Season Two: Episode Four (October)

It was never going to last forever, but unfortunately our 8 match unbeaten run in the league has come to an end thanks to a club expected to be title challengers in Chesterfield. The loss seemed to have sparked a downturn in form that saw us on the reverse end of some very tight games.

Bolton who got relegated from League One last season, did manage to keep most of their squad together so our loss away to them doesn’t surprise me. Thankfully the narrow win against Carlisle where we came back from 0-1 down shows a glimmer of hope.

It’s no shock at all that our downturn in form came around the time we lost influential playmaker Josh Kay, and given that and the injury to Alfie Payne, I decided that reinforcements were needed. Thankfully in League Two, you can sign free agents outside of the transfer windows, therefore we looked long and hard and came up with Alex Woodyard.

The former Non-League journeyman has recently broke into the Football League with Peterborough and Tranmere, before being released and signing for us. His scouting report reckons that he is a good League One player so hopefully he can help us get to that level.

Sadly our loss of form has seen us slip of the top of the league, thankfully we still sit in the automatic promotion places which is still a massive over achievement for us.

The juggernaut which is Newport County are looking very strong contenders to win the league. They lost their first 3, then drew 3 and haven’t failed to take maximum points from a game since.

FM20 Barrow (Ep 8: February)

Could this month have gone any worse? The loss in the FA Cup to Sheffield United at the end of January seems to have knocked all the momentum and any kind of decent football completely out of us.

Since being knocked out the cup, we’ve gone on a run that’s seen us winless in 6 games and we’ve picked up 2 points from a possible 15! Nothing seems to work, and from this run of games I would have expected us to pick up roughly 12 points. We’ve played some of the worst teams in the division and been beaten comfortably, however we’ve drew with Chesterfield and Stockport who are both in play off contention. It makes no sense.

Despite this horrendous run, we still somehow sit top of the league by a point! Admittedly only because we’ve played one game more than the rest of the league but still. From fairly comfortable league leaders to looking like we are getting dragged into the play off mix, and with only one automatic promotion spot id rather not.

Player of the Month

Stephen Wearne wins it this month, probably the only positive of the entire month. The Middlesborough youngster performed well coming on as a substitute while we got him up to match tempo and then on his first start against Chesterfield he got an assist and scored the goal that earned us a point.

FM20 Barrow (Ep 6: December)

Another undefeated month! Admittedly again it wasn’t smooth sailing as we seem to be struggling to score goals at the moment despite dominating games. December was a busy month for us with a game every 3-4 days, this lead to us rotating the squad a lot and not being able to field the same XI for most games.

Unfortunately for us Scott Quigley seems to have fallen slightly out of form, and none of our other strikers have stepped up to the plate. I’m especially disappointed in Luca Navarro who we signed in the summer, don’t get me wrong the lad is still young but he just isn’t doing the business.

Despite all of this we currently sit top of the league as it appears that the once unstoppable Ebbsfleet have fallen out of form losing a few consecutive games.

Off the pitch now and we drew League One Portsmouth in the FA Cup and Notts County in the FA Trophy, two very difficult games.

We also received a preview of our next youth intake and it isn’t a good sign, it seems we have 2-3 players who may make squad players but outside of that nothing.

Thanks to this crap intake, it seems like we are going to have to have a fairly busy January window as we look to maintain our challenge for the league. Im going to look to terminate the loans of Olly Dyson and Oliver Greaves as for they aren’t justifying the money we are paying them, id much prefer to stick some of our youngsters on the bench/reserves. Im also going to see if I can get any interest in Luca Navarro, the young lad could turn out to be brilliant, but as a false nine he doesn’t fit our style and he’s one of our high earners.

Therefore our transfer targets this month are going to be some Leeds youngsters as we can get them for free and they will fill out the squad, with the hopeful Navarro money we can reinvest if a good player becomes available.

Player of the Month

This months winner is Jack Hindle, the right winger has scored six goals in as many games this month, which moves him alongside Quigley as our top scorer. He’s averaged an 8.9 rating this month and has stepped up when others form has dipped.

FM20 Barrow (Ep 5: November)

Thats 8 games unbeaten now! Admittedly some haven’t been convincing results be we move on.

The biggest challenge of this month was getting the damn Swindon game played! Twice the game got postponed due to the weather and flooding at Holker Street, so the game was moved to Swindon and even then went to a replay. The last thing we needed going into late November was more fixtures, but the postponements saw us 3 games behind in the league and if we won them all we went top by a four points.

With a rather quiet month, we ended playing our strongest team in the FA Cup, just so the lads didn’t lose match fitness. This was something i never planned on doing as realistically i would have liked to have played some of the fringe players.

We also very easily dispatched Macclesfield in the second round, meaning that hopefully we can get a big game in the third round and be financially set for the season (hopefully.)

Player of the Month

This month its left winger Dior Angus, with Liandro Martis away on International duty, Angus stepped in and made the left wing spot his own. He has scored 5 goals in 5 games this month and when Martis returns I really will have a decision to make as Angus has been very impressive.

FM20 Barrow (Ep 2 – August)

A bit of a mixed bag for us in August, starting the season with two big wins and dominating the games before we slipped up against Ebbsfleet and have struggled to recover.

Our very average start see’s us currently sat 7th in the league, just, and if anything it has revealed some holes in our squad mainly due to us only being able to utilise five substitutes. It seems we are definitely in need of a couple of players that can play in multiple positions, at least while we are a National League club.

Player of The Month

Player of the month is a tight one this time around, a number of players have started really well, but one player who we very obviously missed in the Ebbsfleet game was Lewis Hardcastle (CM). The 20 Year Old has been a massive presence for us in the centre of the park in his box-to-box role and is currently our joint top scorer and assister.

FM20 Barrow (Ep: 1 – Preseason)

Without a major rebuilding to do, this was a rather timid first preseason of FM20 for us, concentrating on the financial side of things rather than recruitment first off.

We secured Leeds as a senior affiliate, more on that later.. and I rearranged some of our friendlies, playing clubs like Birmingham, Stoke and Brentford to get some money in, as opposed to (No offence) Linfield and Gloucester. I did leave a few smaller sides at the end of preseason though, just for a little confidence boost.

Transfer wise as previously mentioned, it was rather timid. We moved on some ageing high earners such as Connor Brown, Byron Harrison, Sam Hird and John Rooney, all for a few grand each, but it will be on their wages that we save.

We brought in a number of good young players in such as Luca Navarro, a young striker who gives us a different option and will immediately challenge for first team football. We also signed Mamadou Kone (RB) free from Brighton, Ben Cull (LB) free from Southampton and Liandro Martis (LW) free from Macclesfield. Very late in the transfer window we managed to finally make good on our partnership with Leeds and secure a young loanee in Niall Huggins (ST).

So a rather successful window, we achieved everything we wanted too and steadied up positions that needed strengthening. The only real let down was the partnership with Leeds, we tried to sign a number of their young players on loan and it wasnt till very late in the window we managed to secure two players. I mean yes its a free £28,256 a year but I thought it would be a really useful link for some top quality youngsters, sadly not the case and we had to settle for young striker Niall Huggins.

“They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I wasn’t on that particular job”.

The news that Paul Doswell has left his role as manager at Sutton United after 11 years in charge of the club got everyone here thinking, why do managers get more time in Non-League than they do in the Football League?

It’s the same high pressure business where results are all the matters, yet lower down the ladder the boss’s seem to recieve more time to get results out of their playing squads than those at the top of the game.

Perhaps then the reasons are financial, maybe its the cost of managers that we see in the top divisions that give them such a short shelf life. Maybe the only way to keep a job in the top echelons of the sport is immediate success, if this truly is the case then gone are the days where we will see managing dynasties such as Ferguson and Wenger.

Therefore you have too look further down the pyramid for such leagacies such as Jason Ainsley at Spennymoor Town and John Coventry at Havant and Waterlooville, managers who have been given time to develop a team to suit their footballing philosophies. Which has brought success to their clubs all you have to do is look at the progress Spennymoor have made since Ainsley took over, rising from The Northern Laague Division Two, through the leagues and into the National League North, where this season they have secured themselves a playoff spot.

Is it time that managers in the football league are given longer to get their squad and tactics right before they are given their p45 like they are in non-league? It’s understandable why they aren’t with so much at stake, but not everyone is a miracle worker.