Flight Of The Concords: Part 25

Welcome back to Flight Of The Concords! I promise there’ll be football this time…

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We’ve done a fair bit of squad restructuring over the pre-season, with a number of new faces coming in, and many of the old guard finally leaving the club. All this is with our aim for season seven in mind, namely playing more attacking football, and hopefully maintaining our status as a top half Championship club.

Let’s hope it doesn’t go horribly wrong…


Transfers:

There’s only been a little movement before the window closed. We added Francesco Rapisarda D/WB(R) / D(L) / M(R) on loan from Catania, purely to provide back-up.

Three youngsters have been loaned out on “last chance” deals again, and Joey Stevens has had his loan from Southampton terminated on request. He was likely to spend a fair amount of time on the bench at best, and didn’t fancy it. He spent three full seasons with us, accumulating 40(44) appearances with 40 goals and 15 assists to his name. He was a valuable part of our squad and could’ve contributed much more, but for his misfortune with injuries.

Tactics:

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I’ve made a couple of minor changes since the summer, mostly with regards to set pieces. We don’t really have a dominant aerial threat following the departure of Manny Monthe, so we’re going to try putting a couple of players on the edge of the box for corners instead.

We’re also going to attempt some “counter corners”, leaving our two paciest players forward and our best passer on the edge of the box.

The only change to the tactic itself comes after reading Cleon’s excellent piece on forward roles for his 442 diamond formation. Fabio Alagna will be playing as a poacher instead of an advanced forward to try and keep him from wandering too far from the centre.

Sky Bet Championship:

I’m going to stray from my usual formula, and just come right out with how we’re doing:

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We have essentially done a 180 from last season, and instead of being a cagey, defensively focused side, are really exciting with our forward play. So many goals!

It’s not only our new acquisitions that are excelling. Established players such as John English, Ilias Chatzitheodoridis, Max Aarons, and Davide Mondonico have significantly upped their game within our new tactical plan.

Our new corner routines are paying off, we’re the top scorers in the division from corners, and we’ve bagged a few from counter corners too.

August:

A great start, despite some difficult fixtures:

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Getting an away win first game of the season was a great relief, fully deserved and entertaining to boot.

We weren’t great against Middlesbrough, and I almost succumbed to the 4141 in fear of a strong Southampton side, but I kept the faith and was rewarded with a draw.

Against Sheffield United and Norwich we were outstanding. Fabio Alagna is looking like a really good signing and has added both the pace and flair we were sorely lacking up top.

September:

With a four nil win at Brentford we’ve won three league games by a combined score of fourteen nil!

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Leeds were predictably tough opponents after coming down from the Premier League and the MK defeat was harsh on us, but we’ve maintained our fantastic performances through this month and hauled in more valuable points.

Alagna’s spectacular performances are continuing and have earned him the Player of the Month award:

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October:

Lads, it’s The Championship:

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How are we this good!? We’ve done so well, the only negative is that we went eight games without a clean sheet. No biggy when you’re banging in this many goals.

A clean sweep of the October awards!

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Carabao Cup:

We’ve also progressed in a cup!

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We stuffed Barnet and Wycombe, though the latter result doesn’t look it. QPR ran us close, and it took a couple of impact subs to turn it around.

It’s a shame to end on a low note, but we just ran out of legs against Stoke. We hit the post in extra time, we were so close to getting through, but our penalty taking abilities in the squad are poor. We missed three from four, only Alagna scored.


It’s been an outstanding start, far better than I’d hoped or imagined. Everything we’ve attempted has come off so far, our new signings, tactical tweaks, set piece ploys…

It’s difficult to pick out individuals as our entire first eleven and many of our back-ups have been superb.

Fabio Alagna has a barmy 16 goals and 10 assists already, and although he’s not technically a newgen, his lack of face was annoying me:

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John English has also scored 13 in what has become a formidable partnership.

All four of our wingers have been excellent and caused me significant selection headaches. In the centre of the park Samuele Federico can really pass a ball and Luke Dreher has adapted to his new role as a deep-lying playmaker in no time.

At the back, Davide Mondonico and Dimitris Nikolaou look like the best centre back pairing I’ve had to date, and Ilias Chatzitheodoridis and Max Aarons have raised their games to beat off the competition from our new signings.

Even in goal there’s more than one player to salute. Kieran O’Hara has once again been very good, but after breaking his arm (again!) in a non-contact injury (again!!), our new second choice goalkeeper Rhian Stephens stepped in and did a great job filling in. So much so that I’m not sure who my number 1 is anymore. O’Hara is slightly better, But Stephens is seven years his junior at a mere 20 years of age.


Can we keep this up? Can we make a run at promotion? At the moment it sure feels like it. Looking at the squad, we have good back-up options in most positions, but an injury to one of our front two or a centre back could hit us hard. There’s no cash to add to the squad in January, but I might see if I can bring in a precautionary loan or two.

Thanks very much for reading, see you next time!

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