Winter is Here! – Raith Rovers – PearceyPlays #FM19 Journeyman Part 185 – OS5 C3 S1 – December 2022

Stark’s Park, home to Raith Rovers

Welcome back to a new post and Club 3 of this FM19 Journeyman.

I’m in Season 5, so this could be considered a relatively quick progression (Lowland League with Civil Service, League 2/1/Championship with Berwick and now the Premiership with Raith) but i feel it’s been pretty organic.

Day-wise I spent almost twice as long at Berwick as I did at Civil Service – 1083 Days versus 551 – And if I’m here for the next 3 seasons I’ll want to be qualifying for European football by 24/25.

3 Domestic League Titles to date – Back to Back League wins with Berwick and I leave them in good shape in 3rd with over Β£400k in the bank – I’d like to think they would wish me well.

So I’m 4 games shy of 200 career games, and currently have a win percentage of 55%, with a Goal Difference of 152!!! Time to start playing with the big boys πŸ™‚

And so to Kirkcaldy – Incidentally I live pretty much equidistant between Kirkcaldy and Leven (Home to East Fife) IRL, so this would be a 15 minute commute :). I’m on Β£3.3k/week – That allows borrowing up to Β£850k with HBOS!! So lets have a look for a new home!!

That’ll do Pig πŸ™‚ Overlooking the Firth of Forth, just a quick hop from the ground.

Dunelm will come in handy πŸ™‚


Next to Raith Rovers themselves ( FM19 has been kind to them.

Dominant in League 1 in 18/19, 2 seasons to get to the Premiership from there, and a great 6th-placed finish last season. They are now in the difficult 2nd season – I just need to make sure they don’t go down. IRL they are waiting to play Championship football after being promoted from League 1 last term.

Need to get back to Dundee Utd and Inverness, even Ross County of the next 6 games-or-so – Our next 6 games are versus 7th, 6th, 8th, 12th 10th & 9th – the ideal games to be picking up points.

Not loving the 3 games in 5 days, followed by almost 3 weeks off though!!

Financially they are Okay, but are losing a ton of Money every month – Wages outstrip Gate Receipts, but the end of the season will provide us with a bit of cash – Β£1.6M if you finish bottom – I’m shooting for 8th, that would be almost Β£2M. Going to be honest – Finishing 11th wouldn’t be too bad – would expect to beat whoever may come out of the playoffs from the Championship over 2 legs. We are spending Β£2.7k/week too much on wages, so there needs to be a cull (We have more players in the Reserves than the First Team Squad, lots of 2* CA or below, about Β£4k of Wage right there – loads of kids who aren’t going to make the Premiership grade.

Team-wise we seem to have some good players, but a small-ish 1st team squad.

We are strong in Centre Mid. I need a properly good Keeper (Ross Sinclair, might be coming for you Lad), a really good DM DLP and a better Right Back/Right Wing.

We have a few youngsters of real quality here as well!

Gavin Robinson. 19, 6 Caps for Scotland, 2 goals. 6ft 1in Pressing Forward, beastly physicals. Crushed it at Alloa before coming to Raith last year. Contracted until 2025.

Kenny Innes. 20, 19 U21 Caps. 6ft 5in Centre Back!! Really nice mentals for a youngster. Bought aged 17 from Airdrie and has been a first team fixture ever since.

Jamie Skelly. 20, 14 U21 Caps. 5ft 10in Left Winger. Again, Beastly Physicals, 13 Dribbling. Bought from Elgin as a 17 year old, been a first team fixture as well!! Noting a pattern of raiding smaller clubs for their best kids.

Johnny Miller. 20, 2 U21 Caps. 5ft 11in Centre Mid Playmaker. Superb Physicals, Great Teamwork and Work Rate, 14 Passing, 14 Decisions. Started at St. Johnstone, came to Raith in 2020, was a stalwart last rem, 7.07 average! Unfortunately the pace of the Premiership seems to be too much – he’s off with Shin Splints until February, since yesterday in game πŸ™

Other notable players are Lewis Vaughan (27yo Utility attacker) who will understudy Gavin Robinson & Jamie Skelly, Adam Crookes (25yo DLC) and Gael Bigirimana (29yo MC), ex-of Newcastle United earlier on in his career.

The Season Preview has us 10th – St Mirren & Ross County below us, massively overperforming, so lets start dragging them back in. And we play today – Hearts at Tynecastle.

21st December 2022 – Hearts (A) – Ladbrokes Premiership

We make the short journey over the Forth (25 miles) to Tynecastle to play a Hearts side that have finished bottom of a Champions League Group containing Man City (1st), Real Madrid (2nd) & Dynamo Kyiv, picking up a single point with a home 1-1 v Kyiv. To be fair to them they never got thumped. They are 4 games without a win, but have played Rangers and Celtic in there, before a 0-0 away to Inverness CT. Hearts have won 6 times against Raith in their meetings in this save – Raith have not even got a draw…

We are going with a 4-3-3 Wide Gegenpress – Our Midfield is our strong point here. And with 3 games in 5 days we will be rotating a fair bit – I’ve already put everybody who needs to be on rest for a week. Robinson up top is the star, I’m hoping Skelly can supply and Hazard (3rd of the 4th Hazard brothers) can get inside and be a nuisance. The stable core will be Black, Hunter & Bigirimana – Johnny Miller will be in there when he’s back. Marshall looks quality at Left Back, Crookes more so at Centre back. Innes (89% Condition) is on the bench, so Chrzanowski (23yo Pole, 7 U21 caps) steps in. Grimshaw starts as Left back – Our weakest spot TBH. Hearts go with a 4-4-2.

FT Hearts x (Henderson 45+1, 53) Raith x (Hazard 39) Att 19,414 (1,004 Away)

Had to do a double-take – we are in our all-Yellow Away strip today. Hearts with the first chance – a good stop by loanee keeper Leitch. Pretty scrappy early on, but good levels of possession for Raith. First really good chance in the 28th minute, Robinson heading wide – I’d rather the ball was to his feet. And the deadlock is broken in the 39th minute – and it’s my first Raith goal!!! A poor Hearts clearance, Chrzanowski to it first, Robinson pulled back gets to that header, flicks to Bigirimana, and his ball through is struck brilliantly first-time by Hazard for his 1st goal of the season, 15 yards, high into the net through Clarks’ hands πŸ™‚ 1-0 Raith. And the rain is pouring down in Edinburgh. But we can’t see the half out. Injury Time, Henderson scores a daisy-cutter from 25 yards… Sinclair would have had that. Disappointing.

Some tired boys already… Hearts starting the half strongly. And they go 2-1 up in the 53rd minute – a shit-show from a corner, Crookes heading straight to Henderson, who has a tap-in. Not good at all. Going 4-1-3-2, Bigirimana as a Regista, Vaughan up top as a DLF(S), Matthews on as a a CM(A) – Skelly & Hazard off. Been very much second best this half. 70th minute, Henderson has the ball in the newt again, but he’s offside. Murray on for Black for the last 20 – Enganche behind the 2 forwards. And we have the ball in the net in the 85th minute… But it’s offside. Robinson with a header, about a yard off. It finishes 2-1 – seem to be a real lack of Cohesion.

A big win for Inverness CT over Hibs – they are now 7 points above us. St Mirren next in just 48 hours…

Our U18’s drew 1-1 with Craigroyston Res 1-1, Robbie Mitchell (18yo ML) with the goal.

23rd December 2022 – St. Mirren (A) – Ladbrokes Premiership

St. Mirren Park, Paisley

We make the 62 mile trip West to Paisley, just west of Glasgow, to play a St. Mirren side ( confounding expectations, sitting 7th. In game they have been a Premiership side since the start – Finishing 5th, 10th twice then 11th in the last 4 seasons. Last Season they destroyed Falkirk 9-0 on aggregate in the Relegation playoff final. So to be 7th currently is a great feat. They have a slightly bigger wage bill than us (We are bottom at Β£1.56M/yr, they are 11th with Β£1.86M/yr – compare this to Hearts 4th with Β£5.93M/yr) so we should be competitive.

IRL they currently sit bottom of the Premiership after 9 games.

They are on a decent run – winning 3 of the last 5, and they beat Motherwell the day before our Hearts game 1-0, so they should have some pretty knackered players as well. They have a small 1st team squad – just 19 players, and have 3 injuries currently as well. Quite the weather forecast – -3C & Snow…

So, we’re a team of playmakers, certainly in the midfield, so we’re going to play to that – Control possession, lower tempo, short passing, all that good stuff. All the players are over 90% condition somehow – but we’ve rotated. Robinson has a rest up top, Ferrier in with Vaughan. Double MEZ centre midfield, Murray and Bigirimana, whilst Hunter (19yo) is the DLP. Grimshaw moves to DM, Watson in at right back. Innes in for Crookes. St. Mirren go with a 4-2-3-1 Wide.

FT St. Mirren 3 (Smith 4, McGrain 48, Baird 90) Raith 2 (Vaughan 2, Ferrier 86) Att 5,110 (631 Away)

In our yellow kit again – If this was FM20 it would be on the Grey/White pitch as well. But snow is indeed falling. And it’s a stunning start from the raith lads, 1-0 in 73 seconds. Hunter lumped a ball forward, straight into the feet of on-rushing Ferrier, who made good yards before squaring (Yes, squaring) a ball over to Vaughan, who slammed the ball home past an unmoving Keeper from 15 yards. A beautiful move. That lasted 2 minutes… Smith with a 20 yeard strike following a few clearances. 1-1. A pretty even game after the early flurry. St. Mirren start to dominate a bit near the end of the half but we go into the break at 1-1.

Defending and Goalkeeping really letting us down, 2-1 in the 48th, McGrain with a header from 15 yards through Leitch’s hands. Almost 65 gone, Murray and Hunter off for Matthews and Robinson – 4-2-2-2 Wide 2DM, Vaughan and Matthews on the wings, Robinson as a DLP(S). 77 gone, Black on for Grimshaw, 4-4-2. 82nd minute – Robinson with a wonderful chance, skyed. But we get the equaliser!!!! Robinson getting hold of the ball, playing Ferrier in, who slots the ball inside the left upright. 2-2. 1st goal of the season for Ferrier. 4 minutes of normal time left. And the fuck this game – 3-2 St. Mirren, 7 seconds of normal time left. Free Kick, headed in by Baird – 1st of the season… 3-2 it finished.

Think 11th might be the best we can get – Dundee Utd now 7 points above us after beating Rangers. Really need to get another Keeper at least in the transfer window. Just 3 days now to the Ross County game at home. Happy Fucking Christmas.

26th December 2022 – Ross County (H) – Ladbrokes Premiership

Our last game before the winter break and my first at home, and we face a Ross County side currently in 8th, but having won their last 3 games (Motherwell, Rangers and Hearts)… Yep, going to be tough. We’ve lost 6 straight…

Ross County ( IRL we’re promoted back to the premiership after winning the Championship in 18/19 (They were a Premiership side from 2012 to 2018) and finished last season 10th. In game they have bounced about, finishing 7th in the Championship in 18/19, 2nd (And Promoted) in 19/20, Bottom of the Premiership in 20/21 and 1st in the Championship last season. They are overperforming somewhat, let’s see if we can get something out of today.

Tweaking the 4-1-3-2 DM Narrow tactically – Holmes in today with Hunter as CM(A) with Bigirimana as the Playmaker – I don’t feel Mezzalas ever really work well. Currie & Hegerty as the full backs on WB(D), though they may be upped to Support. Crookes and Innes together as our best back line, Cover/Stopper. Ross County go with a 4-4-2…

FT Raith 1 (Ferrier 16) Ross County 0 Att 4,060 (608 Away)

The first time I’ve seen us in our dark kit – we kick off in the pouring rain. I can see the short passing really well, and we nearly score in the 8th minute, Ferrier’s shot hitting the post. And we do indeed take the lead 7 minutes later – A lovely break started by Grimshaw, some nice interplay and finally a left-footed Ferrier finish after a Holmes back-heel. 1-0 Raith πŸ™‚ Brandon Hunter in midfield has a cut hand – unless it’s hanging off at the wrist he’s staying on until at least half-time! a pretty quiet game as we enter the last 10 minutes of the half. Nearly a great team goal in the 36th minute, Vaughan denied by a full-length save by Johansson. 1-0 at Half Time.

I just noticed that Mark Davidson (ex-Berwick) has made it into the first team – he’s just been subbed on! 60 minutes arrives apace – Matthews on for Hunter and his poorly hand, Robinson on for Vaughan up top. Very quiet as we enter the last 20 minutes… 80 minutes, Black on for Bigirimana for the last 10. 84th minute, we could have sewed it up, somehow the ball not going over the line after a Johansson fumble in the Ross County net. Stoppage time, and a highlight… nothing doing. Then another… same. Fergie Time… And it’s over πŸ™‚ 1-0 Raith, our first points in a while!!! Fully deserved as well!

5 points off of Inverness as they draw at Aberdeen, but more importantly 9 points clear of Motherwell as they lose to Dundee Utd. The league splits after 33 games and we will play teams from 6th to 12th once – we will need to capitalise on those games massively if we are to finish anywhere but 11th-or-lower.

That’s that for the games this month – we now go into a winter break until Saturday 14th (Scottish Cup 4th Round at home to Motherwell) but we still play 6 times in January – If we can get 6 points or more from those games it will be a good return. We are also into the transfer window – I need a really good Keeper and another good centre-back I think. I’ve just sent Kenny Innes on a 2-week holiday as he was looking jaded.

I may have to suspend judgement on our Loanee Keeper Steve Leitch – Gets in the team of the Week for his 7.03 Average over 3 games!!

Our Ressies lost 2-1 to Inverness CT Res, 20yo Striker Martin Murphy with the goal.

Shows what a good win the game versus Ross County was! Both Celtic & Rangers losing on the same day.

Lastly before wrapping up lets take a quick look at Berwick’s last few games… They’ve lost both (Partick 1-0, Clyde 2-1) And they’ve gone 4-4-F-ing-2… Nially Foy, the old Reserves Manager is Caretaking. John Hughes is favourite for the job – the sacked manager of Partick and ex-Raith manager…

I’ll leave you with the kay highlights from the 3 Raith games i was manager for this month. See you soon.

December 2022 Key Highlights

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