Jun 15, 2013
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"There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger! Some say to survive it: You need to be as mad as a hatter."

"Which luckily I am."

- Mike Blandinio on his appointment as Manager of Blue Square Premiership side Luton Town FC - July 2012.

Competition History under Blandinio's stewardship
2012/13 - Blue Square Bet Premier - 9th
2013/14 - Blue Square Bet Premier - 1st
2014/15 - Npower League 2 - 5th (P)

The Background:

The Luton board took quite the gamble when they made an offer of employment to former Professional Footballer Mike Blandinio, a known gambler, womaniser, and part time horticulturist.

In his first year in charge performances fell far below expectation; The fans wanted his head, and only a sealed envelope containing compromising photographs of the Chairman's favourite past-time gave Blandinio the second chance he so desperately needed.

Two years down the line with back to back promotions The Hatters are about to begin life in Npower League 1, the journey hasn't been easy, but with hard work, dedication and the occasional back hander, who knows where it may lead.

I invite you to join me, as we venture further down the rabbit hole.

- Mike Blandinio
Pre Season

Seasons Ambitions

The board have set the bar low, offering the chance to dodge relagation as my goal. Being slightly mad (and perhaps being overlyconfident from a completely unexpected promotion last season) I have decided to aim for a mid table finish, I desperately needed the extra cash to incentivise some incoming players.

With this in mind I have been given a kitty of £240k, and a budget of £50K p/w.

I am not expecting another miracle here, infact due to my inexperience, I'm banking on 2-3 seasons of hardgraft to break out of this league - lets see what I can bring in to help quicken the pace..

Transfer Activity

13 Players Out (Including fans favourite Andy Procter, who served us fantastically for 2 seasons - and Ronnie Henry, our captain of the previous 3 years). It should be noted this cull was considerably less than the end of last season where I chopped no fewer than 22 players and staff!

Now the panic begins as I realise my squad would just about cut it if I were playing Five A Side.

Trasferred In

Simone Andrea Ganz (ST) A very quick 21 year old Italian currently rated as Very good for Npower League 1, with Championship leading potential.

Mitch Bleeny (GK) Due to my stalwart keeper Basso's retirement, I need a new back up. Mitch is 19, and offers quality Championship potential.

Jake Fowler (AM (R) / MC / AM (LC) 21 and sold as a player of future Premiership quality. Now that he's in my squad this appears to have dropped to aspirations of Championship quality....Not sure what they are trying to say about my coaching abilities...

Loaned In:

Marcel Barrington (ST) - on loan from Stoke.
Junior (MC / DM) - on loan from Everton.
Bertrand Triore (AM (L) / M (L) / AM (R)) - on loan from Chelsea.
Franck Moussa (MC / M (L) / AM (RLC) - on loan from Derby.
Darryl Westlake (DR) - returns for another season on loan from Sheffield UTD.

Overall this window (so far) has been nothing short of horrific, almost all the key players I targeted turned either turned me down, or demanded wages that my board would never agree to (my cap appears to be circa £2700).

Squad Depth

View attachment 360274

Overall I'm fairly happy with my back 4, they are all young, playing well and have good potential - we'll see if they can step up to this next level.

Midfield I believe is solid, I would have loved to have brought in a even stronger AMR & AML - it was not to be.

Strike Force - I'm very optimistic about Ganz, and with Israel Silva who has scored 23+ in each of the last 2 seasons I feel I have a substitute who can get on, and make a difference.

The League Comparison

View attachment 360276 could be worse I guess.....

Pre Season Trials and Tribulations

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We decide to treat the lads to a luxury camp over in East Anglia...only the best for my boys...

Within 2 days, disaster has struck. I've had the lads doing high intensity fitness work and have lost my best Defender George Maxwell to a pulled hamstring...

My best Midfielder - Josh Falkingham pulls up with a back strain...
and to top it off my only player to have made it out of the Youth Academy, a future championship leading DM by the name of Gavin Owen drops out due to a twisted ankle!!

Maybe I should have listened to my assistant when he said George and Josh could have done with an extra week off.....

Oh well - they'll be back with us come our second League game... albeit knackered...and badly out of shape....

'Friendlies' - The Results

Arsenal Reserves (Home) 2-0
Port Vale (Home) 2-2
Gainsborough (Away) 6-0
Dag & Red (Away) 2-1

Well, could have been worse, could have been better. The result against the Arsenal reserves was solid, against Gainsborough it was Gold.

Still, it's all about the fitness and preparation - The new season begins tonight. Lets hope I don't get myself the sack.

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20th October 2015 Update

Much has happened in the first third of the season:

Our cursed injury problems looked set to continue as Franck Moussa, an excellent loan capture made his debut on the opening day of the season - and was carted off in the 72nd minute with an injury that would put him out of action for 4 long months.

The Hatters Cappers

Gareth Lee

View attachment 360892

Gareth has been developing well, he's a become an established first team player and his performances have earned him a place in the England U19's - If think he's got a solid future with us.

George Maxwell

View attachment 360893

George's hard work is paying dividends and he can now lay claim to 7 caps for the Scottish U21's - I predict a bright future.

Matthew Lund

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I was concerned that Matthew was going to spend the season on the side lines due to the strengths of some of our midfield acquisitions - however this man just keeps going above an beyond - Northern Ireland have recognised this and awarded him 2 caps in recent months.

The Results So Far

When we arrived in the league, we were immediately being tipped for relegation. Managers of some of the powerhouses publicly commented that it was a matter of when, not if we dropped into the relegation zone.

I'm pleased to report that so far, we're proving them wrong.

View attachment 360896

We're been unfortunate in many of our games, a weakness appears to be conceding after the 90th minute, resulting in the loss of valuable points - however even with that in mind, I have to be thrilled that out of 15 matches in a new division, we have lost only thrice - only one of which was convincing.

Interesting Developments

Finally there have been several surprises that have come my way so far this season.

The first was an unexpected, brazen attempt by Coventry City to tear me away from Luton, and bring me to the Ricoh Stadium. They offered a considerable increase in player wages, and a 3 year contract - but nothing is going to tear me away from the team that I am trying to craft.

Secondly my board have agreed to invest £1.2m upgrading our (very basic) youth facilities. I'm thrilled that they are looking long term and this is an aspect I am going to push heavily over the next few years.

Finally, on the 12.7.2016 A 17 year old Bogota player will be coming to Kenilworth Road:

View attachment 360909

Nem caught our eye when he layed claim as the runner up of the Golden Boot in the U20's World Cup smashing the back of the net on no less than 7 occasions.

The future is bright!

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