Season 10, League One, Grimsby.
Media Prediction: 13th
Board Expectations: Promotion
I set about strengthening the team ready for my promotion charge. I brought in 8 new faces on free transfers and 5 in on loan as well. The season started off fairly poorly, I was stringing together some unbeaten sequences, but unfortunately these consisted of draws rather than wins, form which saw me sitting in mid table obscurity rather than chasing promotion. The board are unhappy with me now and the media are touting my demise too.
The only real highlight of the season was our run in the league cup. After an easy 1st round match, we got Championship Cardiff in the 2nd round. The game went to penalties, and we managed to win. Next up was another Championship team in Plymouth, last season’s League 1 winners.
We thrashed them 4-0. This gave us Premier League Fulham in the 4th round. Fully expecting to lose, Fulham went 1-0 late on. In a nice twist though I managed to equalise with 3 minutes to spare to send the game to extra time. With 4 minutes left of the second extra time, I scored again giving me the win. A date with Newcastle was the reward in the Quarter Final.
The next match I played turned out to be the last match as Grimsby manager. It was away to Reading and I lost 3-0. The board took no time in sacking me and showing me the door. Grimsby were languishing in 17th place.
Season 11, League One, Portsmouth.
Media Prediction: 3rd
Board Expectations: Promotion (Not Judging)
After about 3 weeks on the dole, the job of Portsmouth manager became available. Having been tipped for promotion from League 1 this season, they were languishing in the bottom half of the table. I applied for the job and was promptly offered it.
Looking at the squad it looked decent enough to be challenging at the top, the only real problem was the fact that there was no real backup in the squad should injuries hit. Also, the financial state of the club was a bit precarious too, so I had limited resources, although they had given me a transfer budget of £120k.
We were slightly over the wage bill, so I managed to ship out a couple of big earners who I thought were surplus to requirements. This brought us below the wage budget nicely. Having only managed a couple of loan signings, I increased the wage budget by adjusting the transfer budget.
Started off quite badly, the 1st 2 games of my tenure being the high point of December, a 0-0 draw away to Bury in the FA Cup, and a 5-2 home win against Barnsley. This was followed by a disastrous 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Chesterfield. A few more heavy defeats followed before I finally managed to turn things around after Christmas and started to string some good results together.
A strong finish to the season saw me climb into the top half. I didn’t threaten the play off places but did manage a respectable 9th place.
I feel I really need to strengthen the team in the summer, I have my star striker out of contract and he is reluctant to sign a new deal so I feel some real firepower is needed.
9th P46 W19 D10 L17 F74 A78 Pts67
2nd Round Rep v Bury L2-0
Out before I joined
Out before I joined
2 on loan
2 for £575k
1 scout for £0
5 scouts for £0
2 coaches for £0
Season 12, League One, Portsmouth.
Media Prediction: 8th
Board Expectations: Win Promotion
A good solid start to the season saw me in the playoff places very early on. Once I got there I never dropped out of the playoff places. All in all a very good season where I managed to fulfill all ambitions for the season.
I did have a very bad spell at the end of the season where the team did try their hardest to undo all the hard work we had done throughout the season.
At one point I was in 4th level on points with Bolton in 3rd and only 3 points behind 2nd place Bournemouth. Then we decided we didn’t want to play football anymore and tried our hardest to throw everything away.
We started drawing a lot of games which enabled the other teams chasing the opportunity to catch up. We should have had a playoff place sewn up with about 4 games to go but we just couldn’t win. In the end it went right down to the wire.
I had dropped to 5th and needed to win against 9th placed Rotherham. Bearing in mind I had just lost 5 of my last 7 league games I was extremely nervous about this game. If I didn’t win, I needed to hope that either Plymouth or Charlton lost their last game which I thought was very unlikely. As it turned out they both won but so did I, guaranteeing my playoff spot on the last day.
So, into the playoffs I went, the semi-final was against 4th placed Oldham, a team I had never beaten in 13 games. A fact I could have done without knowing. I had the home leg first and made good the advantage by winning 3-0. I was a bit nervous about the second leg, but I knew if I could score, they would need 4 just to send the game to extra time.
It was a drab second leg, Oldham took the lead after 85 minutes, at which point I was confident they wouldn’t get the goals they needed. I wrapped it up in the 89th minute scoring an equaliser and sending us through to the final where I would meet Plymouth.
The playoff final turned out to be a walk in the park. I managed to dominate Plymouth for the entire match and won the game 3-0. I have managed my first promotion and finally managed to not finish 9th!
On a side note, my former team Grimsby absolutely walked away with the league, finishing with 110 points, a massive 23 points ahead of 2nd placed Ballmouth.
As far as the cups went I managed to get to the 3rd round of the league cup and FA cup, but the Tinpot cup was a different matter. I managed to secure passage through to the final where fittingly I would meet Grimsby.
It was an even match, but I managed to sneak a 1-0 win against my former club in front of over 63000 fans (incidentally more than were at the playoff final!)
5th P46 W22 D9 L15 F63 A52 Pts75
3rd Round v Bristol City L3-1
3rd Round v Swansea L2-1
Winners v Grimsby W1-0
15 for £235k
7 on Loan
22 for £1.1m