So, I went on to Football Manager and started unemployed.
To my surprise, Gillingham and Carlisle were available to manage, so I applied for the job. Sadly, I was unsuccessful. It was July 2007, and the English season starts in August, so nobody was likely to get the sack until about Christmas. So I let the game sim until then.
As New Year came around, jobs became available. I applied to be boss of Preston North End, but again they didn't pick me. 0/3 so far! Other jobs that came were unattractive. The only sacked managers were those in relegation trouble, and in some cases they were difficult to save. Sampdoria, of the Italian League, became available. They were 18th in Serie A, but had a brilliant side. Sadly, they had no fit goalkeepers, and many of the team was injured or wanted to be added to the transfer list. Their Chairman wanted to leave the club, and offered me the job with a transfer budget of £0. Considering there were only 10 fit players that I could see, I decided to dodge the bullet, and turned down their contract offer.
As the year rolled on, bit part jobs came and went. There were many managers that were "under pressure", but I decided not to declare my interest in their jobs. It seemed very rude... I wanted a good reputation!
Before I knew it, the 2007/08 season was in the books. Manchester United won the Premier League. Alex Ferguson retired, leaving a job at Manchester United up for grabs. I applied, but lost out to Fabio Capello, who in real life manages the English national team. The other available jobs were again for teams that had just been relegated and were not willing to fund a revival, so I decided to hold tight again, waiting for a bigger job.
Euro 2008 would be the next opportunity. England had Romania, Austria and Spain in their group, and finished in second place, losing only to Spain. However, they only drew with Romania, which was odd. England lost to Switzerland 2-1 in the Quarter Final. The FA were unimpressed, but let McLaren keep his job.
As the 2008/09 season rolled around, there were no real high profile casualties in the manager world. Lyon was the next job I applied for, in November, when they were "only" 9th in the French League. However, Didier Deschamps got that job.
Meanwhile, England had drawn Scotland, Slovenia, Turkey, Bosnia & Herzegovina and San Marino. The winner of the group, and 8 best runner-ups advance into the 2010 World Cup. McLaren got off to a bad start however. England lost 2-1 to Scotland at Wembley, and then drew 1-1 with Turkey. They were in third place in the group when they then drew 1-1 with Scotland in the return match. McLaren got the sack.
So, I applied for the England job! And I got it! The comment was that they wanted a young English manager at the helm, and the Premier League managers weren't interested. So, amid much media bemusement, I became manager!
I took charge with the table looking like this:
|5||Template:Team Bosnia and Herzegovina||6||2||1||3||11||12||7||-1|
|6||Template:Team San Marino||6||0||0||6||1||22||0||-21|
So, third place, behind the Auld Enemy and Turkey. My first game is coming up, against Bosnia & Herzegovina at Wembley. I had to pick a squad of 26 along with my assistant Terry Venables, here's who I chose:
- Goalkeepers - Paul Robinson, David James, Scott Carson
- Defenders - John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Gary Neville (c), Sol Campbell, Leighton Baines, Ledley King, Micah Richards
- Midfielders - Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, David Beckham, Ashley Young, Stuart Downing, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Joe Cole, Michael Johnson, Gareth Barry
- Forwards - Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Andy Carroll, Dean Ashton, Jermaine Defoe
My team will be a 4-4-2, and it will be:
G Paul Robinson
LB Ashley Cole
CB John Terry
CB Rio Ferdinand
RB Gary Neville (c)
LM Stuart Downing
CM Steven Gerrard
CM Frank Lampard
RM Shaun Wright-Phillips
CF Michael Owen
CF Wayne Rooney
S1 David James
S2 Micah Richards
S3 Leighton Baines
S4 David Beckham
S5 Michael Johnson
S6 Andy Carroll
S7 Ashley Young
Since I took charge (Feb 09), a few things have happened to the team:
- Michael Owen has become England's leading goalscorer of all-time (51 goals in 102 games so far).
- David Beckham has passed the 100 caps mark. I'm using him on the bench because he no longer has the fitness to last for 90 minutes, but it still a quality player.
- Andy Carroll. Leighton Baines and Michael Johnson have become good enough for England in my opinion, Venables suggested including them in the squad, and I'm giving them the chance in my opening game - B & H shouldn't be too difficult.
- Goalkeeper is a problem. England has no World Class goalie, but Robinson is #1 in the public's eye, according to Venables. So I'm going with him.
- Downing has established himself on the left side of midfield under McLaren, so I'm sticking with him.
My next act was to fire some of the lower quality coaches, and sign higher quality coaches to replace them. Ray Clemence is the Goalkeeping coach, rated "Continental", and also I signed some "World Class" English coaches, Dave Shannon from Liverpool being probably the best.
The fixture after this is Turkey away in June, followed by a friendly against the USA and a qualifier against San Marino in September. The qualification finishes with a match at home to Slovenia in October. I have arranged two friendlies against Australia and South Korea away in November. I should get no fewer than 9 points from these games, but I need to beat Turkey to secure second place, and a place in the playoffs, which will be played in November instead of my intercontinental friendlies against South Korea and Australia.
That's where I've got to for now... I'll let you know how I do in my next post.