Welcome back to my Football Manager 2019 series where I am taking on “The Achievement Hunter” Challenge alongside some other fantastic bloggers. After a brilliant first season with Barry Town United in Wales where we ended 2nd and won the Nathaniel MG Cup it’s now time to see if we can get any closer to TNS in the league and also hope for a bit of a run in Europe
Second Season Syndrome
“Where a successful first season has taken place, followed by a poor second season straight after”
We’ve seen it all before in many sports, just look at the case of my beloved Leicester City, winning the league against all odds and then, before the sacking of Claudio Ranieri, skirting with the relegation zone. It’s an all to familiar tale and on FM this is no different.
So as I enter my second season with Barry Town United this is something I couldn’t afford to happen, the board expected a Europa League spot which meant either ending 2nd in the league or relying on the silly European playoffs between 3rd and 7th. 2nd has to be the aim but could we push on from what was a fantastic first season in charge of this wonderful club?
A Summer of Cost Cutting and Change
After an amazing first season I didn’t want to change much, the one thing that was a must-do was the get the wages down, over the previous season we had spent a whopping £191,000 on player and staff wages meaning over the season we had lost a total of £140,000, we started with a bank balance of -£121,000. This couldn’t continue so I decided to get rid of some of the high earners who I knew wouldn’t feature as much this season.
GTF was taken off the books and give a staff role as U18 Ass man, DM Troy Greening left on a free to Aberyswyth, we also released Jordan Cotterill (AM), James Graham (CB) and a few reserve players. Then the big blow came as star AM from last season Hugo Logan was hunted down, this unsettled him and I caved in and let him have his big move…..to Gateshead……for £675!! This is a club record sale! And with that we ticked off one of our achievements in this challenge.
All in all we let 12 players leave saving us around £600 per week in wages so around £30,000 per year. We also let numerous staff members leave, and replaced them with staff on non-contract £0 deals. This again saved around £15,000 for the year.
So we had to go out and get some replacements in, I was determined to, as much as possible bring in players on Amateur deals costing £0 or free loans.
The first player to come in was a Striker from Leeds
Niall Huggins comes in for no cost and a cracking young player for this level, he would be my replacement for star man from last year Touray who’s loan was up and he refused to come back.
With Right Back Morgan leaving on a free I had to bring in a solid back-up for Southam-Hales:
Simon Spender, good experience, decent attributes and £0.
Our 3rd first team signing was a central midfielder, with Logan and Greening leaving we had a hole to fill.
Jay Owen came in, again for no cost and no wages. He looks decent, has good all round attributes, nothing amazing but solid enough.
Other than that I didn’t bring any other first teams players in, I did however promote some of my Youth Intake players from last season and bring in numerous young players from other clubs for no money and amateur contracts.
I won’t go through them all but here is a few of the new young signings that got first team chances this season:
Matthew Bird – CB
Tyler Robinson – RB
Tony Adams – CM
The European Goldmine
So as we entered pre-season the draw for the Europa League came out, we entered in the Prelim round which pitted us against Lincoln Red Imps from Gibraltar, it seemed like a tough game but we breezed through both legs, 5-1 at home and 3-0 away.
In the 1st Qualifying Round we drew Albanian Side Kamza Kamez, it seemed an easier task and we duly obliged, dispatching them 6-3 on aggregate.
2 rounds down, only 2 more rounds before the group stage! Then the draw came out….Sassuolo! Probably one of the toughest draws we could’ve got so my hopes weren’t high. What happened next was two of the proudest games I’ve been involved in.
In the first leg at home we faced Ballotelli, Prince-Boateng and others and at half-time we were 3-0 down, heads didn’t drop, I gave them a pep talk and my god we played amazing in the second half, we grabbed 2 goals back and we could’ve got more. To lose 3-2 to a team so much better than us was amazing. In the 2nd leg we did just as well, a 1-0 loss, we got absolutely battered but we more than held our own.
So 3 rounds of Europa League, this is exactly what I needed, we needed cash and my god we got it!
- Prize Money – £646,000
- TV Money – £5,000
- Gate Receipts – £140,000
A total of just under £800,000, not a bad few weeks work! This gives me hope, with the wages dropped and the balance looking healthier we can now try and spend a bit on upgrading the youth setup and also know we won’t be in the red at the end of the season, plus we get into Europe next season and we could make all this money over again!
A Decent Start and the Inevitable Collapse
A good European run can sometimes mean tired legs at the start of the season but my god we started amazingly, once again we played TNS early and once again we got the better of them, beating them 2-1 away from home, I went with a different formation to try and counter their threat, we played 5311 and it worked well, we still gave them chances but we definitely looked better.
After 6 games we had won 4 and drawn 2 but things were already looking iffy, we had thrown away 2 leads to draw those games and then came the bad run, in the next 7 games we lost 4 of them, including losing in the Nathaniel MG cup to Cardiff Met Uni in one of the worst performances I’ve seen.
We just could not defend, teams were getting at us more but were also sitting deeper stopping our long ball counter game. Something had to change, I went back to the drawing board. Over the rest of November I tried a more positive game, pushed up a bit on teams and got them pressing more, it did seem to start working. Another issue I found was I had put way too much pressure on my young players. With an average squad age of 22 the players just could’t handle the pressure and fell apart too many times.
It was time to bring in some more experienced heads.
After that 4th defeat I brought in 2 new players. We had to add some experience to the squad and take the pressure off.
In came Corey Thomas, a Central Midfielder who could also play as a DM or RB, his personality and mentals drew me to him, the only issue was his wage.
Another midfielder came in. 34 year old Alex Lawless joined on a free and for only £80 per week.
My hope was to give the players some experiences heads in midfield to try and shore things up. Would this and my slight change in tactics work?
Winters Here! It’s Time for Change
My god did it work! After the defeat to Llanelli which prompted the rethink we won 3 and drew 2 in November, performances still weren’t great but you could see the signs things were improving.
December came with only 3 games but 1 win and 2 draws meant we had seemed to stem the tide but we really had to shore up the defence and bring a Striker in, Huggins was doing well but everyone else may as well not have bothered!
So in came 3 more players!
Central Defender Jonny Spittle came in on free and for £120 per week. I liked his physicals and work rate and felt it may help take the pressure off the young defenders.
Another CB came in but this time a much more experienced head. 34 year old Richard Duffy joined, a free but another one on a bit of money. With the bank balance looking OK I felt I had to start spending a bit.
And finally, the biggest deal of them all, the man, the myth, the legend Momodou Touray came back to us on loan, I didn’t expect to get him but this was a deal that had to be done and it certainly worked!
This seemed to give the boys a lift and our 2 games in January resulted in 2 wins which meant we were now 10 unbeaten. A brilliant recovery.
The end of January is the end of the regular season and the split to 2 groups of 6, after an indifferent start and a good end were we anywhere near TNS?
Absolutely miles behind and we weren’t even 2nd! Caernarfon had also been playing well and sat above us by 2 points. We seriously needed to get our act together!
What a Turnaround!
10 games of the season to go, we had no chance of the title but we just had to end 2nd!
Suddenly everything seemed to click, the return of Touray seemed to be the catalyst and in those final 10 games we only lost twice! That was a 2-0 defeat to TNS away and a strange 5-1 thumping on the penultimate game at home to Cefn Druids. We even managed to beat TNS on our own patch meaning we had beaten them twice this season, that’s one more than the previous year!
So 8 wins from 10 games, 24 points meant we ended the season in 2nd place. TNS wrapped the title up with 4 games to play, they were even better than last season and I really don’t know how we are gonna catch them, bar our 2 wins against them they only lost their final match of the season!
5* Intake Once Again
Yes another ridiculously good intake, at least 4 players who will be pushing for a first team spot next season although looking at this season I really don’t want to be rushing these boys in.
Below are the 5* PA players who came through, both look very exciting for this level.
Anyone For a Cup Run?
So 2nd in the league and we ballsed up the Nathaniel MG Cup, the Welsh Cup last year was short-lived as we lost in the 3rd Round to TNS so this year I really wanted a good campaign.
We actually had quite a tough run of draws but we got through the first few rounds with relative ease getting into the semi finals.
Where we were handed a tricky tie against Cardiff Met Uni, the game was insane, we absolutely battered them but only managed to scrape a 4-3 win! Into the final we go!
Where we faced………Yep bloody TNS!
I don’t think any words are needed for what happened, I’ll let you just see the below screenshot!
Barry’s Excellent Spine
So who were my best players this season? Well I think from the title you can tell it was definitely the spine of my team.
GK Charlie Busby – 37 games for Busby and managed to keep 10 clean sheets, only conceding 48 goals in what seemed to be a very leaky defence at times!
CB Curtis Watkins – Only missed 1 league game all season, Watkins is really becoming a key player for this team. a 7.00 average from 43 games, scoring 3 times.
CM Evan Press – Evan pushed on massively from last season, playing 35 times with 5 sub apps, scoring 7 and averaging 7.03
ST Momodou Touray – What a return for the big, 13 goals in 14 games and a 7.64 average. I really have to try and keep hold of him next season!
Are Barry’s Youth the Future?
I mentioned earlier that I felt I had rushed some of my younger players, some really struggled with the pressure but two of them really came to the fore.
CM Carl Evans – With most of my CMs not cutting it I gave Evans a shot earlier in the season, this guy came in and did one hell of a job, scored some really important goals along the way as well. His form tailed off towards the end but I really feel alongside Press these guys are gonna be amazing for years to come.
LB Luke Davidson – 11 assists from 41 games, not bad for a defensive LB! This guy is going to be a massive player as we move forward.
Add to that the players I mentioned earlier who all played a few games things are looking bright, below is a screenshot of all my players U21 who featured in the first team, I really want to make these guys the future of Barry, they all seem to be improving well with mentoring and training, fingers crossed it continues.
We also, for the 2nd year running won the Youth League, I will certainly be keeping an eye on some of these lads.
The Achievement Hunter
So as you may have seen earlier in the post I have ticked off one achievement and that was “Club Record Sale”, Hugo Logan left for a massive £675, the record sale before that was £0! So that’s 2/46 achieved so far after my Cup win last season.
For info I have drawn up a spreadsheet of all the “Achievement Hunters” taking part so you can see how everyone is doing.
So another great season, it got tough but we seemed to push ourselves past it and ended a respectable 2nd, add to that the great run in the cup and it has to be considered a successful season. Now I just need to find a way to get past TNS, we need to stop the silly results against the teams below us and then attempt to beat TNS in more games.
This is going to be really tough but patience is required.
Fingers crossed next season we can consolidate 2nd place and try and get closer to TNS, have a good run in the cup again and also keep the finances moving upwards with a good run in Europe. The finances did take a battering in the 2nd half of the season due to the players I brought in, my thoughts are once again to try and keep wages down by bringing in amateur contract players and also make money in Europe.
Anyway that’s enough from me for now, I hope you enjoyed the read. Thanks!