FM17: A Scottish Journey Ep2 2017/18 Season

“The underdogs will start favourites for this match.”

Craig Brown, Clyde Manager 1977-1986

FM17 A Scottish Journey – follow the trials and tribulations of lower league management in Scotland.
Episode Links: Intro | Ep 1 2016/17 Season  | 3-6-1 Tactics Special

“But son, we tried that last year and we lasted five games. What’s wrong with a 4-4-2? It’s what we used at Motherwell and it was good enough for the national team when I played….”

The thing not to forget about my Assistant Manager is he’s a legend. In Motherwell at least. The great Willie Pettigrew came with me to Clyde last year and he offers everything I don’t have – age and experience. But christ does he go on! The worst thing is he might be right.

We’ve just had our pre-season team meeting and I’ve just told the boys we’re going for promotion. And another thing. We’re going to do it with a back three.

2017/18 Preseason

I felt we were under prepared last season so we’ve started our pre-season friendlies in June this year. This is partly to address financial concerns too. Despite being within our wage budget our account balance is £200k in the red. It’s the plight of running a football club in the lower leagues of Scotland or so I am being told. Our Board might just be very poor administrators. Anyway I’ve done my bit this summer by shipping out some big earners for big bucks (£13.25k – don’t laugh at the back) and brought in young, hungry and, most importantly, non-contract freebies.

Most of them are midfielders because we’re going to need a lot of them. At least 6 every game in fact. This year Clyde are going 3-6-1. We are going to control the game, dominate the ball, smother the opposition.

If you want to read the ins-and-outs of our new tactics this separate, indepth post here will explain it all.

Cup Competitions

League Cup

Once more the draw was not kind to us giving us no glamour ties. We gained credit for a 1-1 draw away to top table Kilmarnock only to lose out on the penalty bonus point. Two defeats against better opposition, big home win against North Lanarkshire rivals, Albion Rovers was scant consolation. We’re out at group stage again.

Petrofac Training Cup

We made 3rd round with two wins on the road to Kilmarnock’s U20 Boys and Edinburgh University, before Dumbarton showed a ruthlessness in front of goal to put us out 2-5 away. An improvement on last year.

Scottish Cup

Again, we got one round further this year before a good Ayr United side showed us nothing at Somerset Park with a 0-2 defeat in the 4th Round.

League Two

Our pre-season preparations proved well worth the effort as we opened the 2017/18 season with three wins in a row. Three clean sheets too – a very pleasing bonus. However the wind was taken out of our sails with 2 back-to-back defeats but our performances weren’t too bad. No panic this year!

Just as well we kept the faith, as the boys then went on a fantastic 20 game unbeaten run from September to January. A big part of this success was the form of Ciaran Lafferty who was revelling in his change of role from the right wing to poacher. He’s a quick player with great finishing and off the ball for this level. His goals propelled the team

Unfortunately for us, Arbroath were having the season of their lives under Dick Campbell – one of the most astute and experienced campaigners in Scottish football. A canny man who knows how to win games at this level.

Our resolve was tested further with the long term injury to Dylan Easton, star of first season and biggest earner at the club. Cruciate ligaments knack put him out for the season.

Our unbeaten league run was ended with a 0-1 away defeat to Forfar – Damn you McCoist! We then followed up with this performance at home to Elgin City. Can you guess the score from these Match Stats or Heat Map?

Aye, 1-3 defeat to Elgin. Properly FM’d.

Ten Games To Go

Despite this slip, we are already 4 points better than our final tally last year with 10 games still to play. Clyde showing great progress. Sadly for us Arbroath were 8 better than their 16/17 total points. The race was truly on.

We battled to another unbeaten run in the next 8 games including a huge game against Arbroath at Broadwood. Despite having the best of the game it ended 0-0. Understandably nervy as a defeat to either team would have been it.

It was Arbroath who blinked first, and on the 3rd last round they dropped points at home to Albion Rovers while we pumped Paul Wright’s pathetic Montrose – again – in his own house. Little Melt.

This left us 5 points ahead with two games to go and a chance to seal the title and the only automatic promotion place. With 20 more goals than Arbroath we only needed a draw from our last two games to win.

2 games to go

It’s this sort of situation where I look to draw on the invaluable experience of Willie P. The ledge came over mid-morning before our title decider against Elgin City and suggested now is the time to rally the troops. Are you sure? Aye, Son. What’s the harm? So he arranged a Team Meeting.

Me: Boys, we’ve been playing great. We’ve put ourselves in a fantastic position to win this league title. I know you are good enough. I know you can do it!

Cue a swathe of red in the morale column.

Captain Ross Perry: Boss. You have put too much pressure on us.

Me: Forchrissakes! Pettigrew sort out this mess, man! And Ross, you can wipe that pool of pish off the floor. I’m not doing it again.

Unbeaten run over. 0-1 to Elgin City – aye them again.

One game to go

We’ve got a tricky away trip to Albion Rovers for our final game of the season. We’ve played them four times this season and scored 14 goals. But they have since brought in a new manager – another former Ibrox legend, Gordon “Jukebox” Durie. He’s got them performing much better but we should have too much for them.

At League Two level, it is unusual to have press conferences. Plus my Press Relations have not improved much since last season.

So when Gallacher asked me the same question three times in a row, I felt it reasonable to leave the interview.

 

Can you really storm out of a press conference where the one journalist is outnumbered by Clyde staff (me and James, Press Officer)?

Suddenly I was a bit nervous about this game.

Boom! The League Is Ours!

Captain Marvel, Ross Perry opened the scoring after 2 minutes and we skittered our way to a 1-1 draw that clinched the title on goal difference. A near fatal collapse at the end but who cares! We’re going up!

Perry! Well done son! Now get your broom, there’s something you need clean up under the dugout.

Final League Table

Results

Highlights of League Two 17/18 Season

  • Club records being smashed all over the place with most goals scored and most points in League Two.
  • Speaking of record breakers, Ciaran Lafferty was our star of the season. Finished as top goalscorer and record MoM winner.
  • Pumping Montrose 10-2 over four games.

Future

In the close season, I was in the press chatter about moving to Dumbarton (nah) and Falkirk (oooh). I responded in a press interview about the Falkirk job that I was flattered by interest but not actively looking to move from Clyde. Being respectful to my employers but acknowledging the temptation or so I thought. Apparently, this came across as stick up your harris, mate.

I’m not overly disappointed though. I’ve got a shiny new contract at Clyde and looking forward to seeing what we can do in League One. Hopefully we can keep our best players and start shifting some of this debt. Who knows – can we cut it higher up?

Vamos Clyde!

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