Aston Villa and Football Manager Part IV: Ending The Drought

Ross Kinnaird

We now return to a world where Aston Villa is not only owned by an American idiot (just kidding Randy, you know I love you) but is also managed by one. With the league matches about to get underway, how will Aston Villa fare? Stick with me as I navigate my way through what's sure to be a difficult journey.

As if the first month wasn't tumultous enough, Villa now was staring down the barrel of deadline day and a must draw/win match against Everton on the 31st. After the purchase of Asier Illarramendi I had 22k to spend on transfers. I wasn't going to get anyone worthwhile with that kind of money. So should I sell anyone? Darren Bent? Charles N'Zogbia? Shay Given? Yes, apparently Chelsea has decided to lob in a free transfer and a friendly match for Shay Given. Sorry guys - but no.

Football Manager 13 has added an extended transfer day deadline experience which takes you through the evening hour by hour. Before we take on Everton let's see if we can play the market. With about 15 hours in the window, the Sunday Mercury asks if we can expect any movement. I let them know if the price is right we may see some movement.

The first shot is fired as West Brom has placed a bid on Charles N'Zogbia at 5.25M which I accepted. Shortly after, Martin O'Neill declared interest in the mercurial Frenchman because his wage bill isn't high enough already. As soon I as I stopped laughing, I looked at my inbox to see a transfer request from Chris Herd. I started laughing again. Sure, you have my blessing son.

Apparently they move quick in West Bromwich and just like that, with 13 hours left to go, Charles N'Zogbia is a Baggie.

Herd wasn't going to be easy to sell and so when Rangers came in with a loan offer I accepted immediately. Have fun playing 17 matches against Annan Athletic.


Other than that, nothing else came together. The media speculated and tried to invent transfer targets for me but they were just grasping at straws. The big stories from around the league were the Man United and Arsenal buys from earlier in the window as well as a couple others.

Match Day 3: Everton v Aston Villa

Here are your lineups. Once again I am being hailed as the main reason why Villa is going to lose. Everton enter the match having 1 point from 2 matches thus far.

The first half saw nothing really of note except for a few decent Everton chances that went begging. Villa still don't look likely to do anything. I feel like Alex McLeish right now. I am ruining the club I love.

And in the 54th minute Everton inevitably take the lead on a Darron Gibson goal that hit off a player and redirected on its way past Guzan and Everton cruise to a 1-0 win.

There are no two ways about it: Darren Bent missed TWO very good chances. He had 4 shots and only one found the target when he was one on one with Tim Howard and shot it right at him. Brad Guzan was man of the match so there's one bright spot. Villa has not scored a goal yet.

On the bright side Gabby Agbonlahor has resumed full training. I know you're all disappointed in the start we've made here. If this keeps up this feature will be dead after one or two more entries because I'll be sacked. Thankfully we've reached the international break where nothing of real importance occurs.

Villa's next match is home to Fulham. The Cottagers have four points from their first three matches with a win over Norwich, a draw with QPR and a 3-1 loss to West Ham. Certainly not anything to fear but in Villa's current form I'm afraid it's little consolation.

Match Day 4 - Aston Villa v. Fulham

Here are your lineups. Shockingly the experts don't expect us to win this one either. Even at home. They won't even predict a draw. This is dire.

Mladen Petric scores in the 22nd minute. Chris Baird scores two minutes later on a belter from 30 yards or so. Damien Duff makes it 3-0 before half time on a cross that finds him all alone for an easy goal. After cautiously telling the team to show me something else in the second half, Eric Lichaj takes my advice by tackling Bryan Ruiz at the edge of the box where referee Kevin Friend points to the spot. Ruiz slams home the penalty and it's 4-0.

I decide enough's enough. I move Lowton and Lichaj to wing backs because they've both been getting torched anyway. I move Gabby and Ireland out wide and put Illarramendi and El Ahmadi in the center of the pitch. I bring Bent on for Gardner. We're going to attack for real now. There are still 40 minutes left in this match. Will we give up or fight on?

The commentary was kind enough to let me know that the fans began filing out of Villa Park around the 70th minute as Karim El Ahmadi blasts a shot well wide of the net. Dimitar Berbatov makes it 5-0 after a shot bounced off a Villa defender. The match mercifully ends and the goal drought continues. Out of all the miserable performances, Eric Lichaj's 5.3 full time rating wins him least valuable player. Aston Villa is now zero wins from four matches with a negative 12 goal differential. I am embarrassed to be writing this.

During the midweek I learn that the media is on to me. I'm not able to do anything right. This bodes well for my career, which is sure to be extremely short. By real life Christmas I'll be blogging about managing Wrexham or Barrow.

I lost my mind at a press conference.

I decided I needed to hold a team meeting and apparently my plan helped boost everyone's spirits. I asked the room for their thoughts and Ron Vlaar spoke up. Maybe I should have left on a high note - Vlaar only seemed to inspire himself.

With fourteen days until our next match against Stoke City, I'm using an old manager's trick: setting up a friendly against my reserve team. Hopefully they can gain some confidence from a big win and carry it into the next match. Maybe even score a goal. Dare to dream.

While we wait for the next ass kicking match, Richard Dunne and Marc Albrighton both returned to full fitness.

In loaner news, Jordan Bowery has been pretty average for Barnsley. He has one goal in six matches and a 6.5 average rating.

Finally the friendly match weekend arrives. The most anticipated intrasquad friendly in ages and mission accomplished: 4-0 Villa over Crappier Villa.

The FA Cup has started. Maybe when I get fired I can take over this hilariously named club.

Match Day 5 - Aston Villa v Stoke City

Here are the lineups. Because I'm not a total idiot I set my match prep for the week to focus on defending set pieces for the legendary Tony Pulis. I'm also giving Bent a chance to get us on the board for the season. He has to score today, honestly. Andi Weimann and Gabby Agbonlahor man the flanks with Ireland in the middle. Gary Gardner next to Illarramendi because I think he can potentially cause trouble from distance. Joe Bennett is also set to make his Villa debut. The media isn't blaming me anymore but we're still predicted to lose. Stoke has 8 pts from 5 matches.

In the 4th minute Robert Huth makes a poor challenge in the box and we've been awarded a penalty! Bent scores and we are on the board! At this point I pause the game and unleash a terrifying primal scream.

Eight minutes later Andi Weimann dribbles through the entire Stoke defense and rifles one past Begovic and it's 2-0. Was it t supposed to be this easy all along? Shortly after his goal, Weimann's day is done early thanks to injury. We'll find out more after the match. Albrighton will come on for him.

A TERRIBLE Vlaar give away leads to a Stoke goal and halves our lead in the 28th minute. Will our heads drop? While Bent may have converted a penalty he's done nothing else and looks complacent on the pitch. I bring on Christian Benteke in the 58th minute. Villa cling to a one goal lead when in the 73rd minute Wilson Palacios rips one off the upright but the ball is corralled and swept away. It was all foreboding as typical Villa arrives in the 79th as Ryan Shotton ties the match and didn't we all see it coming?

But in a display of courage and resolve Barry Bannan and Joe Bennett combine some lovely passing to set up a tap in for the Beast and Christian Benteke makes it 3-2 Villa! Stephen Ireland ices it with a stoppage time goal to make it 4-2 and everyone breathes easy. Drinks on the gaffer at the Post Office Vaults tonight. I have my first victory.

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