The continuing misadventures of first-time manager Ian Football, leading hapless team Worcester City FC to their uncertain future in Football Manager 2012. Previous installments are here.
I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. Hell, I even knew that it was going to happen more often or not. That didn't make it any less painful when, for the first time, my team lost. And lost hard.
Accrington Stanley? Who are they? Exactly.
Would it really be so bad if I quit right now?
This is, of course, part of the grand drama of football management. It's more than a job. It's a personal crusade to prove that I am a man of talent, intelligence and near-godhood. When my team loses - I lose. And I look like a mug, in the eyes of my players, my team's fans, the media (or, at least, those elements of the media that give a toss about the semi-rural West Midlands county of Hereford & Worcester) and most of all, the unseen yet impossibly sinister Boardroom. The secret overlords of Worcester City, miserly masters of the team's money and thus destiny. If they want me gone, then.. well, I'm gone.
5-2. To Accrington Stanley. It felt like being punched in the balls by a pygmy. I know, I know that Worcester are even more pygymy-esque of stature than Accrington, but I was on a high, convinced that I could turn things around for this team, off the back of a half-dozen successful friendlies. I could have dealt with a minor loss, but 5-2? That's insulting. That gives me the fear.
Worst of all, things went so well in the first half. We got one in the net in the first ten minutes, they equalised a little later, then we headed off for our oranges with a comfortable, confident 2-1. I got cocky. I thought this semi-success was all about me, and not about my players. So I brought on a half-dozen subsitutes, noting that some of my men were looking a little knackered and deserved a break from their hard work. I, Ian Football, could make any players dance for me. Or so I believed.
We were barely back on the pitch before Accrington landed their second goal. The next two followed in a blur, while I made pathetic motions about assuming defensive tactics. The subs may have had fresher legs, but clearly they disrupted whatever flow the first-half squad had arranged. Or maybe Accrington had just been toying with me, and now claimed their vengeance.
I left the match with my tail between my legs, unsure what to do next. I looked at my inbox. Read the headlines. Ah yes, my pre-match interview with BBC Hereford & Worcester [out-of-character note: I, i.e. Alec, did work experience there years ago, oddly]. I'd forgotten about that. Seems I'd called into question Accrington manager John Coleman's ability, and his reliance on delegating to his staff.
Christ, I wish I'd delegated more to my staff.
No budget left to spend. No-hopers on the squad. A no-hoper managing them. What to do?
Free player loans, of course.