Welcome back to Flight Of The Concords, where you find us within sniffing distance of completing our swift rise up the leagues.
We had an outstanding start to the season, and though our performances declined a little, we continued to pick up good results, and remain in pole position in the race for Premier League football. With concerns about our financial status rising, failure to secure promotion will leave me no choice but to strip back our youth setup, which through my own over-indulgence, is preventing us from making financial progress.
Can we seal our fifth promotion in seven years?
We really showed West Brom who was boss, hitting the woodwork more times than they managed to even hit the target on our way to a comfortable 1-0 win in the FA Cup:
Woodwork hitting was very much the theme of February, and without Fabio Alagna for much of the month, we struggled at times to finish our chances.
Still, not too bad overall. Simon Franceschetti has been a good addition to our forward options, his spectacular pace helping to break deadlocks with assists as well as goals.
Patrick Vieira’s Bournemouth side were flying high in 6th place in the Premier League, and we did well to stay in it, but never really looked like turning them over. Still, the Fifth Round is further than we’ve ever reached before so, progress.
It seems at the moment that if we don’t win 3-1, we don’t win:
We found Reading’s Christmas Tree formation impossible to break down, and my in-game tactical tweaks (inverted full backs and dropping Alagna back into midfield) didn’t make much difference. We have frequently struggled against teams playing with narrow formations and I’m yet to find a 442 variant that can cope.
The Sheffield Wednesday victory was refreshing in that it saw some clinical finishing on our part. But that soon deserted us with our failure to score from open play in more than 180 minutes.
The top of the table clash with Bristol City was a barnstormer, but we couldn’t keep their attack out. They’re the form team in the division and our biggest title threat, with Leeds on a terrible run.
A late resurgence led by Franceschetti gave us the three points against Cardiff:
But otherwise we closed out the season in pretty unremarkable form. Conceded penalties cost us five points, despite Kieran O’Hara saving two others, and we continued to spur seemingly simple one on ones up the other end.
Has our downturn in form stopped our rise?
Has it b******s:
Have some of that! It was a real grind over the last few months, as sitters went flying over the bar, woodwork strikes accumulated and numerous penalties were given against us (including three games where we gave away two). However, in the end, our fantastic first half of the season was enough, especially with Leeds crumbling. Bristol City’s excellent end of season form wasn’t enough to catch us in the end. But they will both join us in the top flight next season.
End Of Season Stats:
There were great performances throughout the squad, but six players stood out enough to earn a place in the Championship Team of the Year:
Kieran O’Hara had another fine season between the sticks, returning from his second broken arm to just about beat the promising Rhian Stephens to the number 1 shirt. His highlight was saving three penalties in the last ten games of the season.
Davide Mondonico and Dimitris Nikolaou formed a superb partnership in the centre of our defence, and we were fortunate they stayed fit, as our back-ups are way off their standard. Nikolaou’s whopping £6m valuation is a little perplexing though.
Samuele Federico has swayed the naysayers, with the board no longer worried that he’s a “poor financial deal for the club”, and proving that I can spend money and successfully unearth a gem. Five goals and eleven assists is a great return from centre mid, and if anyone’s going to be poached from a bigger club, I fear it will be him. Some of his passing has been a joy to behold.
Max Broughton again reigned supreme on the right, becoming so irreplaceable that his back-up is fleeing on a free. Nine goals, ten assists and almost never putting in a below-par performance.
Finally, Fabio Alagna. Wonderful, beautiful Fabio. 31 goals! 17 assists! And Fans’ Player of the Season:
And Championship Player of the Year:
What a guy.
Kevin Brown didn’t do too badly either:
There was a real fight for the first team berth on the left, with fellow loanee Jay Harvey also performing very well. Eventually, Brown got the nod with a couple of brilliant games and a scooch more reliability. Between them they contributed 24 assists from the left flank.
And my own personal trophy cabinet continues to fill:
Behind The Scenes:
This one blew my socks off:
More than trebling my wage budget is one thing, but there’s no way I can be trusted with 24 million quid. I haven’t had an extensive look at the transfer market just yet, but my initial thoughts are to be relatively conservative, and pump money into growing the club, as our facilities are laughably backward.
I’ve a new contract earning twenty times what I had been previously:
And I actually negotiated it down by £5k in order to get another year. If we go straight back down, it might offer me a little more job security if sacking me comes at a financial cost (that’s the spirit!).
With all this new money, it’s facility improvement time:
And as a special surprise, something I didn’t request:
Is there any chance my U23/U18 sides will be able to join an actual league now?!
Stadium plans continue, with planning permission granted:
But the completion date is two years down the line, and The Aspect doesn’t fulfill the Premier League’s minimum requirements, so:
I don’t know what the board are so proud about. Sharing with stinkin’ Palace?! I’m intrigued to see how many of those 26’000 seats we can fill. It’s a bit of a commute for our fans, but surely the lure of the Premier League will be too much to resist…
I’ve noticed a couple of things about the Premier League. Firstly, we’re only allowed two long term loans at any one time, and with Kevin Brown already signed up for another season, we’ll need a lot of permanent signings as reinforcements this summer. It’s going to be a busy, busy pre-season.
Secondly (and this starts a little negative) the parachute payments following relegation are significant. With the amount of money the club is guaranteed to make over the next three years, I think it’s time to stop being so short term with our aims. As such, I intend on coming up with some goals for the future. Admittedly, FM18 time is running a little short, but I hope there are a few seasons in us yet.
Thanks for reading, I hope you join me for the coming season. I’ll be in uncharted waters with crazy money, playing in someone else’s stadium and an intimidating step up in quality. Fingers crossed!