Tag Archives: Football Manager stories

Off to a rousing start

My adventure/Quixotic quest to get Canada into the 2010 World Cup is off to a far better start that I’d planned. As mentioned before, I decided to take a defensive/counter-attacking approach in the hope of minimizing the damage. The whole plan hinged on two things: 1) not giving up a lot of goals and 2) being able to make my chances count. Since I went into my first game with 1 point from the previous 6 matches (under the previous manager, who was canned after a horrible Gold Cup showing), I realized that I needed about 9 points from my next 6 matches to be in contention for the 4th spot (which is a playoff with the South American 5th place team).

I figured my first match would be an experimental match, in which I’d try the tactics and see how they worked. I didn’t know this would happen:

Canada 2-1 Mexico

Canada 2-1 Mexico

Yeah, you read that correctly. Two goals from Olivier Occean sealed the deal for me. I still don’t know how I did it, even after looking at the stats. I took my victory and moved on, though, to the next two World Cup Qualifiers, against Honduras and the US.

The first match was, once again, at BMO Field. The pundits, in their pre-match analysis, decided this would be a close game. Most predicted a draw. I decided to go for the win. And win I did, except it was a sloppy game. Errors abounded and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Canada 2-1 Honduras

Canada 2-1 Honduras

The third match was the toughest. It was agaisnt the USA, which have already qualified for the World Cup with 17 points from CONCACAF play. I took a decidedly different tone in the press conference, trying to encourage my squad, to give them confidence. Of course, the press miscontrued my remarks. Curse you, MSM!

Pre-match press conference v. USA

Pre-match press conference v. USA

Nevertheless, we didn’t change any tactics though I had to put some different players in, owing to injuries. One of the things about running the national team is that I can’t get players match fit, like I can when I’m running a club. Thus, some of the players I called up were still not in game shape so there were two injuries to deal with. So, I plugged those players in and hoped for the best. And the best happened:

USA 0-1 Canada

USA 0-1 Canada

It was a Josh Simpson goal on 43 minutes that put me up. To be fair, the US played a few players that hadn’t played a lot since they have their World Cup spot locked up. But still, with a squad featuring Altidore, Donovan, and Bradley, it was hardly a U-17 team I was playing. This was, by far, the biggest win during my tenure, even bigger than the Mexico win.

As of right now, Canada is in 4th place, with 10 points. I think I can catch Jamaica for 3rd place, especially since we play Jamaica in our final qualifying game. The next match is against Costa Rica in Costa Rica. It will likely be a very tough game but the Canada squad will have renewed confidence going into the final 2 matches.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Football Manager

Taking charge of Canada

On 26 July 2009, it was a Sunday, if I recall correctly, I was appointed the manager of Canada to succeed the truly awful Dale Mitchell. He had succeeded in getting Canada exactly 1 point in World Cup Qualifying after 5 matches and to get the squad bounced from the World Cup. Clearly it was time for a change. So here I be.

When they appointed me, the Canadian Soccer Association didn’t seriously expect me to qualify for the 2010 World Cup (I am, after all, 10 points out of first and second and 5 points out of 4th, which would get me into the play-in game). They expect me not to embarrass myself (which I think is probable) and to “keep half a mind on building for the future.” It’s a future I fear I won’t be around to see. Nevertheless, I accept the challenge and will push on with World Cup Qualifying.

My first match is against Mexico. Crap.

Well, at least it’s not at Azteca; instead it’s at BMO Field in Toronto. So I should have a slight home-field advantage. Hopefully. There can’t be that many Mexico fans in Toronto, can there?

So, I’ve called up my first squad. Here it is:

My first squad

And I’ve decided that my best chance of achieving some points is to play somewhat defensively and with 5 midfielders (our deepest position). I’m hoping to draw Mexico in and hit them on the counter-attack. That may or may not work but it’s the best chance I got; I certainly can’t hang with them if I go all out attacking, which is my preferred FM tactic. So, my squad and tactics look like this:

Squad and tactics v. Mexico

I play in two days time (12 August 2009) so I’ll finally have some actual game feedback.

On another note, it’s been hell filling out the coaching staff. I had to re-hire for every position because I sacked everyone when I arrived. I hope the coaching improvements help out with the matchday performances.

Leave a comment

Filed under Football Manager