Bouncebackability: "The ability to bounce back or recover from bad circumstances"

This story is done, but the career continues - what is next?

  • Retire - my work in football is done

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Sell Parker, Thiry & Lazenby for mega-bucks & rebuild

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Resign and look to move abroad - I've earned it

    Votes: 1 100.0%
  • Keep the team and build a legacy

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    1
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May 2025

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It's the Final game of the season and with survival secured some time ago, we have the opportunity to make it a good one for the fans. Sheffield Wednesday have other ideas however and the last 10 minutes provide a depressing way to end the season. Carty does cap off a very fine season for him though.

The pre-season media prediction of 23rd is made a mockery of as we perform well above expectations, helped by some very handy defensive performances and a good goalkeeper.

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The defensive strength is shown off again as the top performing players are defensive and we’ll be looking to keep hold of them at all costs I think.

Surprisingly, and only coming to the fore really at the end of the season, Carty finishes as top scorer for the team. His 15 league goals place him joint 10th in the league. AM Helm, and DLF Glatzel, appear to have been his main creative support.

At the other end, we could do with a number of players to perform better going forward. Cain and Torraj in particular, could have been better but we struggled trying to fit 6 AMs into 2 positions essentially.

McAleny and Shihab are free to leave as they are not cut out for this level. Stewart was disappointing in his loan spell, but his contract is up in the summer and the temptation to sign him to replace McAleny maybe too great.

Despite not having any transfer budget, we somehow need to bring in 2 centre-backs, another defence minded midfielder and probably a creative striker. That’s a lot for no money so some players are at risk of being sold to make that up...Helm, Hesketh and Garrity are at risk.

The average attendance has risen from 6579 last season, to 11028 this. The capacity of the ground is 13,560 so there’s a still a bit of space to be filled.


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Manchester City win the Premier League (and the FA Cup, Carabao Cup & Super Cup), with Aston Villa, Southampton and Norwich the teams to join us in the Championship next season. Palace & Burnley continue their yo-yoing to the top flight, but they’re joined by Brentford for the first time.

Oh...city also win the Champions League for the second year in a row.
 
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June - July 2025
The close season is ridiculously quiet but the following first team players contracts expire and they will leave.

Gary Woods - 50 games,
Conor McAleny - 205 games / 60 goals
Tareq Shihab - 33 games / 1 goal

Woods has been reserve keeper for a couple of seasons and is no longer needed.
McAleny had been invaluable getting us out of League 2 & 1 but is not good enough to be playing regularly in the Championship.
Shihab was picked up on a free as a youngster, but has never fulfilled his potential and I just don’t trust him in first team games.

We will also need to lose 2 of my AMC players to make space for a couple of more defensive minded midfielders.

We’re off to Ireland for the pre-season camp which will be fun

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Actually, I think they’re all pretty achievable. Clearly, keeping away from the relegation fight in the league will be the most important bit and that is the priority, but having done as well as we did last season, I’m confident we can manage that.

The first course of action of the new season is to look at the Carabao Cup and the first round pitches us at home to League 1 Carlisle.

We start looking around for new players available on a free as that is all we can afford. A new centre-back is definitely needed to replace Shahib and to look to phase in McDonald who, whilst integral to the squad being an influential player, is not first choice anymore.
A new defensive midfielder would be useful and a new striker to replace McAleny. Affordable strikers, in particular, are in very short supply.

But, we do find a central defender in the shape of Brandon Cooper on a free after having been released by Swansea.

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And the bid to strengthen the midfield continues with Herbie Kane who looks like he could be a handy back-up to the other Cain as well as looking like he's versatile enough to play across the midfield positions.

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After a not terribly successful loan spell last season (1 goal in 11 games) I’m clearly a glutton for punishment and take a gamble on bringing Stewart back. I am training him to hit the ball harder though...he might actually put enough power to trouble the keeper that way.

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The squad numbers are pretty much as they were last season, with a couple of exceptions for the players who have come in. I don't have any first team players who actually request specific numbers, so the first 11 at least, are pretty close to their starting positions.

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Fitness and money, but Stewart’s eye for goal is a promising sign.

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Vickers and Talbot will obviously be the keepers.
Most of the back 4 remain the same as last season, with the addition of Brandon Cooper.
Batty and Davenport are the natural DMs, with Cain or Kane being the deep lying playmakers. Goddard or Garrity can play mezzala with Helm or Torraj behind the front 2. Glatzel or Bahamboula will be the deep lying forwards with Stewart or Carty playing furthest forward.

It's quite a tight first team squad, but there are a number of players who can pay in multiple positions which will help in case of long-term injuries and lack of form etc.
 
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August 2025

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Why the **** is August so busy? Crazy schedule…

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Well, that’s a transfer I didn’t expect to see. 375 appearances for Spurs and 207 league goals. £62m for a 32 year old!

Here we go...

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Well that was an entertaining way to start the season and it doesn’t take Stewart long to make an impact. Honourable mention to Dacres-Cogley who gets his first for the club. Ben Garrity, signed in 2020 from Blackpool makes his 175th league appearance for the club. He’s been a good servant since League 2.

Levante make an offer of 7.25m for Quansah which is turned down. Oldham’s previous record sale is 1.7m...and that was Earl Barrett!!

The next thing I do is to treat myself to a bit of a luxury purchase in Adem Ljajic, having been released by Besiktas where he spent 7 seasons. Hugely experienced, 64 International caps, technically gifted, setpiece master...this is so left field, it’s either genius or madness.

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Ljajic was only on the pitch 30 seconds before he played the eye-of-the-needle pass through a packed defence for Borthwick-Jackson to tap in, then Bahamboula provides a defence splitting through ball to give Stewart a clear run on goal. A very good win, especially considering we conceded first.
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Well, we were warned. Isaac’s back post header goal was a virtual blue-print of the one that was disallowed. Despite the late goal, Dacres-Cogley pulls out another fine performance to add to his goal against Stoke.

Monthly player review: Dacres-Cogley probably has a limited shelf life in the Championship, but he’s doing a job right now and the fact that he's fairly solid means that this isn't one of the positions where we need to look for a replacement anytime soon.

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Carabao Cup 1st Round - a very needed chance to rotate the team and it shows as we barely manage to scrape past a team who, probably, should have beaten us.
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Out of the Premiership, 3 straight wins, topping the table, Mark Hughes as manager. It took a halftime rollicking to get something even close to a more acceptable second half performance, but even that wasn’t enough. Douglas Luiz spanked one in from 30 yards which gave them a share of the points. We did well to get a draw out there with Vickers picking up a deserved MoM award. 5 goals already for Stewart making him the leagues top scorer.

Despite the board takeover, they’ve been rather stingy with the funds as we’ve had to make do with free transfers again...no transfer budget, no budget to improve/increase staff, no scouting budget. What was the point??

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Resolute defence, structured in midfield and clinical up front when we needed to be. Newcastle made it easy in the second half by engaging higher on and preventing short distribution, but we simply played over their press which led to Helm’s goal. He got a goal and assist...not a bad days work for the attacking midfielder.
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And the Oldham juggernaut seemingly continues. Where is this coming from? I didn’t realise we were quite as aggressive as that though, picking up the cards.

I know it’s early days, but look at that….

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LOOK. AT. THAT

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Carabao Cup and all change. Well that backfired. The writing was on the wall in the first leg as we only scraped through that game, but this was even worse. Even a halftime water bottle chuck couldn’t spur them on. At some point, I’ll probably take this competition seriously.
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...oh… that was painful.

And I take it out on the journalists in the post match interview...and Norwich’s manager Branislav Ivanovic. I think I’ve made an enemy there

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September 2025

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How can we end up with 9 games in the opening month and then just 3 this time round?

We fight off bids of 6m, 7.5m, 9m and then 12m for Quansah from a number of clubs on transfer deadline day. Thankfully, he wasn’t keen on any moves, so he’s with us for a little while yet. But we do sell Hesketh to QPR for a fee of 400k. Unfortunately, he never quite met the early promise and was found surplus to requirements.

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Other than that, a coupe of youth loans out and our incoming transfer business was done early.

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Well, it’s all going rather well so far...but a transfer budget would be nice. Apparently, I’ve signed 34 players and the top fee was for Cy Goddard (160k) when we were in League 1 four seasons ago.

We bring in another wingback who will replace Dacres-Cogley in the longterm. His contract expires at the end of this season and this is a position we needed to upgrade and Suliman definitely appears to be that.

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Giving the boys a rollicking from the touchline on the hour mark, seems to have paid off. Both Stewart and Glatzel end their mini goalscoring drought and Helm finishes off a fine team move. That also marks Quansah’s 150th game for the club...what a servant he has been so far. 3 points closer to safety.

Monthly Player Review: Picked up on a free after being released by Man Utd, it has sometimes been a struggle to get him into a role he can consistently perform in, but it looks like he’s settled slightly and is now one of the first names on the team-sheet. I’m not sure why he’s not valued higher than he is though.

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Suliman makes his debut, but ouch. That really was not very good.
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Not really the opposition I would have chosen off the back of a heavy Reading defeat, as they sit in 2nd. That was somewhat disappointing as we barely turned up and Im not even sure some of our players realised they were in a game. No urgency…and not even a shot on target.

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October 2025

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Ahhhhh...yes, somewhere back to near normal I think.

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In light of our recent poor performances, this is a kind of back to basics approach to rebuild some confidence and morale. We rode our luck a bit there and Vickers came out of the game as man of the match, but hopefully that’s a result that restores some players. That was a happy post-match conference.
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Hamer makes his first start of the season as it looks likely we won’t renew Dacres-Cogley’s contract, being the older of the two, with Suliman’s signing. The game itself was a rather dull one and Ljajic rather saves our blushes a bit.

It’s proving rather tough to upgrade this squad anywhere. We could do with another striker to take some of burden from Stewart and another quality centre-back would be helpful as well but the money just isn’t there and even if it was, our scouts keep coming back with League 1 level players, which isn’t terribly helpful.

We have 4 sponsorships ending at the end of this season, so I wonder whether the Championship is enough of a draw to boost these significantly. Perhaps the sale of one of our more valuable players wouldn’t be the worst thing to get in some extra strength in depth.

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Top of the league and they still have Ward-Prowse and Redmond from their Premier League days and have bolstered their attack with a certain Patson Daka...valued at 49.5m. Well, Stewart singlehandedly brought home the point there. Both Glatzel and Williams were being scouted there...hmnnnn.



Monthly Player Review: If I’m honest, I wasn’t totally convinced he would work out based on his loan spell (1 goal in 11 games) but he has been outstanding and is winning us points by himself. That hat-trick takes him to 11 for the season and he is the league’s top scorer. Helm, incidentally, leads the league in assists as well.

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Premier league 2 seasons ago, beaten playoff contenders last season, now struggling in 19th. Well, that was just a bit….meh. Glatzel watched again by the Levante manager. Glatzel...8.5m...hmnnn
Borthwick-Jackson suffers an abdominal strain and will miss the next 3 weeks which will give Fage the opportunity for some first team game time.

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November 2025

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It would appear a number of players are suffering from delusions of grandeur. Garrity, Goddard, Helm, Batty and Vickers all seem to think they should be looking to play for a bigger club. Interesting…

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To be fair, they were pretty good and played some nice football, but they weren’t 4 goals good….and we made it easy for them in parts. That was a little bit irritating to watch. Rhys Williams’ 100th game for the club.
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It's a bit of a patched up team without a recognised left-back and third choice defensive midfielder. Stewart is outrageously prolific. He and Helm seem to have developed some telepathic thinking but it’s rather undone by our complete inability to defend set-pieces as all 3 of their goals were headed in from dead ball situations.

That takes Stewart to 15 already for the season.

Two games in quick succession and both at home, so ideal opportunities to pull ourselves out of the run of poor recent form and lack of wins.

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Oh. Yet another game without a win and what is it about Sunderland? 10 games against them and haven’t managed to beat them.
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Well that was entertaining.
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We were terrible and got absolutely ripped apart by their wingers. How they only scored one in that game, I don’t know but that was not good. This winless run is starting to be a problem now.

The only thing keeping us in some of these games has been the keeper and having picked up Josh Vickers on a free three seasons ago, he is earning every single penny this season.

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December 2025

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Congested…

The FA Cup is drawn and we’re pitched away to either League 2 Port Vale, or League 1 Wigan. Away is tough, especially with the form we’re in, but that does give us a chance to progress.

Another Premier League team - West Brom, 19th in the Premier League invite me to attend an interview. I don’t think I’ll be going for that one.

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Posh play the same formation as Cardiff in the last game, where the wingers had an absolute field day, so the fullbacks are on full on defend duty, we force the wingers inside, swamp the DMC positions and hope this nullifies the threat. And it works, in part, but where would we be without Stewart?

Our scouts really seem to be struggling to find anyone who is Championship level...every report is coming back as good player for league 1, which isn’t really helping me very much as this is already a squad of league 1 players.

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Given that we were under the cosh for some time, getting out of Nottingham with a draw is probably not the worst result, although its disappointing we missed the 2 best chances of the game. Glatzel will be working on his finishing this week.
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Clearly, the sending off didn’t help...but the capitulation after that wasn’t good. That was Davenport’s first game back after serving a 3 game suspension as well.
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Smash and grab lads, Smash. And. grab. A Quansah header from a Cain corner seals us the win, despite having very few chances. That is a pretty valuable win and three points, especially whilst the strikers have come off the boil. Quansah now has twice as many goals as Glatzel this season...hmnnnn

Ahhh...Christmas, don’t you just love this time of year! 3 games...4 days.

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That was a bit of a ding-dong battle, but despite a very nervy squeaky-*** time ending, we held on. Those goals take Stewart 5 clear at the top of the Championship scoring leaderboard with 20. Danny Rowe holds the current record for goals in a season with 23...Stewart could beat that before the end of the year.

Monthly player review: Stewart has been gaining all the plaudits at the top end of the pitch, but it’s Quansah at the other end has also been excellent. Signed on a free from Liverpool, he’s been as solid as anyone and is a threat at set-pieces. The question is whether we can keep hold of him.

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We didn’t play anywhere nearly as badly as the scoreline suggests but we did lack a cutting edge.

I don’t know how he’s done it, as we’ve had no time to train in the 24 hours between games, but somehow Stewart twists an ankle in training and is unavailable. That reduces our likelihood of scoring by about 90%.

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If I was a Swans fan, I’d be seriously pi$$ed at that result. I don’t know how we held on for one point, let alone three there. They also need to be calling Scotland Yard, coz they got well and truly robbed.

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January 2026

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On the basis we have no transfer/wage budget, this should be a very quiet month for incoming players and let’s just hope there isn’t too much interest in our own squad.

Although, the board do increase the wage budget in exchange for the promise of a mid-table finish, which looks likely so that goes straight into the transfer kitty.

Right-back Dacres-Cogley is the first out of the door for £150k, which is a great deal for a third choice, 29 year old player in the last year of his contract. A £10k signing, 155 appearances and 2 goals - he’s been a great servant.

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FA Cup 3rd round. I don’t know why we struggled so much there as there were a number of regular first teamers in the team, so we shouldn’t have made as hard work of that as we did. The Ljajic gamble hasn’t really paid off, although I haven’t been playing him in his natural role, so that may have something to do with it.

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Stuart Barnes is brought in on loan from Norwich, partly to attempt to take the pressure away Stewart as being the main threat up front, which in turn means that Carty can go on loan...which he does, to Derry City. His contract is up in the summer and it won’t be renewed as he is, at best, a bit-part player.

The fourth round of the FA Cup is drawn and it’s away to Premier League Burnley.

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Good performance there.

Sending a scout to Northern Ireland helps identify a number of pretty good targets, most of whom are young enough to develop into good players and we start by signing left-back Bainbridge on a free. I’m hoping he can develop but he’ll sit in the U18s for a season or two.

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Well, that was dull.
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Barnes makes his first start alongside Stewart but is rather ineffectual...in fact most of the team are. Another set-piece digs us out of a bit of a hole there, but all things considered…what a result that is.
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4th round, away to Premier League opposition...in anyone’s book this is a tough game. They have a formation playing with attacking wingbacks and out and out wingers, so we go to the three DMs which has worked previously, forcing the play inside and that works really well for the first half. It’s only in the second when we need to offer some attacking threat, that we suffer. Barnes gets a fine first goal on loan though.

Having not really been looking for players, Chelsea’s Soonsup-Bell is offered to the club by his agent. He looks a very good player and for £100k seems a bit too good to refuse.

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Norwich (forgot to screenshot!!! LOST 1-0) Fitness levels are starting to catch up with players and Barnes is unavailable against his parent club, but despite this we actually played pretty well in parts, but both Helm, in the AMC position and Stewart up front were both off their game which didn’t help. Lacking the final ball and the finish.

With his appearance against Norwich, Dylan Bahamboula plays his 175th league goal for the club. He’s been with us since League 2 and certainly contributed more than his fair share in getting us to this level.

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February 2026

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A striker wasn’t really what I needed out of the transfer window...hmnn. The only contract expiring in the summer is CB Angus McDonald. He’s struggled to get any first team football due to Williams/Quansah’s reliability, so I’m happy to let him go. We’ve got no youth prospects so a promising centre-back could be top of the shopping list.

Goddard suffers a 6 week injury which causes us a bit of a problem in central midfield, but we’ve got strength in depth.

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Stewart’s been off the boil recently, so he’s taken out of the firing line and Barnes starts. Barnes has a rubbish 65 minutes, Bell’s only on the pitch 30 seconds and scores on his debut. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold out the barrage that came after that.
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Bell’s reward for his substitute goal against Coventry is a start here, although he struggles a bit. We concede - again - a lot of shots, but Vickers had a pretty comfortable game overall

Our stats for shots conceded in the league are bizarre…

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The only team to have more shots against them in the whole league are Middlesbrough in 16th.

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And for shots on target, the only teams worse than us are Boro, again, and Nottingham Forest who are at the bottom of the league.

Defending indirect freekicks is clearly an issue as we’ve conceded from 9...which is a league high.

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Outplayed in every area of the pitch and we looked like a League 1 team...which to be fair, most of these players probably are, but that still wasn’t really very good.
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Despite being the league’s top scorer, Stewart has struggled recently for goals. Soonsup-Bell seems a good replacement so he’ll start. Glatzel has also not been as productive as I’d have liked, so Bahamboula plays just behind the striker which are both ‘gambles’ that pay off emphatically...that and the added instructions to tackle harder and tighter marking.

That puts an end to that poor run, so the intention is to keep morale high...of that starting 11 though:

Vickers - signed on a free from Watford for League 1.

Borthwick-Jackson - been with the club since League 2

Williams - signed on a free from Liverpool for League 1

Quansah - signed on a free from Liverpool for League 1

Hamer - been with the club since League 2

Davenport - signed for £125k from Barnsley for the Championship

Kane - signed on a free from Swansea for the Championship

Batty - signed on a free from Hull for League 1

Cain - signed on a free from Liverpool for League 1

Bahamboula - been with the club since League 2

Soonsup-Bell - signed on a free from Chelsea for the Championship

Very little money spent, some players left over from League 2...it’s clear we’re probably performing well above our average at the moment.

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Cain makes a horrible error in central midfield gifting Emmerson a run in goal, which he gleefully accepts but after the opening minutes, everything we (and by we, I mean Soonsup-Bell) hit went in. Consecutive hat-tricks for the 22 year old and that £100,000 is looking like money very well spent. Layton who?

The only downside to that game was Mark Helm suffering an injury ruling him out for 3 weeks, although Ljajic should be back in full training soon.

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Top of the league, leading by 7 points and with a good spattering of Premer League quality players. We managed a 3-3 draw in the away game, so we are capable of matching them. Clearly, Soonsup-Bell has to stay in the starting line-up. We probably should have troubled them a lot more than we did….especially after the red card. 3 points missed there.

That result does mean that both Stewart (who came on as a sub) and Glatzel have now gone 10 games without scoring.

Behind Soonsup-Bell, cearly the top performer this month, has been Dylan Fage - back-up leftback, although he’s been in the first team more this month. With us since the League 2 days and usually reliable.

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March 2026

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Just as it looked like we were going to escape from Derby by stealing a point there...Danny Ings pops up to ruin the day.
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The lesser spotted Ben Garrity pops up to spank in a goal from the edge of the box and we just about see out the game for a well-earned draw

I think I’ve figured out why Layton Stewart has just stopped scoring!!! He had a 20 goal bonus in his contract...he scored 20 in the first 24 games, got his bonus and has now not scored in the last 12.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to refer to any win as a comfortable, routine one...but that’s about as routine as it gets in this league...AND Stewart got one as well.

Nottingham Forest are the frst club to fall out of the Championship this season...and they’ve got some good players that could be picked up IF we get a decent budget in the summer (so, we probably won’t be picking them up then…)

Premier League Bournemouth like the look of what Oldham have been doing and offer an interview, having just sacked Ralph Hassenhuttl...tempting, but not this time...although my contract is up in the summer…

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We rode our luck a bit there and for the first time played Stewart and Soonsup-Bell up top alongside each other and that seemed to work, although the DLF role is neither of their favourites. McDonald does like a goal from a corner, although that’s only his second this season.


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He cost me £22k from Rotherham when we were in League 1 and has been a solid mainstay at the back until the last couple of seasons. 113 league games and that game against Barnsley triggers a year’s extension after 10 games this season.

The international break means it’s quite a short month, but at the end of it, the board finally see sense:

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April 2026

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We had to hold on for the last 10 minutes, but hold on we did. The choice to play McDonald also pays off as he scores again and is having his most prolific season, relative for a centre-back. That was Cain’s 100th game for the club and he’s been a reliable servant in central midfield. He’s wanted by a number of clubs, so I’ll be doing my best to resist any approaches for him.

Our youth intake was rubbish...again...so we do what any discerning club does and poach the best youngster who has been released, and it’s Jonathan Murray from Manchester City.

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Well that was depressing. Caught on the counter and then for some reason, Quansah decided to engage in some moonwalking instead of attempting to tackle Williams when through on goal. Enough for a weeks fine? Perhaps…
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We made really hard work of that until Stewart scored and we should have beaten 20th placed Peterborough much more comfortably. Stewart and Soonsup-Bell make a very effective partnership when playing up top, as until now, they’ve been playing instead of each other, but this might be the way to play going forward. Peterborough now managed by Frank Lampard interestingly.

Southampton seal automatic promotion, which is not really a surprise...and they do so by some distance.

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Forest are already relegated, so this might be a good audition for a couple of their players I’m taking a close look at. No...okay then!
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Lads, I know we’re getting towards the end of the season, but come on. At least pretend like you’re making an effort. Vickers was the only reason that was kept to 2...it could have been far worse. That was one of those games which shows just how far we have yet to go...even though we were only 3 points off the playoffs, although if we play like that again that will be a very short playoff effort.

Glatzel...21 hours & counting…

Player Profile - Adem Ljajic

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Serbian attacking midfielder Adem Ljajic announces his retirement at the end of the season, despite having played enough this year to get an automatic year extension. His stats have been less than average - 24 games, 2 goals, 4 assists - and he hasn’t really proved the creative spark I was hoping for when I signed him, but he has proved a useful bench option when needed.

Birmingham seal the other automatic promotion spot.

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May 2026
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Not quite the sparkling end of season finale that I was after and that caps off a pretty poor run at the end of the season with just 1 win in the final 6 games. Soonsup-Bell is starting to look like he could be the first choice striker for the foreseeable future since Stewart’s form has rather dropped off a cliff.

The final (minus playoff results) league table looks like this:

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Given the expectation was to avoid relegation, we’ve done that comfortably so we have every right to be pretty pleased with that. The average attendance is 11,400 (of a 13.500 capacity - the smalles in the league) and the finances are meagre at best. Some renewal of sponsorship deals take place over the summer, so I’m hoping this provides a bit of a boost, but until then we’re relying on free transfers and out of contract players to improve the squad.

Having started incredibly brightly, Stewarts goalscoring tailed off towards the end as he finishes the season with 22. Soonsup-Bell, arrival in January, scored 12 in 15, so it looks like we are well stocked for strikers for the foreseeable.

Neither Cooper or Suliman impressed and both will be transfer-listed. Ljajic retires at the end of the season and we could really look for upgrades on Garrity & Bahamboula, but they’re pretty tough to find.

There’s a world cup this year and Rhys Williams is the only Oldham player involved...he gets a call up to the Wales squad who find themselves in Group F, along with Mexico & Columbia. That seems like a pretty harsh draw for the Welsh.

Newcastle are the team who win the playoffs, so join Southampton and Birmingham in the Premier League next season. We’ll be facing Blackburn, West Brom and Brentford who drop down from the top tier.
 
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June - July 2026
This could be a very quiet transfer window with no budget for first team players, but there a few youngsters coming in who have been signed over the last few months.

signings.jpg

A bit of an International feel to the incoming transfers and work permits may prove to be a problem, but I’m hoping we can overcome them. David & Henrique in particular look promising and almost immediately, Henrique joins Maccabi Haifa on loan for the season.

FFS...Fage is my second choice left-back, valued at £145k. So Walsall make a bid of £81k...errrr, no.

But...we do sell Cooper, who had been largely unimpressive last season, to Oxford for £250k, some of which ends up in the transfer budget. That’s a good bit of business for a player signed on a free last year, but it does mean we need to find a back-up centre-back, having no prospects in the development squads.

It would appear Williams has a poor game in Wales’ opener against Mexico, as he plays 90 minutes but they lose 6-1, but they have have a far better game against Colombia...winning 1-0, which means Wales progress and face Portugal in the second round. Ouch….

review.jpg

An honourable mention and this seasons sees a new average attendance high.

Wales lose their second round game to Portugal 2-0, although Williams doesn’t feature.

Kone is signed on a free, as we look to bolster the central midfield positions. He will rotate for the BBM role, meaning that we transfer-list Garrity who is probably the most expendable player.

Kone.jpg

We also bring in right back Brooking, who had been released by Hull. He is much more suited to the wingback role than Suliman who was, frankly, dreadful last season. Brooking doesn’t have to do much to convince me he’s a better player.

Brooking.jpg

Suliman joins Sunderland for £375k, of which £275k goes into the transfer kitty, which is a bit of a result as it means we might be able to offer Cain & Stewart the bigger contracts they’ve been clamouring for.

squad numbers.jpg

Having failed to secure a centre-back and being gazumped for the 2 players I did want, we have to settle for a loan deal - Daniel Zoundi from Fulham seems to fit the bill and Pavlik finally finds a loan move out he agrees with, and it’s Teplice...to hopefully get his work permit at some point.

friendlies.jpg

An interesting set of results, but it’s a good job they don’t really count for anything as they weren't really the confidence boosting pre-season I was after. I’m hoping they added to the accounts though as we made £466k in gate receipts this month and we need every penny we can get!

I think we’ll be lining up something like this...


lineup.jpg


...with some players in the U23s/U18s that may get some developmental gametime.

With no sign of any investment, serious sponsorship or the ability to buy/loan any players who look like they may be capable of taking us to the next level, we could be trudging in the Championship for some time. On the plus side, the board expectation is now finish mid-table and the press agree with us. After finishes of 12th and 10th in the last couple of seasons, I should think so too.

But, I will go back to half season updates to save space!!
 
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August 2026 - December 2026
The season starts with yet another takeover rumour in the offing…

Actually, one of the first things I do is move another body into central midfield for a 4-3-1-2 formation, rather than the diamond, along with a couple of tactical tweaks and role changes, in an effort to stem the sheer number of shots we faced last season.

The last couple of weeks of the transfer window are busy:

transfers.jpg

20 year old defensive midfielder Flanagan comes in as a prospect, but in the first team and looking to usurp either Batty or Davenport from that central defensive midfielder role. He could be a key player going forward.

Moroccan right back El Fakiri comes in on a free, found in the Moroccan U21 national squad. We haven’t managed to get him out on loan, which means work permits are a problem, but we can keep going with this.

And finally, Aaron Wilson is brought in from Northern Ireland for, what I think will be a bargain, £600k. He will be straight in the first team as a direct replacement for Torraj who, after showing early promise, never really kicked on. £1m is a great price for Torraj.

incoming.jpg


We’ve moved up the league in terms of wage expenditure which is good - still pretty low compared to the rest of the league though.

  • 18 year old attacking midfielder Henrique finally gets his work permit. I reckon he’ll be in the first team next season.
Henrique.jpg

Championship - Once again, the first half of the season has gone outstandingly well, as we’re keeping well clear of relegation and on our way to being a consistent mid-table team, even pushing the playoffs, but there’s no way we’ve got the team to stay there at the moment.

league schedule.jpg


table.jpg

Carabao Cup - A comfortable first leg win followed up by a penalty loss which was disappointing, but Norwich are one of the top teams in the league so a draw in normal time was a pretty good result. Kone missed the decisive spot-kick.

carabao schedule.jpg

FA Cup - we have been drawn away to Premier League Everton. Short run then!

GK:
gk.jpg

Vickers is Mr Reliable between the posts with Talbot being a solid back-up. There is some thought to a longterm replacement being needed here and some prospect goalkeepers are being scouted.

DR:
dr.jpg

This position has been pretty much up for grabs in the first half of the season. Brooking is probably the slightly better defender of the two but I’m reasonably happy with either until a much better option comes along.

DL:
dl.jpg

Another position freely rotated. Borthwick-Jackson thinks he should be first choice left back, but Fage is the player more likely to provide assists.

DC:
dc.jpg

No surprises here - Williams & Quansah are the first choice rocks at the back and quality options. Zoundi, on loan from FUlham, has been better than his rating suggests and McDonald is very much the experienced head.

MC:
MC.jpg

New signing Flanagan is making his fee of £400k look like very good business. Cain has been moved further up the pitch to prevent him putting us at risk when giving the ball away with his Hollywood passes as often whilst Davenport and Goddard are doing most of the legwork in midfield. It’s usually been a middle three of Goddard Flanagan and Davenport.

AMC:
AMC.jpg

The AMC positions have been rotated quite a lot with new signing Wilson having quite an impact and Helm having a very good season as well.

ST:
ST.jpg

After a blistering start at Oldham, with 12 goals in 15 games last season, Soonsup-Bell has forgotten how to score. Unfortunately, this has coincided with a poor spell from Stewart as well which means we sometimes struggle at the top end. I’m desperate for Ross to perform and do well, but I just don’t think he has it in him at this level...a good offer and he’s reluctantly sold.

We started the season with 442 diamond, then moved to a 4312, then after a poor spell late October, November changed again...so we’re currently utilising a 4321 formation, which has given us a bit more balance across the middle.

4321.jpg

The team stats are interesting for this part of the season. We’ve still conceded a lot of shots against - the second highest, but only 7th highest on target. We lead the league for shots blocked (probably unsurprisingly given the shots faced). From an attacking perspective, we’ve lost possession on the fewest occasions in the league and have the joint highest shot conversion rate.

With the transfer window opening, we’ve got a few players coming in - signed on a free.

In terms of outgoings, lots of players are wanted and some may be allowed to leave if the price is right. I’m definitely not going to be given any money to spend otherwise.

loans.jpg

Some promising performances from Henrique means he’ll probably be in and around the first team next season. Oduor is still only 17, so he probably needs a couple more seasons on loan and the others are a bit of a mixed bag.

Elsewhere, Liverpool have been having a shocker in the Premier League sacking two managers since May. They are currently struggling in 6th place, below West Ham and Watford.

premier league managers.jpg
 
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January 2027 - May 2027
The board add another change of expectations halfway through the season - a mid-table finish which should be easily manageable having put ourselves in this position.

They've been demanding, but have also proved to be something of a stumbling block as they’ve routinely turned down requests for an affiliate club, extra wages for coaches and scouts and improving training or youth facilities....but, I do keep knocking on the door.

Transfers:

transfers.jpg

This month we have really rung the changes with the main exit being Paul Glatzel, for a fee of £15m. He was a very reluctant sale, but I’m hoping it will be for the greater good as we can invest the money into the team/facilities/scouting. He didn’t score the most, but after 143 league games and 25 goals, he may well be missed.

glatzel.jpg

And Bahamboula is the closest we have to a club legend at the moment after 7 seasons, 202 league games and 47 goals. After coming up from League 2 with us, he looked at home in the Championship, but the offer was a good one and the money was needed.

bahamboula.jpg

On deadline day we rejected a whole host of bids for Williams, Quansah, Stewart and reserve player Bainbridge, signed last season.

incoming.jpg

Kennedy has been drafted into the first team. He’s the longterm successor to MacDonald at centre-back and as McDonald’s contract expires in the summer, there’s no need to look for a replacement.

However, that Glatzel money is being put to good use as a request to improve training & youth facilities is granted. It just feels like with money come in and improvements being made, there is a bit of forward momentum at the club now.

FA Cup - Given that it took an extra time goal to scramble past Everton in the first leg, it’s not a real surprise they pulled out the big guns for the second, and we struggled.

FA Cup.jpg

League - After 12th and 10th placed finishes, it’s a nice symmetry that we’ve finished 8th this season, but our defence has been a weakness. We have conceded the most in the top half and we’re top of the charts for expected goals against, goals conceded from corners, fewest clean sheets, blocks, interceptions made and shots against. That’s not a good record.

Cardiff are the team who win the playoffs and get promoted to the Permier league.


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league fixtures.jpg


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Players - Stewart’s 20 goals is only good enough for joint 4th overall, with 20 year old Wilson our leading assister with 10 - joint 11th overall, but given he is only 20, he could be key going forward. Despite our defensive inadequacies, Quansah & Williams are, again, top of the pack.

We lose MacDonald, Hamer and Zouidi in the summer, but already have replacements planned to come in, so we’re well set for next season. We chopped and changed quite a lot this season, but ended up in the last third playing playing the 4-3-2-1 which seems to suit the players, Stewart in particular. His 'run through middle' and 'likes to beat the offside trap' traits are particularly suited.


stats.jpg


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Loans - Of our loans, Henrique has now gained his work permit and will definitely be in the first team squad. The Brazilian U21 International could be key next season. Pavlik is a Czech international, but we could be looking to offload the striker as he just doesn’t fit in and we are blessed with quality strikers at the moment. Oduor is just 17 and if he continues to progress will be in the first team.

Both Hoekstra and El Fakiri will be out on loan again to hopefully get their work permits next season...or sold.


loans.jpg

After 6 years and 128 league games, Angus MacDonald hangs up his boots. He was only really first choice for a season or two, but he has been the influential player and the leader in the squad since signing.

MacDonald.jpg

The training facilities are finished...and they’re upgraded to, errrrr, average...and the the youth recruitment is upgraded, also to average! Baby steps, baby steps.
 

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June - July 2027

signings.jpg

N’Diaye’s £4.5m fee is Oldham’s record transfer.

Despite having no proper affiliation with the Israeli club, Maccabi Haifa make an offer for N’Diaye for the season. They took Henrique last year and he got his work permit, so this is perfect.

Since my own youth intake was rubbish, I picked up the others having been released from Premier League sides. McGlynn & Walker will both be put on the loan list and O’Donnell will play in the U18s for a season to see how they progress.

A new average record attendance for the season of 11,530, but we’re still 2000 short of the capacity of Boundary Park.

The Carabao Cup is drawn early and it’s League 1 Nottingham Forest who are the opposition. We travel to their place for the tie.

The end of June means ends of contracts but it’s only full-back Tom Hamer in the first team whose contract is not being renewed. He’s been a loyal servant since the beginning, but he’s not the player to take us up to the next level, which is what I’m looking for.

Hamer.jpg

We also release 10 youth players who are not going to make the grade.

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Two more players have been pinched having been out of contract. Montes is a full-back, and a straight swap for the recently departed Hamer. His technical stats need a bit of work, but his determination, work-rate and leadership mean he will be in the first team.
Fiorino is another youngster brought in to bolster the U18s with a hope of reaching his potential, but needs a work-permit related loan first.

I need to bring in a centre-back to replace the recently retired MacDonald, but that could be a loan signing, so other than that, all the incoming transfer business that needs to be done, has been done. I’ll be fending off bids for my best players for the rest of the window, as Stewart, Cain, Vickers, Kone, Williams and Borthwick-Jackson are all wanted. None of whom I want to lose.
 

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August 2027 - December 2027
We start the season with a couple of blows as both Stewart and Henrique miss the first 2 months with injuries, but new signing Montes does start the opener.

500 more season tickets are sold than last year which is looking like very good progress and the average attendance in the first half of the season is up 400 from last year, to 11,970.

transfers.jpg

In: As well as the Montes & Fior business, we also bring back Zoundi as a back-up centre-back. He’s good enough to provide cover and give us time to bring a 4th permanent signing in...although that 4th centre-back comes in quicker than I expected as 21 year old Vincent Abadaki comes in for, what I think will turn out to be, a bargain £900k.

Abad.jpg

Out: Having brought Abadaki in, he now goes straight out again on loan along with a number of other players. Hoekstra & El Fakiri need work permits, which will hopefully be gained by the loans. McGlynn, Walker, Abad and Bainbridge are all in the development squad but need first team experience which they will hopefully get.

Unfortunately, Pavlik didn’t get a work permit and Sparta Prague came in with a decent fee so he was free to leave and Alfie Ross...my onetime hope..never really kicked on after showing early promise. He will probably be a good player in League 1 if played regularly, but was surplus to requirements here.

The recruitment focus on younger players is paying off as I now have 6 first team players under the age of 21, including BWM Flanagan and AMC Wilson, among the best players overall and the overall quality just keeps improving. Slowly, slowly…

AND, the board agree to improve youth recruitment (from good to established) and the junior coaching budget (to exceptional) so bring on the conveyor belt of Oldham wonderkids. It seems the way to get the board to listen is to tell them we risk being overtaken by our rivals - that seems to be the trigger to get things done.

I’m also starting to see a real value increase in the players, with Stewart, Quansah and Williams valued above £10m - not that any of them are going anywhere.

A new 4 year contract is signed and the board are finally getting ambitious as they want playoffs in 3 seasons. After 3 seasons of finishing 12th, 10th and then 8th, I think is eminently manageable.

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Golden generation?? Hmnnn, that would be a pretty instant reaction to improving the junior coaching and youth academy this season, but we’ll see. I’m not convinced.

Carabao Cup - We fell at the first hurdle, despite a strong showing in the game against League 1, but just relegated, Nottingham Forest. That was disappointing and our record in this particular cup really is nothing to write home about.

carabao cup.jpg


Championship - It’s been a bit of a mixed rollercoaster ride, as we started brilliantly and lost just once in the opening 13 games, but have fallen away since then, with the last couple of months in particular slightly disappointing and with heavy defeats to Fulham and Villa, although given they have real Premier League pedigree that is perhaps not a surprise.

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FA Cup - we’re away to Championship side Peterborough in January.

As far as the squad has done this season:

GK:
GK.jpg

Vickers really has been one of my players of the season and has kept 8 clean sheets. Talbot is a pretty good back-up, but his contract is up next year and I will be looking for a younger model to back-up. We have a couple of options in the development teams, but I don’t see them being able to make the step up.

DEF:
DEF.jpg

Quansah and Williams are the rocks, with Zoundi and 20 year old Kennedy able deputies. Kennedy wants to leave but he’s got too much promise for that.

Borthwick-Jackson just keeps rolling back the years at left-back and new signing Montes at right-back has hit the ground running.

MID:
MID.jpg

Flanagan and Davenport have rotated the BWM role, with a BBM and Mezzala either side with an AM and AP(S) playing ahead of the midfield 3. Goddard and Kone are the productive driving force here, with Batty and Kane only described as decent League 2 players and at risk of being moved on. Cain leads the league in assists and Henrique has spent more time in the physio’s room than on the pitch unfortunately.

ST:
ST.jpg

If I could just get a hybrid which is the best of Stewart’s movement and Soonsup-Bell’s finishing, we’d have something close to the finished product. Soonsup-Bell has carried on where Stewart left off last season and is the league’s second highest scorer.

The development squad has a number of good prospects with some probaby good enough to be in the first team, but we’ll be looking at rotating them in over time. N’Diaye is equally good in the BBM role and Abad is a ready made replacement for Zoundi when his loan spell ends. Time will tell, but there are definitely some good enough in here to make the step up.

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January 2028 - May 2028
Because it’s January - and transfer window time - we’ve already made moves to bring in 3 promising youngsters and we’ve raided the Welsh for two of them. Conlon came in on a free from Connors Quay, which is ridiculous because he looks almost first team ready and Emery cost £40k from TNS. Guti cost £50k from Mallorca. All 3 will be put on the loan list to at least give them the chance of some first team football.

signings.jpg


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El Fakiri was another one who wasn’t going to get a work permit, so I cashed in on him and reserve keeper Talbot wanted to join Bristol. With a reasonable keeper in the development squad, he had my blessing to go.

And just as it looked like it was going to be a quiet transfer window, on the final day, my board decide they want to royally screw me over:

Williams.jpg

williams stats.jpg

To be fair, and in the cold light of day, that £22m is a reasonable price and the money can definitely be put to good use increasing budgets, scouting range and facilities, but I’d rather have the defender in the team. He’s been an absolute stalwart since signing...one of the first names on the sheet for the past few seasons.

And it means that I can promote Vincent Abadaki, signed from Newcastle for £900k in the summer, to the first team. The 21 year old is equally good at centre-back and will surely improve with first team experience.

abadaki.jpg


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The youth intake is in and the increase in the youth facilities perhaps looks like it’s starting to pay off with a couple of players with ‘good Premier league potential’.

FA Cup - A much more comfortable second leg against Peterborough sees us through to the 4th round. Having lost to Premier League opposition in the last 2 seasons, it’s frustrating to have come up against another one this time but we pushed Premier League Leicester to the edge in both games and we missed a penalty in the first leg which would have seen us through. A pretty commendable effort by all accounts.

FA Cup.jpg

Championship -An atrocious run-in and just 1 win in the final 8 games really screwed us over and it resulted in a far worse position than it should have been.

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This is our fourth season in the Championship, with our results being reasonably consistent. The increase in the goal difference is good to see, and if we can continue to see that rise, hopefully the win columns will increase as well.

24/25 - 12th place, W16, D14, L16 - GD-3

25/26 - 10th place, W16, D18, L12 - GD 0

26/27 - 8th place, W19, D13, L14 - GD+1

27/28 - 12th place, W18, D14, L14 - GD+7

Preston win the playoffs and are promoted to the Premier League, which was won by Manchester City. Man City also win the FA Cup, beating their city rivals in the final. Man Utd had a torrid time as they also lost in the final of the Champions League to Liverpool which was their high point, as they finished a lowly 12th in the league. Burnley, Cardiff & Bournemouth are the teams relegated from the Premiership.

Sponsorship, hospitality and prize money is up. Commercial income and TV revenue is down.

As far as the squad has done this season:

GK:
gk.jpg

This isn’t much of a surprise. Vickers has been first choice and rightly so. His 15 clean sheets place him 8th in the league. Abd has only been in the first team squad since Talbot left in January and only as back-up.

DEF:
def.jpg

Once again, Quansah has admirably led the defensive line, even after his partner in crime was stolen. He’s been joined by Zoundi more often than not, although we won’t be renewing that loan as another centre-back comes in. Kennedy’s development continues.

Fage is only described as a League 2 player, but refuses to be overawed as he keeps coming up with the goods on the left with Borthwick-Jackson.

On the right hand side, Montes has come on leaps and bounds and for a free, looks astonishingly good.


MID:
mid.jpg

Flanagan and Davenport have shared the dirty defensive work, with Kone, Batty, Kane & Goddard playing in the BBM/Mezzala roles. Goddard’s figures have given me serious thought as I had considered letting him go in the summer, but he’s shone as a BBM. Younger players are ready to come into the middle positions so Kane, Batty & Kone could find themselves surplus to requirements.

ATTMID
attmids.jpg

Cain has been the standout player with 13 league assists - good enough for 3rd. Henrique will get more gametime as I think his poor ratings have been as a failure to settle. He is wanted for big money by premier league clubs though, so if the money is too good to turn down….

ST:
ST.jpg

Soonsup-leads the league for goals and breaks club records as well. £100k looks like a steal. He’s picked up from where Stewart left off last season as Stewart missed the start of the season and never really usurped Soonsup-Bell into being first choice. Teenager Oduor is in the first team for development and will continue to make sub/cup appearances.

Williams somehow makes it into the team of the year, despite missing the last 4 months.

lineup.jpg


LOANS:
loans.jpg

N’Diaye - the 19 year old attacking midfielder has been on loan at Maccabi Haifa. There’s no space in the first team yet, so unless something changes, he’ll be out again next season.

Guti - The18 year old Mezzala is probably the longterm successor to Jake Cain. On loan at League 1 Southend, will be out again.

Walker - The 19 year old right back is in a tricky position. Both Montes & Brooking are young enough to be ahead of him the pecking order for a long time. I could look to re-train his position, or loan with a view to selling for a profit.

Elmi - not good enough, will be sold.

Murray - BBM, 20 years old but hasn’t developed as much as I would have hoped. Will be looking to sell.

Hoekstra - no work permit, transfer listed.

McGlynn - see Murray. Another released from a Premier League club, but has not improved.

Conlon - At 18 years old, is good enough for first team action, but with no current spaces in the first team, another season or 2 on loan will hopefully prove to be beneficial...but not at Barnsley where he’s not started a game.

Bainbridge - will replace Fage in the first team next season.
 

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June 2028 - July 2028
Leeds approach me for a job...and are just as quickly turned down.

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Doyle is picked up for £750k from Ligue 1 side Troyes and replaces Zoundi who goes back to his parent club Fulham. Welsh International Flynn looks like the perfect fit for the mezzala role - left-footed, left hand side and comes in as a direct replacement for Kane.

I pretty much have to spend the summer rejecting bids for half of my squad as Quansah, Cain, Henrique, Brooking - repeatedly, Stewart and Wilson all attract the interest of clubs.

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After 9 seasons, 241 appearances and just the 2 goals, we say goodbye to one of the few players who has been with me for the whole journey so far. Dylan Fage joins Rotherham after a very loyal service.

Fage.jpg

He’ll be seamlessly replaced by 19 year old Northern Ireland International Declan Bainbridge from the U18 squad, which just proves the progression plan is working.

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We also bring in a reserve keeper from Lille, with Ismael Cuffaut-Lachor joining on a free as back-up initially, but with the potential to become first choice.

Lacher.jpg

With the addition of Emery and Flynn, who I think could both be Premier League players, that just feels like we’ve bought in a different level in this transfer window and its noticeable how the reports of others in the squad have dropped as a result.

In planning for the new season, some changes are made to the starting 11. The 4-3-2-1 formation is kept the same, but full-backs are given more licence to get forward, aided by a couple of carrileros which adds some more security to the midfield and some team instructions are removed to, hopefully, simplify the way we play. More a tweak to the style, rather than wholesale changes.

friendlies.jpg

I know they’re only friendlies, but outstanding performances against Celtic & Nantes bode very well for this season. A very tight loss to Liverpool and a draw with Southampton show that we might not be totally outclassed in the Premier League, with a couple of decent signings in the right areas.
 
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August 2028 - December 2028

wages.jpg

And that is probably a pretty good measure of the challenge we face this season, although we are slowly moving up this list each season so progression is being made.

Carabao Cup - We have an outstanding run in the Carabao Cup, making it to the quarter finals as the last non Premier League team remaining. Any draw was going to be tough, but away to Chelsea was, simply, a step too far. Until then we were outstanding and took Premier League scalp in Norwich along the way.

carabao cup.jpg

FA Cup - Two late, late goals salvages us a draw at Spurs in a very tough opening round and earns us, hopefully, a lucrative replay and a better chance at home.

fa cup.jpg

Championship - The season couldn’t have started with a tougher fixture, away to newly relegated Burnley but after that it was only 1 loss in 10 games which is, without a doubt, our best consistent form in the league. And we haven’t looked back since...the tinkering with the player roles seems to have properly paid off.

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Of course...the youth intake is very slim and the comment that we should be optimistic about the intake is rather offset by the next set of comments. Curious.

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GK:
gk.jpg

Vickers has now played 275 league games for Oldham since signing on a free in 2022. What a servant he has been and Cuffaut-Lachor has stepped up when he’s been called on for the cup games. Bringing him on on a free from Lille in the summer now looks like a shrewd piece of business.

DEF:
df.jpg

Quansah, Doyle, Abadaki and Kennedy have rotated around the centre-back positions and have done so rather well...Quansah in particular. At right back, Montes and Brooking have struggled as neither are natural attacking full-backs which is what I’m asking them to play. As the more valuable of the two, Montes could be sacrificed to buy someone more suited to the role. At left-back, Borthwick-Jackson is still here and has reached 250 games for the club. He’s been ably supported by Northern Irish International Bainbridge when needed.

MID:
MF.jpg

Davenport & Flanagan are the defensive central midfielders. Goddard, Emery, Flynn and Kone all rotate the Carrilero positions, although it is none of their preferred roles and with the tactic working as well as it has been, I am going to look to get more natural players in. Another NI International - Wilson, alongside Cain, Helm and Henrique are the attacking midfielders. Cain & Wilson have been very good. Henrique is a player I desperately want to do well, but he’s not consistent enough and I’ve previously turned down bids of £15m for him, but if something like that comes in again it would be hard to turn down again.

ST:
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Stewart and Soonsup-Bell have rotated spearheading the attack, with youngster Oduor featuring in cup games and making the odd start. Soonsup-Bell got 28 in the league last season and has 9 so far, so is some way off. Stewart has 11 goals in 18 league games and it’s tough to choose between the two of them.

Lots of players are wanted and there are areas we could improve, so January could be busy. If we have as good a second half of the season as we have the first half...the playoffs are well within reach.
 
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