So after narrowly avoiding relagation again last season, I was hoping for better this season, my young team has had a year to gel, though the game wasn't giving me much of a chance the board were willing to give me nearly £8m to avoid relagation, though they didn't expect any of the players I bought with that money to be given a wage.
The press also gave us no chance double our odds from 500-1 to 1,000-1 and for the third season in a row we were expected to finish rock bottom and be everyone's wipping boys, even the fans weren't optismistic, with 300 less season tickets sold this season.
The board at least had enough confidence in me to give me a new contract.
Our transfer dealings would be relatively quiet this season, I got rid of the what I hoped was the last of the moaners: Wingers Woolley and Ross finally left both for Scotland, whilst the rest of the signings were mainly players who refused to sign a new contract unless they were a key player - Greek Winger Fotiadis and young midfielders Patterson, Jeffrey, Kearney and Basham wouldn't settle for squad roles and weren't good enough for first choice so they were all sold off.
Transfers in saw the arrival of some promising youngsters, whilst english youngsters Ferdinand and Cole were brought in to provide some depth at left back and right wing. Russian Keeper Astakhov was poached from under the noses of Real Madrid a couple of years ago but I had to wait for him to turn 18 to join us, I'm rather surprised he actually got a work permit at the age of 16 and again when he finally joined I snapped him up on a 5 year contract without a single cap for Russia.
We made a solid start to the season hovering around mid-table, with my defence solid for the most part I adopted a slightly more attacking system - pushed the team mentality up and made my MCa more attacking to create some more chances and goals.
And it worked for the most part when my team turned up, with my MCa causing havoc in the opposition defences, though November did go a little wierd as we managed five 1-1 draws in six games.
In the second half of the season we started to switch off in too many games, mainly due to half my 'loyal' defence declaring they wanted to move to a bigger club after struggling Championship sides and the likes of Basel, Zenit and Cluji (Romania) declared an interest in them.
Having three games postponed in March, saw us fall further down the table and if results went the wrong way we'd be in danger of being dragged into the relagation fight, Stoke being deducted 10pts helped us out and a 4-1 hammering of Norwich followed by a 2-2 draw to Fulham made us safe with five games remaining.
Table - 14th place was a fantastic acheivement and even better we never dropped into the relagation spots even once this season.
Squad - Does anyone else have a problem with most of their players not being worth anything?
Mark Galley stole the #1 Jersey from Pedro as Pedro really struggled this season whilst new signing Dmitry Astakhov is highly rated but not quite ready for first team football.
On defence Romanian Right Back Marian Balu struggled a bit with Richard Allan proving to be a capable understudy.
On the left Omar Cardozo was solid for the most part with new signing Jack Ferdinand providing cover.
In the centre of defence Diego had a disapointing season by his standards not helped by his demands to leave the club and is now transer listed by request, partnering him was vice-Captain Mal Thompson who quite possibly will be my only centre-back next season after my understudies Dave Whitbread and Steve Cowling demanding moves to bigger clubs - I've not even had a chance to play Cowling yet he demands a move to a bigger club after a handful of games, he spent the season loaned out to get some experience, he was called back when Diego got injured starts to show some potential and then demands a move :(
On the Right Winger David Owen was in fine form equaling our assists record from back in League Two, before injury ended his season, providing cover was new signing Jamie Cole.
On the left Gonzalo Alonso had a quieter season with Chris Friar again providing cover.
In the centre of midfield Steve Patterson lost his place to Andy Batchelor after he wanted a transfer, but by the end of the season Batchelor was demanding a move, whilst Patterson was happy at the club.
Helping out the attack was Keith Hurrell who had a fine season until he wanted out, which means that Harry Gudgeon is likely to take his place with Swiss midfielder Gilbert Fievet rewarding my giving him a chance by also wanting out.
Upfront we were given a boost when for some reason Bristol City decided not to make Promising Striker Kevin Pearson's loan permanent and he hit some fine form after a slow start ending up my top scorer, though he spent the entire season wanting a move to a bigger club, forgetting he signed a new contract with me at the end of last season when no-one was interested in him, and rather interestingly he is the only player I have who is actually worth something (£1.4m at the moment). My Captain Sendoa had a good season aswell.
With the rest of my strike force being rather injury prone, Record signing Lewis Mintus was the only one to manage a meaningful number of appearances.
Best XI - it's currently looking like only Thompson, Owen and Sendoa will still be here by September.
Snapshot - Accrington rather embrassingly beat us in extra in the first round of the Carling Cup, whilst luck was against us against Man City in the FA Cup.
Moneywise we are in trouble, we lost £5m this season from last seasons transfers, not sure where the board were going to get the ~£8m they were offering me.
Manager Profile - knowledge still not returning.
Club Info - Still Regional reputation, and it is no surprise that next season we are again predicted to finish bottom of the league, whilst its a joke that my squad personality is listed as loyal.
On the plus side the board have upgraded our Training facilites to Top and our youth to Good.
We also gained the Overachievers tag for the first time in the Championship.
And my sponsorship deal finally increased.
So the plan for next season is to see how many players I am left with, and to hopefully make a play for the playoffs.
|2009/10||Blue Square North||1st||Promoted - Champions|
|2010/11||Blue Square Prem||5th||Playoff Final|
|2011/12||Blue Square Prem||1st||Promoted - Champions|
|2015/16||League Two||4th||2016/17||League Two||1st||Promoted - Champions||2017/18||League One||3rd||Promoted - Playoffs||2018/19||Championship||21st||2019/20||Championship||21st||2020/21||Championship||14th|