I'm pleased. The team showed absolutely nothing against Bradford and I was looking for a bounceback. My tactic is entirely self-designed from the ground up (first time I've ever done that in any version of the game, as I've always used guides to help me in the past) so we'll see if Roy has the tactical nous to succeed.
“I don’t pay attention to reporters and I don’t pay attention to gamblers.”
Roy’s words after the City match – spoken in private, thankfully – still showed what made him tick.
He was speaking to the board, which made the comments amusing enough. He was asked to attend a meeting to explain his philosophy and most importantly, his plan for returning Partick Thistle to the SPL.
The news had come that the club was third favorite for promotion and a 2-1 choice in any event, behind Dundee United, which was considered the prohibitive choice at 1-5; and Ross County, which was at even odds.
“All well and good, but you do pay attention to us, I trust?”
This was board member Ian Dodd, and at least it was said with a smile.
“Of course,” Roy said. “I paid attention to my bosses when I played, and that’s what you all are.”
“We know you are your own man, but we do want to know what plans you have.”
“I would like to see us get back to basics,” he said immediately. “That means good wing play, and that means better wingers than we have, and it means stout central defenders. I think we have the defenders to make that work, and I am also fairly certain we have the strikers. It’s the midfield what worries me.”
“In what way?”
“We can’t cross a ball,” he said. “At least, sometimes we can’t. We have decent talent there but no pure wingers. We need someone, preferably a veteran player, who can come in and change a match.”
“So you aren’t looking for a whole new set of players?”
“We can’t afford it and I’d be daft to ask,” he replied, matter-of-factly. “I’m here to do a job with what I have. That won’t stop me from asking you for what else I think we need, and shoring up our wings would be a nice start.”
“Oh, and a backroom staff would be lovely.” Now it was Roy’s turn to smile.
As it stood, there were two coaches and Roy was one of them. It made training a bit of a chore.
“We know that there are a number of unfilled positions and you have our blessing, of course, to fill them.” That was Jacqui Low, the chairman, and obviously her word carried more weight than anyone else’s in the room.
In the back sat a man very special to everyone at the club – Colin Weir, the club’s first-ever patron, so named for his role in helping the club achieve debt-free status. That distinction, as Roy was acutely aware, was his to maintain.
“We have to be sensible,” Roy said, to the general agreement of everyone in the room. “But there also may be a balance between what is prudent and what is necessary to get this club back to where we all want it to be.”
There were no signs of dissent. This was a good thing.
They also seemed to have Roy’s back. That was even better.
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Great to see you have the support and know what you want out of any funds available to you!
Once Roy gets his backroom staff in, things can really start to get going. A few additions to the team too could also propel the team from outside candidates for the title, to a proper contender with Dundee.
Getting everybody to pull in the same direction will go a long way towards achieving your end-goals. The meeting seemed to go well, it is what happens after that counts though!
I'm actually a bit concerned. Without Premier League money coming in, I do wonder how far Roy will get beyond hiring his back room team.
“Sensibility” took a couple of different forms for Roy.
One of those forms was on the left side of midfield, and was a priority area for the manager to improve. And as such, 38-year old Brazilian winger Adrianinho came in on a free transfer. Past his best years, the winger still provided a veteran presence and a standard which still was good enough for the Scottish Championship on a one-year deal.
He could still play, even if his last club had been Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the second-tier American NASL. He showed that in fairly short order.
Next was a loan signing. 22-year old Islam Feruz came in from Chelsea – a player who could play midfield, either wing and also a spot of center forward when needed.
That was that. For the time being, it would have to do.
Roy also couldn’t mess around with his team before the Wednesday match at Livingston. The newly-minted SPL club figured to take the scalps of the newly-relegated Jags – but Roy had other plans.
At training the Monday before the match, he remarked that he had never yelled “keep your shape” so many times in a single session. The way to beat Livi was through discipline and since Roy was running training by himself, it was hard for him to be everywhere at once.
Help was on the way in that department, though.
After getting the board’s blessing to fill out his staff, he had hired former England captain and longtime Scottish manager Terry Butcher as Director of Football, and immediately set him to work helping fill out the rest of the staff.
The matter of his number two, Roy wanted to handle himself.
He got a number of interesting applications but finally settled on former Ajax, Liverpool and Finland striker Jari Litmanen. His technical expertise would help improve skills in areas that were necessary for the style Roy wanted to play.
It was all sensible – but all the new men were settling into their roles as the Livingston match approached.
Adrianinho was the worry. He spoke three languages, none of which happened to be English. So he was on a crash course to learn – and when Jack Storer had to come off late in the first half of the match with a dead leg, Roy’s fervent prayer was that if the Brazilian couldn’t speak English yet, he could still speak football.
And he could. The team got through the first 45 minutes with the Premiership team scoreless, and in added time it even got one better when Kris Doolan – captain, prime influencer and also u-18 coach as his side hustle – shook loose and struck home a fiercely taken volley right as the match rolled over into added time.
The home faithful at the Tony Macaroni Arena fell silent – as a wag behind the bench suggested they should have done with a stadium carrying that kind of name – and the Jags got to halftime a goal to the good.
“You’ve done well for yourselves,” Roy said when the din had quieted down in the changing room. “Don’t let this slip away. You want to make a statement? Now is the time to do it, and here is the match to do it in.”
So Roy sent them back out there, and watched as Livi flailed away at the Jags’ back four.
All of a sudden, things seemed to make sense to the players. Thistle was compact, keeping its shape and denying the entry ball from wide spaces like a team that knew what it was doing. They were also much better in the air than their hosts and that mattered a lot as well.
But it was Niall Keown who made the biggest difference. The Irishman was everywhere he needed to be and nowhere he didn’t, and working with a seamless back line it was a pleasure to watch him in action.
Loan defender Dan Jeffries, a gift from Dundee, came on late as did fellow loanee Shay Gordon, who was Motherwell’s contribution to the Jags’s season. And as odd as it might have seemed, Thistle were never seriously threatened.
It was a big win. Passage out of the group stages now rested squarely on the shoulders of Roy’s men – with the start of a brand new coaching staff in place at the same time.
Betfred Cup Group Match #2 – Livingston 0-1 Partick Thistle
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Good to see you being wise in the market and being sensible, and the victory over Livingston is a good victory, another positive result
Major victory for the club and a real statement of intent to get Litmanen & Butcher into your backroom team! Big things are on the horizon, I can smell it!
A lot of positives in that update. Terry Butcher has a lot of experience and is a legend in the eyes of many. Litmanen is another case of experience and has played for the elites of the game. I'm sure he will have the contacts and know-how to help the club going forward. Fantastic result against Livingston too and it shows the quality is there.
Thanks, gents ... I'm very pleased with that win, especially away. This doesn't look like the kind of team that's going to win too many slugfests so the prospect of grinding out a one-nil away to an upper division team is good for the players and the manager alike!
There was a bit to be happy about on the travel day. The Jags had clawed back a bit of their pride after the previous season’s relegation and the team was in a good mood.
Ahead lay two lower division clubs and the goal of progression from the group stage loomed large. But with the matches coming thick and fast in the early stages of the season, Roy’s men – and Roy himself – had little time for the niceties of life at the top of the group table.
He had a family to transplant, a school to find for his kids, a place to furnish and a wife who needed his attention.
Kate had been patient for a long time when Roy was a player. Jessica and Shelley were too young to really understand a lot about their dad’s occupation, although they knew he bossed a football team. But some of their new schoolmates knew quite well.
Children can be cruel, and some of the less filtered kids would no doubt remind the Scully girls that their father actually managed “the diddy club” in Glasgow. Those would be the children who had the Rangers and Celtic gear and who would gather in little tribes when it came time to play outside.
School hadn’t yet begun so the girls were home a lot with their mother, and nobody really minded that.
As a result, an off day was a treasure – and the afternoon after the team arrived home from the Livingston match was just such a day.
Roy got to spend some play time with his daughters and that was wonderful. He took them shopping, they went to the playground, and they had a little kickabout in their backyard. They were a football family, after all.
Kate watched it all happen, putting the finishing touches on setting up the dining room as the stood near the back window.
Their new home was pretty – just right for the four of them in size, with a big backyard and a patio which would be good for entertaining for a couple of months yet.
She smiled. Every time Roy played with his kids, he looked younger and she looked happier. Yes, football was their life but at least for the time being, family got to come first.
And, of course, the gentle side of her husband came out at these moments, since scything down one’s own daughter in possession obviously wouldn’t have done.
Kate felt fortunate. Even if he hadn’t been a footballer playing for the team she supported, Roy would have been the love of Kate’s life.
She was everything Roy wasn’t in terms of her upbringing – as East London as they came, direct, challenging when she needed to be – and she made the perfect foil for the quiet man from the Northwest who had hit her like an emotional steamroller when they had met.
It was at a club benefit shortly after Roy had joined the club, and the end result was a player who was supposed to be minding other duties and talking with other fans seemingly glued to the side of a lovely young woman who showed no inclination at all to leave him.
They fell hard and fast and were married within a year of that night. She had adapted to the life of being a footballer’s wife as best she could – tending his minor injuries when he had bumps and scrapes and comforting him through the larger ones like sprained ankles, knees and ligaments.
They had never had to face the type of career-ending injury that some people do, but they had one of the major issues to contend with after Roy retired; what to do with themselves?
Management came at a good time for Roy and at a so-so time for the family. He really wanted to be around his girls but he couldn’t get the game out of his blood and really, no one expected him to.
He could still take part. He could still be competitive. And more importantly, he could start being more than a part-time dad.
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Hopefully you can take this club to new heights to shut those kids up on the playground
Partick will soon be the major power in Scotland and eventually make Rangers and Celtic the "diddy clubs" in Glasgow.
"since scything down one’s own daughter in possession obviously wouldn’t have done"
I spend a week away from the site and I miss the reboot of one of my favourite writers! Great to have you back buddy, an absolutely fantastic read this far
Gentlemen, thanks so much. Partick is a ways away from the big time as yet but a guy can hope, right? And Jack, thanks so much for the kind words -- great to be back with new content and a great group of people.
Sitting in the dugout, Roy thought about the movie “Groundhog Day” with himself in the role played by Bill Murray. Only there were differences.
Murray’s character, called Phil Connor, woke up every morning to find things exactly the same way they had been the day before. Roy’s flashback was to look at the field and see Miles Storey taking the ball out of the Albion Rovers goal.
The hitman was a one-man wrecking crew but it was more than just Storey doing the damage. Adrianinho was making his full debut and the Brazilian was just that good, whipping cross after cross after cross in from highly useful positions on the left to even more highly useful positions in front of goal.
Rovers had no answer; as in, at all.
Their League Two opposition was expected to be little more than a speed bump for the Jags but it was soon apparent they wouldn’t even be that. Sixteen minutes into the match, there was Storey to convert from six yards. Six minutes later, Storey missed but Blair Spittal didn’t, and it was two-nil.
For all practical purposes that was that, but six minutes after Spittal’s goal there was Storey again, turning in an inch-perfect cross from Adrianinho for three-nil that looked like it was a lead made out of solid steel.
He praised them at half – he’d have been daft not to have – and asked them to not lose their focus in the second half.
So they didn’t. It was Storey again eleven minutes after the restart, lashing home from one of Thistle’s twelve corners in the match.
Then it was the new fellow, Souleymane Coulibaly, fresh in from Inverness, who put a fifth home just after the hour, his first goal for the club. He was there to lead the line, but Storey was having all the fun.
With the score five-nil and Storey with a richly deserved hat trick, Roy started to bring in players he wanted to see; the West Brom loanee Max Melbourne being one, and Gordon and Erskine being two more.
Unfortunately, that was all the rules would allow, and as the bench players watched happily, Roy started to think about what he would say post-match. As he did, Storey scored again, in the last minute of standard time.
He felt like Phil Connor, but unlike the movie character, Roy didn’t want to wake up to a different day.
Betfred Cup Group Match #3 – Partick Thistle 6-0 Albion Rovers
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I love your style of writing, makes for an amazing read! A 6-0 win is definitely a confidence and morale booster!
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