Notts County Story – December 2014

Hello dear friends, thanks for coming back to read another episode of the Notts County Football Manager 2010 Story. Things were going alright for my Magpies, we were still top of the table at the end of November with Manchester City three points behind us in 2nd spot. We were already qualified for the first knockout round of the Champions League and also to the quarter finals of the Carling Cup. Let’s see if we managed to keep the unbeaten record in December.

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Hello dear friends, thanks for coming back to read another episode of the Notts County Football Manager 2010 Story. Things were going alright for my Magpies, we were still top of the table at the end of November with Manchester City three points behind us in 2nd spot. We were already qualified for the first knockout round of the Champions League and also to the quarter finals of the Carling Cup. Let’s see if we managed to keep the unbeaten record in December.

The first game of the month was at home with 9th placed Sunderland, a tricky opponent. The day before the game came with some concerning news for me, centre back Havard Nordtveit got injured in training and he was going to be out of action for a whole month. Back to the game then, Sunderland began with a very aggressive approach and they were difficult to break down. It took something special to do that but my Brazilians are fully capable of doing such things: Guilherme dribbled past two opponents and squared it for Sobis, an easy finish and we were 1-0 up. A few minutes later Rafael Sobis doubled the lead with one of his trademark powerful shots from the edge of the area. We were safely in control of the game but it wasn’t over for Rafael Sobis, he banged one in from 20 yards out to earn his personal hat-trick and the three points for the team.

The next game was a less important one, the last Champions League group match. We had to travel to Denmark to meet Brondby but we have nothing more left to play for, we were already qualified. A draw would have secured the first place in the group table though and I was quite confident about getting it. I chose to rest a few first team players and sent in the backups. We were in control of the first half but failed to create any chances to score. We were more convincing in the second half and Zlatan Ibrahimovic did his job again, he scored the only goal of the match. On the other hand left winger Agnaldo picked up a second yellow after a totally useless foul in midifeld.

Not bad for a first time Champions League journey, we finished first in the group and I was hoping for a decent opponent in the next round.


The draw could have gone a lot better though, we were pitched against strong French side Girondins Bordeaux. I would have preferred Twente or Rangers but I guess Atletico Madrid would have been even worse.

Back to the Premier League, we had a tough game coming up, away at 7th placed Burnley. They exceeded the expectations so far and I remember that we had a tough time beating them in the Carling Cup in October, we got a scrappy 2-1 win. This time my lads seemed to be determined to get it over with quickly, we had three corner kicks in the first five minutes. And the third one brought us the opening goal, Bonetti was the quickest to react in the scuffle and coolly placed it home. Rafael Sobis continued his good form and he rounded up two nice team moves to give us a solid three goal lead at the break. The second half was fairly quiet, we were just waiting to get back home with the three points in the bag. There was a bad side to it though, Simon Kjaer picked up a knock and he was going to miss the most important game of the month.


That game was away at 2nd placed Manchester City, they were 5 points behind us before that game and I was hoping at least to keep that gap. I was quite concerned though as my two best centre backs were injured, so I had to start the game with Caceres and Muniesa in the middle of the defense. Manchester City were on a 12 match unbeaten run, I expected a tough night. It began perfectly for us though, Guilherme served Sobis with a slicing through ball, Rafael just had to push it past the keeper. Manchester City reacted furiously, they were dominating the game and Ochoa was forced to show a couple of fantastic saves to stop Luis Suarez and Adebayor. We were 1-0 up at the interval and we continued to defend well into the second half although the pressure was rising. The Citizens got the equalizer eventually, Marc Muniesa lost Adebayor somehow and the striker was left with an easy header. The other centre back had to make a decisive error too, Caceres brought down Robinho into the box with a wild tackle, the penalty kick was converted and we lost the game. It was our first defeat of the season and I was quite disappointed about it. I can say though that we wouldn’t have lost it with Nordtveit and Kjaer in the middle of the defense… Go to the next page to read the rest of the story.

Go to the next page to read the rest of the story.

The fans were quite disappointed too but we had the chance to make them happy again right away, the Nottingham Derby was coming up at Meadow Lane. Forest were struggling to stay clear of relegation, they were down in 16th place. We started the game with great determination, we were all over them and eventually the pressure produced a penalty kick. Gergely Varga slotted it home to give us the lead, then the flood gates opened. Guilherme scored no less than four goals, too many to get into details. Ibrahimovic completed the rout after dribbling past a defender and placing the ball into the net. Game, set and match, a wonderful performance.


The last league game of the month was away at 15th placed Fulham, a team that held us to a 1-1 draw at Meadow Lane in August. We had to score quickly, otherwise we would have been in trouble again. My midfielders were quite creative though and it didn’t take them too long to create chances for the strikers. Rafel Sobis scored the opener after picking up a fine through ball from Hinshelwood and then doubled the lead just before the break by finishing off a counter attack move. It was his 50th goal for the club and he made it 51 right after the break by banging in a cross from Varga. The game looked as good as over but a sudden blackout in our defense allowed Fulham to score twice in three minutes! Things got even worse when I had to take off injured Biglia, I already made all the substitutions so we were down to 10 men. The lads woke up though and kept the game under control until the final whistle. The three points were ours but they came at a very steep price, Biglia had a broken foot and he will be out for no less than 4 months! That’s quite a blow.

We were still top of the table but the gap was now down to only two points. Fourth placed Chelsea have two games in hand, so they probably will climb up the table and challenge for the title too. I guess there will be three teams in the race for the title but we’ll know more about that in the next couple of months.


The last game of the year was the Carling Cup quarter final, away at White Hart Lane. The team was determined not to miss out on the Carling Cup this season and they proved that right away, Hinshelwood played a fine through ball for Defour, his move surprised the defense and the Belgian midfielder slotted it home. Tottenham reacted very well, they took control of the game and deservedly scored the equalizer a few minutes later. We got back on track after the goal, dominated the game until half time but missed a few good chances – the best one was a shot from Ashley Young that hit the post and bounced clear. We continued to play well after the interval and Rafael Sobis made the difference again, a quick dribble and a placed shot gave us the lead again. Tottenham were desperately pushing forward but we were defending well and also creating good chances on counter attacks. There were only seven more minutes to play when the referee awarded Spurs a harsh penalty kick. I didn’t look at the pitch but I guessed that something good happened by hearing the reaction of the crowd, Ochoa saved it! The last minutes of the game were spectacular, Tottenham were pushing forward with everything they had while we were looking to give them the fatal blow on a counter attack. Ashley Young came pretty close again but Gomes denied a certain goal with an unnatural save.

Here are the player stats at the halfway point of the season, sorted by average rating. The two Brazilian strikers were on fire again, they scored 37 goals between them. I am quite sad about Lucas Biglia‘s injury though, he was a very important player and I hope that he will recover in time to play the last games of the season. His injury ruined my transfer plans, I sold Romero and Muniesa and I was hoping to buy a centre back with that money (they were sold for 15 million pounds but only 10 million were poured into the transfer budget). Now I’ll probably have to look for a central midfielder, I’m still thinking about it. 10 million is not a big sum by any means, so I doubt I’ll be able to get a world class player.

Anyway, January will be very important considering that we will have to play the two legs of the Carling Cup semi final. We’ll also have some tough league games with Aston Villa, Arsenal and Everton.

I just hope we won’t be struck by any more long term injuries, the team played pretty well overall but we don’t have too many good backup players. The schedule will become more and more busy in the last months of the season, so we’ll need every player that we have. That’s how it was, thanks for reading and sorry for the slightly sad tone but a broken foot (even virtual) always has that effect on me.

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