Thursday, December 10, 2009

A look ahead to.....Stockport

I like to pride myself on my footballing knowledge but I must admit that I was not particularly au fait with Stockport's runners and riders. That was until I became their boss on Football Manager and I am now somewhat of a County connoisseur.

But I didn't just broaden my knowledge of the club on that incredibly-addictive computer game, I made a bloody good impact as well.

In three seasons at the helm, I guided the Hatters to two respectable mid-table finishes and in my final campaign before I resigned and took charge of Preston - a decision I would later live to regret - I shocked the world and took the modest men from Greater Manchester to the League One play-off final.

Alas, promotion was not to be and we were edged out by Leyton Orient, a result that will always sadden me. Nevertheless, I had left my mark and with Croydon Addick battling financial restrictions, an ageing squad and an impatient chairman at Deepdale - not that I'm bitter of course - Stockport began to flounder once again.

While the real-world Hatters are languishing at at the opposite end of the table to my promotion-chasing crew, the two teams do bare some similarities. Attacking midfielder Carl Baker was a lynch pin of mine and so has he been in Gary Ablett's men's torrid start to the season, notching half of County's 16 league goals.

On-loan Chelsea starlet Liam Bridcutt also became a fundamental component of the Stockport team under my management and has been equally intrinsic to Ablett. The 20-year-old midfielder has shaken off an injury he picked up at Wycombe last week and should battle the Addicks on Saturday.

Bar goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams and defenders Michael Raynes and Johnny Mullins - the latter suspended this weekend - I had my players and Ablett has his. Mine were significantly more effective. County head into this game having lost their last seven league matches and sit bottom of League One. Trouble indeed.

Their last three home games have been deferred due to bad drainage and copious amounts of rain but we are reliably informed that the contest will go ahead this Saturday.

Recent form says we should absolutely pulverise them but the Northwich Victoria fiasco shows that we cannot take anybody lightly. Portuguese returnee Jose Semedo should give us some necessary away-day pungency, while with the pitch bound to be far from tip top, Akpo Sodje's power could be more practical than the dexterity of David Mooney.

Whatever the finer details of the team, I do not expect an upset. It's not like they have management aficionado Croydon Addick pulling the strings.

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