Liverpool Noise music writer, Jamie Hankin, is using the Coronavirus Lockdown to bring you all the action from his Football Manager exploits.  Up The Purps!

Recent circumstances have led to the majority of us having a lot more time on our hands than we could imagine. The current lockdown feels akin to the six-week summer holiday we used to have as kids yet laced with uncertainty and worry. To fill this time and keep our minds energised and spirits high, the emphasis for many has been on devoting to new hobbies and activities. The strive for a new adventure to get our blood pumping again. 

In light of the football season being deferred for the foreseeable future, I took the plunge, parted with forty quid and decided to rekindle my love affair with Football Manager.

In previous frolics with the game, I’ve been unimaginative and played as Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s shoes feel very tricky to fit these days and to be honest, I don’t possess the flamboyance or pearly white teeth to be the man that follows the man. After some toing and froing, I landed on a very left field idea to take the reigns of a much different project and found base at New Bucks Park, the home of City of Liverpool FC in the 12th tier of English football. 

To throw this out there early, I’m no FM expert and have more in common tactically with Fergie out of The Black Eyed Peas than Fergie at United. Basically, what I’m asking of you is to not be expecting Roy of the Rovers stuff. There’s every chance I’ll be booted out of the door before the ink has dried on my tactics board. Whatever happens, we’ll be sharing the adventure together. I hope you find it entertaining even if it’s reveling in my misfortune. So without any further ado, let’s get the ball rolling. Up The Purps!

Pre-Season

Your first day of any new job is always a bit up in the air and mine here was no different. It started off steady with the meeting with my new boss, Paul Manning who set out my objectives. Quite reasonable to be honest. He’s after a top half finish and bit of interest in the cups. However, then the realisation struck that I had no staff whatsoever. No coaches, scouts, physios. Zilch. I managed to scrape the barrel and recruit an assistant manager, goalkeeper coach, a scout and a physio. Based on their lowly stats, I imagine that they’re just grateful for the opportunity to get out of the house for a bit. 

Having ticked that off, I then had a look at the players I was working with. Another sobering thought I must admit. Don’t quote me on this but I think I started with a squad of around fifteen and about ten of them were either centre halves or centre mids. Absolutely nothing out wide. Just a right back and a left back. I have no idea what formation they were playing before I rocked up. Possibly a 6-4-0 with loads of lads in the middle of the park just wellying it in the air and scrapping for headers.

Although that would be a laugh, there’s serious business to attend to and I went about building a squad. As the great Mike Bassett once said, we’ll be playing “four, four f***ing two”. No messing around or being clever for now. There’s method to the madness though, I won’t go into any season unless I have at least two players in each position. So we went into the market full of hope but without pennies. A budget of £0.00 so it’s just the loan market we can shop in. I raided a few National League sides youth squads to bulk out my squad. A special mention to the lovely people at Chester FC who done me a favour and sent me a few wide options and after a bit of admin, I assembled my squad. The boys who will determine how far this venture into the unknown will go. 

Our first friendly was away at Stocksbridge where we somehow snatched a 2-2 from being 2-0 down at half time. We were battered from pillar to post in all honesty but a sumptuous lob from striker Jamie McDonald and a half volley from his partner Elliott Nevitt ensured my reign began without defeat.

The unbeaten run didn’t last long though as we came off by far second best in a 5-2 thumping away at Gloucester. Again, the only highlights were another special strike from McDonald and centre midfielder Karl Clair with a rocket from 25 yards out. Scoring goals clearly doesn’t seem to be a problem but defensively, we leave a lot to be desired so far.

I mean, maybe there’s just going to be a thrilling YouTube highlights reel to be made out of City of Liverpool FC. Viewers worldwide will think we’re the absolute business with some of these strikes but it is essential that we do not tell them the score line. However, The Purps went wild and had a lot of fun at Chadderton Reserves as we bounced back with a 7-2 victory. A first half hat-trick for Elliott Nevitt and a second half hatty for Lewis Codling. “Feed the fish and he will score” rang out in the living room as we gave The Purps fans something to cheer and a journey home to remember. 

The goals kept coming for The Purps as we rounded off the pre-season friendlies in style. A 3-0 triumph away at Richmond Raith Rovers was well received with another goal for the fish, Lewis Codling and a brace from E-Nev, Elliott Nevitt. The last friendly even more emphatic with a 4-0 thumping of Walshaw. The long-range specialist Karl Clair with another beauty from outside the box and Jamie McDonald came off the bench and bagged himself a double to force his way into the reckoning. Our striking options look tasty at the moment with McDonald, Codling and Nevitt all amongst the goals.

With the defence and midfield looking surer, the Purps are bouncing into the new season. The real test now comes at the weekend however, as we begin our league campaign at home to Workington. We’re on a road to paradise. Here we go. Here we go. 

Jamie Hankin