Pre Season’s over and the pressure is on.

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Football Manager 2012 (FM) is up and running and already
with only the pre season completed I am feeling the pressure.


FM is an amazingly realistic game and there are a few things
you notice straight away. The first was that FM12 lists Kirkland
as out injured with his back, this is before his Doncaster
sojourn so a case possible of life imitating art ? The injury unlike his real
life minor one is a season ending one so Pollitt becomes my back up keeper.


The graphics are sharper than previous years and the crowds
are full, half empty, sparse depending upon the opponents. The training
mechanism also is more detailed as are the instruction.


Looking at the squad although the game is listed as starting
in July all the pre season signings up to deadline day are included so for
consistencies sake I haven’t included them in my pre season games.


I have promoted Dicko and McManaman from the reserves and
removed Gomez from the transfer list and promoted him back into the first team
squad (thereby pleasing Jimmy!)


The fixture list is different, I assume for reasons of
copyright and the pre season includes participation in the Ajax Tournament? (like
that is going to happen).


First thing I did was to tie Momo , Hugo and Watson down to
new contracts. The Board of Directors asked my season expectations and wisely I
said escaping relegation which earned me a five million pound transfer kitty.


Throughout the pre-season agent after agent was contacting
me offering players some I had heard of like our best mate El Hadj Diouf and
others I hadn’t. Playing with Martinez’s
squad meant I had to resist and the only transfer activity was loaning out
Callum McManaman to Wycombe.


I decided on a first eleven of Al Habsi, Piscu , Boyce,
Alcaraz, Figueroa, Moses, Watson, Diame, McCarthy, Di Santo and Rodallega with
a diamond shaped midfield with Diame as the attacking midfielder and a two man
strike force. Boyce was made captain although Caldwell
retained the club captain role.


First couple of games started wel, easy wins against Torquay
and Port Vale both away gave all the squad a run out although fitness levels
were low. Then came the trip to the Netherlands
and the ArenaA stadium on the outskirts of Amsterdam
for the four team tournament.


And it started really well, a two nil lead at half time against
Ajax with a brace of goals from
Rodallega and I was buzzing, this FM is easy, however FM is evil, it leads you
into a false sense of security and then wham! Three quick goals and we are struggling,
I brought Sammon on for the tiring Di Santo and Moses went off with suspect
broken ribs meaning a first team recall for
Gomez. Things went from bad to worse and by the eighty fifth minute we
were five two down before Sammon scored a consolation.


This meant a third/fourth place play off against South
American Santos. A comfortable three one win was marred by serious injuries to
key first teamers Di Santo and Boyce with Sammon and Caldwell taking their


The rest of the pre season was a case of mix and match with
Dicko being used as back up striker and McArthur a key midfield substitute.


Key injuries mean that I go into the season robbed of three players,
two of them with long term injuries and  a
squad short on strikers. The plus side is the team has scored goals consistently
throughout pre season and the players are reported according to Graham Jones to
be happy with the 4-1-2-1-2 diamond formation.


The first game of the season is at home to Fulham with an
away derby following at our friends from Horwich. The pressure is on.

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