“If he’s got even a bawhair of his old man’s fitba skills, we’re ontae a winner, gaffer”
I turned and looked at my new assistant.
“He’s no Clarence’s boy, ya numpty!”
Lasley’s handsome face crumpled into frown as I walked towards the group of claret and amber clad boys playing piggy-in-the-middle or Rondo if you want to sound like you’re the next Pep.
As I approached, one of the older boys with RT printed on his trackie bottoms slipped a slick pass, sending the mitre delta straight through the slim legs of the youngster in the middle of the group who immediately collapsed to the grass ground in exaggerated embarrassment.
“Hey Sherwin! Welcome to Motherwell!”
A New Beginning
Like Sherwin Seedorf, Motherwell Football Club was my new home as I had replaced the popular Stephen Robinson as Head Coach. It was a big pair of stylish suede shoes I had to fill but I was confident my own Adidas Copa Mundials would make a lasting impression here in Lanarkshire. The men’s first team are in the Scottish Premiership – the top tier of the league pyramid – and it was where I intended to keep them.
The Well, although an established Premiership side, have never been a big fish. The fact its Scotland’s tenth most honoured club with 4 trophies tells its own story. It’s close proximity to Glasgow and the still very prevalent religious leanings of many in the West of Scotland meant a lot of its potential local football fans are lost to the two Ugly Sisters of Scottish Football. Following a decent season, Robinson had moved on to a bigger gig, which left me as their Football Manager for season 2019/20 in my first job since calling time on the mediocrity some may call my career.
It could have been so different though as the team had an abysmal start to last season including a 7-1 shellacking from Rangers. They turned it around after Christmas and finished in 8th. The Premiership has 12 teams that play each other three times before a top/bottom split. Last year after finishing all 38 games The Well were comfortably above relegation. The key to the turnaround? The introduction and subsequent impact of some of their youngsters in particular David Turnbull. His form was rewarded with a club record sale of £3.25million to champions, Celtic. However the medical discovered an unseen issue with his knee that required corrective surgery that scuppered the transfer so Turnbull returned to Fir Park. Good news for me.
The board – and Motherwell is a truly supporter owned club – laid out their vision for this year – their ambition is to aim for top half of the table.
The academy is the key to my plans to achieve this. Before his departure Robinson bought in young and cheap – the budget can only allow for minimal spend – bringing in the likes of Seedorf, Christopher Long, Devante Cole (on loan son of Man Utd and Newcastle legend Andrew Cole), Declan Gallagher and Liam Polworth. I plan to integrate these new faces with academy players like James Scott, Allan Campbell and the aforementioned Turnbull.
I want to spend my career at Motherwell FC and bring through as many academy players as possible whilst realising the ambitions of the board. I have no plans to buy anyone for cash however I’m happy to scour the released and semi-pro market for young prospects or players who’ve not made that jump from youth teams to senior squad at bigger clubs. The tentacles of the youth recruitment operations at the Old Firm reach far not to mention rivals like Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs and even Dundee Utd who all make it tough for us to attract the best talent even in our own back garden let alone across the country. All this before we even consider the vultures of England where the money on offer makes competing with even National League clubs difficult for us. However players dumped from club academies as not being good enough may hold a few rough diamonds that I can polish and profit from.
Budget is a major factor for assessing my performance at the club. The wage bill must be kept in check as the club cannot afford to return to the dark days of the 2002 administration. The Well Society, a supporter’s club, bought a majority shareholding in Motherwell FC in 2016 with the aim to create a club that sits at the heart of the community. As its manager it is my job to keep the team performing to its full potential and as its custodian I have the added responsibility of maintaining the sound financial work and leave a legacy for future generations of the community.
This is no ordinary job.
Coming Up Next
So I have chosen my own team, Motherwell FC, as my career save for Football Manager 2020. It’s the team local to where I was brought up, I have a Season Ticket for Fir Park and one of the first games I can remember being at as a wee boy was the Scottish Cup Final win in 1991. There is emotional investment here – I hope I don’t get sacked four games in.
It’s been a few game editions since I started in Scotland with Clyde FC in Football Manager 2017. Then the challenge was to take a small club from the bottom tier to as high as possible. With The Well the objectives are:
- to compete in the Scottish Premiership
- bringing young academy players through the system into the first team
- develop the club facilities to leave a lasting legacy
- keep the club financially stable through strict and sensible budgeting supplemented by profitable player transfers
Over the next few blogs, I will look at the squad, emerging talents to look out for at MFC and through the Scottish leagues, tactical plans and give a quick overview to those new to the Scottish game. So expect to see some actual Football Manager 2020!
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to reach out via twitter or on FM Slack. Cheers, Stuart
NB images taken from wikipedia – let me know if any copyright issues.