After 5 years in management, and varying (read: low) levels of success, we’re heading into my first full season in charge of my 4th club: Berwick Rangers. My last post looked very quickly at the club’s current position, however it was a very quick overview. My priorities over the summer were to strengthen our core; defensively and in midfield, and potentially bring in another striker for some added bite.
In terms of player recruitment, we still face the same issues as we have throughout this save in terms of restricted scouting scope and difficulties attracting players, however while I could just focus on getting 11 bodies on the pitch at Vanersborgs, player recruitment at Berwick had to be a bit more considered, to ensure that we could compete and meet the board’s expectation of a play-off challenge this season.
Pre-season indications for the squad were good, as we folllowed up a narrow 2-1 defeat to Harrowgate Town with emphatic 3-0 and 5-1 wins against Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities. We were then thrown into our Betfred Cup group of Dundee, Edinburgh City, Hamilton and Stirling, which is where I fully expected the wheels to start to come off.
It started poorly, with a 4-0 thumping against Dundee. However, with the help of an impressive debut performance from Thomas Reilly, we thumped Edinburgh City 5-1 in our next game. A diabolical showing against Hamilton prompted me into developing a second, what i can only call ‘shithouse’ tactic, which helped us secure a 1-0 win v Stirling in the last game of the group. Obviously, this sees us crashing out of the Betfred Cup, but we do pick up £23,000 in prize money for finishing 3rd in the group – not bad for some pre-season games!
I’m not going to go through all of our transfer business individually – I signed an insane number of players to try to fill out the squad, but constant tactical tinkering meant we never really built an identity until much later in the season. I was determined to go back to basics after a slow start to the season, and tried several different formations and systems, eventually settling on a 4-4-2 in November but by that point it was already too late – the Dressing Room was gone, and so was I, cast into the wilderness of unemployment yet again!
I don’t usually tend to dwell too much on a lack of success in Football Manager, however I have to say that this year’s game, from my experience, is a lot more nuanced and intricate, and this means that my usual “i’ll just fly through the seasons” style of play doesn’t really work – I miss detail, don’t spend long enough considering development, and end up scrabbling around trying to pick up points.
It’s relatively safe to say that this ‘grand plan’ of winning everything across multiple nations has largely gone spectacularly wrong, with my time at Vanersborgs the only real highlight in almost six seasons of journey-womaning my way through Europe. My next steps are as yet unclear, however I do have some exciting plans for after Christmas, as I try to put this save behind me, and move on to something more positive and exciting.
All that’s left to say as that I hope this series has brought a degree of hilarity and pleasure to your eyeballs, as I stumbled from sacking to sacking, and to thank everyone who read it! Hopefully my next adventure is more successful!