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The Luke Henderson Story

Finding a way in Scottish football
Started on 22 December 2019 by Luke Henderson
Latest Reply on 14 October 2020 by Karter Mitchell
The season got off to a great start, as Scott says though, hopefully the back-end isn’t a catalyst for poor form

#014 - Consistency? What does that mean

03/11/2020 -- Henderson looks a bit cynical. His team can play really good matches, but two days later with almost exactly the same players, it suddenly seems that these players never have seen a ball before. A consistent run of form is the big problem Spartans is struggling with, and so avoiding a more stabilized position in the league. After the 4-1 loss against Annan, Spartans managed to win two games and an acceptable away draw against Civil Service Strollers (like that name!), before getting surprised by Buckie Thistle at our own Ainslie Park. Then followed by three good games again, but suddenly the away game against Gretna went horribly wrong... And this repeats itself again in the next four games. Two cautious wins against the lower teams in the league but again not capable of holding a longer stand of form with conquering only one point in the following matches against Caledonian Braves and Gala Fairydean. The most point of concern is the lack of scoring goals. We do create a lot of chances though, but our strikers are performing quite bad at the moment. The last time one of our strikers scored a goal is already nine(!) matches ago… If Spartans is running through like this, then a position within the first six at the end of the season will be quite difficult.

Henderson doesn’t know where it’s going wrong: “Nothing has changed since last season. We can play three really good games, but suddenly from nowhere we lost our confidence and lose two games which we actually have to win given our reputation and players qualities. It’s a mental issue obvious, but I really don’t know where to start with to avoid this big ups and downs. Maybe some of the players are a bit impressed or such, or the fact that we do have a young squad without a real natural captain we can lean on. We can rule out thousands of reasons, fact is that we need to change our mindset. Otherwise reaching into the play-offs will be a very difficult one. Although Spartans is getting forward statistician wise, it doesn’t feel that way right now.”

Cup tournaments
Despite the changeable results in the competition, Spartans is performing quite good this far in the cup tournaments. They have reached the third round in the Scottish Cup, already one round further then last year. But probably it will end there. Of all possible 63 opponents Spartans draws against Hearts… Their affiliated side from the Premiership. A fantastic game though, but we were hoping for at least one or two rounds more with a draw against a lower league team. Probably it was to much to ask for. We shall see how it sorts out, hopefully Hearts doesn’t show up with their strongest team, giving us a small chance for at least not losing.

Also our run in the Challenge Cup is still alive. We defeated Stonehaven in the second round with 2-1, played a really good match against Gretna and turned down Lowland League side South Queensferry after a replay. That has bring us into the quarter finals, in which we are facing Stenhousemuir, currently the number three in the league. A home game again. If we can make it all the way to the final then we will earn a serious amount of extra money. So far we already scraped around £100,000 together in both cup tournaments, but the real money can be earned in the semi-finals and final. We definitely need the money to keep out of financial troubles, but it will make a huge different if we can double our prize money. Then we can invest in our squad and the clubs facilities.
The financial side of the cup will really help the club's finances. It's a peculiar situation you face with the lack of consistency with results and it's certainly something you'll need to work out in some capacity quickly, else you face the risk of missing out on the playoffs once again. The lack of goals from your strikers is a huge concern and definitely a priority for something that needs to be addressed.
Great to see money being generated in the club, but I hope it's not at the expense of league improvement!
Luke Henderson's avatar Group Luke Henderson
2 yearsEdited

#015 - Epic game against Hearts results in replay

02/02/2021 -- The mid-season transfer window is closed, let’s the final run of the season begin! But not before we summarize our results from the last few months. One result in particular can’t be denied. The third round Scottish Cup match against Premiership side and affiliated club Hearts of Midlothian at our own cosy Ainslie Park. A truly epic game for us, because we managed not to lose, resulting in a replay at Tynecastle Stadium!

After a difficult start suddenly the ball lies behind the Hearts goalkeeper, with Spartans taking the lead. Full-back John Morrison had some space at the right side of the pitch, gave a long crossing towards the left edge of the box, where 30-year old left-winger Scott Maxwell takes the ball directly from the air and shoots powerful in the upper right corner of the goal: 1-0! His first goal of the season with an absolute magnificent shot. The crowd at Ainslie Park explodes and we managed the lead until the end of the first half. Hearts created a lot of chances though, but their finishing lacks precision. But we weren’t able to hold stand and Hearts scored the more than deserved equalizer twenty minutes before the end. They continued their attacking way of play, but luckily for us got no further than a shot on the woodwork. For a second we even thought we could win the match with a small chance for Griffiths in the dying seconds of the game, but he shoots wide from a difficult angle. “A truly magnificent result. I have to make a great compliment to the players, our fans and of course Hearts, for having a complete off-day.” A smiling Henderson said afterwards.

Of course we were completely outplayed in the return, but the day after our financial director was extremely happy the whole day long. We received almost £250,000 from gate receipts thanks to the almost sold out Tynecastle Stadium, which more dan doubles our whole year budget! A very welcome reward, which gave us the opportunity to make a huge step forward. We immediately raised our youth academy and scouting budget, expand our staff with an extra trainer and scout, lengthened the contracts from our best players with another year and reserved the rest of it for strengthen our squad for next season.

Beside the two leg meeting against Hearts we played a lot of competition games. It must be said that we performed slightly more steadily. After ten games without a goal from any of our strikers Griffiths finally found his way to the goal again in the game against Wick Academy. His partner in the front line, Scott Dunn, had to wait another four games until he scored against Broomhill. After 29 matches we are sitting quite comfortable in the league for reaching into the play-offs, but if we can extend our current form we possibly can threaten the first two. Although it seems a bit too early for the club to gain promotion this season already, but that’s for later! First we try to push out the maximum of our sportive capabilities.

Winter transfers
Not a busy transfer window for us, because we are a bit careful for signing new players already at this moment. Maybe a player looks good right now for League One level, but if we managed to qualify ourselves for next season Championship by accident, then these players are suddenly probably not good enough anymore. So we definitely have to wait until the end of the season. However we have signed one player. One of my scouts found a guy called Dean Brett. A right full-back with decent attributes who is joining us at the end of the season. He is not paid that much so if he fails or will be superfluous, then it doesn’t harm our financial situation that big.

Henderson is done with Aaron Murrell. After he got his chance while the other strikers are failing instantly, he didn’t proof himself. He has got more than ten matches in a row to give him a decent chance, but doesn’t score a single goal. After he was send to the bench again he was complaining about it soon. After he subvert the team dynamics and hasn’t showed up for a training Henderson kicked him out the squad and send Murrell to the B-team. We heavily tried to sell him this transfer window, but none of the possible interested clubs wanted him. Which was no real surprise… So unfortunately we have to pay him his wages until the end of the season when he will leave us for sure. In the mean time we have said goodbye to defender Adam Corbett. He barely played a match this season and Henderson does not believe Corbett is developing any better. He has joined League Two side Linlithgow Rose. For a while it seemed Joe Tait was leaving us as well, but his transfer was cancelled on the last day of the transfer window. That means our squad only counts 20 players at the moment, so hopefully we are not getting into trouble when some of the players get injured, although we can call back one of our youngster who are currently on loan if needed.

Note: Thanks Scott and Jack for the support again! Our results ar better now, but it's still incredibly close in the league, so a couples of losses and we are seventh again... The strikers problem is not completely up to me of course, FM has some struggles with their match engine for one-on-ones currently... The huge money from the Hearts game was very welcome, at least for the next year we are out of financial troubles!
Consistency is finally beginning to be found! Now let's hope it stays for the long-term.

#016 - Here we go again

08/04/2021 -- After a relatively good period we are back where we have started… Horrible mistakes in our defence, goalkeeper Adam Grant who seems to be getting worse and worse, but the most annoying part is without any doubt our lack of scoring goals. I really don’t exaggerate if I tell you that Griffiths alone has missed around 20(!) one-on-ones in a row in the eight matches before the game against Cowdenbeath, and the only one he actually scored was from a rebound after a missed one-on-one again... That was in the game against Gretna, where most of the audience already has left when we returned in a stunning way after scoring goals in the 88th, 90+1st and 90+4th minute. A very important win, otherwise we dropped down the ladder into a position we definitely don’t want to finish. Despite our great comeback, I feel like our tactic isn’t working anymore, so for the final run to the end of the season I decide to make a change. Not the best moment, but we definitely need to do something. We are conceding a lot of goals, so for the final six games we start with a more defensive 5-4-1 formation, like this:

Against then runner-up Cowdenbeath it sort out quite good. We played a good match and finally Griffiths did remember how he needs to score goals! A late second goal from Cowdenbeath let the result look like as it was a tight game, but we controlled most parts of it. The next one against bottom league club Stirling University should be a perfect opportunity for bringing us back within the first six, but despite a good run of form we are not very lucky either… After an early goal for Stirling we managed to take control again and after sixty minutes we take the deserved lead. We had a lot of chances again to decide the game in our favour, but we failed again. Nothing to worry about yet, but in the final seconds of the game one of their players lumped the ball forward, their striker picked it up and of course they scored the equalizer… Two points lost. Points that we needed so hard in our battle for one of the play-off spots.

We are still sixth in the league, mostly because of the other teams are struggling just as we do. There are four games left, four very important games I would say. We are playing against two mid-table teams who have nothing to play for anymore, one match against Cumbernauld Colts who are in a relegation battle and one away-game against one of our competitors, Gala Fairydean Rovers. That might be the game where everything will be decided. Although Spartans is still in competition for the play-offs, Henderson isn’t really pleased. “No, I’m not happy at all. I see way too many stupid faults on the pitch. Faults we did make in the first season, faults which we trained for to rule them out, but now we are making the same faults again… That we still battling for the play-offs is more a benefit which we have to thank the other teams for, rather than we did it by ourselves. The final run will be really tough, but if we can extend our current form and closely following the changed tactic than we might have a chance to finish within the first six.”
Hopefully the team are able to pick up the results they need to in the next four games. A reliance on other teams results can only last for so long.

#017 - When is our luck starting to begin?

02/05/2021 -- After the last match against Forres Mechanics you could hear a needle being fallen on the floor of the bus. Beside the ongoing sound of the engine of course. It was quiet, with a lot of faces who could start crying within any minute. It is just not given to us. Not today, but probably never if we never ever get a little tiny piece of luck someday. Despite we did not lost a game in the last four of the season, we missed the play-offs by one miserable point... Right now I even hates more the equalizer which Stirling University scored in the dying seconds. But at the end they relegated, ha-ha yes!! You f*cking bastards. I think we really deserved it to end within the first six, but our lack of having a slight glimmer of luck is quite frustrating. Or should I say we are just born for having bad luck?

We started the last run against Caledonian Braves. Our new tactic actually seems to be sort out quite good, but again we didn’t finishing our chances. Until the additional time, when 17-year old striker Bryan Griffiths scored his sixteenth goal of the season! The little crowd at Ainslie Park exploded, but wait. That’s not allowed of course. A winning Spartans, how could you even think about it… So within a minute suddenly from nowhere Caledonian scored a goal with the match ended in a 1-1 draw. Take in mind that they barely create a chance over 90 minutes… But, nothing is lost yet. We just need to win the next game against our direct competitor and we are back on track. Although Gala Fairydean is a very decent opponent. That wasn’t an understatement. They played pretty good and scored twice already before half time. We decided to go all the way after the pause and Alberto Vezza brought us back into the game with two goals. We stayed attacking and again our hero Bryan Griffiths seemed to score the late winning goal for us! Ho, ho ho. Hold down for a sec. Yes please, give way for our striker so he can score the equalizer again. Yes, there it is: 3-3. Thank you.

Our last chance
The next game is against Cumbernauld Colts. They are as good as dead, but we need to stay cautious, they might be playing very aggressive. But again we played a pretty good game and left-winger Bryan Shields forced an early goal. We dominate the game, but had to wait until the 83th minute before our winger on the right hand side doubled the score. Only one match to go now. Our faith isn’t in our own hands anymore, but it’s quite unlikely all our four competitors do win their last match. Although, they all playing a home game. So, if we win, there is a really good chance that we are finishing within the first six. Maybe a draw might be enough, but then we need an extremely outcome of all other matches, which is probably not going to happen if you take in mind our portion of luck so far… We are facing Forres Mechanics who have nothing to play for anymore, but surely they will not given us the three points as an early Christmas present, so we have to fight for it until the end. So we did, but we forgot to score… To be honest we hadn’t as many chances as in all the other games before, but still, we just need to win this kind of games and we didn’t. Quite soon it was obvious that the results in all the other matches didn’t going to help us if we played a draw, so I’m afraid to say we have to life with the fact that we finished 8th in the league again…

Yeah I was getting a bit cynical at some point. Sorry for that. But I’m so frustrated right now. The only thing I want to do at this moment is to step aside from the club or selling all my players who aren’t capable to hold there positions for the last seconds of the game, or scoring more goals from the bunch of chances we created. So basically all of them actually! Below you can see the results from our last few games together with the final outcome of the competition.

The following day Henderson calmed down a bit and had a chat with the board, if and how we get further next year. We didn’t accomplished our main goal for this season, finishing within the first six and gaining a play-off ticket. So I can’t really complain if they decide to run out my contract and letting me go. But director Craig Graham isn’t somebody who is changing managers more often then a random Italian club will do, so Henderson is joining Spartans for at least another year. I’m glad that I can extend my work with the club. We did make progress last season, but we were just extremely unlucky. Our goal will be unchanged, despite we have missed the play-offs this year: we are trying to promote next season. I felt we really come close to the best teams in the league and next season two out of the three clubs who relegated last year from the Championship are going back up again and two out of the three clubs that forced promotion out of League One last year are relegated from this years Championship. So the average level probably will be slightly worse next year, which give us the opportunity to compete with them.

Most of the time I will do an seasonal overview and summarize the players who are left us and which of them are staying, but because of our ‘excited’ end of the season I will shift this part forwards to the next update.
So close. An agonising way to lose out on a play-off place. Perhaps this disappointment could fuel those that remain at the club onwards from this summer to go on and perform better next season.

#018 - The big transition

02/05/2021 -- Our memory is swiped out, we tend to forget last season and steadily go on laying down the base for the upcoming season. But not before we summarize our results from last season followed by the hard decisions of which players will be staying at the club and which of them are leaving us. You probably know we finished eight again in the league. Don’t want to talk about that anymore... Our results in the cup tournaments were decent. We reached into the quarter finals for the Challenge Cup, in which we lose against Stenhousemuir. They are one of the better teams in our league, so not a big disgrace. In the Scotch Cup our run ends in the third round which is normally, given the fact we faced Hearts. Although we forced them into a play-off, which saved our whole season. An almost sold-out Tynecastle Stadium gave us a huge amount of gate receipts, giving us the opportunity to invest in our club and squad for next season. We ended up with a profit of around £170,000 from which is £95,000 left to balance our debts from the season before. The board has raised our wage budget for next season to £4,100 and surprisingly we do have a little amount of transfer budget as well, although we probably not use it.

Overall our squad performed slightly better in comparison with the first season, but still we have a handful of players who are not as good as we expect. So again a couple of them are leaving us, but because we were unsecure for the whole second half of the season if we get promoted or not, we were unable to contract players in advance. That is causing some troubles right now because many players signed a new deal at their current club or have chosen for a new club already. So we are dependent of left overs or paying a release fee. Problems for tomorrow, first I will announce the players who are going to leave us.

Young goalkeeper Paul Lamont is leaving us. He didn’t develop enough to threat Adam for a role as a starting player. The contract of Adam is extended, but we are going to search for a new first goalkeeper. Adam’s attributes are looking very decent, but his actual achievements on the pitch aren’t. I’m not that disappointed with our current defenders, but sadly they are performing not consistent enough. Youngsters McFarlane, Morrison and Doig have all signed a new deal, but I really expect more from them. Next season will be their last chance to convince me. Most of the time I’m quite satisfied with the performances from Finlayson and Brown, so they will definitely be here next year. The only defender who is going to leave us will be Greg Pascazio. He joined us since last season, but didn’t fully convinced me.

The big slaughter is happening on our midfield. To be honest none of them can become close to the performances of Ashmore. So we said goodbye to Joe Tait, Dale Baxter, left midfielder Scott Maxwell and Jonny Stewart. We actually thought 31-year old Stewart could become a ‘captain’ for the younger players, but his lack of mental capabilities did us decide letting him go after just one season. Up front we already announced the farewell of Aaron Murrell, but also Scott Dunn is going to leave us. Last year he came in as the League One top goalscorer so we had some really good expectations of him. But to be honest he never filled them in. Although he scored 16 goals, he barely scored a really important one. Of course Griffiths is staying with us, and we offered Nicky Reid a new non-negotiable contract as well, but he refused and so will leave us.

So we go ahead with only twelve players left. So far we signed one newbie already half way last season, named Dean Brett. I did show his profile before. That makes thirteen in total. So you can say we have a challenging period in front of us. We need at least five or six new players, the other positions can be filled in with some youngsters from our academy if needed. A couple of them are developing quite well, nearly approaching first team level. Next update I hope to introduce some new players, together with our pre-season results.

#019 - Busy summer at Ainsfield Park

30/07/2021 -- The technical staff did a hell of a job. They managed to bring in eleven(!) new players so far and most of them are a really good upgrade I would say. I will go through our newbies line by line, starting with our goalkeepers.

As you probably know we offered Grant Adam a new contract, but it was not sure he would be our starting goalkeeper again for the upcoming season. We searched for a new guy, but decent goalkeepers are very hard to find at this level of football. From all the possibilities we’ve got only two guys could become a potential Spartans player. For one of them we had to pay £4,000 the other one was running out of his contract. Both players are quite equal to each other, so it was an easy pick at the end. 18-year old Englishman Joe Young will join us for the next two seasons. Most of the important attributes have double figures, so I think we need to be happy. It was the best we could get. He definitely will become our starting goalkeeper, but if he fails Adam will still being a decent back-up.

Our defence is probably the best line from the whole squad, so we didn’t need a big improvement here. But most likely we are going ahead with our tactic we ended with last season, the defensive 5-4-1 system. I will show this tactic later on. That means we are playing with 3 centre backs, so I think we need at least 5 of them who can actually play on this position. But we only had three left after Greg Pascazio has leaved. We found a lot of potential reinforcements, but one of them in particular jumped in our vision because of his good mental abilities. Let me introduce 22-year old Jordan Armstrong. He is coming from Buckie Thistle, who are playing in League One as well. We had to pay £2,000 but that was not a big issue. I think he is a really good upgrade and probably will be immediately one of our starting players. For the first time we managed to hire a player from our affiliated Premiership side Hearts. Right full-back Matthew Thompson is a very good player and will be a huge upgrade, because our fullbacks performed quite bad over the last two seasons. Although Dean Brett seems an upgrade as well, he performs really good so far in our pre-season matches. That means John Morrison is placed back to our B-squad, which he is very angry about. We are trying to send him on loan for the upcoming season.

Then we are in our midfield. An important line because we ‘lost’ almost everybody. But we did a really good job I think. Our first signing is the one I’m the most delighted with. Dean Ritchie is coming from Premier League side Hearts were he ran out of is contract. This 20-year old central midfielder has some incredible attributes and looks already better then our best midfielder, Max Ashmore. I think this guy is going to deliver us lots of assists and probably a good amount of goals as well. Beside Ritchie we have signed another central midfielder called Brian Cameron. A decent experienced 30-year old central midfielder who will be our first back-up. Furthermore we have shifted our own academy talent Kevin Wright into the senior squad.

Although Ritchie was an amazing signing already, we were really close to another spectacular signing. Andy Holliday was running out of his contract at Rangers, where he didn’t play a single match during the last two seasons. We managed to make him interested in Spartans, offered him a very good deal (the best we could offer) and surprisingly he accepts! But at the end he decides to join Championship side Queens Park, which we can’t argue to be honest. I’ve shown his profile as well, so you can see what we missed…

Also our wingers need an upgrade. I’m quite happy with the performances last season from Vezza and our youth academy talent Bill Swanson on the right hand side, but our left-wingers aren’t that great. We give youngster Bryan Shields another chance as a back-up, but we really need a decent starting player. We succeed and found Irishman Cory Galvin. His main attributes are really good for his role we want to use him in, so I’m expecting far more dangerous attacks from the left side of the pitch this season.

Up front we have made another controversial signing. Last year we managed to bring in League One top goalscorer Scott Dunn, now we have the best rated player from last season’s League One brought into our squad. Sean Brown scored a lot of goals as well last season, but in comparison with Dunn he is both far more technical and has better tactical visions. Although we play with only one striker in our stating tactic, we can easily switch to a system with two strikers if needed. Beside of Brown we signed Ben Reilly as a third back-up striker.

Furthermore we signed two youngsters for the future. These two are centre back Sam Sutherland and striker Declan Hannah. Sutherland is already loaned out again, he will join Lowland League side Hawick Royal Albert for the upcoming season. We try to loan Hannah as well, at least that will be far better than performing in the reserve competition with our B-squad. If these two guys reach a point they will be ready to join our first squad then I will show their profiles for sure. So far we only signed players, but actually we lost one player as well. Youngster Gregor Townsley is sold to Queens Park. He is a very pacy winger, but to be honest I’m not really believing in him because of some important attributes are just shit. Queens Park made the minimum bid we wanted for our talents (£20,000 and a 50% resell fee) so he left us. That amount of money is around 10% of our yearly budget, so it’s not really realistic if we turned down this kind of offers. Well, that’s all it for now, below I have shown our transfer overview this far.

Overall I’m delighted with our new signings and really believe that we can compete for at least a play-off spot right now. Actually, it will be very disappointingly if we don’t and I will probably draw my conclusions then. We are still searching for one more centre back, but it isn’t a big issue if we don’t find any. Because of the many new signings and introducing them, I will keep our pre-season run and tactics as short as possible. Although we make use of five defenders we are not playing that defensive. Our both wingers play as an attacking winger, which give space to our fullbacks to run into the opponents half of the pitch. If one of them run ahead we still have four defenders left if we suddenly lose the ball (which happened quite often last season…). The big benefit of this 5-4-1 tactic is that we easily can switch into a 4-4-2 system, only subbing a central defender for a striker. Our pre-season results are decent, although the last two games against both League Two sides worries me a little bit. Especially because of our first competition match opponent; we are playing away against Kelty Hearts, who are relegated from the Championship. So immediately one of the more difficult games this season to start with…

#020 - Spartans realised a big jump ahead

10/09/2021 -- We are doing a really good job so far. After what is thought the probably busiest summer ever within the clubs history, the great efforts the technical staff has made sort out very well. The first match of the season was a hard one on paper, but don’t listen to the papers to much at this level of football. We literally smashed down Kelty Hearts (who are relegated from last season Championship) at their own ground with 0-6! The biggest win for Henderson in his career so far, with debutants Dean Brett and Cory Galvin immediately scoring goals. The following match away against Forres Mechanics went a little bit trickier. Although central defender Jordan Armstrong seemed to score the late winning goal whit a shot from distance from outside the box, but a lucky rebound goal in the dying seconds of the game robbed us from two points.

The next game against Highland League side Oban Saints was not that great either, although we played with a couple of reserve players. Luckily we managed to win the replay and went on into the next round of the Challenge Cup, which we win as well. The board is expecting us to reach into the final, so an early elimination will definitely not satisfying them. Beside the cup matches we won another four competition matches and played one more draw. After seven matches we are the proud leaders of League One so far; we hoped for it of course, but we didn’t expect it was going to happen this soon!

Therefore Henderson looks delighted with the performances of his team: “I knew we did a great job this transfer window, but you never know how it sort out on the pitch. Well, I think we can say that we played very well. The team is far more balanced in comparison with the last two seasons and the new guys impressed me so far. Our tactic is fitting us really good, so now we can slightly build further into the future and see where this will end.” The Spartans manager said. The key benefit from the tactic we are using seems to be the attacking wingers. From all 28 goals this far already 11 of them are scored by one of our 4 wingers. Beside of that they forced 9 assists.

Last minute transfers
The transfer window is closed now, but until the very last day it has barely getting calmer at the club offices at Ainslie Park. We answered a lot of requests for hiring one of our talents, from which we approved many of them, meaning that almost fifteen young prospects are playing on loan for different teams in the Scottish 5th tier Lowland and Highland leagues. But the most notable transfer took place in the final hours of the closing day. The last few weeks the interest in our left-back Gregor McFarlane growth steadily, with some clubs making an offer. We turned them all down because otherwise we didn’t have the time anymore for finding a decent alternative. But the final offer from Dundee United couldn’t be rejected anymore. In all their panic they agreed with our final proposal, which means a £70,000 (!) transfer fee, of course the non-negotiable 50% resell fee and last but not least, we want the Northern Irishman immediately back on loan for the rest of the season. So at the end a win-win situation for all participants.

To be honest, when I joined Spartans I didn’t believed that much in McFarlane. He had some decent attributes, but nothing more. Mainly because of a lack of other decent left-back players he slightly become a starting player and developed himself quite good. From the start of this season he become a fixed starting player and performed really good (just as the rest of the team, which helped him of course). Luckily we can loan him in for the rest of the season so I don’t have to worry about this position. Next season we shall see who is going to replace him. Furthermore we find our back-up central defender. Also on loan, Michael Miller from Premiership side Aberdeen. As I said, he is a decent back-up player. If none of the starting players is getting injured, suspended, or extremely run out of form, he is probably not going to play that much.

Great start! This form will be difficult to sustain but if it can be obtained more often than the patchy form we've been used to seeing in recent years, you're setting yourself up for promotion perfectly.

#021 - Moving on, but not as dominating as we hoped for

25/11/2021 -- Although we lost a couple of matches, played a draw a few times and slightly lose track on leader Stirling Albion, there is nothing to complain for. Or maybe one thing. I’m always a bit nervous when we have to play against the bottom ranked club in the league, because I have strongly the feeling there is somewhat in the very far darkness of the game’s AI that is ‘telling’ the match engine that you have to lose far more than average if you play against the league’s bottom club. Once - in FM16 I thought - I have lost my championship title in the last round, when we lost in our own stadium with 0-1 against the bottom club who scored with an impossible missile from 60 yards… For sure I never forgot that one.

This time I felt exactly the same when we faced Fraserburgh. They are just shit, conceding by far the most goals in the league and have won only one single game. So you probably know what is going to happen… To be honest we played really bad, but despite that I never had the impression we could win this game. They scored two times because of two horrendous defending headers from our side and the third goal in the additional time was an unbelievable shot from some 45 yards I think that was bashed in via the crossbar. I couldn’t be even mad about this loss, for some reason I was already expecting a result like this… You get a sixth sense for things like this when you are playing FM for such a long time… Our other two losses happened in our own stadium as well, which means that we are still unbeaten in away games. A bit remarkable I would say.

Spartans reached into Challenge Cup semi-finals
Our results in both the cup tournaments are quite good as well. Although we needed a replay twice to reach into the Scottish Cup third round and the Challenge Cup quarter finals. Just as last year we didn’t get very lucky with the draw for the Scottish Cup. Premiership side Inverness was visiting Ainslie Park, and although we played a decent game, their individual qualities forced the break-through. So all balls are played on the Challenge Cup, for which the board is expecting us to reach into the final. That is quite fair in my opinion, but it depends heavily on the draw. There are some really good League One sides, and if we met them in an away game it will be very though to go further into the next round. But we had more luck with the draw in this competition rather than the Scottish Cup, so we are taking part in the semi-final! We beat Rothes after a replay and simply defeated Cumbernauld with 3-0. In the semi-final we are facing Stirling Albion, the only side that is above us in the league. Luckily we are playing at our own ground, which might give us a good opportunity to get in to the final! Never look forward, but I do it anyway: the other semi-final is played between two League Two clubs. So if we reach into the final there’s a good chance of winning the cup!

Doig set back to B-squad, Church has coming in
I’m still very happy with my scouting staff. When we are playing matches and doing our thing on the pitch, John Ovenstone and Co are nearly everywhere in Scotland to catch some undiscovered talent. This time they found Daniel Church, hanging on a bar in the outskirts of Glasgow with a pint in his left hand. Church is a left full-back who was one of the so many young talents who walked through Celtic’s Youth Academy, but wasn’t able to reach into the first squad. He couldn’t be spotted on a better moment. First because of our defenders are a bit tired for the huge amount of games we had to play in a short time, but mainly because of our current left-back Graham Doig is just playing terrible. His development looks almost frozen and we decide to place him back to our B-squad and offered the 21-yeard old Church a contract after a one-week internship. “I’m very happy with Daniel. He still is a talented full-back with some specific abilities. If he can pick up the teams current level he probably can be our solution for Gregor McFarlane who is leaving us at the end of this season.” Henderson said about his newest signing.

Note: Thanks for your support again Scott! Indeed a good start and so far we managed to keep the good form alive despite a couple of losses. Hopefully we can lengthen it as long as possible and maybe we can promote directly this season! That would be great, three seasons in this league is definitely enough.

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