First up, some personal stuff. I’ve extended my contract to two years:
And finally the board manage to muster up the meagre £960 for my next training course. Seriously, why can’t I pay for it myself?
The biggest change this summer is the move to Professional status:
I really hope this will make the club more appealing to potential signings. An example of our struggles is Gerard Garner. After being released by Fleetwood Town, I figured he might fancy coming back to score a few more goals. He chose to go to newly promoted Vanarama National side Salford instead. This is a fairly typical example of our transfer struggles over the previous two seasons – players choosing lower league teams over us.
I’m also hopeful that having players in full time training will lead to more attribute improvement, particularly with our stagnating under-18 side.
That’s more like it! Combined with doubling our season ticket sales to 220, I’m hopeful we can spend a bit more of the season in the black this time around.
On to successful transfer business. First up, in the second half of last season I took speculative punts on a few free agent youngsters. Ryan Longman (STC) looks the best of them, and even though he’s just 18, he’ll probably feature a bit as a sub.
We’ve once again struggled to sign players. The switch to professional status doesn’t seem to have helped. Some players are put off by our poor reputation, others by our limited finances.
The free transfer signings we do make, are another couple of youngsters with promise, who will only feature this season if we have a terrible injury crisis, or they quickly develop.
Ten loan signings is a lot, especially as we can only have five in the squad for a league game, but we’re desperate for reinforcements. Louis Jones (GK) was only signed due to Lewington getting injured in training.
Of the signings, James Clarke (DRC), Robbie McKenzie (DM/MC) and Max Broughton (DC) look the most talented. Although Max Broughton poses a question. His attributes alone probably make him our best player, just not at centre back…
…I think I’m going to re-train him as a winger.
The backroom team has been expanded and improved. I’m particularly excited to welcome back Steve King as a coach, and welcome Tomas Rosicky with his 105 caps, which are bound to inspire.
We’ve finally got a Director of Football and a Sports Scientist, but I’m happiest with our new Head of Youth Development. Ricky Shakes is a massive improvement, and I’m hoping his “Resolute” personality will rub off on the kids getting promoted into the U-18s.
We’ve been installed at 550-1 to win the league, which are better odds than last season, but we’re once again predicted to finish dead last.
So, how did we start off?
Thoroughly, thoroughly tonked.
Sky Bet League Two:
I’m thrilled with our start, absolutely thrilled. The Coventry game was much worse than 1-0. After that and getting doinked by Palace in the cup, I switched the defensive 442 to a defensive 4141.
Unsurprisingly, it has made us less vulnerable in the centre of the park. I thought having two ball winning midfielders was worth a go, seeing as we seemed to have trouble… winning the ball… and I changed the right winger to attack mentality to try and reduce the isolation of the striker.
The Max Broughton experiment has worked out fairly well so far, with him contributing a couple of goals, a couple of assists and an average of 7.20 from his right midfield berth.
Greenhalgh has continued to perform, but Kyron Farrell has been our best player (when fit), averaging 7.30 and scoring a free-kick. Greenhalgh still hasn’t scored one, and is up to 107 starts now. Ludicrous.
We have suffered far more injuries since going professional than we have ever had in the last two seasons. Not a crisis at any point, but we’ve always had between four and eight players out. A concern, certainly.
The more eagle-eyed among you will have noticed a familiar name crop up a couple of times.
He’s back! Leon Lobjoit, play-off hero, didn’t fancy coming back after being released by Northampton, but a couple of months kicking his heels was clearly enough to convince him that Canvey Island ain’t so bad. It took him eight minutes to get on the scoresheet, after resuming his supersub role.
Christian Scales (DLC/WBL) was signed following an injury to Perry Cotton. With Kristian Green shifting over to right back, we needed an upgrade at left back, and Scales looks decent. Another example of a player that wasnt interested in joining a couple of months back.
Ben Adamson (DC) comes in as cover because with the loan restrictions, I haven’t often played Louis Lomas, and Billy Roast hasn’t been great. Having only just turned 19, Adamson also has potential to improve.
So where do we sit?
Great start! I’m very happy, but also cautious. The entire league is only separated by 17 points, so we could end up anywhere. If we can stay away from a serious relegation scrap, I’ll be satisfied with the season. Hopefully we can gradually build up our reputation, finances and facilities with a couple of seasons of consolidation. I might be getting a little ahead of myself…