We’re on the verge of completing a great season. To see how we got here, check out earlier posts here: Flight Of The Concords: Part 13, Flight Of The Concords: Part 14 and Flight Of The Concords: Part 15.
We stand fifteen points clear of the field, with our promotion rivals tearing each other apart, surely, surely we can’t blow this?
Sky Bet League Two:
I don’t think we can, because we’re playing really well:
If not for complacency in our second half performances, we could’ve kept four clean sheets. We were particularly great against Stevenage, where…
We’ve only gone and sealed promotion and the title. In March!
And I’ve grabbed my fourth Manager of the Month award of the season. I’m so cavalier about it now, I’m not even doing a screenie.
We had the traditional post-title winning mini-slump (we were proper shit), which was a little disappointing as it ruined our season-long unbeaten home record, but we recovered to win the last four in style:
A minor gripe – against Grimsby, Joss Labadie picked up his fourth red card of the season. I docked him two weeks wages and gave him a piece of my mind, fully expecting him to become outraged. He was fine with it.
Despite John English being awful for most of the last half dozen games, we looked very good, with Joey Stevens or Ryan Longman doing the job up front without him. And so, we managed to break the League Two total points record!
What. A. Season.
We also broke the League Two record for fewest games lost in a season.
Unbelievably, despite his goalscoring exploits, John English didn’t finish in the top three in the Fans Player of the Season, with Ryan Longman beating Max Broughton and Ben Greenhalgh to the prize:
And then he bagged League Two Player of The Year:
He had a great year, and it could’ve been even better but for injuries.
All of these guys pitched in with great performances at one point or another. Special shout outs to the three strikers who bagged an incredible 82 goals between them!
Our wingers once again excelled. Ben Greenhalgh is still doing a remarkable job, even whilst the game rates him at a mere one and a half stars. Eight goals, fourteen assists and a 7.30 average rating as he continues to build upon his club legend status. Max Broughton, particularly towards the end of the season, was amazing. He averaged 8.10 in his last five starts, was beating people for fun and had two games with three assists. He’s signed on for another year at Bolton, I hope we can get him back for another year on loan. Seventeen assists!
In the heart of the defence, Manny Monthe and Chris Smith made us a lot more solid, and Christian Scales had a fantastic second half of the season after regaining the left back berth from Archie Edwards. Perry Cotton continues to be Mr. Reliable at right back.
This was our first choice eleven for the season:
I was going to talk more about tactics, but seeing as I’m going to cross 1’000 words, I’ll leave that for next time.
I think we’ll be releasing quite a few of our players this summer, particularly some of the lads that’ve been with us from the very start. I’ll mostly cover that in the next post, however Kyron Farrell and Harry Lee were very good when required, and as they are both happy to be back-up players on low wages, I’ve signed them both up for another season. Hopefully that should reduce any dressing room disquiet and lessen the impact on squad dynamics, especially seeing as Harry Lee is the vice captain. Better to spread these things out I think.
I’ve completed another coaching badge:
There’s only one to go, and I’m working on it. It should take a year and then my qualifications will be complete. Hopefully by then I’ll be more than a three star fitness coach…
Still, there’s this:
That makes up for not even making the shortlist when we got promoted from the Vanarama. Smoke that Jimmy Bullard! Where are you now? Unemployed is where.
In terms of general quality, it’s a much better intake than previous years. There are far fewer absolutely useless players, although there aren’t really any standout players either:
The best of them is Ronnie Rutherford:
I think there’s potential there. I particularly like the idea of playing him in a central midfield partnership with one of last years intake, Ronnie Ramm-Hayes.
I also like that more of them have positive traits this year. Fewer “Casual” or “Unambitious” players is a relief. Finally we see some “Resolute” personalities, so kudos to you, Ricky Shakes.
Our two most promising players from last years intake have shown some signs of growth. Malcolm Hackett has added “Moves Into Channels” into his game and his determination is up to eleven, for when you need that extra push over the cliff:
He has had some development across the board, but the changes are relatively small so far. I’m torn between focusing on his technique and his quickness for the coming season. I may split the difference.
Andrew Parker’s development has been even slower:
So, glacially slow really. At least he’s recently lost his “Low Determination” personality. He’s also just been capped by Wales U19’s. So they must suck. Parker hasn’t made much progress at all, and if he has a similar year next season, you probably won’t see him again.
I’ll just leave this here:
As soon as the season was done, he was willing to talk. John English has become our first £1k a week player, and I’m very pleased to have managed to negotiate his minimum fee release clause up to a cool £1m.
If we can get Joey Stevens in on a free or another year’s loan (if his contract at Southampton is extended) then we’ll have three dangerous strikers, that I think should keep us away from a relegation dogfight next season. But there’ll be more transfer talk next time…