Flight Of The Concords: Part 20

Screenshot (102)We stand on the brink of both an unprecedented double, and back to back promotions. You can find out how we’ve got to this point here: Flight Of The Concords: Part 17, here: Flight Of The Concords: Part 18, and here: Flight Of The Concords: Part 19.

This season has been amazing so far, but can we finish it off in style, and make another leap into the unknown?

Sky Bet League One:

March’s league results sure haven’t hurt:

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Although Plymouth seem to have our number, and for the third time this season, we totally ripped off MK Dons, our other four performances were very good indeed. Kevin Brown and Max Broughton have been orchestrating things magnificently from the flanks, and our defensive unit is thriving, safe in the knowledge that they have an extremely capable goalkeeper behind them in the shape of Kieran O’Hara.

As the team tires after a hectic season, performances drop a little during April, and the results took a slight hit:

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But still, not bad. We look noticeably worse with Max Broughton out of the team, with the Bolton game being a prime example (he couldn’t play against his actual club).

Note the first goal for our most promising youth prospect, Malcolm Hackett.

And who can argue with this:

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What a result! We’ve made it up to The Championship far sooner than I’d hoped. We’ve left Southend in our dust and are now the biggest team in Essex.

Charlton went on an outstanding run to nip into second on the final day of the season. We helped them out by holding Bristol Rovers to a nil nil draw. MK Dons and Callum Gribbin snuck through the play-offs.

This is just insulting though:

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Why does the league have prize money at all?

Checkatrade Trophy:

Screenshot (188)It’s fair to say, that went well.

Our favourite weather, and a Liverpool U23 side that was frankly not very good. Only Nathaniel Clyne and goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin were included from their senior squad, and their youngsters couldn’t match us.

They didn’t muster a single shot on target, and we were incredibly comfortable from the moment Manny Monthe thundered home a header from a corner in the 14th minute.

Best of all, with promotion, we won’t have to play in this Mickey Mouse competition anymore.

Ryan Longman was mad good, getting himself into the Checkatrade Trophy record books in the process, smashing the top goalscorer record by 5 goals, and the average rating record by 0.50!:

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These beautiful, wonderful lads:

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They were all super, but I’ll pick out a few top performers.

Manny Monthe marshalled the defence brilliantly and was always a handful at set pieces. Kevin Brown was a revelation on the left flank, usurping Ben Greenhalgh, providing goals and assists and developing through training, adding both “Runs With Ball Down Left” and “Knocks Ball Past Opponent” to his repertoire. Denville Gumbs and Ryan Longman scored bags of goals, and formed an electric partnership to lead us to glory.

But Max Broughton was definitely our best player, he looked deadly at times, leaving left backs looking foolish all season. His final total of 7 goals and 18 assists and an average rating of 7.67 was enough to get him the Fans Player award:

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And even better, League One Player of the Year:

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Alongside Broughton, Kieran O’Hara and Manny Monthe were named in the starting eleven for the League One Team of the Year. I’m very proud.

In terms of our set piece focus, it’s difficult to say with any certainty if it’s made much difference. We did score from two more corners compared to last year in the league and scored more in the cups too, although we did play a lot more games in the cups than last season.

Kameron Stanley’s loan went incredibly well:

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Hopefully we’ll be able to find him a loan at a higher level next season and continue his development.

Once again, as we climb the league pyramid, some players are left behind:

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Jeez Rory, inappropriate smile much…

Joss Labadie: Apps 63(2), 6 goals, 16 assists, 7.01 Avg rating. A decent captain for a bit, but an absolute liability in terms of discipline. He wanted a lot more money, and I think we’ll need it elsewhere.

Christian Scales: Apps 64(4), 3 assists, 6.94 Avg rating. One of many mediocre left backs we seem to have to suffer with.

Ben Adamson: Apps 46(11), 1 goal, 5 assists, 6.92 Avg rating. Didn’t develop as we had hoped.

Kyron Farrell: Apps 103(61), 13 goals, 22 assists, 6.98 Avg rating. With us from the very start, was an invaluable asset early on, but another player that hasn’t developed as we would’ve liked.

Joseph Holland: Apps 65(2), 2 goals, 4 assists, 7.04 Avg rating. Solid central midfielder, but like Labadie, priced himself out of another contract.

Jamie Whitmore (GK): Notable only for sitting on my bench for over two years in order to fulfill our “homegrown at the club” obligation.

Me, Me, Me:

Damn right:

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And finally my coaching education is complete:

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Up to the dizzy heights of a three and a half star fitness coach!

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And I’ve graduated up from “Favoured Personnel” to “Icon”:

Next stop, “Legend”!

Looking To The Future:

The Championship is a scary looking prospect. Southampton and QPR have annual salaries in excess of £40m. Ours isn’t even £2m. Aston Villa, Blackburn, Swansea, Palace… The list of big clubs stretches on and on.

I’m going to leave any financial talk until the next part, as I wait to see how much of a difference promotion will make to our income…

There’s no doubt that we need to make some improvements to the playing squad, and probably some changes to our tactics if we are to survive. Even as we have continually overachieved both compared to the game’s expectations and my own, this looks like a hugely difficult challenge.

My initial thoughts are that we go back to defensive football, but I’ll wait on making that decision until I see who we can a) afford and b) attract to Canvey over the course of the summer.

Early signatures for next season come in the form of our repeat loansters. Max Broughton has been loaned for a fourth successive season, despite the fact that we will now be in the division above Bolton. I don’t know what they’re thinking. Kevin Brown had already signed for another year and is joined by Conor McHugh, Armando Dobra, Joey Stevens and John English, who must be as perplexed as I about why Preston spent £600k on him… Dobra is unlikely to see much action next season, but I signed him as a precaution in case our transfer window goes badly. After two years on loan from Liverpool, Corey Whelan signs a one-year deal with us to start on July 1st.

It’s a start, but we’re going to need to make bigger strides this summer if The Championship isn’t going to eat us alive. I’m looking forward to the challenge!

Thanks for reading!

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