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FM17 - Out of His League

Young manager Chance Morrison meets the Class of '92
tenthreeleader's avatar Group tenthreeleader 2018-01-13 17:47
us 607 posts 21 likes joined Jun 22, 2015
Chance Morrison was a happy-go-lucky sort of fellow. With a name like his, how could he be anything else?

Only 33 years of age, he was a player of little reputation – deservedly, he’d have told you – but had a good mind for the game. He had spent his career in the very low leagues.

“Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the League League,” he would say to friends who asked him about where he’d played. In reality, it was the North West Counties League – for Irlam, which played its home matches at Silver Street in his home of Salford.

He had been happy with the semi-professional club, if not especially skilled. He had been a midfielder and he wasn’t likely to make anyone forget Roy Keane, or even Eric Djemba-Djemba. Or, if you preferred, Yaya Toure or Stephen Ireland.

He was a Salford lad, though, and that meant two things to him: Manchester United and Salford City, and in some weeks not necessarily in that order.

After his career, such as it was, came to a close at age 30 after his release by the Mitchells, he wanted to try to stay close to the game. So it was that he ventured to Salford City – where he bought a season ticket. This put him in a distinct minority among residents, because the club didn’t have many.

Irlam’s club crest contained the motto of Irlam and Cadishead College. Ingenio et Consilio¸it read: By natural ability and council.

Chance Morrison possessed neither. But he loved the game, and managed to worm his way onto manager Phil Power’s team as a volunteer coach. That in itself wasn’t a big deal – nearly everyone at Salford City, which was in the eighth tier of the English game at the time, was a volunteer – but he made some friends, enjoyed his time there, and tried his best to help his club succeed.

That was enough for him during his evenings and alternate Saturdays when the club played at home. During the week, he made ends meet by working as a roofer. It was a good life, if not an especially good-paying life, but on the whole he couldn’t complain.

Business was good. But then something highly unusual happened.

Salford City was bought, lock, stock and barrel, by five members of Manchester United’s famed “Class of ‘92”. Phil and Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs bought in, and completely changed the culture of a local club.

They changed the logo. They changed the club colors from orange to red. Most importantly, they changed expectations.

The new owners said their goal was Championship football within 15 years. That was rather amazing, for a club that drew about 100 hard-core fans a match to Moor Lane.

But then the club started to play real matches, and the owners came to the realization that simply wishing something into existence didn’t always make it so. After a strong start, the players stopped performing for Power, and the owners made a change.

Enter Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley, non-league legends for either the wrong or the right reasons depending on who you talked to. They had led Ramsbottom United to promotion from the Northern Premier League Division One North the previous season but were known as taskmasters. The owners installed them as co-managers.

Johnson, known as “Johnno” and a former British Army squaddie, was involved in a touchline fight shortly after his arrival, showing one and all that his tenure would be an interesting one.

And one of the first things they did was clean house. That meant about 75 percent of the part-time playing squad – and a coach named Chance Morrison.

That hurt. Why you’d sack volunteers was anybody’s guess, but the new men wanted their own new men in place and so Chance was asked – well, not asked, but told – to watch future contests from the stand if he cared to attend at all.

As much as that stung, the new managers led Salford City to 15 wins from their last 17 matches and promotion. So they were doing something right.

They did it again the following season, earning promotion to the Vanarama Conference North through the playoffs – the highest place on the tiers that the club had ever held in its 76-year history.

But then, Johnno pushed too hard.

A story published in the Mail said that the two had told the owners they knew they were under pressure to perform. “We made sure we told the owners that we knew that if we were underachieving we knew our fate,” Morley said. “Johnno sent that message, and I don't think they took it very well, did they?”

They sure didn’t. The Class of ’92 had gone out of its way to try to avoid interfering, but being told their business didn’t sit well.

So it was that the partnership was split. The owners, which now included Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim – yes, that Peter Lim – had seen enough.

More than a bit ironically, Lim had hired the Nevilles to manage the other sporting interest in his life – Valencia – in 2015, he both hired and fired Gary Neville, his Salford co-owner, who had assistance from Phil along the way.

Phil had learned the hard way about management and returned to his punditry at Sky Sports now needing to find a new boss for his team.

He was a bit surprised to find Chance’s CV waiting for him. He had gone through licensure and now owned the National A license, the same as Morley. And he had a good reputation, which one-half of the departing management team couldn’t exactly say.

So he got the job. For good or bad.

Author’s notes: FM 17. English Leagues to Tier 9 and Home Nations loaded. This will teach me to watch television. Fictional characters are randomly generated and no similarities with actual people are intended or should be implied. Reactions generated by the game engine and backstory. Enjoy!

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joshleedsfan's avatar Group joshleedsfan 2018-01-14 01:41
gb 664 posts 17 likes joined Apr 14, 2012
Great to see you back doing stories, Malone Again and Raising Cain were brilliant
tenthreeleader's avatar Group tenthreeleader 2018-01-14 18:16
us 607 posts 21 likes joined Jun 22, 2015
thank you so much ... I've taken a bit of a break from writing since I've been doing it more or less constantly since 2010. I also want a story I can finish strongly, so I'm trying something different here. I appreciate the comment and it's nice to be back!

“I don’t expect this to go well.”

Bernard Morley was smiling but it looked forced. That wasn’t surprising. He and Johnno had sacked Chance two years previously but now the season-ticket holder was running the club and getting paid a bit of dosh to do so.

“Bernard,” Chance said coolly. So far, Morley was right.

Last time it had been “boss”. Now the shoe was on the other foot.

“I’ll go,” Morley said immediately.

“No,” Chance replied, to Morley’s considerable surprise. “That won’t happen. Right now the club can’t afford to buy out contracts. So we’re stuck with each other.”

If Morley resigned, of course, that would be avoided, but he had no such intention. So the two men would have to form an uneasy alliance.

Chance wasn’t thrilled about working with Morley. Nobody should have expected him to be. But the club had priorities and sacking an existing staff member wasn’t one of them. He didn’t dislike his deputy, but he didn’t think he had been given a fair shake the first time around. That was enough for both of them.

He also thought he had bigger fish to fry.

Chance needed at least one more coach, a physio, a scout and, after he had placed the necessary ads, an Ibuprofen. All the figuring and budgeting made his head hurt.

A Director of Football would help with the details, though, and he had permission to see who might want to try their hand. So there were plenty of positions open and about £30,000 to pay them all. Not exactly chump change for the Conference North, but he still wasn’t going to get a whole lot for less than Wayne Rooney’s weekly wage packet.

He had a (very) modest transfer budget but also more pressing needs, such as a right full back. The rest of the squad was small but fit for purpose, or so he thought. With limited resources, it would be a challenge to meet needs.

The board gave Chance an extra £10,000 for payroll when he told them he thought he could finish mid-table. At the same time, he hoped they didn’t read the newspapers, which said they thought Salford could finish third.

They were a ways away from that, Chance thought. Getting promoted twice in three years is good, but at some time a team needs to consolidate. From the matches he had seen the previous year, he wondered how many players would be up to standard for the new league.

One gave him no doubt. Midfielder George Green was on loan from Premier League club Burnley and from the first training sessions Chance thought he could be the best player in the league.

But he needed more. He needed fullbacks. Salford City had clearly been set up to play with three at the back, and Chance wasn’t a fan. But if you play with three at the back, it’s also a good idea to have depth in wing backs, and Salford didn’t have that either.

The club also had only one pure striker on its books. In short, it didn’t look like a team with much of a plan. It was going to be a challenge.

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No1VillaFan's avatar Group No1VillaFan 2018-01-15 18:31
00 3701 posts 279 likes joined Feb 20, 2013

Did I mention I loved it i will read this every day nice start

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