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FM19 - The Great Glasgow Alternative

Recently retired hard man Roy Scully ventures north of the border for his first job in management. Steve Gerrard, he ain't.
Started on 29 December 2018 by tenthreeleader
Latest Reply on 3 September 2019 by TheLFCFan
Good to see you bring about your own look to the backroom team. A new hot (can I say that anymore?) physio, a new fitness guru and Barmby, a household name to those who have followed the Premier League and are above the age of 10 (roughly). As always, it is very nice to see you involve aspects of the game into your narrative (physio reports, ie injury risk reports), as it opens up aspects of the game which others may be blind to at times.
Great to see some development staff wise, as a successful team needs a good group behind them. The experience of Barmby will be a real boost, alongside that already of Roy. Justice is correct in what he says, it's a very unique way of writing that I welcome. The minor details are incorporated into the story as well as the rest - which makes for pleasant reading and gives me a wider understanding of everything!
Thanks, gents. It has always struck me that the game offers opportunities to be rich in backstory so why not try to take advantage?

The omen turned out to be that the players were ready for the match.

From the outset they were on their hosts, pounding ten shots at the goal in the first half alone. The fact that none of them went in was due as much to the brilliance of 20-year old Ross Doohan in the goal, an Honest Man if ever there was one, as anything else.

Robert Burns had written that no town surpassed Ayr in the poem “Tam o’Shanter” which gave the club its nickname, but once the second half started the men from Glasgow surpassed them on the pitch.

Roy’s instructions at the break had been short and to the point. We’re the better team. Act like it in the second half and you’ll break them down.

He was willing to be patient with his men because they had had the vast majority of the play in the opening 45 minutes and he felt the home team was waiting to be carved open.

Both teams evidently felt they had the upper hand, as the pace of play picked up dramatically in the second half.

Roy was surprised and pleased to see his Jags taking the best the Honest Men had to offer and doing so with a panache which made him smile. You’d have thought it was Brazil out there, except for the non-scoring part.

But then the breakthrough came – through Erskine, the player who hated intervals but who seemed to really enjoy scoring goals now that he was in match condition.

Storey had done the hard part – taking an entry ball into the box and laying it off with a perfectly placed header for the central midfielder, who slotted home a very patiently taken goal five minutes after the restart.

Forced out of their patient game, Ayr found themselves suddenly having to chase it instead. Set up to absorb pressure, the Jags made the home team pay not once, but twice on the counter.

The red-hot Storey was the culprit on both occasions. First he took a perfect lead ball from Spittal on a counter to score on 51 minutes; then he and Coulibaly worked a perfect 1-2 game as the only two attackers against two defenders ten minutes later.

Storey couldn’t miss, and just like that it was three-nil to Partick Thistle with nineteen minutes to play.

That got the fans singing and it was music to Roy’s ears. Over one-third of the crowd of 2,715 were away supporters so the singing was good and loud:

"If you want to go to heaven when you die
You must wear a Thistle scarf and Thistle tie
You must wear a Thistle bonnet
With "F**k the Old Firm" on it,
If you want to go to heaven when you die."

The fans’ concentration on the hereafter was amusing since Ayr was, figuratively speaking, dead and buried. But for now, the present was plenty good enough.

Coulibaly then found the range with three minutes left in regular time for a 4-0 advantage that was simply icing on the cake.

Not even a rather ridiculous goal conceded to Ayr’s Michael Moffat two minutes into added time could take the luster off a very nice win indeed.

Shaking hands with Ian McCall after the match, Roy received congratulations on his first league win in Scotland. McCall, rather bravely, suggested that his team would give the Jags a tougher time next time around, but then he had to say that, didn’t he?

The men wished each other well but as Roy headed to the visiting support to thank them for their singing and screaming, he thought that McCall had rather a bit more work to do than he did at that moment.

Ladbrokes Championship Match #1 – Ayr 1-4 Partick Thistle

# # #
Cracking result. Not a bad song from the supporters either ;)
pffffft stroll in the park at its most difficult, it seems. Onwards and upwards, maybe the players will show more favoritism to interval training now :P
If players couldn't complain they'd have nothing to talk about, Justice! :) And yes, not a bad ditty. The fans are starting to feel it a bit.

After such success in the Cup group stage, the team took a step back to play its last remaining friendly.

The visit to Accrington’s Wham Stadium would give lots of different people an opportunity to play, and for those who weren’t playing regularly with the first eleven to get some badly needed match fitness.

After that match on 6 August the rest of the month would be all business, with two league matches and two cup ties on offer.

It would be a difficult stretch for a number of reasons. First was that the matches were two days apart. Second was that they were both away.

Ayr was southwest of Glasgow by about forty miles, so the players had the chance to have their recovery from that match at home while Roy took the opportunity for an evening with his family. The team would travel to 208 miles to the English northwest on the Sunday and spend the evening in Accrington before Monday night’s match.

But for the short term that meant an evening with Kate, which were starting to get fewer and farther between now that the season was in full swing.

They sat on their overstuffed couch watching a movie after putting the girls to bed and Kate sat as she often did, with her legs curled up underneath and her head resting on Roy’s shoulder.

Roy’s thoughts wandered from the movie, which wasn’t especially entertaining to him anyway, and to his wife who rested so comfortably against him.

“Penny for your thoughts,” he finally said after noticing that she wasn’t really watching the movie either.

She smiled at him. “Oh, just thinking about the girls,” she said. “School is going to start soon and they need the usual things. I have to go shopping.”

Roy smiled. “Seriously, we’re laying here watching a movie with me having to go tomorrow and you’re thinking about shopping with the girls?”

Kate grinned and looked up at him. “Well, I have to get three sets of outfits,” she said.

Roy touched her cheek. “You do not need a back-to-school outfit, young lady,” he teased. “Or even a costume.”

“I wasn’t talking about me,” she said. “All three of our kids.”

Roy suddenly couldn’t hear anything else in the room. He looked down at her.

“Really?” he asked.

She giggled. “Yup,” she replied. “What do you think about that?”

He hugged her tight. “I think it’s wonderful,” he said. “When did you find out?”

“Well, I was late this month so I took a home test and got it confirmed just today.”

He reacted very much as he had during Kate’s first two pregnancies. He melted, the big galoot.

“When are you due?” he asked.

“If the maths are right, around May first,” she said. “Nice present for you at the end of the season, yeah?”

“For us,” he corrected. “I was wondering if we would get to have this feeling again.”

“Me too,” she said, as they shared a kiss. “They say the third time’s a charm.”

# # #
That's fantastic news for Roy and Kate. A third child on the way!
Name the child after the hero of our modern day; Batman.
Batman? As long as I can choose which one, you'll get no argument from me, old chum!


Roy sort of drifted to the coach the next morning for the trip to Accrington. He had other things on his mind and was happy that the trip to play Stanley would be a friendly.

Litmanen noticed. He’d have to have been blind not to have.

“Kate’s pregnant,” he answered in response to his deputy’s question. “We’re due in May.”

“Marvelous!” Litmanen exclaimed, shaking Roy’s hand. “Well done. There’s life in the old man yet.”

“So to speak,” Roy replied, slinging his personal kit bag into the cargo bay underneath the coach. He blushed bright red.

Despite his hard man approach to football, when it came to his family Roy was a giant softie. Unless you tried to hurt them, that is. Then he would be your worst nightmare.

So Litmanen was handling things quite well. And as the players climbed aboard for the trip, the rows looked quite different.

He wasn’t even taking a full squad to Accrington. The players who needed match condition were going, and that was that. They needed the time because the reserve season hadn’t started yet and they simply wanted to play football.

It was also their chance to impress against a League One side – the last League One team they had played was Bradford City, and they had lost that match. The players knew it and as well as their mates were playing, they hoped it transferred to them.

Sunday night in Accrington is a pretty quiet affair most weeks, and the players seemed only too happy to lounge around the hotel, take part in a short video session and listen to Roy’s tactical briefing. The mood was light.

“Nothing fancy tomorrow,” he said. “Looks like this is going to be a 4-4-2 type of team and that seems to suit us down to the ground. Get the ball wide, get it into the box, pass into space and enjoy the game.”

There were those who thought Roy possessed limited tactical acumen – everyone knows how to play 4-4-2, for goodness sakes – but it didn’t take him long to realize once he had arrived at the club that the people who said they were good attacking midfielders, shadow strikers, false nines and the lot were really nothing of the sort.
A relegated team needed to get back to basics, get its confidence back and get back to what made it successful in the first place.

To Roy, that meant taking a lot of the mental load off the players and returning them to the type of play they knew from boyhood.

Who could argue? They hadn’t lost yet in the alignment and had actually played some pretty attractive football at times. The skill set was there and Roy wanted to see if a different group of players could show they had it as well.

In some ways they could and in other ways not so much.

Roy was flabbergasted to see his team down 2-1 to Accrington after only eighteen minutes of play. They had no answer for former Derby man Offrande Zanzala, who twisted first the central defenders and then keeper Aaron Lennox into all kinds of contortions before mercifully firing home only four minutes into the match.

Stung, the Jags responded through Andrea Mutombo, a player Roy really wanted to utilize more but who couldn’t break past Storey and Coulibaly up front. His goal three minutes later made it 1-1 but just before the quarter hour there was Zanzala again, finishing powerfully for 2-1 to the home team.

The defense’s heart, which on this day consisted of Dan Jefferies and the newly acquired Tom O’Brien, was frankly not very good. Not to put too fine a point on it, they were awful, and it showed on the scoreboard.

But that was one thing friendlies were for – to see who could play with whom and who couldn’t. Roy checked down “couldn’t” for that pairing, at least mentally, and settled in to see what else could go wrong.

The Jags slowly found their feet and started limiting Stanley to long shots that Lennox could handle, but the strike pairing of Doolan and Mutombo, with youngster Jai Quitongo sitting just off their shoulders, couldn’t get much going either.

The match dragged, until just before halftime when Mutombo manufactured a moment of brilliance on a turn-and-shoot from twelve yards that would have been a wonderful goal in any match, even one like this which didn’t count. Still, it was 2-2.

And then, it wasn’t. Despite the attentions of Jefferies, Zanzala squirmed free again and beat Lennox along the floor right at the end of regular time to make it 3-2 to Stanley at the break.

“I’m glad there aren’t more people here to see this s**tshow,” Roy said matter-of-factly at the break. “Andrea, you’re where you’re supposed to be and well done to you for that but I’m damned if I can figure out where the rest of you are supposed to be. Clearly you don’t know either.”

For players fighting for first team spots, that was harsh stuff to hear. But three conceded in 45 minutes said all that needed to be said.

With both teams substituting freely and Roy fervently hoping that Cammy Bell, who had been left behind in Glasgow for this trip, would have a healthy and productive season, the Jags started the second half with 20-year old Jamie Sneddon in goal.

The players who needed the work stayed in the game but as the half wore on those players wore out, so Roy gave the last half hour to a few of the regular first-teamers who had come to fill out the squad.

So it was that Stuart Bannigan found the range thirteen minutes from time to make it 3-3 and spark a momentary flurry from Partick Thistle in response. Looking for a fourth goal, the players piled forward and put some pressure on the Accrington youngsters who finished out the match.

But another goal was not to be found for either team, and so everyone went home disappointed. Great way to finish a friendly.

Friendly match – Accrington Stanley 3-3 Partick Thistle

# # #
Zanzala's on fire! Good choice of team to play a friendly against. ;)
Zanzala's on fire your defence is terrified doesn't quite have the same ring to it
Accrington have developed into quite a strong team in recent years so to go to their place and score three times is a very good attacking performance. It seems as though your team does not lack in the goal scoring department, which makes for good reading ahead of the bulk of the season.
I can be happy and unhappy with this result. Conceding three is not fun but scoring three with two of them coming through the second eleven is a good sign. Currently Roy is awaiting shipment of his Zanzala dart board :)

To be fair, a lot of people had treated the Accrington match as a holiday, including Roy himself.

He couldn’t really be happy with anyone’s performance except Mutombo’s, but he also wasn’t happy with himself, and that guided the team’s preparation after the Accrington match.

He had allowed himself to think about Kate and the whole wonderful process she was going through instead of managing his team.

Thankfully, it was just a friendly and the team hadn’t been burned too badly. Now Roy needed to cut himself a little slack.

He obviously didn’t say anything to Kate about what he was feeling – it would have caused absolutely needless hurt – but he tried to separate his family situation from his work with a concerted effort as the team reported back to training.

The girls, for their part, seemed excited to be welcoming another sibling. They had always seemed to get along with each other – at least as long as Mum or Dad was within earshot – but there seemed no rational reason why either would be upset at having another Scully around the house.

And as for Roy, well, he was too much of a softie, at least on the inside, to think that way for too long. Yes, he wanted to rededicate himself because the fans deserved it and he needed to buckle down at the start of his managerial career.

But then, when news reached Glasgow of what had happened to Bruce Arena, he wondered if it was all worth it.

Arena, the twice-former boss of the United States national team, had been driven off in disgrace after the team’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. After a time away from management, he had been hired by the new Los Angeles Football Club of MLS to face his old club, the LA Galaxy, in his first match.

He won, 2-1, and was immediately sacked.

So, really, what was the point?

Having an American mother, Roy was half-Yank. That was his only similarity with Winston Churchill, but it also meant he could take an interest in more than one national team. And he had been just as bewildered by Arena’s failure as anyone else wearing their red, white and blue.

The management game is hard. Sometimes it’s unfair. For Arena, unfair seemed the kindest word to use.

So as the team prepared to get back into the swing of things for Falkirk’s visit in the league, Roy decided in the end to be a bit easier on himself.

Another sometimes-Premier League club like his own, the Bairns had been out of the big show since 2009, having had the bad luck to finish second in the Championship in two of the last three years and miss out on promotion both times.

Last season they finished eighth and that led to the hiring of Ray McKinnon as manager. He had Falkirk fifth and their visit would be a nice test for the Jags.

Roy had changed back most of the lineup from the Accrington trip but gotten a nasty surprise in training.

Lennox, who was trying to train his way back into Roy’s good graces after an awful showing in the friendly, went up to collect a corner in a set piece drill and landed very heavily on the right side of his back – so awkwardly, in fact, that he had to be taken off on a back board.

That sort of thing is unsettling to watch and Roy wound up ending training early as a result. The word from the physios was about as bad as it could get: at least four months on the sidelines due to a compression fracture of one of the keeper’s lumbar vertebrae.

That meant a callup to the senior team for young Jamie Sneddon sooner than anyone could have anticipated. The onetime Hearts trainee had spent three seasons at Cowdenbeath, playing thirty matches for them before moving to the Jags on a free last season.

Still only 21, he had made his professional debut at age eighteen and was one to watch. Yet at this level, it would be a bit nervy to place him between the sticks in a big match. It simply solidified Bell’s status as the absolute number one.

So there was Sneddon, sitting on the substitute’s bench, as the Jags prepared to play a match of no small importance.

# # #
An unfortunate injury for the keeper but I think it is only worth looking at the positives; an opportunity for a youngster to impress (even on the bench).
Christ, that sounds a nasty injury!

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