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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 / First Post
Latest Reply on 3 September 2019 by TheLFCFan / Last Post
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She can reach him in ways no one else can, which will hopefully help keep him grounded in the event things go sour.
___

The next day’s light training got the team in the mood for Dundee United, in the Betfred Cup quarterfinals at home. The board had asked for the knockout stages and the team had done better than that – but now the thought of a potential cup final down the road was starting to get into the players’ heads despite Roy’s best efforts against it.

He wanted them focused in the moment – obviously the Terrors, being a league rival, warranted a little extra interest.

“I don’t want that lot getting it into their heads that they can beat you,” he told the players as they stretched for a light workout. “Keep your thoughts on Tuesday and you’ll be fine.”

He had wanted to give the team a day off after the Saturday contest but the need for preparation wouldn’t allow it. He kept things very short and sharp before getting the team into video for a look at Dundee’s latest efforts and sending them home.

Sunday was supposed to always be a day off, but on a Saturday-Tuesday schedule that was difficult. Monday’s training was a full session for those who hadn’t played against Queens and a light workout for those who had.

He was trying to save legs, but as the team took the pitch for the match, they looked leaden. But then, so did their opposition, which promised a matchup which wouldn’t show the beautiful game in its best light.

There was a place for Feruz in the lineup – Roy had wanted to use the Chelsea man more in recent weeks but Coulibaly had blocked him out of the lineup. This was the perfect chance for him.

Storey had played the lions’ share of time on Saturday so a mostly-rested Adrianinho was able to slot into his preferred spot without difficulty. Gordon had played Saturday so he was rested on this night. So it looked like the Jags would have the advantage in terms of fresh players.

Roy had already had to deal with the know-it-alls who asked why Partick Thistle was running such a large squad.

“Well, we’re in several cup competitions, we haven’t really had a major injury bug, touch wood, and I want competition for every place on the park. That means that yes, we have a big squad. If something happens where that isn’t sustainable for whatever reason, I’ll deal with it, but right now I’m happy with what we have and there’s enough football to go around.”

Perhaps surprisingly, nobody except for Mutombo had really complained about lack of involvement in the first team. Roy had really tried to rotate his squad so he could learn his players, but Mutombo was one to bear watching.

For one thing, he was a natural attacking midfielder, a number ten type or even a pressing forward – and none of those roles showed up anywhere in Roy’s tactic. So in that regard, he was a square peg in a round hole. He was also well behind Coulibaly, Storey and even Doolan on the striker depth chart, which didn’t help either.

He was also a new arrival that Roy hadn’t purchased. That can be real bad luck for a player, who sees change in managers put him out of favor rather than the quality of his play, or lack of the same.

So while Roy’s office door hadn’t been kicked in by an angry player yet, he figured it was only a matter of time – and he knew who would be doing the kicking.

# # #
If finances allow, I think it's sensible to have depth in the squad to allow for rotation and competition amongst places. Roy has done an excellent job in keeping everyone happy with the exception of Mutombo, but unfortunately for him, he seems set for failure. He doesn't fit into the system and he's only at the club due to the previous management. Hopefully he doesn't cause too much of a fuss... nothing worse than one bad apple upsetting the whole cart.
Just caught up on a couple of pages there, great read as always.
Finances are a challenge. I prefer a bigger squad myself, but that brings its own headaches. And thanks, Chris, for the kind words!
___

The hard work had paid off, and it was the Chelsea man who had made it stick.

Islam Feruz was a happy young man as the Jags headed to the changing room. His goal in first-half added time had staked the team to a 1-nil lead over Dundee United to the delight of a somewhat smallish home crowd.

Yes, it was a Cup quarterfinal, but even that didn’t bring out the crowds on a Tuesday night. However, the size of the crowd mattered little to anyone on either team, of course – there was a semifinal spot on the line and right now the Jags had their noses in front.

“Great job,” Roy enthused as the players sat for refreshments. “You were patient and it paid off at the right time. Nice work, Islam.”

The Somali-born striker smiled shyly at the public praise from his manager and sat back in his locker.

“Now, I hardly need tell you what to expect next,” Roy added. “You’re going to get their best shot and that’s just how it is. But as before, I do not want that lot thinking they can beat you. Keep your shape, keep your bottle and make yourselves hard to beat. We’ll swipe one on the counter and send them home angry.”

He nodded to Litmanen and the assistant finished the interval with some added comments while Roy headed into his office to try to scheme out the second half on his note pad.

He liked where his team sat. They had allowed only three opportunities at goal in the opening 45 minutes, none of which were especially difficult for Bell. There was no reason to believe the second half would be any different if only his players would respond in the right way.

As the second half started, they did just that. As Roy had predicted, the Terrors threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Jags once the half began, but the back line stood firm, O’Ware was immense in the center of defence and there was just no way for the visitors to find a way through.

Partick Thistle didn’t even need to try to score on the counter as the single goal looked as good as gold.

Finally, the Terrors threw everyone including goalkeeper Matej Rakovan forward – and then the Jags buckled.

Fraser Aird scored off a frantic scramble in front of Bell with one minute of regular time remaining, forcing added time that the Jags neither wanted nor needed.

The reaction was palpable and the Jags, who hadn’t seen much adversity in their young season, were called upon to respond.

Fresh legs didn’t help. Roy had carefully tried to save his substitutions but as added time dragged on, everyone on the park was looking like the bloom had come off their wild Irish roses, if you will.

Half an hour of added time produced nothing so it was off to penalties.

The first up was Adrianinho, who had had a quiet game but scored a perfectly taken penalty to get the Jags off to a solid start – only reinforced when Aird blazed over the bar on United’s first attempt.

Keown and Craig Curran each scored in the second round and that brought Feruz to the spot. But the game’s other goal scorer was denied on a full-stretch save by Rakovan, which allowed Christoph Rabitsch to even the tally with United’s third shot.

Spittal grabbed the ball, though not necessarily willingly, and put it on the spot. He went the opposite way from Feruz – but the result was the same, with Rakovan diving to turn the midfielder’s shot around the post.

Yannick Loemba was now presented with a huge opportunity and he made no mistake, beating Bell to the top left corner for a 3-2 lead for his team.

O’Ware was next, and he soothed frazzled nerves with a perfect effort to make it 3-3.

Unfortunately, the Terrors had a last shot to take and had Callum Booth to take it. He beat Bell cleanly to put his team through.

The Jags were out, and they had no one but themselves to blame.

Betfred Cup quarterfinal – Partick Thistle 1-1 (p) Dundee United

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That's a tough result to take. Not only were Partick moments away from going through in normal-time - only to be pegged back late on - they are beaten on penalties, one of the toughest ways to lose a match. :(
A massive shame to miss out on the semi-final thanks to penalties. Nothing Roy and the team can do now but to regroup and go again.
It's a cruel game sometimes, isn't it? :(
___

Silently, the Jags returned to their changing room for the expected dressing-down from their boss. To a point, Roy delivered it, but saw little use in beating an already dead horse.

“Lads, there’s no way I am going to stand here and tell you the end of that match was acceptable,” he began. “And by that, I don’t mean penalties. I mean the last minute of regular time. You threw away 89 minutes of good work because nobody saw Fraser Aird. You have to see that player in front of our goal. You just have to. We cannot switch off and throw away those 89 minutes. No excuses.”

“This was a game where we threw away a winning position and there’s no excuse for that either,” he said. “Now, that said you battled them hard and played two hours of football on a mid-week night after a Saturday game. I understand that. But this is the time when you have to show that you are as mentally strong as you are physically strong. Winning teams do not make these kinds of mistakes very often and when they do, they learn from it and grow. That is what I expect of you. Now hit the showers.”

It wasn’t exactly a happy atmosphere. It was also the first setback for the team since the Bradford friendly, which was the day after Roy had been hired. While technically the match would go in the books as a draw, it still left a bad taste and it still meant that the Jags’ dreams of Hampden Park were extinct.

That was sting enough for the players and Roy knew it. So, he let them stew.

He told the media the same thing he had told the players – that he expected this to be a learning experience for a team that needed some of these types of experiences to truly grow.

“They found out they didn’t like losing last year and they needed to find a way to get past it,” he said, “But to be honest, sometimes teams need reminders. Yeah, we’re out of the Cup but if it makes us a better team and helps us do what we need to do to get back into the Premiership then so be it.”

Yet, that didn’t ease the sting. United were one of the league favorites and Roy had meant every word he said about not wanting to let them think the Jags were an easy mark. That confidence might mean everything at a crucial point in the season and now the Terrors had some.

Roy had quickly learned that getting horsed out of a cup competition was just as painful for a manager as it was for a player, and he knew he had to try to find ways to up his ideas as well. So, it was back to the drawing board.

Since it was a school night, Kate and the kids couldn’t make the match either, so Roy drove home alone and thought things through.

“You just never know sometimes,” he said as his wife greeted him at the door. “Funny damned game.”

“Well, come in, have a drink and forget about what happened,” she replied, kissing him as they stood in the hallway.

“Hard to forget when you lose,” he said.

“And impossible to forget when you win,” she advised. “Just get ready for the next one.”

By the time he reached his laptop, an email with a link to match video was already waiting for him. He looked at his computer and then at his wife, who was giving him a look that suggested he might want to pay attention to something else for a few minutes.

He grinned, closed his laptop, took Kate in his arms and started the process of forgetting.

# # #
Roy not giving his team the 'hairdryer' treatment is probably the right choice here. The team have suffered and clearly feel the impact and that is punishment enough. Once again, Kate is ensuring Roy gets over the loss pretty quickly!
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT
1 monthEdited
I think Roy dealt with that the best way he possibly could. He doesn't want to criticise his players too much as they're dealing with a difficult loss, but has to inform them that dropping off in the closing moments of the game and surrendering your lead is unacceptable.
Thankfully, the fixture list gave them a chance to rebound right away ....

___

The fixture list gave the Jags the opportunity to forget their mid-week stumble thanks to a trip to East End Park at the weekend.

A trip to Dunfermline was hopefully just what the doctor ordered, but it gave Roy the opportunity to do more than a bit of hinting at what he wanted to see.

“I do love a good one-nil,” he remarked to Davids as the players got off the bus. It was just loud enough for most of them to overhear and Davids smiled in reply.

“You mean I rode all the way up here for one-nil?” he joked, and that made Roy smile.

“You rode all the way up here for some score to nil,” Roy answered. “That’s what I need to see from these players today.”

He reinforced the notion during the team talk.

“You are more than good enough to get what you want today from this lot,” he said. “But what I want to see is attention to the small things, especially at the back. If Cammy has to raise his voice today, he won’t be the only one. Now go and get the job done.”

The players headed to the pitch and immediately forgot most of what Roy had said about playing from the back.

The first half alone saw nearly twenty attempts at goal – ten from the Jags and nine from the Pars – but some solid goalkeeping by Bell and Pars keeper Sean Murdoch meant that somehow, the match was still scoreless at the break.

Mutumbo had been placed in the XI – but in central midfield, which was far from his best position. Even allowed to cheat forward ever so slightly so he could approximate a number ten position which didn’t really fit the tactic, the Belgian was ineffective.

“I did say nil,” Roy said at halftime, “but you’re making this really hard on yourselves. They can get about any shot they want through the channels and if they had a striker who could hit a cow’s arse with a banjo we might be having a different conversation right now.”

It wasn’t a day that felt much like late September, and that was cramping the Jags’ style as well. It had begun to spit freezing rain – like tiny darts hitting Roy’s face as he stood on the touchline. They were going to have to truly earn any points they got today.

Thirteen minutes after the restart, it was Feruz -- for the second straight game – who found a way to break the deadlock. Erskine, playing for the shattered Spittal on the right, was provider, rolling a lead ball right onto the striker’s boot as he entered the penalty area. No problem, and Thistle led.

For now, though, it was simply a matter of not throwing away a winning position. The Pars had studied video of the Dundee United cup tie and immediately tried to spread the Jags’ backline. They patiently probed for openings in what looked like a lock-tight 4-4-2.

Roy’s philosophy, never terribly adventurous to begin with, now grew more cautious. He knew that once he got fresh legs in the midfield in the form of Adrianinho for Mutombo and Storey for the ever-game Stuart Bannigan – that the task would become much easier.

The Jags then dug in tight and dared the Pars to blast them out.

The best chance they had came through young striker Andy Ryan, but his effort was both tame and wide, both of which delighted Bell.

Ten minutes later it was over, and Roy had exactly what he wanted. But more importantly, the Jags were back in the business of winning.

Ladbrokes Championship Match Day #7 – Dunfermline 0-1 Partick Thistle

# # #
Excellent work. Three points and a clean-sheet to boot! :D
Back in the wins! Good to see!
Thanks, fellows...not pretty but a win Roy will definitely take.
___

The month had been a very good one – four wins and a draw in five matches – so there was another trophy on Roy’s desk prior to the next home match against Ross County.

September’s Manager of the Month was going to get a big head, at least in the eyes of the staff, which celebrated the occasion by tying all the arms and legs of his workout kit into knots before he arrived for training.

Davids couldn’t contain his glee at the sight of Roy’s expression when he saw what his coaches had done, and boss looked at his coach and simply smiled.

“As you know, I admire a man with courage,” Roy joked.

It had been a solid week of training, and the team could afford to laugh. Now leading the league by three points, regardless of the result against County, the team would remain at the top of the table since its goal difference was rather extraordinary as well.

Roy had a real decision to make about Coulibaly, who it now appeared was a streak scorer. He hadn’t produced much over the last few matches and Mutombo was itching to play.

There were times when Thistle made scoring from open play look only slightly easier than a preschooler solving Rubik’s Cube, and this was one of those stretches. Adrianinho had been wonderful, and his work necessary for the team’s early success, but there had to be a better way to score goals.

Thistle was far from artistic in much of its work – which was one reason why Roy wanted to keep the tactic simple until it was fully mastered.

They were a typical Scottish side – hard-working, tough, filled with desire and graft – but they lacked a true finisher. Even as good as Storey and Coulibaly had been, at times, the team would go through stretches where they simply floundered in the attacking third.

It was a top priority for Roy and his coaches to deal with, but as long as the wins kept coming nobody complained too loudly.

The training, for the most part, had remained general in nature with a heavy emphasis on tactics. Roy wanted his players to have absolute mastery over the base tactics before moving on to other things, so that meant he would have to put up with shortcomings in certain parts of the park.

The manager who loved a good one-nil had precisely the team capable of delivering them in bunches.

So it was that Ross County came to Firhill aiming to be the club that could knock Thistle off its perch. If it wasn’t the visitors doing the job, it might have been a gale-force wind which blew across the field for the entire match.

It was the kind of wind that, to paraphrase the American humorist Mark Twain, “took off half the dog’s hair last night and got the rest this morning.”

That made certain parts of Thistle’s game rather untenable. Roy was finding he liked the idea of Bell getting the ball up the park sooner than he otherwise would have done in Roy’s tactic – which was a big admission for the old-school boss who liked to build up from the back.

So as Roy stood on the touchline with the wind whipping at his face like a sandblaster, he watched his team playing as narrowly as the slits of his eyes. It was going to be a slog, without doubt.

The teams battled through a scoreless, windswept first half. Watching goal kicks swerve in the breeze was the most entertaining thing there was to do on the ground as neither team mounted much of an attacking threat.

“Just get the ball down and play it,” Roy urged at halftime. “This over the top stuff doesn’t look like it’s the right thing today. Do like we’ve done all season – get into space, run onto the ball and make them chase it.”

Nine minutes after the restart, Blair Spittal found the way through, scoring a peach of a goal from Doolan’s flick on.

Roy’s frustration with his strike force had led to his pairing Doolan and Islam Feruz up front that day, and with Doolan playing as a target man, his decision to take Adrianinho’s cross and head it on to the midfielder on the right was inspired.

That would have been enough on most days but unfortunately, it wasn’t to be on the day in question. Worse yet, County’s equalizer came in added time, and still worse it came when Thistle couldn’t get its lines cleared in front of goal.

It was Declan McManus who staggered the Jags, toe-poking home for the Staggies in the first minute of added time.

Drawing matches at home didn’t make Roy a happy bunny. Throwing away winning positions made the feeling worse. In added time – well, let’s just say that the wind on the pitch was nothing compared to the hair dryer the players received after the match.

Ladbrokes Championship Game Day #8 – Partick Thistle 1-1 Ross County

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I wouldn't want to disappoint Roy by the sound of things! The Scottish weather must be a right pain to play in sometimes. Strong winds make playing football that extra bit harder. Although, it could prove to be a blessing in disguise at times. I would imagine a number of teams play direct football, so this puts them at a disadvantage as the game would, mostly, have to be contested on the deck.
Ouch! Conceding so late to drop points is never great and has clearly left Roy unhappy. The striker situation is one that really needs sorting at the next opportunity as streaky scorers, whilst better than those who never score, aren't the best to have around.

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