have a throw in on the right just outside our box, it comes in to the edge of the area, 3-0 up and wanting to keep the pressure on our defender comes through from the back trying to win the ball and gives away a free kick. No... it's a penalty! it looked outside the box to me, this better not be the lifeline they need to kick start their revival. Our keeper dives the right way but it's in the bottom left hand corner 1-3, and the home crowd has something to cheer about.

39 minutes and we have a throw in deep on the right hand side near their corner flag. It comes short, and then from there it is whipped into the box. They have 8 players in the box, we have 3, they all seem to be looking to each other to clear it. Two of our players are standing stock still blocking off from the penalty spot to the back post, Lee Maphosa darts from the back post into the created space and lashes the cross home right footed. The 3 goal cushion is restored! 

The halftime whistle goes, Hitler has waved the white flag after that 1st half display, he wants no part of us. The problem now is fatigue, we have 2 more games this week, and I don't have the best depth (hell i'm the only one who thinks I have any decent players at all!) Maphosa comes off, but there is no like for like cover. I am forced to employ a left wing back in front of a left full back, which the game kindly informs me is a 5-3-2 asymmetrical formation and not "just drop the poor sods wherever you can."

Into the 2nd half and we have a free kick into the wall, no prizes for guessing the taker. Time ticks on and both teams get bogged down in midfield making mistakes, passes going astray, Then on 50 minutes they string some passes together and get the ball in space just inside our half, they scoop the ball between our centre backs and our keeper flaps at it as their striker puts it in the net. My heart sinks, 2 goals is not 3, our cushion feels much less secure. It's been called back for offside! And seeing the replay rightly so! I calm down a little, but not much, there is still 45 minutes left, and when we start collapsing it comes quickly.

53 minutes and they are in again, they hold the ball for an age before a poor headed clearance in our right channel allows them a crossing opportunity, it's a dangerous delivery, Nhamo their penalty scorer is onto it, it looks for a second like our defender will bring him down for another penalty but he digs the ball out of his feet and slams it straight into our oncoming keepers face! What a save! 

58 minutes and they have the ball again, they put together 23 passes in the midfield before again it comes down our right, instead of crossing this time their winger drives into the box, he has a man over at the far post, it's a tap in if he just slides it over, he goes from glory at the near post with an absolute pile driver. Once again the keeper gets something on it and it goes behind for a corner. The corner can't beat the 1st man and we clear, but they are really starting to turn the screw now.

On 60 minutes we have a throw in on the half way line, it gets thrown low and long into the area, with his back to goal the Machete controls it and lays it off for Derby Duri, he takes a touch to make space and shoots low, it's curling but the keeper stays behind it all the way and pats it round the post. It is our first real action of the 2nd half and I have seen enough. I make 2 changes before the corner, switching both central midfielders in an effort to get more energy in the engine room and stop them from being able to play the ball around so freely. However I am worried that I have numerous other players flagging and any injury in the next 30 minutes could give them a way back into the game.

Nothing comes from the resulting corner, and the midfield changes seems to have stopped the pressure as both teams trade midfield possession for the next 10 minutes. They switch to playing out from the back, and because we only play balls out attacking football we are right in their face man to man marking them. They beat our press and come down our right, a deep swinging cross finds Nhamo with a free header at the back post, our keeper claws it off the line, but Nhamo has a simple tap in, until our recovering defender steals it from his toe tips and punts it out of the stadium. I hear Peter Kay shout "Ave it!" in my head.

That save seems to knock the stuffing out of them as the game goes off the boil again for another 10 minutes. On 84 minutes, Masuku has a free kick dead straight, it clips off the top of the wall and slams off the joint of bar and post, their keeper stands their looking like he needs a change of shorts. Though it seems I am the only one in the stadium who saw the clip off the wall as a goal kick is given. More balls out pressing, and this time they get out down our left, Nhamo has the ball on the edge of the area. Now he's just showing off! A highlight reel save for a ball that was chest height at best and in the middle of the goal. The keeper pushes it away for a throw in.

There's 3 minutes of stoppage time to be played, we see it out, beating their press this time, but we are content to just keep the ball and knock it around until the whistle goes. Wow! 4 games played 10 points in the bank, smack me rosy and call me Victor Meldrew.

 

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If you had asked me if scoring more goals than attending supporters I would usually have said no....

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To add to my fears of:

Over achievement

Being found out as a 1 tactic team who only play one way

Half of the 1st team squad unwilling to sign permanent contracts and being wanted.

We can now add, fatigue and poor squad depth, for some crazy reason we play a game every 3 days, until we have played 6 games, and then we get over two weeks off, before doing it all over again the next month! Couple a few of these factors together and you get the squad selection for the next game. We play Black Rhinos at home, then 3 days after that we play Hwange away (the team I tried jump ship for in pre season). Rhinos are the far superior side out of the two and I have decided to rotate in weaker players for that game, in order to allow my 1st string to be fit for the "easier" Hwange game, in an attempt to maximise points. It isn't quite throwing the game, but it feels somewhat close.

The 1st 15 minutes fly by, neither us or the Rhinos seem to be making much headway, then a blink and you'd miss it moment. Our centre back lifts a quarterback style pass up and over their defence. Collen Muzavazi our 37 year old reserve striker slots on the end of it and smashes it home to give us the advantage.

Unfortunately the lead lasts less than a minute, Rhinos work the ball out left, before a whipped crossed finds their striker Jambo alone in our box. Our defence is asleep, and he has time to control it before a straight drive brings them back level.

The game shuts down again, nothing happening, some frustrated tackles leading to bookings on both sides. On 30 minutes a long straight goal kick looks like a waste of possession as there is only the Machete against their back 4. However, as he backs in to their defender under the ball, he somehow manages to chest the ball down into a position he can skip past the defender and run on towards the box. With the rest of the Rhino defence closing in he shoots early, across the keeper and finds the top right corner to restore our 1 goal advantage. There is no instant Rhino counter charge and we make it to halftime and beyond. However one goal cushions are not our thing, they make me uncomfortable as we don't do clean sheets. 

Yet time ticks on and we get to 75 minutes, where we play another long diagonal ball forward from midfield, Machete latches onto this one, and with the aid of the keeper going to ground early in the box he lifts it over him to put us 3-1 up. My mental state is much happier! In fact I am overjoyed by the performance on my squad and bit part players. 

2 minutes later and the Rhinos put in a crunching tackle to win the ball from Master Matore our other backup striker, they smash the ball long down the right wing and their right winger Demera is on it in a flash. He charges for the box, he has an easy cut back to the penalty spot where Jambo is waiting to score his second, instead he takes it on himself with a high hard strike that ripples the top left corner of the net. 3-2, our 2 goal safety net is in tatters as are my nerves. 

We cling on to our slender one goal advantage and win our 3rd straight game.

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So with our reserve, second string, back up squad picking up a squeeky bum victory at home to a high flying Premier league team, I am slightly more optimistic about what our regular first team can do against the team who were odds on to finish with us there or there about's in the relegation places. Plus, as they rejected my job application I want to smash them in no uncertain terms.

I don't get the answer I am looking for after 3 minutes when they deliver a free kick from the left of our box, it comes in an pinballs around before being swept into our net as we failed to clear. Slightly disconcerting is the fact this is the 1st time we have been behind all season, I'm not sure how we are going to respond.

It takes 9 minutes after they scored for us to put some quality into the box and Masuku to get between their two centre backs and head us level. A further 3 minutes and we take the lead, a deep free kick finds Derby Duri unmarked at the back post, he heads back across goal and a tangle of defender and keeper sees it over the line, it must have been on target initially as it is given as our goal not an own goal. On 33 minutes we out muscle their right winger (Dodo!) and break quickly down the left to put a ball into the box, Master Matore makes it 2 in 2 games with a crisp 1st time finish, we have come from 1 down to lead 1-3.

The reason I love 2 goal cushions is WE KEEP LETTING IN STUPID GOALS! Our lead is cut in half within 5 minutes, it's the simple long ball forward from the back, between our centre back and right back, the striker runs onto it and it's in the net.... I had hoped that when we stopped conceding these kind of goals towards the back end of last season they would be gone for good. But no, I am happyish to go in at half time ahead rather than trailing but I will repeat again, 1 goal is never a comfortable lead for me.

On 52 minutes we have a corner, it comes short and I have no idea why my centre back is out there looking to cross, he must have felt my angry gaze fall on him because he pulls it down and delivers it on the ground outside the box to Duri. He takes a look at the Hwange defence rushing out to him and slips a straight ball past them to Masusunye his central midfield partner. Cool as you like he turns and squeezes the ball in at the near post from a very difficult angle. Two goal cushion restored! 2-4

Ten minutes later and I have made yet another "sod it just put him anywhere!" substitution with Nigel Chirinda my right midfielder dead on his feet, the only viable replacement is Kasinauyo an attacking right midfielder whose only saving grace is he can play on the right and is fit. I push him up to his preferred inside forward role on the right and hope for the best. His 1st touch is a swinging ball from the right to the feet of Masuku in the box, he takes a touch and slots home 2-5!

That would seem to be that, until the 92nd minute when a Hwange throw in from the left finds Dodo on the left corner of our box, he heads it down for Pride Sithole who shots 1st time and curls it into the bottom corner, I am sure you imagine the kind of name I might have called him in the heat  of the moment!

However a 3-5 away win is fantastic, we continue to conquer the impossible and hold a position at the opposite end of the table to where all the experts expected us to be.

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I am beginning to wonder if we are boycotting away games as a tactic to restrict opponents gate revenue?

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Next up is Manica Diamond FC, fatigue and pressure is beginning to become a larger and larger factor. Fatigue for the players, and pressure for me. I seem to be the only one who believes we are capable of winning, based purely on form alone. The shortest odds we have had so far all season have been 7-1, we are regularly 13-2 while playing against 2-5 on favourites. I hope someone, somewhere is making a fortune on our success. I'm wondering if we are just being underestimated and if so, how long can it continue before we get figured out. That is where the pressure is coming from, as if this run continues this is my shot to get the league sewn up and have only the cup left to achieve next season before I can move on, however if we start to stall and get found out then it could be a long slow grind before I get there. It doesn't help that while the players have come round to agreeing with me that our 4-4-2 intense press formation is the way forward, they never agree with me when I tell them to go out there and attack, regardless of venue, regardless of opponent.

Manica Diamond FC are siting mid table, expected to finish mid table, so I am optimistic we will get the job done.

4 Minutes in and I don't see the 1st goal, I am letting the dogs out into the garden so they don't soil the carpet in excitement / fear in reaction to one of my goal celebrations. Watching the replay back its a Masuku free kick, from the left of all places, as he normally drills those straight into the head of the tallest guy in the wall.

The game is quiet till the half hour mark, though I have a feeling we are going to concede, our record isn't great defensively and as they build up slowly through the middle or defenders are just being dragged around like a toddler in a supermarket, until Maxwell Dube places his shot across the keeper into the bottom right corner, it's 1-1, you know how I feel about not having a cushion.

Demanding more gets me an almost instant reaction, 35 minutes and Matema, Masusunye and Madamombe combine on the edge of the area to put the later into space, the Diamond keeper see's his straight drive from the edge of the box very late and can't stop it creeping in to the bottom right corner, our lead is restored before half time!

We again start the 2nd half slugglishly, a hopeful ball lifted towards our left corner flag is poorly defended, as soon as reserve right back Brian Ndlovu misses his clearing header and their left winger gets behind him onto the ball I know we are in trouble. His cross is poor, but we make another mistake, the left back at the far post doesn't realise there is no one behind him and attempts a clearing header at an awkward angle, all he manages to do is put the ball back into the danger area in the middle of our box. Maxwell Dube pounces on it and lashes it home for his 2nd and ties the game up. Needless to say having been pegged back twice I rage and demand more from the team.

Only 4 minutes later Phiri our left back attempts to make amends with a deep in swinging cross from the left towards the back post, the Diamond defence freeze as though they expect it to loop out of play for a goal kick, the Machete however has other ideas, not giving up on the ball and managing to place an uncontested volley into the roof of the Diamond net, 3-2, we best not be pegged back a 3rd time.

Just after our 3rd goal, George Sibanda goes into the book, on it's own it's not a problem, probably nerves on his debut coming in for our tired 1st team centre back. Unfortunately he gets into an innocuous tangle with an opponent on 71 minutes which they take full advantage of and George gets a 2nd yellow to see him off the pitch. If the last 3-2 was squeeky bum time, this is horrible. I make all 3 of my changes at once, Masuku is removed for a replacement centre back, with fresh legs at right back and a more defensive central midfielder taking the field as well. The pressure mounts and Diamond create a decent number of chances, however the clock runs down and we see the game out for a massive 3 points!

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The boycott is real!

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Unbelievably we sit top of the table, I am doing this after the fact so forgot to screenshot it in case I jinxed the hell out of it, so you will just have to take my word for it. Our next opponent is Ngezi Platinum who sit in 3rd. We are away, we are underdogs, like any of that matters anymore, we have danced this dance before and will continue to dance it to the same manic beat.

This was a typical game of 2 halves, in that absolutely nothing happened in the 1st half. We came in at half time and my assistant wanted me to stress to the lads how poor they had been, and this is where I probably have to admit that I am a bit of a wimp. I like a positive atmosphere, I like players to be delighted by what I say, if they really do screw the pooch then I might get a bit assertive, if they continue to not pull their weight then once a month when the moon is full I might just make it over the line to aggressive. But then I do give myself a talking to about it later as I feel bad.

Anyway, I go to great lengths to convince myself that they don't need a telling off. In this instance, yes we played poorly in the 1st half compared to how we have played in recent matches, but in the grand scheme of things, we are predicted to get relegated, we are top of the league, and we have just not conceded against 3rd in the league for 45 minutes. I tell them they have been the better team but they can still improve, morale boosting but fair, don't look at me like that!

2nd half! well second half was a rollercoaster compared to the 1st. On 51 minutes we win a towering header in midfield as one of our defenders steps up to clear, the ball drops to Duri who surges at their defensive line, they don't know whether to stick or twist, some of them rush at the ball, some drop deeper, creating the kind of pocket the Machete loves to slip himself into. Duri finds him with the ball and the Machete finds the net to put us a goal up.

Scant 2 minutes later we overlap on the right and put a ball into the box, Masuku this time climbs to head the ball back the way it came past a static Platinum keeper to double our lead. 

7 minutes after that our patented long through ball catches the opposition defence out as they push up trying to chase the game, the Machete bags his 2nd as he slots home past a shell shock Platinum goalie. 

A whole 9 minutes later, as we have taken our foot off the gas it seems, Derby Duri gets his reward for a fantastic performance in central midfield, a poorly cleared corner falls to him on the edge of the box, one touch and a curling effort nestles comfortably in the top right corner. 4 goals for no reply in a blistering 27 minute 2nd half display.

But remember, we don't keep clean sheets....

Nomore Chinyere, the platinum striker, a facial reconstruction surgery addict, manages to score 2 goals in 2 minutes. One a long range effort that bounces awkwardly in front of our keeper and goes in, the 2nd a basic tap in at the back post from a deliciously deep swinging cross from the right. 

In the remaining 11 minutes of the game we get absolutely battered, 2 goals are ruled out for them for offside, one is blatent, the other much less so. The match stats at the end show them to have had 14 attempts at goal, 10 of them came in the last 10 minutes of the game. I suddenly don't feel anywhere near as good about the scoreline or performance as I did at halftime. With 5 minutes to go I am demanding more from the players, who at 2-4 to the good do not take it well, the pressure is getting to me it seems, we once more cling on to the 3 points but this might be the beginning of us being found out.

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Final game of the month before the two week break is a home game against ZPC Kariba FC, which stands for Zimbabwe Power Company, and I thought the police team could mess us up last season! If we win my refrigerator wont work for the remainder of my time here in Zimbabwe! 

After we saw off Ngezi Platinum last time out, ZPC moved themselves up into 3rd place, so it's a repeat of 1st against 3rd with us at home. In the press conference before the game the opposing manager decides to inform everyone that he knows exactly how we are going to play. Thus in my presser I get asked whether I have any tactical surprises I intend to employ. To my surprise I manage to not laugh hysterically at not being able to teach the players a second way of playing. However, much like I don't like shouting at the lads, I also don't like lying outright in press conferences, or to anyone really. The honest answer is no, but i'm not saying that either, I declined to comment, made a joke about the perils of having to live in this country without cold drinks and moved swiftly on.

With the game being the last before the two week break I played pretty much the same side as the Platinum game hoping keeping the big guns on the pitch would produce our 7th win of the season. Once again the 1st half was pretty much a none event, and after my demands late in the Platinum game, it is the 1st time all season that nobody has reacted positively to either my pre match or half time talk. 6 minutes into the 2nd half the Machete does what the Machete does, cutting open the ZPC defence and putting us 1 up. However the pattern of not keeping a clean sheet and shipping soft goals continued 12 minutes later when parity was restored from a ruler straight long ball which split our centre backs in half. I ranted, wanting more, the players focused but we were unable to score again, at least we didn't concede a 2nd.

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In the last few games I have noticed a shift to us not winning the possession battle which could become disconcerting if it becomes the norm

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Unbeaten 8 games in, is something I would never have dreamed of, I want to curb my enthusiasm to get Zimbabwe done (except for the domestic cup) and just enjoy over achieving but it's hard when the whole point of the save is to move on!

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We are bravely fighting against relegation by sitting 1st 15 points above the drop, unbelievable!

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so 2 week break and then a 1st vs 2nd clash to start the new month, only May has 6 games in it, after this next month it is down hill. On paper this month is easier as it has fixtures against teams sitting in the bottom half of the table, but I wont be counting any chicken nuggets too soon.

 

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I get the feeling this is going to be a massive month, it has the most games of any month remaining in the year, which means get through this and my players will never be this knackered ever again! Plus even though we are top of the league my primary aim is still trying to ensure we stay in the league (even if at the odd press conference I do say the sky is the limit). Come the end of this month we will almost have played everyone once, if we are still over achieving then I might switch my focus to finding a way to actually win the title and leave "only" the cup to win before I can move on.

Before I count too many chicken nuggets though, the 1st game of this massive month is against CAPS Utd, the only Premier division side I had the joy of playing when I was in the lower division, they dumped us out of the cup in round 2 with a 5-1 thumping. It is the 1st time in this save I have had the joy of using the "get revenge" team talk. Lets see if it motivates the players!

Was a very cagey game, CAPS keep the ball a lot, passing it a round and not really doing much with it, in fact we didn't touch the ball for the 1st 5 minutes, and the 1st time we did touch it, we pressed high up the pitch and won the ball back off a wayward defensive pass, sweep up the pitch and shoot wide. That was the 1st half in a nutshell, we would be down on possession, sometimes alarmingly so, but we would still create chances and strike directly, where as CAPS would faff about and then have a rather tame effort claimed by our keeper.

Halftime me and the assistant are back in sync, telling the players they are doing well, I refrain from giving them a 2nd dose of the revenge talk, I don't want anyone going out there and chopping any legs off! Just before the hour mark we break off winning the ball in midfield, we get it down the left, cross into the box but it is too long, missing both of our strikers. Nigel Chirinda, high up the pitch has cut in from the right wing and is on the corner of the box, he sets himself and hits the most beautiful right footed volley I have ever seen. Past their keeper and we are a goal up! 3 point gap to the team 2nd in the league.

But remember, we don't keep clean sheets....

The gap and the clean sheet lasted less than a minute, from the kick off they swept up the field like a D Day landing, going behind seemed like the kick up the backside they needed to find top gear. 1-1 and I was stressing, expecting to having to dig in and pray for the remaining 30 minutes, but the game suddenly reverted to how it had been before the goals were scored. We both came close with some speculative free kicks but in the end we shared the points. It keeps us top thanks to our superior (by 1 goal) goal difference.

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We turned up for this game!

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Nice to make records, however CAPS Utd are currently on a 19 game unbeaten run after drawing with us.

 

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So after the usual week by week impossible accomplishments which continued last week with a draw against CAPS Utd, this week (well 4 days later) we have the truly terrifying prospect of playing Bulawayo Chiefs. Why might you ask is this truly terrifying? For one simple reason

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For the 1st time this season, we are expected to win, I have no idea what to do! My entire setup this season has been we have been over performing, people have been taking us for granted, till this week when we are fully expected to kick some ass! Not sure the players can handle going out with the weight of expectation upon them.... 

Off the pitch Collen Muzavazi is complaining he isn't getting enough game time, well unlucky, I have 2 spots up front, 1 is the Machete, and the other is our leading goal scorer Tawanda Masuku, he's 17, you're 37 sit back down before you fall over.

As expected, we are very, very poor compared to our other league games, when the other team seems happy to let us have the ball and force us to break them down and create we don't do well, give me a team pushing forward so we can play a long through ball for a snatch and grab goal (I better be careful what I wish for!) On 37 minutes with not much having happened I get annoyed and demand more from the players, not sure it can be classed as "more" but Derby Duri converts with a free header from a simple out swinging free kick on 43 minutes, we go into halftime 1-0 up. I give them the you are doing ok but you can do better spiel, I don't trust their reaction if I tell them to guard against complacency, I mean it's not like we keep clean sheets anyway.

The 2nd half is similar to the 1st, not much happens, but what does happen is all Chiefs, they are struggling at the bottom of the table due to lack of quality in front of goal, as they create chances, they just can't hit the broadside of a barn from 3 paces. I get more and more nervous the deeper into the half we go. We are nearly there,

but remember we don't keep clean sheets...

On 87 minutes we come the closest we have to getting a 2nd goal, and Derby Duri getting his second, unfortunately it's a defensive header under pressure that misses our far post by less than Cristiano Ronaldo's tiny manhood. From the ensuing corner we mess up and cannot clear the ball, it gets worked back and forth until it falls to the Chiefs right back all alone just past the right hand post. He takes control of it, our keeper is stranded on the far side of our goal, as our defenders rush to close him down, he blazes it into the side netting from 5 yards out and I don't know whether to laugh, cry or change my trousers. 

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1st clean sheet of the season, yet more games where we don't maintain possession, I dislike this expected to win lark!

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Though we march on to 12 games

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Absolutely smashing it at the moment. Don't worry keeping clean sheets are overrated. My tip is to always make sure you score more goals in a game than the other team. You do that you'll win most of your matches :thup:

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18 hours ago, andychar said:

Absolutely smashing it at the moment. Don't worry keeping clean sheets are overrated. My tip is to always make sure you score more goals in a game than the other team. You do that you'll win most of your matches :thup:

cheers :D though it just makes it very nervy when we only score 1! 

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This next away game was going to confirm what I felt I already knew about Flame Lilly's psyche, or at least I hoped it would. Otherwise we could just be on a bit of a blip up front and about to get a rude awakening. We were going away to Dynamo Harare (which stirred an idea for a "Dynamo" challenge, where you had to succeed with every team with Dynamo in the name, but that's probably for another lifetime, i've not even left my 1st country yet!)

I feel that we relish the underdog title, and that we love playing when the pressure is off and nothing is expected of us. Hence we struggled in our last game, when we were favourites for the first time. Now, against Dynamo, we are back in our familiar position of "facing the impossible". However, the media seemed to want to focus in on another plot line in the build up to the game.

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The Machete was going back to the club I poached him from, when I had the audacity to offer him an actual wage on a week in week out basis. The fans didn't mind him returning, but they booed and hissed me like a pantomime villain. 10 minutes into the game though and I was hollering like a mad man! We had just scored, not only to take the lead, but probably the best goal I had ever seen us score.

Nigel Chirinda has it on the right edge of the box, he delivers a cross to the left corner of the box, Masuku controls it and tries either a shot or a cross back the way the ball came, but the attempt is blocked. He instantly plays the rebound deep past the far post and I fear it is going to run out of play, the Machete chases it down and 1st time delivers a pass back to Chirinda still on the right edge of the box. His 1st time pass on the floor into the area is met by Masuku who has made a lateral run into the space Machete has left. He hits the ball 1st time and slides it smoothly home. 3 players, 4, moments of 1 touch magic and I am a very happy camper. 

That is the game, nothing really happens for another hour, other than the home crowd getting more and more restless, I get booed, their team gets booed, everyone gets booed. The Machete isn't playing well, but then nobody is really playing well, we seem happy to blaze efforts wide or high (and wide) . If the Dynamo team weren't marking Machete to the determent of the rest of their defence I would have brought him off. 73 minutes, and I am thinking about making changes, what with it still only 0-1 to us and neither side is being clinical. The we play the ball down the right, Chirinda skins his man and lays the ball across the edge of the box. Masuku with his back to goal chests it down, swivels and hits it on the volley for it to crash into the top right corner from 20 yards away! Possibly the best individual goal I've seen us score! 0-2 and the home fans have had enough, they take their booing home with them as they begin to leave en masse.

Suffice to say that changes the mentality of my subs just slightly, we hold firm for another 15 minutes and we look in control as we edge into injury time. We have a corner we take short, it comes into the box eventually and capping off a fantastic individual display, Nigel Chirinda heads in uncontested from the 6 yard line to add a goal to his 2 assists.

On 93 minutes we have a corner from the opposite side, we play it short again before whipping it in, this time to the near post. Liberty Musaurwa our centre back ducks in front of their defender at the near post and heads in for our 4th! 

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I'll be an underdog any day! 

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Couple of things before we played our next home game. The two oldest players in the squad. Collen Muzavasi and Lincoln Chimaka, both 37, decided they would retire this week. Chimaka had been the mainstay of my asymmetrical back 4 as he was the only left anything I had last season. Muzavasi had recently played 5 games for us, complained he wasn't playing enough, scored 1 goal and decided that £6 a week wasn't worth sticking around till the end of the year for. He can go be a binman I guess.

More earth shattering (but only slightly) is the fact that before we play our game, this happened:

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CAPS Utds 20 game unbeaten run has come to an end, and with it giving us the opportunity to pull 3 points clear as well as our superior goal difference. Also, this happened:

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ZPC Kariba the team in 3rd place, scrape a point in injury time to leave them 3 points behind us, this weekend could be a defining moment in our season. We now play Harare City, a team sitting in mid table, we aren't favourites, but we aren't facing the impossible either. Their manager is developing a reputation for playing tight, defence first football, at least that is what the media tell me at the press conference.

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Our attendances are definitely increasing!

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Think that says everything there is to say about the game, pretty low quality all round. It's refreshing to be on the losing side of the foul count! But they definitely played defence first football. The 8 not on target efforts were blocked, and they hardly had a sniff all game. I don't think we bottled it under the pressure of being able to put clear daylight between us and 2nd place. We have crawled a point clear instead of it just being on goal difference. Plus! that is our 3rd clean sheet in a row! 

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