Football clubs are like dysfunctional families – throw a group of players together and tensions naturally emerge. Like families, sometimes getting issues out in the open can be the best therapy…
It might not be a surprise that Martin ‘Paolo’ Grehan isn’t impressed with my performance so far. In fact, straight after my last update he felt like the time had come to proclaim himself my saviour-in-waiting! It didn’t go down well when I explained he would have to remain patient for now, and with several of the squad in agreement with the big man I couldn’t even rely on virtual Michael Moore scaring any dissenters into silence. I settled on telling him to prove himself when he got a chance in the South Challenge Cup, and I wasn’t disappointed with his resulting hat-trick against over-matched Ormiston.
With all tensions out in the open, I’ve challenged the boys to kick on while they’ve challenged me to refine my tactical approach. Buoyed by a more positive atmosphere, my subtle tweaks to the overall tactic (giving the defence less to think about while the midfield and attack concentrate on going forward) have finally produced the results we all wanted at the start of the season.
A slight blip in the big cup to Highland side Clachnacuddin aside, we’re revving up and moulding a title challenge with exactly what was required: league victories. Jack Smith up front is in free-scoring form and responding to big Paulo’s pressure well, while the ageless wonder Stevie Murray continues to average an assist in every game.
The stats say it all – with a minimum of 3 goals scored in each and every Lowland League matchup for September and October, it will take something special to knock us off our stride at this point.
Thankfully, this has made my fledgling relationship with the chairman plain sailing, having escaped the initial choppy waters. Mr Prince has declared himself “very pleased” with how things are going in his latest programme notes, which even brought an innocent smile to Michael’s face. I guess it’s true what they say; a winning atmosphere is the most effective cure for any discord or issues in a dressing room.
Now, the challenge is to keep it ticking over, as we still find ourselves in the chasing pack behind a resurgent East Stirlingshire side… as November approaches we are almost a third of the way through our league campaign, and I’ve barely had time to take a breath! The club can’t afford any slip-ups in the run to New Year or festive cheer will be far from our minds.
It’s time to make a bold decision. For the upcoming cup games, I’ll look to blood our squad players and under 20’s, throwing everything we have at the league fixtures through to the summer. January additions will be considered but our budget is restricted; in effect, I now know my guys are made of stern stuff, and am hoping they can grind for long enough to last the distance.