I came into my first season expecting very little in regards to progress. The aim all along was to make the play-offs as dictated to by the board and also start to reshape the squad. There where zero transfers in during the summer as I turned off the first window, all the deals were done as in real life and we had to go from there. We were hit badly with injuries losing Vaughan and Grabban early on for extended periods we also lost Maja to injury too but despite some big injuries we could not have got a better start, when young new Zealand defender Sam Brotherton headed home our first against Derby i knew that the faith in some of the clubs U23 players would pay off.
The start as mentioned could not have gone any better performance wise. We lined up with my trust 5-3-2 wing backs but this time with a DM as with injuries I expected to be under the cosh a fair amount and we would look to hit teams on the break. We showed a lot of fighting spirit too as despite scoring first we found ourselves 2-1 down at half time on the opening night to Derby. A second half comeback inspire by the impressive Eliott Embleton in midfield and goals from Grabban and Ndong were enough to finally end out home run without a win, at my first attempt no less! More good news on the ownership front as with Ellis wanting to sell a consortium were interested this cooled and thought nothing more of it. But a Hungarian Tycoon took over injected £90m to the balance and gave us a £58m transfer kitty. I’ll be honest I considered starting again but after talking to @Cleon81 & @AcidburnTNA I decided to continue and stick with the plan of looking for solid promising youngsters.
Draw with Norwich before a five game winning run firmly established us at the top of the table. In the early stage only a sitter missed by Lyndon Gooch against Norwich stopped us getting a 100% record in the fist 7. We suffered defeat at the hands of Hull in our 9th game of the season when we failed to defend three corners whilst offering nothing going forward, the defeat was disappointing and injuries played their toll having to line up with Asoro & Maja and missing other key players. As Watmore in his first game back from injury picked up a knock against forest last game out. the defeat to Hull started a bit of a blip as we only picked up wins against Cardiff & Brentford in a 7 game stretch. A little bit of inconsistency was sorted as defeat to Bristol was followed by one defeat in 15 which gave us one hand firmly on promotion. The biggest results of the stretch were a 2-1 win at Middlesbrough as Grabban & Watmore sealed three points this was in a run where Watmore scored four times in three games. Into January and a few deals were completed:
Out went Billy Jones to Leeds. Released were Gibson & Rodwell to clear the team of certain players I disliked. Also I set about resolving the striker issue despite Grabban on loan and Watmore scoring goals, depth wise we didn’t really have much. Vaughan isn’t great and Asoro and Maja are both developing so Maja went out on loan, as did Cattermole and McManaman who I was struggling to fit into the system. In came a new wing back in Callum Brittain and £4m was spent on striker Joel Piroe from PSV who went on to score twice on his debut in a 3-0 win over Cardiff in Wales.
As promotion seemed more of a certainty complacency seemed to creep into the team and I struggled in a few games failing to win in four. But two-headed goals away at Bolton by Wilson got us back to winning ways as five consecutive wins left us requiring only a point at home to Brentford, to seal a return to the premier league. A pair of goals from Grabban was enough for promotion and I knew a lot of work would start now as id need to rebuild an ageing squad who a lot were out of contract in the summer.
We followed the win against Brentford up with a goalless draw at home to Preston but it was enough for the title, as QPR lost. We were exceptionally inconsistent towards the end of the season as I played a mix and match of players seeing who would be around for next season also with a cup run to content with I wanted to rest players with promotion confirmed.
With regards to the cup performances we were very poor in the Carabao Cup as despite a win at home to Oldham in round one. Thanks to goals from Grabban and Beadling we fell in extra time in round two as Blackpool took us to Extra time and we struggle to break them down.
The FA Cup was a fun experiencing, drawing League Two Blackburn in round 3rd I figured easy win. I was wrong as despite going 2 goals up we were forced to a replay which we took 2-0. Round four was again lower league opposition as Shrewsbury came to the Stadium of Light and were dispatched by a inform Watmore who took home the match ball.
Premiership Huddersfield were a much tougher test but we held on to force a replay in front of a full house. Watmore was the man again in Yorkshire as he fired us to a 6th round tie with high-flying Spurs. Well I full expected to lose this and despite being battered for 90 mins we held firm and forced penalties with Jason Steele being the man of the moment saving twice to put us in the last four.
Along side Bournemouth, Chelsea & Man City as expected I was praying for the cherries in the draw and when I got my wish I felt confident we could get to the final. We did really well at Wembley but it just wasn’t enough as despite a few chances the game looked to be heading for Extra Time before Afobe scored an 85th minute winner rising at the back post to head home. so close yet so far!
There were a few standout performers and a few who completely surprised me if I’m honest. Kone was the rock in the middle of my defence playing 46 times averaging 7.03 Watmore surprisingly came out on top of the scoring charts notching 21 times. Grabban was second with 15 and the rest of the squad hit 4,5 & 6 times. Most of my assists came from Adam Matthews who made a brilliant contribution assisting 9 times. Oviedo assisting 7 times from the other flank.
Piroe had a solid half a season scoring 5 times and assisting 7 but the standouts were former U23 players Eliot Embleton who appeared 32 times, Tom Beadling who appeared 29 times and Sam Brotherton who made 27 appearances. George Honeyman made the joint highest sub appearances (15) alongside Watmore who towards the end of the season, came off the bench more for Piroe or Grabban. The decisions I have are do I make Grabban permanent? and do I sell Kone or build the defence around him? As I originally wanted rid of him but I know I’ve got Premier League money and also my Tycoon money to spend.
Around the rest of my save
– Bournemouth beat Chelsea to lift the FA Cup
– Arsenal pip the Manchester clubs to their first premiership title in 14 years
– Everton and Southampton struggle but survive by the last few days as Huddersfield, Watford and Crystal Palace are relegated
– Real Madrid pip Barca to La Liga by one point
– Bayern beat surprise challengers Leverkusen to the Bundesliga with Lipzig in 3rd and Dortmund down in 7th
– Juventus claim Serie A with ease
– PSG & Monaco finish streets ahead of the rest of Ligue 1 with PSG beating Monaco by 3 points
– Porto somehow made the Champions League Semis but lost out to Real Madrid who Lost the final to Chelsea
– Juventus win an all italian Europa League final as they beat Napoli.
Biggest Win: 4-1 (Home to Middlesborough & Away to Leeds)
Biggest Defeat: 3-0 (Away to Hull & Aston Villa
Most League Games without Winning: 4
Most League Games without Losing: 11
Top Scorer: 21 Watmore
Highest Attendance: 48,455 – Wolves
Lowest Attendance: 27,795 – Brentford
Average Attendance: 31,632
Total Attendance: 727,548
- Replace backroom staff (improve when financially viable)
SELL JACK RODWELL or release or hell just throw him in the wearRelease so chucked in river 🙂
- Get rid of the so-called “Rotten core” (kone, Catts, O’shea etc.)
- Replace players with young promising players
- Improve scouting network
- Provide path from U23’s to first team
- Have minimum of 4 players in the first team squad who have come Through the academy (ideally from the area)
- Build a tactical identity (3 at the back fast attacking football)
- Get rid of the debt (Currently stands at £100m plus this will be Updated ever year)
Get promoted to the premier league
- Survive in the premier league
- Qualify for Europe through the league
- Win a cup
- Sustained success
- Expand the Stadium of light
- New stadium?
A Sneak peak at not only a new signing but the new home kit