“Our keeper only had one save to make but we lost 4-0.”
Craig Brown, Clyde Manager 1977-1986
I enjoy reading a newspaper. Even though I get actual news from websites or my twitter feed, you can’t beat the tactile experience. The crinkling sound as you straighten it with a flick of the wrists, the smell of the print, the gritty fell of the ink marking your fingertips, the release of anger as you screw the latest pathetic excuse for an “article” from the Cumbernauld Football Chronicle’s “journalist” Gary Gallacher into the smallest wee ball you can, before flicking it into the bin under the desk at the second attempt. The season preview is in and Clyde FC – my Clyde FC – are the bookies favourites for the league title. What a joke!
Favourites? Would league favourites need to bring in two teams worth of trialists as we have? Would they need to sign 9 new faces all on free transfers because we have no money? Would they need to hire an entire new backroom of staff to replace the empty chairs that were here before? Pfft. Even the board aren’t that stupid!
Transfers In / Out:
Sharp eyes will notice a further two players joined in January – one DC, one GK. More on that later.
I’m bringing a new revolution to Clyde FC and binning the unimaginative 4-4-2 of my predecessor Barry “Bazza” Ferguson with a shiny, new high pressing, high intensity 3-5-1-1. League Two – Let’s bring it on!
A Shot At Glory – The Cups
First Up, the League Cup.
I understand the logic behind the newly structured League Cup – as a bottom tier club, we get more than one bite at the cherry of gate receipts against the bigger clubs. It adds an excitement to see which of the big boys you’ll get in the draw especially with Rangers, Hearts, Hibs, Dundee Utd, Dunfermline, Falkirk in the hat. One game away to the Old Firm could bank roll our season.
We get Motherwell and Raith Rovers. Both away. Both defeats. And we are out. No shame, meets expectations.
Let’s keep it Brief – a guide to Clyde’s other cup runs*
Petrofac Training Cup – out in the 2nd round to league one’s Queen’s Park, 0-3 at home. Followed a 1-0 away win at Hearts U20s. No shame, meets expectations – the sequel
Scottish Cup – out in the 3rd round to league one’s Brechin City, 0-1 at home. Followed a 3-1 away win at East Stirlingshire. No shame, meets expectations – the threequel.
* runs falls a bit short in its duties as an adequate description here.
You are probably thinking it’s a wise move to forego cup competitions and focus all our energies on the league and its prized promotion. Aye, well that’s not what happened.
Our first results in August were a bit up and down, with two good wins at home, cancelled out by two bad defeats away. Weaknesses in the tactics were showing as we struggled to control the ball let alone the game. However it was our fifth game of the season that caused a major shift in our season as September’s first fixture saw us lose heavily at home to Arbroath 1-4. Donald McCallum scored a hat-trick of near identicals goals – the ball lumped over our high d-line before slotting it past – sometimes through – the hapless Gibson in goal.
Tough times call for big decisions. 3-5-1-1. Gone! High intensity pressing. Gone! Entire strategy behind our training and transfers. Gone!
Seems extreme but if you get pumped by Arbroath at home and do nothing about it you have issues.
More Tactics Talk
Watching the team play identified a major flaw in my original thinking. The players simply dont have the attributes to carry out the system. You want high tempo passing – they don’t have the first touch, passing, composure or decisions to do that. You want to play a high defensive line – they don’t have the anticipation, acceleration, positioning to prevent the long ball over the top – which you face a lot in this league. You want to keep it tight and controlled at the back – your keeper will let at least one pot-shot from 30 yards squirm through his non-stick gloves.
Back to basics – the 4-1-4-1
Shore up the back line – the defenders were drifting far too wide in the 3-5-1-1 and allowing opposition striker to run off the central CB into the gaps. Going to a back four covers our flanks, the DM on defend is there to protect our golden zone and allow our wing backs to join the attack.
I was willing to give up a bit of our attacking flair to prevent another hammering. I was looking for our RWa and LWBa to provide width, with CMs/a and WMs to join in. Control Fluid used as default but change in-game.
Following the change, we went 10 games undefeated in the league but 7 of these were draws. It would be the story of our season. We were playing well but still being let down by defensive errors so in January I went out and brought in Nowak on loan from Hearts – a big strong CB and Wullie Muir on a free from Queen’s Park – a GK recommended by my scouts and a vast improvement on Gibson.
Although our form after these guys joined was played 15, Won 6, Drew 3, Lost 6, we were more solid but found we couldn’t score and finished with a -2 goal difference. To be honest, I think we all knew the league had gone by Christmas and the results reflected that.
Final League Table – So Sad
Highlights of League Two 16/17 Season
In no particular order:
- Dylan Easton – our undoubted star of the team with 13 goals from midfield. He’s a greedy wee shite.
- Forfar sacking their gaffer and replacing him with Mr Alistair McCoist – the legend back in the game where he belongs.
- Jordan McMillan joining St Mirren as he heads closer to the level he should be playing at following his non-football related, ahem, challenges.
- Paul Wright stating in an interview that I should be sacked! We then went on to give his Montrose a one-nil thrashing before I had him followed so I now have his home address and his daily routine. Just saying, Paulo, be careful….
During the close season, I turned down an approach from Stranraer struggling in League One. I feel they are on their way down but something deep inside makes me believe my Clyde boys can do something next year.
Read Next -> FM17: A Scottish Journey Ep2 2017/18 Season
Read prev – > FM17: A Scottish Journey Introduction