Ahead of our penultimate game of the season I was dealt with two blows.
Firstly came the devastating news that my Chairman Anthony Sampson had failed in his attempts to identify a suitable senior affiliate club. This ruined my foolproof strategy of bringing in a dozen youngsters on loan from a high calibre Football League team and blowing away my semi-professional counterparts.
I thought better of questioning exactly how thoroughly Anthony had conducted his search, resorting instead to mouthing various obscenities at him once he turned his back to make his way out of my crappy plastic office.
Moments later I had my Assistant Manager Brede Hangeland at my door with some exciting news he wished to share. Insightful scouting report on our upcoming game? Exclusive intelligence on a local upcoming talent? Latest update on team morale? No. Brede took great pleasure in informing me that Anthony had agreed to fund his Continental Pro Licence to the tune of £6,000 (an investment totalling nearly his entire basic annual salary). I offered the most sincere congratulatory messages possible from someone who deep down knew that his affiliation dreams had been ruined by the club deciding instead to invest in someone who will likely uproot and leave at the earliest opportunity…
Regardless, I had my final game of preseason against Kettering to focus on and decided to use the opportunity to give my second string a proper runout, while also resting those who I felt would be starting against Harrogate on Saturday. Choosing to start with the outfield 11 that finished the last game I made clear that this was their last chance to impress me before the season kicked off. Having failed to record a single shot between them in their outing against Welshpool I was confident that my reserves would fair better on this occasion.
How wrong I was.
Carrying on from exactly where they left off, the performance was abject. The only positive in coming in at halftime 0-0 (once again with no shots against their goal) was that it reaffirmed my first choice 11 as the ones to start next week. No selection headaches for me.
With 70 minutes gone I decided that I couldn’t ruin a potentially 100% successful preseason and threw on my big guns, replacing all three central midfielders, two wingers and striker. Within 2 minutes we fell 0-1 thanks to a superb Kettering breakaway goal. Not to be outdone, with a final throw of the dice I introduced the rest of my star performers, confident that eventually we would get the goal (or ideally two) that I desperately sought. Unfortunately it didn’t work. With my first choice lineup on the field we succumbed rather limply to a depressing home defeat, my first as Worcester City Manager, and right on the eve of the season beginning.
Not exactly the morale-inspiring result I had hoped for.