“They had a dozen corners, maybe 12 – I’m guessing.”
Craig Brown, Clyde Manager 1977-1986
“I’m not crying. You are crying. I get dry sometimes from my contact lenses. Shut up”
And so, with humility typical of the man, Mr Willie Pettigrew, my Assistant Manager since the beginning, has quietly informed that this season – 2018/19 – will be his last in football. He will retire at the end of the year regardless of the outcome of our very first League One campaign together following last year’s promotion. That will be a sad day but we’ve still got the now and I’m determined to make every second count.
Last season, we surprised the league with our innovative approach to tactics – see 3-6-1 Tactics Special. It led us to a successful campaign and the league title. However this year I am going to try something new again. We are going up against better, more established teams now as we move up a league. The media think we will finish 8th. Of course I’ll be happy with avoiding relegation but I am aiming higher.
Looking at the players I have assembled, most have the attributes of at least league one average level so I believe with some strengthening of personnel and a change of system we can surprise people.
Last year, we dominated games through possession and pressing – smothering the opposition like a warm duvet over the head on a cold sunday morning. Wait! Is that right? This year, the strategy is going to be form a solid base in defence and employ a busy attacking unit. I still want my team to play a passing football but I do expect the midfield to be a free-for-all battlefield. This season we are going 4-2dm-3-1-narrow.
Of course this means recruitment. Last year we brought in wide players and a slew of CMs to suit the tactics. Thankfully the versatility not to mention [relative] high quality of my squad means we can fit most of the existing team into place. However we do need some new recruits to fill tactical gaps specifically: WBL, DM, AP, and AM. I’d like to strengthen central defence too as we’d be relying on only two now.
To aid in recruitment on a budget such as ours – £14k weekly wages, £250 transfers – I requested the board approach bigger clubs to become an affiliate and they came back with Dundee United. Happy with that as the club have a great reputation in Scotland for their youth development. Not so happy to learn that you can only loan a maximum two players from any one club!
Side Note see above we spent £75 on Kennedy – this was a free transfer so I’ve no idea where this Transfer Fee came from – worse than that it meant Clyde were the biggest spenders in League One this year!
Again we targeted friendly fixtures to earn us as much money as we could. The team will be learning a new tactic and building fitness so results are the last thing on my mind. We did quite well all the same.
Betfred League Cup
Ain’t it the way of things – no sooner had the ink dried on our agreement with Dundee United to be their affiliate, we only get them in the league cup! Worse than that we beat them too. Curse the penalty loss to QoS following our draw as that was enough to put us out and them through. St Mirren dropped down to League One and must be early favourites to go up. Ominously they put us to the sword.
Sweet Petrofac Cup – it has always been my favourite tournament. This year we saw off a couple of boys teams before sweeping away championship – and full-time – side, Greenock Morton.
Falkirk – also much, much bigger than us – capitalised on some poor goalkeeping to take a 3-0 lead at half-time. We gave them a scare and a good account of ourselves in the second half but just fell short.
Not again! Dundee United gave us a big pay day in round 4 and that’s about it. No repeat of our win earlier as they were super-clinical with their finishing. It was never a 1-4 gap but hey-ho!
I don’t think anything beats feeling vindicated on FM. With the pre-season over and Betfred out the window, the league campaign starts and we do not look one bit out of place. In fact we look much better than that. Our new system is working well. We are stretching teams with our dropped d-line, carving open our opponents’ defence with great dynamic play from our attacking four, whilst Tiffoney at right WBa is tearing down the wing causing all sorts of mayhem. We are hard to beat, but we know we can score against anyone.
Earlier in the season, I had a chance meeting at a coaches convention with a young manager who was doing nice things with Reading FC. Mr Rensie had some interesting ideas around set pieces. I took these chats on board and got the boys set up properly for all corners, free kicks and throw ins. The Devil is in the detail. Seemed a bright chap, Keysi, it will be interesting to see how his Reading team gets on now they just got promoted to the EPL. He also kept mumbling the name Loader…
Stirling Albion came up with us last year via the play-offs with Allan Moore in charge. Even though they finished third in League One, they seem to think they’re bigger than us. And even though he’s 4ft9in, given the pre-match shite he’s been spouting about me and my boys, Moore seems to think he’s bigger than me (6’3” in my heels). Thus it was with great satisfaction in turning a 0-2 half-time deficit around to this beautiful 3-2 win. Ever gracious, I even took my shoes off at full time for the managers’ handshake.
On and on we kept on keeping on. We took top spot for the first time at the half-way point after 10 wins, 6 draws and only 2 defeats. With ten games to go the picture looked like this:
It was around this time of the season when I was googling myself, I noticed there was a bit of interest in my services. Aberdeen and Inverness CT had both sacked their managers and were sniffing about my personage.
I got the shock of my life when the news came up saying Aberdeen appoint Davidson – it was of course Callum Davidson [no relation] who’d taken the hot seat. Not that I was interested, much. Jug eared twat. In related news Rangers sacked Tommy Wright and appointed Derek McInnes – bit too early for me. Over the course of this season I declined interviews with St Mirren, Dumbarton, Brechin City and Stirling Albion – ha Moore ya tit!
Anyways, how did we fair?
A win against title rivals Alloa pushed us further ahead. We were in touching distance when Willie P suggested I hold a team meeting. Reminded of the disaster of last year’s strategic-planning away day, i suggested he should retire a few weeks early.
Meeting averted, and a solid win away to East Fife saw Clyde clinch back-to-back promotions as Champions with three games left to party in.
Promotion play-offs were deemed beyond us so this is a huge over-achievement for this team to win the league title. We just kept on putting great runs of form together. Even more special was how we’d bounce back from a defeat and start another run.
Stars of the Season
Again we were spoiled with our strikers vying over that one place in my first eleven. I had Steven Ross in my office a few times this season looking for first team football. Each time I would promise him a run and he’d repay me with goals. If it wasn’t for Ciaran Laffery’s carrying over his League Two goal scoring exploits, Ross would be a certain starter. His output in this campaign was phenomenal. But Lafferty was also excellent – often coming in to produce the goods in games Ross had drawn a blank in.
Two League titles in a row is a massive achievement. Clyde will taste championship football again after 10 years away. It leaves me with a quandary. I’ll not lie – my head was turned earlier in the season when the Dons job came up. I didn’t apply for it – I’m not going begging – but it was enough to get me thinking and I found myself checking the sits vacant more than once during the season. This squad won’t be good enough to challenge for promotion let alone the Championship title. It might be good enough to avoid relegation but either way an overhaul will be necessary and the war chest has been set.
So I’m tempted by the fruits of another but at the same time I don’t trust any other joker to come in and ruin my beautiful team of men-children.
So big Willie P has set off to start his new adventures away from Clyde FC. Will I do the same? We’ll have to wait and see…
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