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Sharpening a Rusty Blade


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Sunday, 22nd April, 2007, aftenoon.

It took me four hours of soul-searching.

I know I should take it. I know that the United position is a much better one than I'd be able to turn York into, with a larger stadium, better training facilities, and a much larger budget thanks to the size of the city its located in.

I should take the position. I know its the right decision.

On the other hand, God, to leave Bootham Crescent, and what we've built here! Tappa, Robert Cousins, Joe Keenan, Spencer, Dave, Viv .. I've got so many friends here!

While I was still dithering about it, Jeff Miller showed up with the news about Robert Cousins. The unlucky lad had torn a groin muscle, bringing his season to an end, and Jeff recommended that he be sent for surgery. He should naturally recover from the injury in about a month, but Jeff thinks it is likely to recur unless operated on.

Recovery from the surgery could take anywhere from 2 to 6 months. Its an unfortunate end to what had been a fantastic season for the 18-year-old, but I'm certainly not willing to risk his long-term career by denying him the proper medical attention at this time.

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Sunday, 22nd April, 2007, evening.


Even as I said it, I suffered a last pang of regret: how will I break it to Steve Beck, and the McGills, who have offered such faith in me these past three years?

Stacy had been the one whose advice pushed me over the edge: she reminded me that we'd dropped our entire lives - jobs, friends, family - in California to come here, to pursue my dream, and the least I could do was "go for it" when such a glorious opportunity presented itself!

Tom telling me the terms hadn't hurt - they weren't just generous, they were utterly shocking: five thousand pounds a week, over £250,000 per year! The deal also included a signing bonus - enough to put a down payment on a house at last - and large bonuses for winning promotion to the Championship, or any trophy, plus a guaranteed raise if by any chance we reached the Premiership.

It wasn't the money, I told myself.

I think it was true.

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Sunday, 22nd April, 2007, sunset.

"Congratulations," Steve Beck told me, and seeing the genuine smile on his face, at least half my tension over the decision melted away.

I could feel my shoulders melting, I hadn't even realized how stressed I had been about how he would take it.

"No, I'm not surprised," he told me, reading my face. "Mister Dooley had to call me to arrange transfer terms."

I blinked; I hadn't even considered that there might be transfer fees involved for managers. Its obvious, of course - there are fees for players, coaches, and physios, and a manager is just another employee.

"Look, lad, at last I can explain myself fully," he said, walking around the large desk to join me on the visitor's side of his office.

"One reason we haven't done a deal is to ensure that you considered your options.

"I know you're loyal, to a fault at times, but you're going to go far - further than this tired old club could take you.

"These past two years have been a dream .. but with this ground, and our catchment area? We're not poised to take you to the Premiership, and I think that's where you belong.

"I hope you'll forgive me, but I thought you might need a nudge out of the nest, so to speak."

I was overcome by emotion, and couldn't trust myself to speak. Mister Beck, at his most demonstrative, reached out and placed a brief, manly hand on my shoulder.

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Sunday, 22nd April, 2007, night.

"Thanks for coming in so late," I said, to my assembled players and coaches - ex-players and ex-coaches - at a late-evening team meeting.

"I've called you here to tell you that I'm leaving the club, effective immediately. I've accepted a position with Sheffield United.

"Viv will be taking over in my absence.

"I want to say 'thank you' for everything you guys have done for me these past three years. We've really built a family, here, and I deeply appreciate all of your determination and sacrifice, and the team spirit which you so obviously feel for each other.

"I won't be here for the big game against Cheltenham, but you don't need me: you lot have done all the hard work yourselves.

"I just want you to do one thing:

"Win it.

"Win it for yourselves.

"You deserve to be champions!"

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Sunday, 22nd April, 2007, late.

The year in review: York team statistics, 2006/07 season - League Two.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Players Pos Age GS App Goa Ass MoM Av R

Paul Edwards SC 24 22 27 17 1 2 7.22

Simon Roberts SC 16 0 21 8 2 1 7.10

John Shepherd SC 19 12 19 4 5 0 7.21 Transferred £350,000

Marc Walton SC 19 8 9 5 1 0 7.11 Loan

Thomas Carroll SC 23 2 10 4 0 0 7.00 Loan

Keith Barker SC 20 4 8 1 1 0 6.88 Loan

Levent Yalcin SC 21 3 5 1 0 0 7.00 Transferred £275,000

Robert Cousins AMC 18 29 36 11 4 3 7.39

Tappa Whitmore AMC 34 20 31 2 8 4 7.16 Retiring

Micah Richards AMC 18 24 30 2 6 1 7.10

Ryan Ashington AMC 23 7 9 1 1 2 7.11 Transferred £ 30,000

Ricky Shakes AMC 22 1 4 1 0 1 7.00 Loan

Joe Foote AMC 19 2 7 0 3 0 7.00

Lee Croft AMC 21 8 10 0 1 0 7.00 Loan

Daryl Peters AMC 17 2 6 0 0 0 6.67 Transferred £ 12,000

Phil Townley AMRL 20 24 38 4 4 1 7.13 Loan

Jon P McGovern AMR 26 28 32 1 7 1 7.25

Campbell-Ryce AMRL 24 11 17 0 4 4 7.29 Loan

John McGrath AML 25 26 31 0 4 3 7.10 Transferring £40,000

Mark Goodwin MR 19 4 6 0 2 0 7.17

Adam Corbett ML 17 5 9 0 1 0 7.00 Transferring £150,000

Richard Fox AMRL 17 4 9 0 1 1 7.00 Transferred £ 85,000

Alan Navarro DMC 25 37 38 2 2 1 7.21

Ian Bannister DMC 17 13 16 2 0 0 7.00 Transferred £ 10,000

Malcolm Parker DMC 19 1 1 0 0 0 7.00

Liam Fontaine DC 21 40 40 0 1 0 6.97

Graeme Law DR 22 39 40 1 1 0 7.05

Joe Keenan DLC 24 29 33 0 2 0 7.09

Jamie Cooper DC 18 26 27 0 1 0 7.15

Michael Staley DC 19 22 23 0 0 0 6.61

Adam Eckersley DL 21 14 19 1 0 0 6.95

Mark Wright DC 19 14 15 1 0 0 7.07 Transferred £100,000

Tony Craig DL 22 10 11 0 0 0 7.18 Loan

Mark Dixon DR 17 9 9 0 0 1 6.89

Daniel Smith DR 17 2 2 0 0 0 6.50 Expiring

Kevin West DLC 17 0 1 0 0 0 7.00 Transferred £ 35,000

Kevin Eaton DC 17 0 0 0 0 0 -.-- Reserve

Players Pos Age GS App Con Cln MoM Av R

Alan Blayney GK 25 42 42 31 21 4 7.10

Kevin Butler GK 18 4 6 3 3 1 6.83

Nick McDonald GK 17 4 4 3 1 0 6.75

Paul Carruthers GK 17 1 1 1 0 0 6.00 Transferred £20,000

Colin Hart GK 16 0 0 0 0 0 -.-- Reserve</pre>

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Sunday, 22nd April, 2007, midnight.

I yawned blearily. "God, what a day."

Tappa, who had been helping me clean out my office, gave me a sympathetic smile.

"Its a great move, boss."

"It is, I know."

The retiring Jamaican midfielder, of course, has been one of York's key players over the past three seasons.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre"> Season Pos Age GS GP Goa Ass MoM Av.R League


2004-05 AMC 32 15 18 7 7 7 8.28 Conference

2005-06 AMC 33 22 28 6 10 5 7.71 Conference

2006-07 AMC 34 20 31 2 8 4 7.16 League 2


Totals AMC 57 77 15 25 16 7.62</pre>

Without his brilliance, I suspect I'd still be down in the Conference!

"So," I asked. "Are you coming with me?"

"What do you mean?"

"I've got complete control over hiring. You have your coaching badges. I'm offering you a position."

He broke into a great big grin.

"Thank you, mon, but no - I've already got one."

"What?" I almost thought I'd misheard, but his beaming countenance assured me I hadn't. "Get out! Where?!"

"I'm going home. You be talkin' to the new coach of the Jamaican national Under-19s!"


"I start in Kingston in three weeks."

"Congratulations, my friend!!"

"Right back at you, mon. Its been a joy playin' for you, an' I hope I can be as good to them as play for me."

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Panpardus - I'd been foreshadowing it for quite some time.. and not just those recent interviews, either!

Thanks, aaberdeenn, I hope you'll be joining us in the new thread.

irishregan, your support all along has been tremendous; I don't think we'd have gotten this far without your encouragement, and that of everybody else who has posted a KUTGW! along the way.

Behind the curtain, I had originally intended the story to go something like this: start at Lancaster, take them into League Two, then step down to York, my favourite club, and turn them into a European powerhouse.

I got the York job a bit too early.. and then around about February of 2007, in story terms, Dave C posted his rant (since deleted in the purge of GQ) about taking York from the Conference to fourth in the Premiership, only to get sacked for not taking the title in the following year (while still alive in their first Champions League, no less!).

Apparently, consistently exceeding expectations while raising a club too high, in FM'05 especially, caused the board to expect you to continue to exceed expectations, if that makes sense. In other words, their expectations became unreasonably high.

His point spurred my interest in the "Club Legend" concept, basically, that a manager who has achieved what he had would be much more secure at a club; it would also help prevent things like Sir Alex getting fired in the first season for not winning the title with Man U.

However, it gave me serious concerns about the long-term prospects for the story - and, though I hadn't yet posted the first episode, I was already concerned for my readership; I figured it would be more painful to get an difficult-to-explain sacking after eight to ten years with the club than to see our narrator make an easy-to-explain step up, so I started interviewing.

If I had one thing to do over, I'd have waited a week or two to apply to Sheffield, so I could finish out the title run.. heck, even a "DELAY" button would have been nice! icon_wink.gif

If you want to find out how things turn out for York.. well.. you'll just have to read along!

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Thanks, aaberdeenn, I hope you'll be joining us in the new thread. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I sure will be icon14.gif

Read the intro already icon_smile.gif

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