A Season With The Spartans – Part 3 – In Our Own Hands

Welcome back to Malta and to the Hamrun Spartans season as we continue to press on with acclimatising ourselves to football in this part of the world. Last time out in Part 2, it was a fast start before 3 consecutive draws began to halt the progress of the team, sitting in third place within the league standings.

In this one, I’ll be cracking on with December through to the end of March with the aim of trying to get some winning form back to propel my side to the top of the league. The transfer window does open on the 28th December in Malta but it doesn’t really apply to us as due to poor finances, all my work is done in the free agency market.

Not much else to do now but crack on through the months, however big news at the club as there is a big change in the boardroom…

December 2020

It was time for the Hamrun Spartans presidential election and there was a sense of intrigue as there was a new face running things around here following the results!

Christopher Grech takes over as a new chapter starts for Hamrun Spartans. Much like a new owner, I could only think will I be retained or was this the end?

I’m here to stay for now but one thing that the club does need is investment. However, Mr. Grech confirmed that won’t be the case at this moment in time. Which looking at the finances, could become problematic.

-£371,837 in the red as player wages dominate the expenditure for the club as the gate receipts and sponsorship money come nowhere close to matching this. This is at the start of month so don’t be fooled by the income being so low, its usually around the £10k mark meaning its a sizeable loss month on month.

Match time now though with three league fixtures taking us up to the end of the year, it’s key that the draw run is stopped and we get some consistent wins on the board.

The first match was against Maltese football heavyweights Floriana. It was a great first half as the strike force of Franklin Sasere & Seydou Doumbia got the goals for Hamrun, the second half was average with Floriana scoring in the 77th minute but the boys held on for a 2-1 victory.

Senglea Athletic were up next and it was a lot more comfortable for my team, bringing a 4-0 win. The main man Seydou Doumbia was at it again with a brace with midfielders Blas Cittadini & Matthew Guillaumier also chipping in with the goals.

The last game of the month was against Gudja United and this was an absolute obliteration! A massive 7-0 victory as the boys ran riot for 90 minutes in an attacking masterclass. New striker Amadou Samb (announced in part 2) grabbed a hattrick as did star man Seydou Doumbia, defender Nikola Vukanac got amongst it with a header as well.

A very good month in three wins from three, as the top of the table battle continues on.

One piece of news coming out of December, is the long awaited signing of midfielder Ebrima Sohna. Sohna as you may remember was on trial in the summer which included him scoring 4 goals in two pre-season matches, however his wage demands were too much meaning I couldn’t agree a deal.

Sohna has basically been on trial continuously since then and on my fourth or fifth attempt of signing him, the midfielder finally dropped down his wage expectations and we got a 2 year deal over the line. Buzzing with this one, I think he will run midfield in games for us!

January 2021

Into January and the games really pick up with six fixtures, five coming in the league and its back to cup action with the FA Trophy Fourth Round.

Sirens will be our opponents in that fourth tie later in the month but first we had a rehearsal for it if you like in the league. A very professional job as the boys brought home a 2-0 win. A day for the midfielders as playmaker Matthew ‘Gulli’ Guillaumier and debutant Ebrima Sohna scored the goals as they look to develop their central midfield partnership.

Sliema Wanderers visited the Centenary Stadium and I unfortunately experienced my first loss as Hamrun manager as the team collapsed on me, losing 3-1. After going 1-0 down, Gulli equalised but Sliema scored their second minutes later which killed the momentum, they completed the victory in the 73rd minute.

A response was needed and I got exactly that against top 4 side Birkirkara with an emphatic 5-1 win! A rampant first half as Seydou Doumbia scored from the spot, club captain and defender Emerson Marcelina got a double and Ebrima Sohna’s long ranger had us 4-0 up at half time. The second half was quieter with Amadou Samb getting the fifth goal before Marcelina then scored at the wrong end with an own goal. Great response!

The form slightly dipped again however, drawing 0-0 with Gzira United. The boys had enough chances but it was just one of them days where the team were not clinical in front of goal.

A step way from the league for the FA Trophy Fourth Round where the team would be facing Sirens. The team got straight back amongst the goals with another fantastic 5-1 victory. A slightly rotated squad in this one, goals came from Joseph Mbong, Franklin Sasere (2), Zied Soussi & Dodo.

To finish January, it was a game with Balzan but the stuttering league form continued with a 2-2 draw. After taking the lead twice, the first through Franklin Sasere and the second through Dodo, poor defending allowed Balzan a 86th minute equaliser against the run of play.

One of them up and down months in the league, it’s key that I find a way to bring back the form we saw in the first two months of the season.

As mentioned earlier on, there wasn’t any real magic within the transfer window as all the club could afford was free agents. After establishing a good relationship with an agent, this allowed to easy negotiable signings in Panama defender Oscar Linton and Trinidad and Tobago winger Akeem Roach. Both have been brought in on short term contracts until the end of the season to provide first team cover.

DP-FM Tip – Especially when you’re at a club who may be strapped for cash or not have a lot in the budget, pay attention to your relationships with agents in the game. Majority of agents have a large database of players under them and if the relationship is good, you can often get cut price contracts and negotiations will be smooth. This helped me a lot when signing Linton & Roach for Hamrun.

Despite not being overly active, the transfer window round up shows that Ebrima Sohna was certainly good business being counted as one of the key transfers.

February 2021

The games keep rolling in February with four in the league and an FA Trophy Quarter Final.

First up was Hibernians who are bouncing around mid-table. In fairness, they gave us a bit of a game but a 2-1 win was secured. It started badly as Gulli got a 14th minute red card but the boys rallied and took a 2-0 lead thanks to a double from Seydou Doumbia. Hibernians did get a late goal but the boys done enough to hold on.

A travel to face Valletta and it was a more convincing result finishing 3-0 to Hamrun. Another double from Seydou Doumbia and David Yeboah came off the bench to grab himself and overdue goal.

Against Mosta in this one and the goals kept rolling with a 4-2 victory. Seydou Doumbia got his third brace in a row converting his third penalty in as many games as our quick tricky wingers continuously get fouled in the box. Ebrima Sohna got two as well showing his great impact since joining. Mosta’s two goals were way too late to muster a comeback.

Tarxien Rainbows visited us and despite us having 26 shots, it was a misleading 1-0 victory for my side. Amadou Samb earned himself a start and made a further case for himself grabbing the only goal of the game.

It was time for the FA Trophy Quarter Final against Balzan, with the boys giving a very assured performance bringing a 3-0 victory. New winger Akeem Roach got his first goal for the club and it was another Seydou Doumbia brace…any chance of a hattrick Seydou? 8 goals in 5 February games for our star man and more importantly a place in the semi finals!

100% record this month, getting some imperial form at just the right part of the season.

March 2021

Into March and a little bit quieter in terms of matches with only three league games.

An outstanding performance to start the month against Lija Athletic, bringing a 4-0 win. Left winger Dodo carried on his impressive season with another goal before Seydou Doumbia answered my call and bagged a hattrick! Dominant display from the team, a delight to see!

The goal rush continued with a 4-1 victory over Sta Lucia. The man on fire Seydou Doumbia got another brace making it 13 goals in 7 games, winger Joseph Mbong got one and Franklin Sasere completed the rout. Sta Lucia’s goal came on the 49th minute. This victory meant a new club record was achieved with 7 wins in a row!

The month was finished against Floriana where it finished 2-2. A difficult start finding ourselves 2-0 down after 29 minutes, including an own goal from Nehar Sadiki who was making his first start of the season following a cruciate ligament injury. Nehar Sadiki redeemed himself heading home a corner to get a goal back but as the boys chased an equaliser time was running out. A late corner was taken which was cleared back wide before Gulli fired a low cross in and rather luckily hitting the shin of a Floriana defender and deflecting in…get out of jail card was definitely used there!

League Table

Well there’s been a lot of football played over these last few months but the main question is, where does that leave my Spartans in the league?

The win run gets us to the top of the table with what will be a very important two games in hand. Sirens and Birkirkara will be sure to keep on the pressure so it has to be full steam ahead in an attempt to clinch the title.

Finances

Due to the new president refusing to invest in the club, the balance continues to deteriorate as we sit at -£739,691. A lot of contracts need to be renewed but with the current finances the club is not allowing enough money on renewals, meaning some big players could be calling it a day at the club come the end of the season – precarious times.

What’s Next?

Part 4 will mark the season finale of this project as I look to secure a double with the league and FA Trophy. The squad will be looked at as we will get an insight on what the squad will look like when our time here comes to an end.

Whilst you are exploring the DP-FM site, go take a look at Louis’ (Co-blogger/creator of DP-FM) challenge where he is embarking on his series ‘Unemployed, Unskilled & Inexperienced’ which is currently on season 10. This entails Louis starting from the bottom of his management career with no coaching badges and low attributes to add to the fun!

To go from the start – https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

Or to go from the current season – https://dpfmblog.com/2021/05/24/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-s10-ep-1-a-decade-in/

As always thanks for reading guys, Malta has been great fun so far and part 4 will be action packed for sure! Take care all.

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