After catching up in my most recent Football Manager post, we’re now back to Melbourne to see what we can do with the Victory. We’ve got a week left in the window, with no planned changes in place, and are looking to continue our positive start to the league. In this episode, we’re away more than we are at home as we take on Brisbane Roar before playing our FFA Cup Semi Final and then we’re away twice to Perth and Sydney.
We should, as title contenders, be getting nine points from the league games and we should progress in the FFA Cup. Just as we’re planning our tactics for the game against Brisbane Roar, we get the terribly frustrating news that Kosta Barbarouses is injured while away on internal duty and is now out for six to eight weeks. It’s a bitter blow to our plans and our new striker Josh Gordon now how to deputise to the right wing to cover the position. We is a natural winger so it shouldn’t be too bad, but with Roar now right around the corner, we’re going to find out.
Star signing Luke Brattan is hopefully going to be the focal point from the midfield today, with youngster McGlip coming in to provide defensive cover. Flamini doesn’t play as, due to his Guest Player status, he only has a limited amount of games he can play per season. Therefore, he gets a break. Last seasons’ centre back Festhammel now plays at right back, mainly as we don’t have a better option for the long term. The tactics are slightly different because of the injury to Barbarouses but we play relatively well. It’s just a shame then we couldn’t take any of the big chances in the game. Three clear cut chances, four half chances and we only come away with the one goal. We hit the woodwork four times (which I’m sure the journalist after the game said in a smug tone) which completely explained our day at the office.
Ken Athiu does well to take at least one of his chances, but as we noted earlier, he really should have bagged more. Our defensive errors are a concern for the season, as is the fact that we gave away our lead to two second half goals in quick succession.
We roll on from that disappointment and breeze past transfer deadline day. We’re at our wage cap, have no money left to spend and no slots left in our squad so we don’t even go through the effort of scouting anyone. We barely have any time before our FFA Cup Semi Final comes up. The first eleven doesn’t change, despite the previous result we actually played quite well so I’m sticking to my guns.
We start the game positively but the first half is completely devoid of chances and highlights. We’re slightly ahead in the stats so we don’t say much to the boys. It pays off mind, as Josh Gordon cuts across the six yard area to meet a cross and head it into the back of the net. Despite a couple of chances for the Wanderers, we’re relatively unscathed and all signs point to us going to a final. That is until the 83 minute though.
In a ridiculous moment, Lawrence Thomas spills a poor cross right into the path of the Wanderers striker who gobbles up the chance without hesitation. It’s a huge blow to his confidence. A minute later he makes a mess of another cross but manages to push it over the bar this time. We skate by until full time and we tell the team how it is, trying to re-build some confidence, especially in Thomas.
Luckily, Luke Brattan finally shows something concrete to justify the transfer fee we paid for him and plays a killer ball to Troisi who dutifully dispatches it. As soon as the ball goes in we’re back in the driving seat and start creating extra chances. Troisi is on a high and thanks to that, he helps himself past the defence to knock the ball across the box into a grateful Mauk who nods it past the goalkeeper.
We’re now through to the FFA Cup final, just like we were last season. Last year we missed the chance to add a title to our collection, but this time, I’m quietly confident we can go all the way. That is, as long as Thomas doesn’t go round dropping crosses all the time.We’ve now got our two away games coming up, and in a short span of time too. Going to extra time in the FFA Cup Semi Final puts us in a bad fitness position with our game against Perth just three days after that test.
We come into the game and change our game plan based on feedback from our assistant. Knowing how much of a test it will be, I oblige and we go to a 4-3-3 Narrow formation and set ourselves to standard across the board, with no particular instructions. We concede early as our defensive frailties come in to play again. The ball drops to Castro who takes a touch and then half volleys it into the top of the net, Thomas’ position was questionable again. Luckily, we reacted well and despite not winning balls in the air, we win the second ball and mis-firing striker Waring plays a through ball in to Josh Gordon who nets his first league goal for the club. With us on the up it only takes another ten minutes to grab a second, although it was again against the run of play. It’s a long ball up the field and Athiu actually wins a header to flick on to Gordon. He takes the ball down and although it looks like he’s about to lose it, he fires it into the far left of the goal from just outside of the area.
That’s where the positives end though, although we were ahead and in a degree of control, we struggle to deal with a set piece (as per usual) and we concede a near post header. We make late subs deep into the game to run down the clock but it is to no avail. We concede in the 96th minute after another pinball in the box and Perth grab the winner. It’s a terrible blow to concede in the manner we did, twice and to lose another game. With Sydney FC up next, we might be in real trouble.
We start thinking about Sydney and then this happens. Rhys Williams missed a majority of last season due to a bad injury and it now appears as though he’s going to miss the rest of this one too. We’re already a mess at the back and now an experience player, who is versatile too, is now out for the season.
It’s difficult to prepare the game but as Williams was playing in midfield in the last game, Flamini comes back in to help us out. We generally play ok, and although we never threaten goal, we’re happy to try and get a draw. However, the theme for this episode is clearly injuries or individual mistakes. Milligan is probably half way between the goal and half way line and decides to try and head back to Thomas. Ninkovic sees an opportunity and pounces on it, easily netting past the goalkeeper.
With no threat at goal we’re now behind and have no real way back in to the game based on who we have on the bench. Things go from bad to worse when Fiesthammel goes off injured two minutes after conceding the goal, leaving us even more open at the back. Fortunately we don’t concede any more but with that defeat, we’re now labouring in the table with only the one win four games. To make matters worse, Fiesthammel’s injury report comes through and he’s out from two to three months, even when seeing a specialist, meaning he’ll miss the cup final.
Who will we have in the Cup Final? the team we just lost 1-o to and showed no signs of competition to. For now though, we’ve got five league games to get through and just pray we don’t delve into crisis in terms of injury or dressing room morale.
What am I going to do to get out of this one?