Reviving sleeping giants (chapter 2): Aston Villa

Oct 8, 2015
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BREAKING NEWS: Aston Villa hire Jake Lewis as manager

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Big shock coming from Birmingham this afternoon as Aston Villa have announced that 35-year old English manager Jake Lewis, who is completely unknown in the managerial world, would be taking over as the club's manager until the end of the season. His contract is reportedly for just this year but we could see an extension if he does well throughout the year.

The news come as a huge shock mostly for Villa fans, who were quite happy with Bruce's management of the team since his arrival in October 2016, leading them to a 13th place finish last season. This season however, the Lions are expected to finish 1st, so it is definitely worrying that the club has decided to change management in a season where Villa are expected to be the leading candidates for promotion back to the Premier League.

More to come on this breaking story later today...
 
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Welcome to Birmingham!

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How's it going everyone, I'm Jake Lewis, new manager at Aston Villa! I just wanted to say welcome to sunny, beautiful Birmingham! Oh wait, this isn't Spain, this is ****** England we're talking about. It's more cloudy and cold here, but it'll do. Being born in London, let's just say I'm used to that kind of weather by now. As you can see, I'm clearly not taking over a small club. Aston Villa have a LOT of history and I'm definitely looking to come in and make history for this club. At 35 years old, I clearly have many years ahead of me to make that happen and I'm hoping we can get started by getting promoted to the Premier League this season! Now then, let's quickly get into the challenges for this chapter 2 and then I'll continue the introduction of the club:

ChallengeWhat is it?Completed?
Brexit (kind of) means BrexitCan only sign a maximum of 2 players not from the UK per season (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) -UNLESS A NON-UK PLAYER IN THE TEAM IS SOLD, THEN AN ADDITIONAL SPOT FOR A NON-UK PLAYER FREES USYes
2017/18
2018/19
2019/2020
2020/2021
2021/2022
Ah millennials...At least 5 players from the academy or U-21 must play at least 10 games each every seasonYes
2017/18
2018/19
2019/2020
2020/2021
2021/2022
The good old daysWin every trophy that Aston Villa has won in their history (lower league trophies like the Championship or League 1 can be disregarded once we make it to the Premier League)No
Carabao Cup (2020, 2021, 3 more to go)

FA Cup (2020, 2022, 5 more to go)

Premier League (2022, 6 more to go)

Europa League (2020, not needed)

Sky Bet Championship (2018, can disregard)

UEFA Super Cup (2020, completed!)

Community Shield (2020, completed!)



Now that you've seen the kind of challenges I'll be up against during this chapter 2 story, let's see what the rest of the setup is looking like!

City: Birmingham
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I've definitely picked a flattering picture of Birmingham there because well, let's just say it's not like that most of the year! We are of course based in Birmingham, the second largest city in England with, as a whole, over 3.5 million people inhabitants. Perfect for a football club looking to have a big fan base! I complained about the weather earlier (twice) but it shouldn't be that bad honestly. Other than that, can't think of much to say but it's a great city with a lot of things to do and it should really help us create a huge fan base.

Stadium: Villa Park
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The stadium speaks for itself. The 9th largest football stadium in England with a capacity of over 42,000, it should once again help us slowly become one of the best teams in England if we can regularly make the stadium full! It was built in 1897 and has been the club's stadium since. It's seen Premier League drama, incredible Champions League games, and countless other insane matches that some of the club's older fans will definitely remember. As I look to make Villa the best team in England again, I'm sure the younger fans will have games to remember as well!

With the likes of Tuanzebe, Snodgrass, Johnstone, Onomah and Grabban on loan, we'll have a lot of work to do at the end of next season if we do end up getting promoted. Let's not focus on that right now though. I'm happy to have them at the club and I'm hoping that we'll be able to keep them at the end of their loan, maybe for a second season? We'll see. The starting lineup for the season will probably change over the course of the year, but here's what I'm thinking above. A 4-4-2 seems best suited for the players I have at the club right now, especially in order to accommodate the club's best players, which I'll get into in a second. Terry is the club captain and will most likely start ahead of Tuanzebe to be honest, but this is just for the pre-season matches coming up.

The key players:

View attachment 50421#26 John Terry
36 years old
English
Centre-back

John is the club captain and definitely one of the best defenders we have at the club right now. I don't know when he's planning on retiring, but I hope he plays a key role at the club this season and helps us get promotion at the first time of asking!

View attachment 50420#10 Jack Grealish
21 years old
English
Left/right midfielder

Much like Terry, Jack will be one of our key players this season and definitely who the team will be built around. He's out injured at the moment and isn't due to come back until September or November of this year, so it's a huge shame but once he's back I'm confident we'll be able to get the best out of him and he'll help us to get to the Premier League.

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#22 Jonathan Kodjia
27 years old
Ivorian
Striker

Just like Grealish, Jonathan is unfortunately injured. In terms of strikers at the club, ability-wise, he's the best we've got and I'm hoping that when he comes back from his injury in 1 and a half to 3 months time that we can get him firing straight away. We're going to need to work very hard to get results without these 2 players in the team for the next few months though, that's for sure.

The finances:

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I really can't wait for all that Premier League TV rights money once we get there to be honest, because I've not been blessed with the biggest amount of money to improve the squad. To be honest, I don't think we need many new players to get promoted but next season, if the board gives me such a small amount of money, it could be an issue and we could very well be going down again. Hopefully that doesn't happen. As of right now, Ross McCormack is on the transfer list as he's clearly not good enough in my opinion, and so is Christopher Samba. Once they sell (if they do), we should be able to get a nice signing with the money made from those sales plus the transfer budget but I can't guarantee anything at this point.

The pre-season:

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We're doing a big tour in Portugal this summer. Some of the teams we're playing against look very weak and to be honest, most of these games should be a walk in the park which would be great for our confidence ahead of our league opener against Hull on the 5th of August. I think I'll rotate the squad quite heavily during those pre-season games, just to make sure that everyone has enough match fitness to potentially start against Hull in the Championship but we'll see. Anyways, that does it for the club introduction now if you'll excuse me, I've got a plane to Portugal to catch!
 
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2017/2018 pre-season:

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As you can see, we're staying around the same area on our Portugal tour with a total of about 12 hours of travelling over 2 weeks, which should be great for some team bonding on the road! Being able to play in July on the coast of Portugal is honestly so great, the weather is amazing and the conditions should be great, plus it should give the club some nice exposure in "southern" Europe! Hopefully the results are as positive as the conditions seem to be for this pre-season!

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In other news, I've decided to sign Terry Burton as our new assistant-manager. After comparing him to the one already at the club, I just think I'll prefer to work with him over the former assistant manager and regardless, I want to work towards my own staff team. As a fellow Englishman as well, Burton and I should get along just fine!

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Our only signing this window will be Maresic. In terms of player potential, he was the best player we could get for our money and with an ageing Terry in the side, it's always good to have a young player who can grow with the club and hopefully become one of the best in England! The price tag says £3 million but we're just paying £1 million upfront, with £2 million to be paid over the next 2 years as well, so I think it's a great deal for us!

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As you can see, we had a great pre-season. The players got used very quickly to the 4-4-2 I want to use for the team and we scored a huge amount of goals, not conceding that many in the process as well. The defeat to Arouca is disappointing but clearly was a one-off and I can't wait now for the Championship to start! However, with all the good news that I've had to share so far, it was fairly obvious that some bad ones were going to come as well:

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Three injuries already! Davis got injured after ht Boavista game so has about 2 weeks left until he's recovered fully, which means these 3 players will basically all come back at the same time. If they had gotten injured in training in early July, I wouldn't have minded so much but for them to get injured just before the start of the season is a problem. At least now Maresic looks like a signing that makes a lot of sense!

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Some big games for us next month to get our campaign underway. The home game against Hull is definitely one of those big ones, but I'm also wary that the games against Norwich and Cardiff might be our toughest ones throughout August. With no money left for any transfers, we're going to have to play well with the players we have I'm afraid, but it's a good group of players from what I've seen in pre-season and I'm excited! Next up, the player of the pre-season and then we get to work for the Championship!

Player of the pre-season
View attachment 50381#45 Lewis Grabban (on loan from Bournemouth)
29 years old
English
Striker

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Tell you what, it's a shame that he's only here on loan because what a pre-season he had! In 6 games, he scored 10 goals and made 2 assists as well, getting 5 man of the match awards in the process. He did score some penalties which helped him but overall, he's had a great pre-season and the partnership of him and Kodjia up front when the Ivorian is back fit will be absolutely devastating! I hope at least... Anyways, there's a lot of work ahead now for the players and I and I better get to it. See you at the end of August!
 
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August 2017: not the best start

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A disappoint start to our season as we concede late on to get just a point from the game against Hull. Our next match is against Luton in the Carabao Cup and well, as much of an "easy game" as it should be, this is England and we've seen smaller teams mount a great cup run in the past. Our expectations is to get to the 3rd round and this is just the 1st round so, it wouldn't look great for me if we didn't make it past this round...

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There's absolutely no excuse for that I mean, what a disgrace! We had 30 shots on goal and scored just one of them?! And they had 6 shots on target and scored 2. Clearly, the team hasn't gelled together so well yet and we're going to need a lot of work, especially now that our best defender Terry has just gotten injured for the better part of a month. That's just great. This really isn't the start I wanted from my career at Aston Villa, with 4 injuries and a defeat in the Carabao Cup 1st Round. Let's hope we can turn this around soon...

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Fair play to Cardiff, they were fantastic today. I got our tactics all wrong and I think this big problem right now is up front. When Kodjia comes back up front, I'm really hoping him and Grabban can do a job because this is just not looking great right now. This heavy loss against Cardiff is only in our second league game as well, so if we don't start to get results soon we risk going into a run of bad form and it's always hard to get out of those.

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This is not looking good, not good at all. With ANOTHER defeat, our 3rd in a row in all competitions, we sit all the way down in 20th in the league. Something needs to change, otherwise I could very well be seeing the door a lot earlier than I thought! Lansbury getting a red card so quickly after getting his first yellow is really irresponsible on his part as well and I hope his attitude changes, because otherwise I will no doubt drop him from the team.

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That's more like it! We're now 18th in the league and even though that's way off our objective, it's still a bit better. We were expecting a tough game against Norwich and we got exactly that. A tight 1-0 win thanks to our new signing Maresic gives us a bit of hope for our last game of the month against Brentford before we go away for the international break.

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Phew... We end our month on a good note with another win, thanks in part to Lewis Grabban who seems like he's getting into form now. Lansbury got yet another red so he's obviously missing the next game, but I'm also definitely dropping him for the next few matches as well. We can't afford to play with 10 men, especially for 40 minutes against a side who could have easily scored against us with 7 shots that they had in total. Nevertheless, we got our 3 points and are now in 13th place in the league, a big jump from 18th. Let's hope this form continues from the last 2 games into next month now!

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Our opening game next month is against Brentford, who are current in 2nd in the league. We're going to need a great result against them to really kickstart our season to be honest, and I think seeing Hull all the way up in 4th should motivate us to get a good run going and get up the table and back into the Premier League where this club belongs!

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Other than Middlesbrough and Brentford, our first 2 games of the month, we're playing against teams who are underneath us in the table. To me, that means we should be getting points against them and with no other competition in sight now until we play in the FA Cup later on, all we have is the Championship to focus on, so let's make sure we do that and get results.


Player of the month:
View attachment 50338#24 Dario Maresic
17 years old
Austrian
Centre-back/Defensive midfielder

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With an average rating of 7.07 in 6 games, Maresic was our best player this month along with Snodgrass. I picked him for Villa's Player of the Month as he's just 17 years old and just got into the team and actually scored the winning goal in one of our games as well, so he definitely deserves it. It's good to see such a young player perform this well early on and I hope he continues this good run and carries it through the next few months to get us back up the table!
 
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Maresic looks like a cracking signing! Lets hope the form continues to improve after the unfortunate start! Plus side, You are still only a handful of points of the top! Good luck!
 
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September 2017: champions form

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As I'm looking to play some younger players up front this season who have a lot of potential, there was no space in my plans for McCormack and Agbonlahor. Both of them are 30 years old and anyways if we want to sell them, they need playing time so they can increase their value to get us some more money when they do sell eventually.

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After a quick formation change from our 4-4-2 system to a new system with 3 central defenders and 3 strikers in order to fix our defensive issues, we get a fantastic win against one of the top teams in the league so far this season. Grabban is finally getting into form and Kodjia is back as well, so our front 3 of Grabban, Kodjia and Davis is looking deadly!

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Another amazing win for us, with Davis as the best player on the day with 2 goals and 3 assists. Tell you what, if he keeps this ridiculous form up, he might stay in the team indefinitely! Middlesbrough are on paper one of the better teams in the league as well so it's great to get such a big win against them as we now move up to 4th, move 13th at the end of August!

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We keep conceding goals, but we keep scoring them as well and we get yet another win, our 5th in a row in the league, to take us to 2nd in the league now. It's not a thrashing like the Brentford and Middlesbrough matches but this was a great win nonetheless and I'm hoping this form continues for the rest of the month, **** the rest of the season!

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Davis is slowly becoming a fan favourite this season, with a winning goal against rock-bottom Nottingham. He's honestly turning out to be one of our best players this season and it looks like he might continue to do that if he keeps this scoring form up! Karanka came out after the game and said we didn't deserve the win and well, when you look at the stats I think some people might be worried that he's delusional! We absolutely deserved the win and probably by more than just one goal...

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Maresic is truly turning out to be the best signing this club has made in years as he scored the opener in the 90th minute before Onomah scored the goal to really clinch victory in the 94th minute. This win puts us top of the league after such a bad opening month and I'm so happy with how the team has done so far. I hope Maresic continues this form as well because he really is turning out to be one of the best players I've ever seen!

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Bjarnason was in my plans earlier in the season, but with this new 3-2-2-3 system he just doesn't and after coming to me to complain about his playing time, I just told him straight that he probably didn't want to waste his time here so he's going to China instead! We get a nice little bit of money for him as well so I'm hoping now that we can use this money in January to bring in some reinforcements, although it doesn't seem like we need any at this point with our current form!

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For the last 2 games we left it really late to go and win, but not today. Bolton aren't having a great season and it showed today. That's now 8 wins in a row in the league for us as we go on the international break now and will be ready to come back and face Wolves. Kodjia got injured yet again which is annoying, but thankfully there's the international break now so he really can take the time to recover fully! I'm going to have a tough time picking player of the month for this month, that's for sure...

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A fantastic run of 8 games won on the trot puts us from 20th, where we are after the first 3 league games, all the way up in 1st now. We're also already 4 points clear of Sheffield Wednesday in 3rd so I'm confident that we'll be able to get promoted this season. We also have the best goal difference in the league now thanks to our high scoring games earlier in the month, and it should be a fantastic opportunity for us to now look over what we've done right during September and try to take that into October.

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Wolves and Fulham aren't doing great so far and will be looking to get as many points as they can, so I can already tell that these 2 games will be very tough. I also will manage in my first "Second City Derby" ever, which is exciting and should be a great match, especially considering Birmingham are in 4th and have done really well so far this season. We'll finish the month off with Preston away, who are just above mid-table and should honestly be an easy 3 points for us given our current form. Now then, for my player of the month.

Player of the Month:
View attachment 50292#22 Jonathan Kodjia
27 years old
Ivorian
Striker

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With 6 goals and 3 assists in 6 games, Kodjia is undoubtedly our player of the month for September. He came back from his injury during the international break that month and did so well right on his return. Davis was also a strong content to be honest, with 5 goals and 5 assists in his last 6 games for the club, and so was Maresic, who once again was fantastic now playing as a defensive midfielder for us. Regardless, Kodjia wins it for me and the trio of him, Davis and Grabban is very, very exciting!
 
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October 2017: first Second City Derby

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Our good form in September gets us 3 players in the player of the month award rankings, with Kodjia, Davis and Maresic finishing in the top 3! I picked Kodjia as our player of the month so it's nice to see that claim backed up but the rest of the team has done incredibly well as well and I'm very proud of them.

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Even the Premier League loanee Davies can't get the award ahead of our very own Keinan Davis! He's been absolutely incredible so far this season, has to be said, and to be able to see Maresic in the lot as well is great. We've clearly made a great signing and with so much playing time, he's bound to become a star for the club in the future.

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As for myself, after leading Aston villa to 6 wins in 6 games in September, I get the manager of the month award. The QPR and Wednesday managers have done well during the month as well and both their teams are high up the table, but after such a horrendous start to the season and such a great turnaround, I think I definitely deserved the award. Now then, to this month's results!

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Our great run of 8 wins in a row comes to an end as we lose 2-0 to Wolves after two quick early goals from them. I was really disappointed with our performance honestly, especially considering how quickly we conceded the two goals and basically lost the game then! Fair play to them though, they're doing pretty well this season and will be looking for more and more points in the future; I just hope we can turn things around and get 3 points again in our next few games.

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Our game against Fulham was one of the toughest ones we've had to date but Maresic came up clutch once again and got us the win against a Fulham side who, on the day, just didn't look like themselves. Lansbury for once didn't get a red card and was actually man of the match, which is great to see. This win puts us top of the table in the league again, ahead of our Second City Derby and another big match against Preston.

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Yes!!! For my first Second City Derby in charge of the club, I really wanted to get a good result for the fans and for the players, so they would grow a bit more fond of me, and we did just that! Davis is the one who was our main man in this game and scored two somewhat early goals which ended up giving us the win! The 19-year old is on fire this season and it continues to show now. A great win to put us back at the top of the league as we now prepare to play Preston for our last game of October.

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More dropped points this month as we now draw with Preston, thanks to Kodjia. We would've lost the game if it wasn't for him and his 2 goals at least earn us a point. We lose top spot in the league as a result but I'm confident we can win the title this season, as long as we don't drop points like this on the regular.

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Our games against QPR and Derby will definitely be interesting ones as the race for the Championship title this season looks tighter than ever. I have to say, I'm pretty surprised to see Sheffield Wednesday so high up the table, although I guess they did finish 4th last season. Our rivals Birmingham, who had such a good start to the season, are now all the way down in 9th which is good to see for us of course.

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Speaking of games against QPR, there it is! Two games in a row against Sheffield Wednesday and QPR mean some great matchups and opportunities for us to grab points off the top teams in the league this season, as we'll face newly-relegated Sunderland later on as well and Ipswich as our last game of the month. Considering most of these games are home games, I'm confident we'll get all 12 points we can get from these 4 games but let's not get ahead of ourselves.


Player of the Month:
View attachment 49983#22 Jonathan Kodjia
27 years old
Ivorian
Striker

View attachment 49982
It was tough to pick our player of the month for this month, especially considering Davis played really well but Kodjia's 2 assists against Birmingham earn him the award for the second month in a row. He had 2 bad games and 2 good games, whereas Davis had just the one good game against Birmingham which in my opinion doesn't give him enough to get the player of the month. Maybe next time!
 
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November 2017: complications in our title race

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A great win for us to get started in November against one of the better teams in the league this season. Grabban, who's been very quiet so far this season, got us the winner early on as we get 3 points and go top of the league. With our next game against QPR, a win in that match would certainly see us stay top for some time.

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A disappointing result against a not-very-impressive QPR side. They had just 6 shots to our 27 and I'm really annoyed we didn't get at least a draw from this match. QPR now go top of the league and might stay there for a while if they don't drop any points and we keep dropping them left right and centre.

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Yet another disappointing result for us as we drop more points and continue to fall behind QPR and get a red card in the process! Considering we played with 10-men for about 20 minutes, I guess I should say we were lucky to get a draw but we completely dominated Sunderland and I'm once again really disappointed that we didn't get the 3 points against a weak Sunderland side.

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We end the month having scored just 2 goals, which is again just disappointing for a team looking to win the title. We get the 3 points against Ipswich though, which is a big positive as we now need to get ready for Leeds in early December. Lansbury always comes up big when he needs to and today was no different, which was great to see. It'll be hard to choose the player of the month to be honest, but I think I have an idea for who I want that to be...

View attachment 49776
We find ourselves 3 points behind the leaders almost halfway through the season and just 2 points ahead of Wolves in 3rd. It's been a good season so far but I can't help but think that if we had a better start to the season and a good month in November, we would be 1st and miles ahead as well. We have a big month coming up in December which will be crucial for us and I hope we can do better than throughout this month to really put ourselves in a better position for the Championship title.

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Leeds away and Derby away are by far our toughest games this month, although trips to Brentford and Middlesbrough could also be tricky. With that many games during the month, the squad will most likely rotate to stay injury-free but I still want good results from all of these games and certainly hope we can fight back from a disappointing 4 games in November to do better next month.

Player of the Month:
View attachment 49773#1 Sam Johstone (on loan from Manchester United)
24 years old
English
Goalkeeper

View attachment 49771
Sam's not been incredible for us to be honest with you, but this month he was a lot better and managed 3 clean sheets in 4 games, getting a 7.05 average rating throughout the month even in the defeat against QPR. I hope he can keep this form up and continue to not concede any goals because then who knows, I might consider making an offer for him to Manchester United at the end of the season!
 
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December 2017: a mixed month

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First news came before our first game of the month as we lose Snodgrass for a month and a half. He's not played that much so far this season but as I'm looking to change up our tactics and use a new formation with wingers, he would be very useful to have now. It's a shame to lose him but thankfully the likes of Andre Green and Jack Grealish can play in his position and do a job.

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A disappointing start to December as we drop points yet again, greatly harming our chances at the title at the end of the season. Leeds were the better team tonight and even though I'm annoyed at the loss, I can only tell the players to forget about the defeat, move on and hope we do better in the next few matches.

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We get drawn against Burton Albion for our first FA Cup game of the year in early January. They're in 22nd in the league currently so it's looking like a great matchup for us especially considering we're expected to reach at least the 4th round, and I hope we can mount a cup run together starting against Burton Albion!

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A much better second game this month, with a great performance from Davis in the process! Milwall haven't been doing well this season and it showed, despite us going a goal down early on. This win now puts us in 3rd place, just a point away from direct promotion which ultimately, is the goal this season.

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A huge game for us this month and what a result go get! Whelan wanted playing time so I gave it to him and he got sent off, so let's just say he might not see the first team again for some time now... Kodjia is slowly getting back into scoring form as well which we desperately need.

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Huge blow to our season with one of the best centre-backs at the club now injured for a month and a half, just like Snodgrass. Thankfully, we have Terry and Tuanzebe who can play there and of course Maresic as well, so we should be fine but it's a big, big loss for us for sure.

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Weirdly, we were supposed to win this game but a couple goals but only just about won it. This win does see us go top of the league though which is fantastic and I, once again, hope we can continue to do well and keep this form up to finish top by the end of December!

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Another 2 points dropped, this time away from home! Scott Hogan is in the side after a lengthy injury and a terrible run of form from Grabban and he's scoring goals which is a positive, but we just couldn't edge it against Brentford tonight. On top of that, Terry is now going to have to play with a fractured arm for 2 months which could be problematic considering he's a centre-back...

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Another disappointing result to finish off December, as this 1-0 loss sees us drop down to 3rd in the league. I think a big tactical change is in order if we are to really challenge for the title because these are the games we need to win and get points from. Fair play to Middlesbrough who have slowly climbed back the table, but we just needed to do better today. Hopefully January 2018 treats us better...

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We're 3 points clear of 4th place and 3 points off the top of the table. Let's just say it's been a very tight season so far and I expect it to stay that way but we need to do better to grab one of those two automatic promotion spots, we just have to. The club was expected to win the title at the start of the season and I'm still eager to do that but again, I think a big tactical change is in order if we're going to start getting results and win the league this season.

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Every single one of our games next month is against a team in the bottom half of the table or in the bottom 5 of the table. We NEED to do better in those games to make sure we have a chance at the title and I think we could really do well in January. If we're lucky, we might be able to pull off a couple of arrivals but nothing is for certain yet, especially considering our low transfer budget.

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It's not the 'senior' player of the month but it's still something! Maresic creeps in there once again playing as a centre-back and a defensive midfielder, but Davis wins it for the second time this season, and coincidently is also winning the Aston Villa Player of the Month award!

Player of the Month:
View attachment 49658#39 Keinan Davis
19 years old
English
Striker

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With an average rating of 7.98 in 5 games and 5 goals to his name, as well as an assist, Davis finally deserves his first Villa Player of the Month award. In a month where the team as a whole didn't do so amazingly, he really came through and put in some amazing performances, which I hope will continue in January against some much weaker teams if we are to really challenge for the title!
 
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January 2018: 100% record?

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We start off the New Year with a fantastic win over Bristol to really put us back on track. After winning player of the month last month, Davis is really coming through and could definitely be the man who wins us the title later in the season if he keeps playing like that! A deserved victory overall for us with a clean sheet as well, as we now look to our next match in the FA Cup.

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We're expected to reach the 4th round of the FA Cup at least this season and we've done just that! After completely pushing Burton Albion aside, here we are in the 4th round where we'll play either MK Dons or Yeovil Town. Both would be interesting matchups, but I would prefer the better team in the next round in MK Dons. Kodjia is going to be out injured for 3-4 weeks which is a big blow, but since switching to a 4-1-2-3 we've been doing a lot better and he was playing on the wing, so we have plenty of people who can play on the wings.

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Adomah wasn't playing at the club and I couldn't see him stay here, complaining to other players and ruining the dressing room atmosphere. He leaves for Stoke for just £3 million but to us, that's a big fee which will help us a lot down the road.

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Another great win! Grealish is finally getting into form after wanting to leave for a Premier League club earlier in the season and we're now finally back on form. Lansbury continues his amazing season for the club as we grab a 2-0 win and yet another clean sheet to now put us in 2nd in the league!

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Wow!!! With 11 goals scored in just 3 games, we really are on fire and seem to have finally found a formation that works for everyone! Lansbury scored yet again, with Davis the man of the match once again. With 3 assists and a hat-trick to start off the month, he's already a very strong contender for our first player of the month award of 2018!

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Our second signing of the season was transfer-listed Brad Smith. I realised halfway through the first half of the season that when Neil Taylor gets injured at left-back, we have no one to replace him so we needed a player as a backup and Smith is a perfect solution. That makes it 2 non-UK signings though so we can't sign anyone who's not from the UK this season. We have a little bit of money leftover as well which I'm hoping the board will let me carry over to next season if we get promoted and get a nice budget to start off next season with.

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Another bit of good news with Keinan Davis signing a new contract until 2021! He's been incredible for us this season and is actually the club's top goalscorer, so to have him for another 3 years is great news.

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With a great win in the FA Cup 4th round, we've now exceeded the board's expectations and gotten to the 5th round, where we'll play against 15th-placed Premier League side Crystal Palace, our first BIG challenge in the FA Cup but also of the season. We'll be playing at home which is great for the fans and you know what, this is the sort of opposition we need to get results against now to be ready for the Premier League next season if we get promoted!

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Our last game of the month was against Sheffield United who have been struggling this season and we got a fantastic result against them with yet another clean sheet and a goal for both Grealish and Kodjia, which is great to see. Scott Hogan is also becoming better and better, now playing as a left-winger, and I'm really happy with his contribution to the team.

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After going into January 2018 in 3rd place, it's great to now be top of the league after 29 games. We have 17 games left until the end of the season and are now 5 points clear of 3rd place, so we could very well be looking at a top 2 finish at the end of the season if we keep this up! QPR, after selling their number 1 keeper to Southampton, are now looking very weak in that department and it's showing in their results as they drop to 4th.

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It's a bit of a mix and match next month in terms of who we're playing. We have an easy game against Burton Albion but then tough games against Birmingham, Fulham, Preston and Sheffield Wednesday who are all doing pretty well this season. On top of that, we also have the Crystal Palace game in the FA Cup so let's see where next month takes us!

Player of the Month:
View attachment 49586#39 Keinan Davis
19 years old
English
Striker

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With 5 goals and 5 assists in 6 games, it was only Davis who could win the Player of the Month again. Lansbury was a good shout as well but as just a 19-year old, Davis has contributed so well that I just had to give it to him. With a very tough month in February, I'm really hoping he carries this form into next month and does as well then as he's done throughout December and January.
 
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February 2018: an incredible cup run?!

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Lansbury had a great month in January and I considered him for our player of the month, but he wins the Championship Player of the Month instead which I'm sure more than makes up for it. Our good form has given our players some new-found belief and it's amazing to see as we continue our campaign to hopefully the league title!

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A dominant win for us as Grealish continues his amazing form since switching to a 4-1-2-3 as he scores 2 goals and gets us the 3 points in this game. I'm really happy with how things are going for us and this makes it 4 wins in a row in the league as we continue our time at the top of the league!

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How about that for my second ever Second City Derby!!! Grealish was outstanding once again as we absolutely destroy Birmingham to be crowned the kings of Birmingham for the season! What a game this was! It really showcases what our season as a whole has been like and I'm SO happy with how the players have played since the New Year.

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With Tuanzebe's loan coming to an end, I decided to look on the market for a young, promising centre-back and I found just that in Tyrell Warren. He's on loan in League 1 right now and is playing really well and has the potential to become a decent Premier League player according to my scouts. For under £500,000, it was a bargain and Tyrell will join us in July later this year.

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Our winning run comes to an end against Fulham who were fantastic today. We couldn't prevent them from scoring which was a shame, but thankfully we managed to score just as many as them and keep our record as the best attack in the league. On top of that, we still managed to get a point against one of the better teams in the league which is great to see.

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Incredible!!! We focused on defensive positioning during training for the whole week preceding this Crystal Palace game and I guess the result really shows what kind of a mess they are in in the Premier League! We make it through to the FA Cup 6th round, the quarter finals, where we'll face Everton. We could've gotten a much easier draw but again, I'm more than happy to play against Premier League sides to practice against them if we do get promoted this season. It should be a great game and I now can't wait for March.

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After 4 INJURIES, yes that's right 4, Preston couldn't handle us and basically gift us another 3 points. They have had a decent season so far but clearly we were the better side today and we get a fantastic 4-0 win in our second-to-last game of the month. Neil Taylor scored a rare goal as well which is amazing, as Hogan and Kodjia also scored to give us the win.

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Even though Wednesday came into this game in 10th, it was one of the games that worried me the most this month but we managed to get a great win against them and came out on top winning 4-2 away from home. We're still killing it in the league and I couldn't be happier with this turnaround in form since the 1st of January 2018.

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With 12 games to go in the season, we now have an incredible 7-point lead in the league and an outstanding goal difference as well. There's still a chance we could finish 3rd but if we continue at this rate, I really don't think that'll happen and I think we can consider ourselves promoted to the Premier League if we keep our amazing form.

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Our two main games next month are undoubtedly against QPR and Wolves, who are 4th and 3rd respectively and will be looking for points to push for promotion, whilst games against Bolton, Sunderland and Hull should be easy wins for us. The away game at Goodison Park against Everton in the FA Cup is of course the highlight of the month for us and I'll make sure to field a weaker team against Bolton to be able to come out on fire against Everton and try to get a win and maybe make it to the FA Cup semi-final!

Player of the Month:
View attachment 49517#10 Jack Grealish
22 years old
English
Right/left winger

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With an impressive 6 goals and 3 assists in 6 games, Jack absolutely deserves the Villa Player of the Month award for February 2018. He was quiet up until our formation change in January and now, he's never looked back. Some really impressive performances throughout the month, especially against Birmingham for example, not only make me really happy but make me hope that he's enjoying his football here and will want to stay at the club if we get promoted to the Premier League because we'll really need him!
 
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March 2018: cutting it close

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Grealish gets the Championship Player of the Month for February after getting the Villa Player of the Month and I'm so happy about it. As I said last month, I really hope he's enjoying his football enough to stay with us next year because he would be an incredible player to have for the Premier League.

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An absolutely incredible win for our title race as we win 3-1 against title challengers QPR! Kodjia is slowly climbing up the top goalscorers list and who knows he might make it to the top if he continues like this! This game was one of our tougher ones this month so to get it out of the way like that is amazing.

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****. That's just not a good result at all. Sunderland have been pretty awful this season considering the squad they have and we lose 2-1 despite being somewhat the better team. After such an incredible run of great results, it's a real kick in the teeth but we need to keep our head up and just keep trying to get good results, otherwise we might just lose the title!

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Another game against a title challenger and another win! Davis is the one coming up big this time but what a great result! I'm really happy with this game considering how bad the previous one against Sunderland was and I hope we can keep results like that coming!

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Another great win for us as Kodjia grabs another 2 goals but a big blow as well with Chester out injured. He's not played that much this season but when he has, he's been fantastic and to lose him for 2-3 weeks is a big blow. Now, I just hope we'll be able to get him to come back quickly since we'll need him for our title push.

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So there we go then, our FA cup dream is over! Everton are through as they beat us on penalties, with the curse of John Terry continuing. He really isn't great at penalties is he? Oh well, that's something we can work on. We did an incredible job in the FA Cup getting to the quarter-finals and I can only hope to do this well next season to be honest. At least, we can now fully focus on the league and making sure we win it, or at least get to the Premier League!

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We finish the month off on a terrible loss against Hull but fair play to them, they dominated us and fully deserved the win. We stay top of the league even with that awful result, but it's getting tighter and tighter at the top and we're cutting it really close.

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With 7 games to go, we're 4 points clear of 2nd. Winning the league would be perfect of course, but getting promoted through a second place finish would still be good. We're 11 points off Wolves in 3rd place, which is where we 100% don't want to be so it'll be an interesting last 7 games now.

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Speaking of these 7 games, here they are. The two games I'm looking at that worry me are Reading and Leeds, as we didn't do so well against them the last time we faced them and they're doing pretty well this season so far. Derby could also be a tough game but we beat them 3-0 last time we played them, so I'm confident we'll get the result we need. We'll finish our season off away against Milwall who are very close to a relegation battle so it could be interesting.

Player of the Month:
View attachment 49498#22 Jonathan Kodjia
28 years old
Ivorian
Striker

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Kodjia gets his second Villa Player of the Month award this season with 4 goals from his last 5 games. It wasn't a great month for any individual players in particular to be honest, which is why Kodjia went and got the award. He's been really good whenever he's played and I hope that he can take that goalscoring form and combine with Davis to win us the title in the next month or so.
 
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April-May 2018: WE ARE GOING UP, SAY WE ARE GOING UP!

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We started off this final stretch with an incredible game against Reading which we won 5-3. It was a great effort from the lads and I'm so happy to see us play this well so close to the end of the season, because just a couple of good results will not only see us get promoted to the Premier League, but also maybe even win the title!

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Maresic has been by far our best signing and maybe even our best player so far this season and he requested a new contract and I was always going to give it to him. The young little Austrian really is a gem and I'm so happy the Villa scouting pool found him and we got him for such a cheap price. His release clause fee worries me a little bit, but I'm sure I'll be able to get him to sign a new contract in no time and we'll get rid of that release clause!

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As we get towards the end of a very successful season, everyone is asking for new contracts or being given one and that's what the board did with me! My success at the club this season has made them believe that I deserve another 2 years here at the club and I couldn't be happier. I really love this team so far and can't wait to really shape it to make it my own and do great things in the Premier League and maybe even in Europe if we get there in the next few years!

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As we get closer and closer to D-Day (the day where we have the possibility to win the title early), we continue to get good results! Davis scores a hat-trick to continue his ridiculous form throughout this season and I'm hoping, really hoping, that no bigger English clubs come in for him after such a great season!

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WE ARE GOING, SAY WE ARE GOING UP! Incredible! It wasn't the result we wanted to clinch promotion but who cares, we'll be playing in the 2018/19 Premier League! What a great season it's been and what a historic season it could still be if we win the title! Ultimately, a draw isn't the best for us with Fulham closing in every week but I'm confident we'll manage to win the title in the end. Still though, what a great season it's been and it's so rewarding to get the official confirmation that we've made it to the Premier League for next season. Villa are back where they belong, and I can't wait to help them be successful there again. How about that transfer budget for next season by the way?! The board gave me £2 million last summer and now they're giving me £40 million?! I won't complain of course, but it's very odd...

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Leeds beat us 2-0 at their own ground earlier this season and we beat them 3-1 at Villa Park today to set us up for the title win if we win our next game against Ipswich! Davis had a cracking game once again and I keep saying it, but what a surprise he's been this season! He was in the reserve team when I arrived and I moved him to the senior team when I saw the potential he had and he's been one of our best players this season, great stuff!

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Some more great news as we get ready for title finale, with Kodjia and Taylor both signing new long-term and big-money contracts. They've both either doubled or almost doubled their previous wage which is completely fine by me considering their amazing performances. Let's hope these news will motivate the players to go on and win the title for the club and the fans now!

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I guess it won't be today then. Really disappointing to lose to Ipswich the way we did but if we win our next game against Derby, the second-to-last game of the season, we'll be Championship champions anyway. Let's hope the lads do the job then...

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Conor has been a bit of a hidden gem to be honest. He's not played INCREDIBLY well during the season but has been a very important player to the side which is why I'm very excited to see him at the club for at least another 4 years!

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What is going on?!?!?! Are we about to lose the title to Fulham if we get a bad result against Milwall on the final day?! This could be a horrendous end to an amazing season if we can't get a result and we've had the opportunity to win the title for 2 games now, so it's a big worry that we haven't yet. I need to get the lads back on their feet and ready to fight for that title next week because Fulham are playing our rivals Birmingham and if they beat them and we lose against Milwall, we would finish 2nd...

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We've done it!!! We not only have won our final game of the season, but we've also won the Championship title for the 3rd time in Villa's history, and for the first time in 58 years! What an incredible season it's been, once again, and you would not believe how happy I am to be managing this incredible team. Fulham actually lost their final game so we could've also lost against Milwall and been crowned champions anyway, but it feels good to become champions with a win. Both Fulham and us are going to the Premier League now and we'll see either Derby, Preston, Reading or Wolves join us as well. Personally, I don't see anyone other than Wolves going through considering their impressive form throughout the season and the quality in their team but you never know. It feels so amazing to have won the league and what a way to make it back to the Premier League huh?! We definitely deserve that £40 million budget now that's for sure! End of the year awards to come, as well as a little World Cup update over the summer break since in real life the World Cup is starting tomorrow!
 
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2017/18 review and new signings

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What a rollercoaster this 2017/18 season has been! We had no money and could only make 1 signing, yet thanks to some amazing loan deals from my predecessor managed to get some great players into the team. We won the league after flirting with 1st place for so long and then finally taking control in the last few games of the season, we got knocked out in the FA Cup quarter-finals and our 19-year old Keinan Davis finished the club's top goalscorer! Perhaps unsurprisingly, he gets the Fans' Player of the Season and Young Player of the Season award, whilst Maresic gets the Goal of the Season award and Signing of the Season as well. With the amount of money we have at our disposal, I am definitely going to make some signings in areas where I think we need some new, better players but I'm confident in the squad we have right now to do a job in the Premier League.

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Before I show you the actual official awards that we've won this season, I just had to share the news of Grealish signing a new contract. Our wage bill is already very high for a Championship club but now that we're in the Premier League, it's just an average if not low wage bill. Regardless, I had no problem extending Jack's contract, especially because it was either that or he would be leaving for Bournemouth or Swansea of Huddersfield!

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I think this just goes to show how good Davis really was this season. At just 20 years old, he started most of our games and made a 38 goal contribution in 37 games (24 goals and 14 assists), which is just incredible for someone his age. He'll definitely be leading the line next season or will be rotating that with Kodjia at least.

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The 24 goals that Davis scored weren't enough to get him to be the top goalscorer as Afobe and Mitrovic both had incredible seasons, scoring 29 and 25 goals respectively. He's the youngest out of the 3 though and has a really promising future and I just really can't wait to see him play in the Premier League!

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Turns out that Davis is the only player from the team who actually won individual awards! On top of getting the Championship Player of the Year, he also got the EFL Young Player of the Year, which covers the Championship, League 1 and League 2! That's an even bigger achievement than previous award and I'm just so proud of this young lad.

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I personally wasn't expecting this award at all considering it really felt like the bare minimum was for us to be promoted back to the Premier League with such a good side but I'll take it! One year in charge and one Manager of the Year award! Let's hope these kinds of awards keep coming by in the next few years then.

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It's a shame that 2 of the 8 players we have in the Team of the Year are on loan, but I'm confident we can find some great replacements for them and I think having 8 players in the Team of the Year really goes to show that we had a great season, we have a great team and we should definitely be fine in the Premier League if we keep performing like this!

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After having such an incredible season, some of our players even got called up to the World Cup for their countries. Jedinak and Smith for Australia, Hogan for Ireland, Hutton for Scotland, Maresic for Austria and Kodjia for Ivory Coast. Maresic is the most impressive of these call ups for sure, considering he's just 18 years old and has had one year at a top division in Europe. I hope for his sake that he does well and comes back feeling confident for us!

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This is probably the best deal we'll make all summer. Looking for a goalkeeper after Johnstone's departure after his loan expired, transfer-listed Pope was the perfect fit for us. He's close to an England call-up, is 26 years old and still has room to grow, which should be perfect since he'll be our starting goalkeeper. Pierluigi Gollini, who was on loan at Atalanta this season, will come back from his loan and be our backup keeper with Mark Bunn's contract expiring. Fair to say I'm excited!

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As June was coming to an end, we needed to extend the contracts of two very important players to the squad. Hutton ended up in the Team of the Year for last season and Terry didn't play that much, but the both of them are very important players and I'm glad to be keeping them for another year.

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The last signing I'm making so far is a Sessegnon brother from Fulham, but it's not Ryan. My scouts actually reckon that Steven is a better fit for the team and will actually become a better player than his brother so for £5 million, he's an absolute steal. Hutton is good, but we don't have a good backup right back right now and Steven will be a fantastic option who can grow at the club. That's it for now, next time I see you will be for our pre-season, before which we'll have probably made some more signings!
 
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