After finishing off the signing of new players, it was time to organise my pre season. Normally I do not pay much attention to pre season form because it really does not affect my team that much. But this time, I needed to test out my new formations(yes I went back to the table). One formation tries to ape the famous fluid formation of Total Football. The other is a standard 4-5-1 with one anchor man and two deep lying playmakers. So lets see how the pre-season went:-
A very successful pre-season I think! My “total football” philosophy is working quite well! We first beat more or less a Rangers reserve side 3-0. The next match was also going to use the TF strategy and this was a mild success against a very good Barnsley team. In the next two matches, I am planning to use the other 4-5-1 formation. That also worked equally well, although I admit I was a little disappointed by our loss to Sunderland Reserves.
We start our season now. Since we are now in the SPL, we don’t have any matches in the Challenge Cup.
My team was playing well, we were in good form, there’s no way we would get relegated right?
Wrong. 3 games, 0 points and the only thing that made our month slightly more bearable was a win against Airdrie United. The match against Kilmarnock may look close but it wasn’t. We were able to score 2 goals and that also against the run of play. Well, so far, the only positive I can take from our first three games in the top flight is that we atleast scored a goal in each match! But seriously, I guess I have to do some minor alterations to my tactics again.
One thing that was common in both my formations that I noticed was that the gap between the defense and the midfield was far too much, despite the presence of an anchor man. I pushed the defense up a bit and set one CB in a stopper role and the other CB in a cover role. So lets see what that brought up:-
Yes! Thats right! We got our first points AND our first victory! In an amazing match against Aberdeen at home, we won 6-4.
At halftime, we were leading 4-2, and the match finished 6-4. It would have been less but my defence became cocky when we were leading 6-2.
If you have a Jamil Adam in your squad, you can’t do any wrong! The reason we won is because of our clinical finishing. Look at that stat! 8 shots on target and 6 goals. The defense still needs a bit of work though.
We got our second consecutive win again at home against St. Mirren. We hung on to our 1 goal lead. Our run in the Scottish League Cup finally ended with a 3-1 loss against Dundee. We were just not good enough. Ignasi Miquel and Mebrak were having nightmares in front of goal and were really poor. So was Adam McHugh. We did not end the month on a losing note thankfully, getting a 2-2 draw against Livingston. We were actually leading 2-1 but in the 86th minute, Livingston scored.
Well, 7 points from a possible 12. Not bad eh? Lets hope that October is as good as this September:-
Nah, back to the same old losing grind. We grinded out a brilliant draw against Celtic in an amazing defensive display by the club. Christian Gerard and Van Kouteren were amazing and they were the rocks at the back.
They dominated it. And yet again, you can see the clinical efficiency in front of goal. 2 shots one goal.
We finally got revenge over Dundee United and won against them at home. The next two matches were disappointing to say the least. We deserved to win against Hearts and deserved ATLEAST a point from 12th placed Motherwell. I think it is time I start using my 4-5-1 formation more.
Next month is a really busy month with 6 games to be played. But the international break is also there so it might give us some breathing space.
We again lost 2-0 against Kilmarnock. But then, followed an absolute Epic match in which we ran out 4-3 winners at home. After being disappointing for a long time, Jamil Adam took matters in his own hands and put all 4 goals past the Inverness keeper.
But after that, we were sent bouncing back to Earth with a 4-1 whipping against Rangers. God knows how I can beat them. I just can’t! That was followed by a hard-fought draw against Hibs. I then organised a friendly against Linfield due to the international break to give some of the club’s young stars a run-out. It was a good one as we ran out 5-2 winners. We followed up that win with another good victory against Aberdeen. Goals weren’t as easy flowing as the first but it was a match we easily won.
December was looming and so was the transfer window. This is the month I usually allot for looking and buying new players before everybody starts scrambling for players in the transfer market.
I managed to get a huge fee of 70k for Sam Whittall. He had not lived upto his potential and had an average rating of 6.03 in 13 games. Bad.
I had a target, Victor Nilsson. He was a player who could play on both wings and also as a striker. He was fast and had good finishing. The only bad thing about him was his composure. But no matter, here was a versatile player and with the departure of Whitall, I needed a backup striker anyway. The only hangup was that I had no money in the bank and he was worth 40k. I spoke to the board and they graciously took up the challenge of buying Nilsson.
Thank you Les Thompson!
Now, onwards to the last month is this post. The dreaded month of December. December is a month that has always been bad for me. Whether it was my first loss in SDIII or my losing streak in SDI, December has always disappointed me. Will this time be any different?
5 games and just one loss? And including a victory over Celtic? Not disappointing at all!
The first two games were really disappointing. I still haven’t figured out how to crack open Livingston whereas the match against St. Mirren was just disappointing finishing. The match against Celtic however, was much more different.
Not as one-sided as the first match! We had more possession and our defending was really impressive. Ignasi Miquel and Frank Van Kouteren stood out here, both having a hand in both our goals. Ignasi Miquel’s header hit Rogne and went in, whereas Van Kouteren also scored from a header. Anthony Stokes scored a goal in the 86th minute, ensuring a nervy ending. But it was a good display from the Shire.
We then lost against Hearts before sadly playing against Motherwell on New Years Eve. But we ushered in the New Year with a fine performance, with Will Keane getting 2 goals and 1 assist.
We ended the year with a good standing in the league table:-
As of now, we sit in an impressive 7th place, 7 behind Kilmarnock and 5 ahead of Livinston who are 8th. Perhaps we can make a final push before “the split” takes place?
Another job offer, this time from South America
Really tempted to sign for Cruzeiro and to start a parallel save, one in which I am at Cruzeiro and one where I was at the Shire. But right now, I want to focus on one and one club only.
Some encouraging news:-
Now I can scout anywhere in the world! Woohoo! I was also given the option of increasing my wage budget and I took the option because earlier, I was spending 7.9k a week on a 7k p/w budget.
Well, we shall see whether we are able to keep up this fine form.