Berwick Rangers ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berwick_Rangers_F.C. ) play their football in England, just over 2 miles from the Border with Scotland. IRL they were relegated to the Lowland League at the end of the 2018-19 season, where they currently sit 13th as I type. They were last in League 1 in 2007/08 and have been perennial strugglers. Lets see if I can at least get them up the table a bit!
First up I always like doing a team comparison compared to the other teams in your league, just to get a view on what our strengths our, and as such what we can use tactically.
We are slightly taller and heavier than average. Defensively we are good tacklers, good at heading and are strong and have the best Work Rate and Teamwork in the league, but can’t mark for toffee. Our Midfield has the best technique in the league, good vision and teamwork, but aren’t brilliant at passing, and don’t have much stamina. Our attack has good acceleration, but that is about it, with the worst long shots and off-the-ball in the league. Physically overall we lack pace, but are near average elsewhere, Mentally we are composed and have good teamwork, though concentration & off-the-ball is low. Lastly technically we have good technique(!) but are below average nearly everywhere else. We have good Keepers as well.
So I’m thinking shorter passing, closer lines, higher tempo – definitely we will train a control tactic but try and keep it simple. Defence seems strong so a 3-defender formation might work for us.
We are missing one of our best players, Conor McLaughlin, on the right wing but apart from that this is a pretty full strength team. As we have Elgin in-game tomorrow I’ve not got time to strengthen but as we’ve no loanees at the moment I’ve got opportunities – basically a good tall striker, a first team right wing and a left wing cover for Conor. Maybe another Centre Mid as well. I’ve got a 5-2-1-2 Wingplay formation training for when we have the personnel. Let us meet the first team (or more correctly the players that will most probably play a part over the coming weeks) in current ability order.
Tom Sutherland (18, 5ft 10) is a Berwick Regen from last season (Remember Chris Barras!! Makes me hopeful for youth intakes!). A natural advanced playmaker I’ll attempt to move him more into central midfield. Good mentals for his age, but needs work on his passing.
Lewis Barr (25, 6ft) Joined Berwick on a free last season, after time at Penicuik in the East of Scotland Conference. he started his career at East Fife. Great Vision, First Touch and Natural Fitness and good Work Rate I’ll be looking to him to boss the midfield (I’ve also got the season-to-date stats to go through after this meet-and-greet)
Archie Gardner (19, 5ft 7) came in from Queen of the South this summer (2019) in game – IRL he left QotS at the start of this season and is without a club. Brilliant Passing, Technique and Vision for his age, he is our DLP in midfield, but when we have an AP at No. 10 (Sutherland) he will operate as a Carillero.
Conor McLaughlin (22, 5ft 6in) in game came in from Clyde on a free this summer. IRL he left Airdrie in 2017 and is seemingly without a club (Or my Googling isn’t good enough as he has a more famous NI International namesake playing for Sunderland). A natural right winger, he has solid if-not-remarkable numbers.
Aidan McIlduff (22, 6ft) came in from Peterhead at the start of the 2018 season, and IRL is now with Stenhousemuir. A solid-looking leftback, Good decisions and Natural Fitness, training him as a wingback so the fitness will come in handy.
Ross Meechan (25, 6ft) Came in from Forfar at the start of the 2018 season on a free. IRL he is still at Forfar. A strong, fit right-back; lovely mentals with great teamwork, work rate and determination. Will be useful as a right supporting wingback.
Rodrigue Nanitelamio (23, 6ft) also came in from Forfar on a free at the start of last season. IRL the Frenchman plies his trade in Bulgaria, at Spartak Pleven in the Second Tier. A bit of a hoss (105kg!!) he is our first choice central defender with great decisions and good tackling and stamina. Would expect 20 strength though, not 9!!
Kyle Allison (29, 6ft 2) is our starting keeper. He came in from Penicuik at the start of the 2018 season. IRL he is still at Penicuik ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyle_Allison ) after floating around the Lowland League and East of Scotland Conference. Good handling and reflexes, OK Mentals as well. I’ll be looking to see if Brian Kinnear from Civil Service matches up to him – he’s non-contract so I should be able to get him in.
Martin McNiff (28, 6ft 2) came in from Clyde at the start of last season. IRL he is still at Clyde ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_McNiff ). Our second centre-back, very solid, good jumping reach and heading shouts corners, Free-Kick taking of 12 as well!!
Daryl Healy (22, 6ft 2) joined from Selkirk at the start of last season. IRL he is still with Berwick! He can play wide right or up top, Great first touch, decent heading, thinking he may become a good target man if he gets stronger.
As I said above I’ve run the stats for the season up until now.
Headlines – The 4 midfielders are the best passers, Lewis Barr stands out. Martin McNiff is a good header of the ball, Daryl Healy is no Regan Lumsden though. 2 players with > 20% cross completion is good – if we can someone on the end of them who will score. Rodrigue Nanitelamio intercepts well. Everything else is by-the-by.
So I need a big guy with good header % up top (50% completion +), a left winger with > 20% cross completion and a right-wing cover for Conor McLaughlin.
I’m also after staff – I’ve only bought one member over, Head Physio Craig Reynolds and his 14 Physiotherapy. Lots of offers made.
So its Saturday afternoon. We’ve made the 236 mile trip through the Cairngorms to Borough Briggs, my 2nd trip of the season there, to meet Elgin in my first game in charge. I’m not expecting anything, it will just be interesting to see the boys play. And that will be the next post, hopefully with some staff signings and maybe even a loan approach or 3. See you soon.