So here we are with the start of another new season. A lot has changed since the previous campaign ended. Gaffer Gary Webber left after constant abuse about his bad gramma in his match reports. Chairman Keith looked around for a replacement and with a tight budget after blowing most of it on a tour to Madrid with the Merton old boys they went for the cheap option in Chris Anstey. Having previously got Sheffield Uni's 4th team relegated he has been given a lifeline with the top job at Merton.
The fixture list came out and Merton saw that there 1st game was against A.M.Y FC. Who had previously beaten Merton 6-1. Anstey has never actually come up against them before and didn't fancy the tough encounter to be his 1st game as manager so arranged for his sister to have a baby during the week and bring veteran Webber back in.
Typically for the 1st game of the season a host of lads decided to make other plans. I'm sure we said at the end of last season we need better commitment this season to have a chance in the premier league. So Aron, Eddie and Louis decided to go to a Holi festival with their other halves. Not to be out done new signing Brough (a tough tackling centre half) went to the theatre for a matinee. In true fashion Bruiser got smashed the night before the game and got in at about 2am while young Jox stayed out until 9am!!
With the opposition all ready to go at 1pm, most of Merton finally made it to the ground by 1.30. We were finally ready to go with just 12 players, far from ideal for a game against probably the fittest team in the league and we also relied on 3 debutants and Ed Mac coming from Brighton. Who knows what we have done without those 4. So we had Ethon in goal, Matt at right back, Alex at left back and Kiran partnering Bruiser at CB. Harry on the right with Dom, Danny and myself in the middle with Quinno on the left. Jox was up top on his own.
1st half wasn't bad but most of the chances were being created by A.M.Y. We weren't getting to grips with their number 8 in the midfield and he was pulling the strings as they looked to use their pace up top. We were looking to do the same with Jox but our passing wasn't quite accurate enough. We were clearly a much bigger team and had an advantage from set pieces, unfortunately we didn't have many of them and didn't make them count when they did arrive.
So it was 0-0 at half time and I brought myself off with Harry to play in the Middle, Matt on the right and Ed Mac at right back.
We were looking better in the midfield and started to pass the ball better but couldn't quite make that crucial pass. Then disaster, a cross came in from their right and Ed got his head onto it. It looked to be going calmly back to Ethon but he was wrong footed and it somehow trickled into the back of the net. With my Anstey hat on we made a change. Ed went to CB, Matt to right back, Harry back to the right with Bruiser up top so we went with 4-4-2.
We looked better going forward but with 20 minutes left we also looked knackered. Danny and Dom had put a real shift in and were starting to struggle and A.M.Y went onto to score 2 more goals as they were counter attacking to great effect. Most of our best chances fell to Dom, he missed when the ball fell to him from a corner and couldn't quite get his bonce onto a Quinno free kick. Jox also had a chance when played through but the keeper made the save. In truth though Ethon had to also save us on a few occasions when A.M.Y were through on goal.
A tough start to the season and as we trudged back to the Wandle I remembered why I had given up managerial duties and gone out on a high with promotion. This season is going to be a really tough one and if we don't put in the effort and commitment we may see ourselves at the wrong end of the table, however we have several players to come back in and have got an impressive squad so results and performances will get better, hopefully with a win next week.