We’re back and on the edge of the sack! But we’re not done yet, a massive 5-3 win against Cwmbran Celtic at the end of episode 2 kept us alive but still down in 10th place which is simply not good enough. With the board expectation to finish 4th and pressure growing, could we push on now and keep talk of the sack to a minimum? A run of games against teams all higher than us in the league was a perfect opportunity to close the gap…
And we certainly made the most of it! Picking up 8 points from a possible 12 across 4 games, 3 of which were away. This didn’t make a huge difference in terms of league position as we remained 10th, however we closed the gap significantly which meant if we could put together a good run we had a real chance of finishing in the top half at least.
A great 1-0 home win against 4th place Cambrian & Clydach made it 6 games unbeaten and put us up to 9th in the table. Unfortunately the unbeaten run was halted as we were completely outplayed away at 5th place Briton Ferry. Fortunately up next was a trip to relegation threatened Undy Athletic, a nice easy 3 points to get us back on track… that’s what I thought anyway. We played awfully and in the end were lucky to escape with a point after an undeserved 92nd minute equaliser. This left us languishing in 9th place as we approached March and the latter stages of the season, pressure was building again…
We needed another big performance at home against relegation candidates Trefelin Boys & Girls Club and thankfully the boys pulled through to round of February with a win that kept me fighting another day! I’m starting to have a touch of the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s about me in this save, whenever I’m on the verge of the sack the boys step up and get the victory!
We were in 9th place heading into March and with only 10 games to go we needed to start putting together a serious run of victories to have any chance of finishing in the top 4, or at least earning a respectable top half finish.
I know on the face of it the results above don’t look like something I should be happy with when we needed victories, but you have to be realistic. Great wins away at Risca and at home against Taffs Well were sandwiched between a close-fought loss away to 2nd place Afan Lido and a draw against top of the league Camarthen, who only salvaged a draw thanks to a 90th minute equaliser against me. So overall I had taken 7 points from a run of games where I only thought 6 were likely, and had climbed to 8th in the league for the first time since I took the job back in October.
With 4 games left only 4 wins would leave us with any chance of meeting the boards expectation of a 4th place finish, however in reality the team currently occupying that position, Briton Ferry, only needed 4 points from the remaining games to guarantee that place so I just wanted to win every game and finish as high as possible.
Well it’s fair to say I kept my end of the deal, 4 wins to end the season in style… but where did I finish? At the start of this round of fixtures I was 8th, there were 5 teams including myself within 6 points of each other who could have all swapped positions in the league…
Yeah I don’t know how but WE DID IT! Snuck into 4th place by 1 point ahead of Briton Ferry and Cambrian & Clydach. Thoroughly deserved in my opinion as in 17 games from that job saving 5-3 win against Cwmbran Celtic at the beginning of December, we won 11, drew 4 and lost only 2, taking 37 points out of a possible 51.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “it must have been some collapse from Briton Ferry in the last few games of the season”… understatement of the year:
They won only 2 from their last 8 games! But who cares, we survived a whirlwind season, twice avoiding the sack and finished by meeting the board objective of finishing 4th, and were duly rewarded with the offer of a new contract.
As you can see, next season the board are expecting us to put up a bit of a fight to be promoted to the JD Cymru Premier, which I do think is realistic. It’s tough to get out of this division though as only the champion is promoted, there is no play-offs or anything like that. However I am confident we can at least put up a bit of a fight for promotion and the title next season.
One of the most frustrating things about this save so far has been the inability for me to obtain coaching badges due to my club’s finances. As you can see from the below the club is quite significantly in the red and despite 4 requests to undertake a coaching course to obtain my National C Licence I keep getting knocked back, which means it may take a little while for me to really start moving through the ranks but we’ll get there!
Join me next time where I will be taking you through my first pre-season as a manager ahead of the 2021/22 season and navigating a huge overhaul of players and staff to try to build a club capable of challenging for the title and promotion, all whilst trying to trim running costs and repair financial damage.. easier said than done that’s for sure!
I will post episode 1 of season 2 on New Year’s Eve as we’re all locked down anyway so may as well try to provide some nice reading for you all! Don’t forget you can subscribe below to have updates sent directly to your email and again if you have any thoughts, tips or feedback leave them in the comments below or get in touch with us through our contact page or social media. If you’re enjoying then make sure you like and share with other FM enthusiasts!
While you’re here if you want to follow more challenges go over to Scott (the co-author of this site) challenge where he is on a journey to rebuild Bolton Wanderers and take them on a Europa League run! Link: https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/bolton-back-to-europa-s1e1/
Thank you for reading and see you again soon!