Sky Bet League Two:
Our five match run without a win had clearly spooked my assistant manager Rory Fallon, who came to me and implored me to hold a team meeting. Reluctantly, I agreed. Reluctantly, because quite often, my team meetings go very wrong.
This time however, after choosing options that are as close to how I feel as possible (chill out guys, we’re doing fine), I’m confronted by a sea of green. Morale skyrockets, with a few players hitting “perfect” and everyone in the first team squad at “very good” or higher. This is great!
I’ve made a couple of tweaks to the tactic. The defensive forward role hasn’t been at all productive this season, and Ryan Longman in particular has looked far better when playing in his natural Poacher role. In another attempt to not isolate the striker, I’ve switched one of the ball-winning midfielders to a Central Midfield – Attack. Kees De Boer is perfect for the role, and hopefully it won’t leave us defensively short.
To compensate for that, I’ve set the right winger on support rather than attack. I’ve also changed the left back to Wing Back – Defend, for no other reason than it suits Christian Scales better.
With 20 minutes to go against Accrington, at 1-0 down, it looked like we’d be going nine games without a win. Despite an uptick in performance since the team meeting, we still couldn’t bag a win, although the draw away at leaders Wycombe was a great result. Then Ryan Longman tucked away a couple of lovely finishes, and suddenly we were on a five match unbeaten run!
Which eventually became a thirteen match unbeaten run! Without a single home win. Really strange. There were nine draws out of those thirteen games and we finished with twenty draws from forty-six games.
It was nice to win our last home game. I gave a run out to Femi Akinwande, who has served us well in getting to League Two, but is not up to the standard required, and will be released at the end of his contract.
We’ve done really well. Admittedly, it wasn’t the most exciting of seasons, but we were never anywhere near the dreaded relegation zone. There were a couple of moments I thought we might make an unlikely run at the play-offs, but it never really looked like a possibility.
No-one lost fewer games at home. Is it because of us being great, or the pitch being a swamp. I wonder…
Ben Adamson has already usurped Louis John in central defence, and he along with top scorer Ryan Longman (16 goals), are the first young players to have made significant developmental strides since I’ve been here. I think the switch to professional status has had the expected impact, and our much improved core of coaches can’t hurt. I think I’ll finally be able to spend some time discussing youth development next season, especially as we got a couple of decent prospects in our intake this year.
Largely, it was a season of solid, unspectacular performances, with only Longman and Greenhalgh standing out. For the sake of this season, that’s enough, but if we are to continue to grow, there’ll need to be improvements in the playing staff.
I’ll also be looking at the tactics over the summer. Early in the season when I started games with a 442, we inevitably fared poorly, mostly getting outnumbered in the middle of the park.
Yet switching to a 442, usually in the second half of games when we were in trouble, was very successful. Longman and Lobjoit scored many of their goals coming off the bench. In Lobjoit’s case, all of his goals.
I think I’ve taken Concord as far as I can with defensive tactics. I’m going to try and switch it up for next season. We’re not going to go attacking or anything, but maybe a switch to counter would be a good idea, and if we can upgrade our squad sufficiently, we’ll look to play a little less cautiously, a bit more attacking and a bit wider. Could be interesting…
After becoming our new captain in the summer, Ben Greenhalgh claimed his third successive Player of the Season, and once again thoroughly deserved it. 7 goals, 8 assists and a squad leading average of 7.12. He is now considered a Concord legend. Still hasn’t scored a free kick though.
Harry Lee claimed the vice-captaincy at the beginning of the season, and did very well in central midfield. Really the only selection dilemma I had was choosing between Lee, Farrell and McKenzie in central midfield, as they all performed well.
I’m still getting interview offers from bigger clubs, of which the offer from Swansea (now in The Championship) sticks out.
But I’ve been to half a dozen interviews now, and never been offered a job.
Another coaching badge is claimed, and I’ve signed up for another over the summer when we briefly have money.
This was a really nice boost at the end of the season:
Before this cheque cleared, we were £250k in debt, and I was beginning to get the fear.
We’ve seen our fanbase increase this season. I hope that it’s something that continues, as it’s very difficult to make ends meet, let alone grow the club. We were back in the red before January and had no chance to improve any facilities at all.
For next season, the Chairman has very kindly doubled our wage budget:
I don’t think I’ll get anywhere near that total though. Our wage total this season didn’t even approach £10k a week and we were still losing money fast. I’ll be trying to re-sign the more successful loansters from this season, maybe find a couple more, and find a couple of free transfer signings that don’t want a huge wage.
We could really, really do with more luck with our cup draws next season, and I might have to take the Checkatrade Trophy seriously for prize money purposes.
We’ve over achieved again, but I think with our lack of fans and cash, it might take a long time to reach the big time.