Hello and welcome to my West Bromwich Albion story. Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Darren and I live in the north of England, football is my passion. I have been playing football management games since the early Championship Managers, but it has gone to a new level since Football Manager came out. I play for hours on end most nights and tend to start every new FM game managing Newcastle Utd. I supported the Magpies from an early age and like to manage them towards glory (seen as it doesn’t happen much in real life.) I would describe my management style as cautious, I can’t stand a dodgy defence and sloppy goals. Johnny gave me the opportunity to write on football manager story and I would like to thank him for that, I have followed this site for pushing on a year now. Its a great collaboration of stories in which the reader can gain a lot of help and tips along the way. I just hope that I can live up to the high standard of management displayed within everyone’s stories. Anyway enough about me lets get on with my West Brom game.
West Brom seemed like the perfect choice for me, they have a great defence and wide selection of strikers. With such a talented side I really want to get them back into the top flight this season. The board seem to agree, they also gave me a decent transfer budget for the Championship. With £2.3million I have enough to buy a couple of good players and maybe cover some injury problems.
With my best striker Miller out injured for the season I decided to look for a deadly forward. This was when I stumbled upon Lazovic, a skillful striker with an eye for goal. My next bargain was a Danish central midfielder, his name is Kristensen. This maestro can pass and has a real footballers brain, not bad for £900K. With a few injuries and my midfield looking a little skinny I decided to get some backup. Danny Holla was on the loan list and can play as a defensive or central midfielder, he will be deployed from the bench.
Lets take a quick look at my summer signings. No one left the Hawthornes as I haven’t decided who is needed yet. Lazovic will start in the first team and depending on his blending in period could be very important.
Thomas Kristensen will be used as a rotation player. With Dorrans in the side I can’t really play him every game but will use the Dane as cover and against easier opposition.
As I have already mentioned Holla will be strictly backup. Unless there is a major injury or he turns in an amazing performance Danny will stay on the bench.
So you have seen my new signings, now its time to take a quick look at my starting 11. With Carson in goal I have a top English keeper backed up by a great defence for the Championship. Tamas is on loan and will be used as a ball playing defender, this will give him the freedom to use his good passing skills. I think Koren and Brunt are two of the best wingers in my league and what they lack in pace is made up for in technique. Simon Cox may not be my second choice striker. With Bednar, Luke Moore and Chris Wood I will be picking on performances alone.
OK so you have seen most of my pre-season, the important bits anyway. I was going to leave it there but couldn’t help playing my first four or five games. As I said football manager is very addictive to me. So I will share some results with you now, just a little teaser until my next post.
I was to start the season against a very strong Newcastle side. With the home advantage I was fairly confident and played my best eleven in a 4-4-2. My side started strongest and bar one early scare on the counter we were showing Newcastle up. Our domination payed off on 28 minutes when Lazovic was played clean through for his debut goal. This was followed up by a penalty that was converted by Tamas on 33 minutes. After half-time Newcastle showed a little more commitment but found themselves caught out on the counter. Simon Cox finished the game off with a well placed shot after 86 minutes. A great performance and confidence building result. I never thought we’d run out 3-0 winners.
Our next game was away from home to Nottingham Forest. They have a good young side and are very dangerous going forward. I stook with my 4-4-2 but changed the strategy to counter. Not sure why but my players just couldn’t pick themselves up after going one behind before half-time. I wasn’t too disappointed though because Forest are difficult to beat away from home.
Another away day greeted me next on the fixture list. Peterborough were my opponents and I am well aware of their potential for an upset after managing Newcastle. Even after my loss to Nottm Forest I decided to stay loyal to the 4-4-2. Using a counter strategy I fielded a strong side despite fatigue. The only change was Slory in upfront for Cox. Apart from a couple of chances each, this game was quite boring. Almost like neither side wanted to lose. This prompted me to bring on Bednar for Lazovic, I had a good feeling about him and the game was still mine for the taking. Sure enough my boys came out fighting in the second half and Bednar grabbed the winner from a scrappy goal well into injury time. 1-0 WBA, sometimes it doesn’t matter how you win them as long as you get all three points.
With 6 points gained from my last three games I wanted to avoid complacency against Ipswich. Having said that I needed to rest a few players due to fatigue. Its a long season and I hate injuries so prefer to avoid them where possible. Kristensen and Luke Moore started their first games of the season. My 4-4-2 hadn’t let me down too much so far, therefore I stook with it and used a standard strategy. My defence were solid throughout this game, Ipswich barely saw my goal. After dominating the first half I got my reward with a wonderfully struck shot from Luke Moore on 44 minutes. The second half didn’t provide anymore goals but I was chuffed with the attacking display.
So a fairly succesful start to season. We may not have carried on thrashing sides like in the Newcastle game but the performances were fairly consistent. It takes a while for teams to get going with my tactics. One result I didn’t right about was our domination of Barnet in the League Cup 1st round. I fielded a reserve side and used the opportunity to rest some key players. With 9 points from a possible 12 I am quite confident going into the rest of this season.
Quite a few sides have enjoyed some good form. Ignoring the table for a second I think my main competition will be Newcastle, Middlesborough and Sheffield Utd. Lying second in the table is important early on and I hope my side can build on their performances to date.
I will post you next time with reports from the end of August and all of September. From these fixtures I have picked out Sheffield Utd away, Middlesborough away and Doncaster at home as a challenge. These three sides are very dangerous and could cause me a lot of problems.
So thats it for my first post as WBA manager. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you back for my next installment. Please feel free to comment with any questions and I will reply as promptly as time allows me. Thanks again guys.