We Are All Jacks - A Swansea City Story

FM_TNSSO

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It's happening again! I've been going through a Football Manager lull where I've struggled to get into a save since being sacked from my Tranmere one. The Chaves one just didn't grip me and I couldn't find the motivation to play...weirdly it kind of felt like a chore to play it just to write about it, so I had a couple of days away and have come back with something new that I am hoping can peak my interest again. I'll be honest, I'm sick of starting over and doing multiple saves and genuinely want to find something long term so here's hoping this is it. The club I have decided to take on is Swansea.

I take over as manager at the club's lowest point for some time after a disappointing season in Championship last year saw them finish 15th, after making the playoffs in both of the previous years. It was a massive slip down the table for The Swans and the club needs a bit of a revival to get them back to the heights of the Premier League which they graced for 7 seasons up until 2018, recording 2 top half finishes during that time as well!

Despite the disappointment of last year, the fans and board alike are expecting a much better campaign this time round and both remain optimistic that the club can at least finish in the top half under my guidance this year, but harbouring outside chances of the playoffs are festering under the surface.

The fans will not tolerate boring football and it will be in my hands to bring an exciting and entertaining brand of the beautiful game to South Wales, whilst not ignoring our defensive duties at the same time. The tactic acumen that I pride myself on as a football manager will be more important than ever to satisfy the hunger of the Swansea faithful.

In addition to the obvious on field success that I aim to bring, leading Swansea back to the Premier League and beyond into European competition, I have some other ideas I'd love to work on during my time here. Now although Swansea are officially based in Wales, they are playing in the English football league and I am an English manager, so I will be keen to keep a core base of English players at the club and won't saturate my squad with foreign talent. That's not to say I won't sign foreign players, but there will definitely be a focus on home grown talent for sure. Now talking of home grown talent, I don't think I can manage a Welsh team without giving something to the Welsh footballing community as well, so on top of a core base of English players, I will look to sign Welsh players too and especially when we get into the Premier League I think we will owe it to Wales to have at least 1 or 2 national team players in our squad...at least!

Going one step further, International management could be in my future and at some point in my career, it would be great to manage both England and Wales at some point.
 
Arrival

Time to meet the squad then. There is enough talent for me to be a little bit excited here...not a lot, just a little bit, but we'll take that on day one. We have some high value players for the Championship and if any bids come in for them, it might be hard to turn down but we'll deal with that if and when it happens.

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With the squad available, I decided that the most suitable formation will be a 4-2-3-1 and I have sorted each player into role and preference of player in each position.

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After a long and thorough analysis, these are the areas I need to be targeting in this transfer window to bring players into the club. Target players will be edited as my scouts get to work and come up with suggestions. You'll see I have two boxes for target players, as I could have a 1st and 2nd choice for each role.

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There are a couple of players here that I really feel I need to building the squad around and if I can I really need to keep them here at all costs. The first is midfielder Matt Grimes who is easily the best player at the club! He is going to be the heartbeat of my midfield and will provide one of the key links between defence and attack being effective in both halves of the pitch!

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Whilst up front I might have one of the best strikers in the league in Joel Piroe. He got 22 league goals for the club last season in a year when we struggled, so if we are 'having it' this year, he could clean up and has the potential to be a 30 goal a season striker in the Championship!

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However, he is drawing some interest from massive clubs like Gladbach and Celtic and if any offers come in for him, he will be hard to convince to stay over either of them.

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We'e got some talented teenagers at the club as well, the best of which is 17 year old central midfielder, Ben Lloyd, who looks nailed on to be a future International star for Wales to me.

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With the players I have, this is the final tactic I opted for. I do also have a more defensive variant for when we play tougher opponents or are looking to hold on to a narrow lead. Then I have an ultra attacking variant for when we need to score a goal. The positions and roles do not change in these variants....players mentalities are just changed to more defensive and more attacking and some of the team instructions change to mimic that as well.


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Turning my attention to the staff now and I immediately had a clearout of all those I don't feel are good enough for a Championship side with top half ambitions. So we'll need to get some recruitment done here.

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It cost me about £600k of the club's money to pay off the outgoing staff, but luckily it was only a drop in the ocean for the club's finances which are relatively strong. With £13.5 million in the bank, it was rather disappointing to see I had such a small transfer budget though!

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Must have something to do with the £12 million debt that the club is paying off.

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Transfer News: With budgets so tight, it's likely my signings will be loan ones and the first player to join us on a season long borrow is Levi Lumeka from Troyes. He becomes my first choice left winger...a position that desperately needed filling.

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As far as pre season went, it threw up some mixed results and it's hard to see where we are as the season is about to begin!

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20th August 2022

Sky Bet Championship

Matchday 1

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Our first game of the season presented us with one of the most difficult fixtures! Watford are second favourites after Burnley to win the league this year and in Pedro and Sarr, probably have the most devastating attack in the division. But it was the perfect start for us as we took a 2-1 lead in the first half and then kept the advantage after The Hornets went down to 10 men.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 2

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Joel Piroe's first goal might have been a bit of a gimme from the penalty spot, but his second saw him expertly round the keeper. Stoke did get a late conselation but Piroe's brace was enough for us to make it 2 wins from 2 to start the season.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 3

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Piroe once again got us off to a good start as he latched on to Olivier Ntcham's through ball to calmly pass the ball into the back of the net. Ntcham then scored himself to double our lead before half time and it's 3 wins from 3!

Transfer News: I received a slightly odd bid for Matt Grimes from Brighton. He is one of my best players and when I saw an offer come in, I naturally expected to see a sizeable offer on the table, but instead it's a loan offer, with a future fee tagged on, which is nowhere near enough for me to even consider selling him.

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Carabao Cup
First Round

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I took the opportunity to rotate the lineup pretty heavily against lower league opposition and that meant a first start of the season for Michael Obafemi (yes I recalled him from his loan at Burnley), who took his opportunity scoring a brace.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 4

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Joel Piroe was back in the team after his rest in the cup fixture and bagged a brace, with a man of the match performance.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 5

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We were made to work hard for this, but a determined effort saw us take the points in the end with Piroe again bagging another brace.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 6

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We kept up our 100% record with a comfortable win here, as Sunderland posed very little threat throughout the 90 minutes.

Sky Bet Championship
League Table

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A perfect start to my career as Swansea manager as we top the table in the early stages. Three other teams haven't lost yet, but we are the only ones to have won 6 from 6. At the other end, Millwall are still looking for their first point!

Player Watch
Joel Piroe


What a start to the season Joel Piroe has had, scoring in every single league game so far and he already has 9 goals which sees him lead the early race for the golden boot.


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5th October 2022

Carabao Cup
Second Round

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Our first defeat of the season comes as we are knocked out of the Carabao Cup, but it was to be expected against Premier League opposition.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 7

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The cup defeat may have had a psychological impact on the lads as we followed it up with our first league defeat of the season as well. This was a game of 35 chances between the two sides, so an entertaining one for the fans, but Luton just edged it.

Club News: Well this is an interesting development. Not sure the impact of floating the club on the stock market...is that a good or bad thing?

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 8

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A great second half fight back from 2-0 down to salvage a draw!

Award: On transfer deadline day, Joel Piroe is announced as the August Player of the Month, which is only likely to heighten the interest in our star player!

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Transfer News: I've managed to tick another 'required position' off my little list on deadline day. I needed a left back to challenge Ryan Manning for his spot in the team and I am pleased to bring in Roberto Fernandez on loan for the season from Fulham. He's good enough to play in this division and won't cost us a penny all year.

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That was the only deal of the window I managed to get done, so this is how the squad is now looking until January at least.

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 9

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****** off! They float a hopeful ball into the area with 30 seconds of the game to go and the ref awards the softest of penalties to allow them to steal the points.

Injury: Even worse news to come out of the West Brom game was the fact Jamie Paterson will be out for up to 3 months!

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 10

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Despite dominating the game, we have to settle for a single point against our fierce rivals! We were only a couple of minutes away from losing the game though, so I guess the point is a bonus one.

Looking at these stats, I'm still wondering now how we didn't win this game!

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 11

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It's now 5 games without a win in the league after losing to the league leaders here. Difficult one to take as we were the better side but couldn't score.

Injury: Goals haven't exactly been easy to come by lately and that's not likely to get much better any time soon as we lose star striker, Joel Piroe for up to 4 months!!!


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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 12

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We had 16 shots against Norwich and only 2 of them were on target. Obafemi needs to play better in the absence of Piroe and his 6.2 rating here was nowhere near the standard required.

Sky Bet Championship
League Table

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Despite a poor run of form, we still remain on the cusp of the playoff places for now. Middlebsrough have now moved to the top of the division and Millwall have picked up their first few points which lifts them off the bottom of the table and out of the relegation places.
 
14th December 2022

Sky Bet Championship

Matchday 13

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In the first 43 minutes of this game, we had 9 shots and failed to hit the target once, whilst Preston had 1 single chance and scored it! I was cursing my attackers once again and then 2 goals in a couple of minutes right before the break turned the game on it's head. We added a 3rd late on for our first win in 7.

Injury: The win against Preston came at a cost though as we lose another attacking player to injury. It might only be 3 weeks, but with a busy schedule coming up that means Lumeka could miss as many as 5 games!!

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 14

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Really disappointing to throw a 2 goal lead against a side in the bottom half! A game we definitely should have won!

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 15

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Burnley are the best team we have played this season and play some wonderful football at times. So we can take heart from this result that we only lost narrowly and actually matched them on the pitch in terms of possession and chances.

Club News: The youth facilities are getting an upgrade.

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Club News: The junior coaching is also getting a boost as well.

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 16

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This is really start to **** me off now! Yet again we have more possession and create double the amount of chances than that of our opponents, but yet again we ******* lose!

Analysis: Going forward, we are nothing short of rubbish right now and finding the back of the net is a real struggle. That would be the result of having all three of our front line out with injury. Lumeka, Paterson and Piroe would all be the first choice down the wings and up top!

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 17

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Well this was totally unexpected and came out of nowhere. Not complaining though as finally my attacking players take their chances in a game!

Sky Bet Championship

Matchday 18

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Going 1-0 down in the opening 30 seconds wasn't ideal, but we battered Wigan's goal for the remaining 89 and a half minutes and it only ever looked like a case of how many we could or would score.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 19

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We simply weren't good enough and didn't deserve to win! At least we now have a month's break before we have to play again because of the World Cup.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 20

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We returned from a month off with a hiding from Blackburn. Up until the sending off, we were very much in the game, but after that they simply destroyed us.

Sky Bet Championship

Matchday 21

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I'd have been annoyed if we hadn't got the win here, with Huddersfield being bottom of the table! We weren't at our best but got over the line.

Sky Bet Championship

League Table

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We sit 10th as we approach the half way stage of the season, just 4 points off the playoffs, but we definitely need to improve overall if we are going to make a push for the top 6 this year.
 
14th January 2023

Sky Bet Championship

Matchday 22

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Our form is nothing short of erratic at the moment and that is proven again here as we lose another game I expected us to win.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 23

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I went into this one with very little confidence we could get anything against this side sitting 2nd. But my players showed me I should have had a little more faith with an incredible performance and result.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 24

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Nice little bit of revenge for the thrashing they gave us a few games ago. Probably our best defensive performance for a while!

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 25

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Another solid defensive display was the foundation for another impressive victory. Three wins on the bounce to finish off 2022 and it's 9 points that moves us back into contention for those playoff places.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 26

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This game came just 2 days after our last and I was worried it would come too soon for my fatigued team. However, our third 1-0 win in a row ensures 3 more points on the board.

Transfer News: We are now into January which means the transfer window is open and I had plans for a busy one. I'd sorted all my players into what my plans were for each of them.

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Transfer News: The first player to leave from the list is goalkeeper, Steven Benda. He was looking to run his contract down as I wouldn't hand him a new one, so it made sense to cash in. £4.2 million was the fee from Hertha Berlin and will go a long way to finding his replacement.

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Transfer News: My first signing this window wasn't a replacement goalkeeper though, but instead was a new striker as Sam Surridge joins us on loan for the rest of the season from Nottingham Forest. The Benda deal did allow me to add about £40k into the wage budget that was previously maxed out, which is what allowed me to bring Surridge here as we will have to cover his £15k per week wages.

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Transfer News: Then there was another departure as Oliver Cooper moves to Ajax for £2.9 million. He hasn't been good enough for me and has proved to be a disruption in the dressing room as I refused to give him a ridiculous pay rise from £800 per week to the £16k a week he was asking for. Ironically, after his stupid wage demands to me, he will earn just £750 per week in Holland!

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FA Cup
Third Round

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We'll need a replay if we are going to get past Sunderland into the 4th round. Sam Surridge made his debut but looked out of sorts, which I'm hoping is going to be down to rustiness of a lack of competitive football this season.

Transfer News: We will need Surridge to step up now as well, as I have made the decision to sell Joel Piroe. His contract expired at the end of the season and he had recently approached me to say that he was considering his options so there was a chance we could lose him on a free. I couldn't allow that to happen with our prized asset so he joins Marseille for a fee of £8.25 million. We have to pay PSV £1.3 million of that, so £6.75 million goes into my transfer kitty.

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Transfer News: Another attacker quickly joined the club though as I sign Sheffield United's Sammy Ameobi for a minimal fee of just £140k. Ameobi has been knocking around the Championship for years now for the likes of Newcastle, Bolton and Nottingham Forest and is a proven player at this level.

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Transfer News: I've brought in a lot of money this window and I continued to invest it as Nottingham Forest's Steve Cook joins the club to bolster my back 4, for a fee of £800k. Cook has plenty of Premier League experience for Bournemouth, being a first team regular for them in the top tier for 5 seasons, so his experience will be massive for us.

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Sky Bet Championship

Matchday 27

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What a massive result this was over the league leaders. They massively helped out with an early sending off but we'll take it! Sam Surridge is off the mark for the club!

Sky Bet Championship
League Table

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Despite winning 5 games in a row, we're still not in the playoff spots, but we are very much hot on the heels of the top 6 now and hopefully we can continue our run of good form and keep the pressure on.
 
19th February 2023

Transfer News:
Welcome to my new first choice goalkeeper, Robin Zentner. I've replaced one German keeper with another as Zentner comes in from Mainz for £925k. Looks like a solid choice to go between the sticks for us for what has to be seen as a bargain fee.

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FA Cup
Third Round Replay

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We weren't good enough and we're out of this year's main domestic cup at the first hurdle.

Transfer News: I wanted a new right back in this window and it's Hull City's Lewie Coyle that I have turned to as I sign him for £425k. He is a step up from the ageing Kyle Naughton who I will now look to offload.

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Transfer News: The defence continues to get stronger with the addition of Semi Ajayi at centre back. The 6ft 4" Nigerian comes in from West Brom for an initial fee of £3.9 million that could rise to £4.4 million with add ons. Big steps are being taken in this transfer window to make our squad so much stronger for the second half of the season.

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 28

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A big win over our rivals and all the credit has to go to our new goalkeeper who got man of the match for his 9 saves in this game!

Transfer News: Young winger, Badredine Bouanani, has joined the club on loan for the rest of the season from Nice to boost the numbers in attack. Not expecting fireworks from the young lad, but he isn't costing us anything apart from his small wage every week and may be a useful backup.

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Transfer News: Next up was another big sale...actually the biggest of our window! Michael Obafemi came to me demanding a new contract wanting in excess of £40k per week and when I refused, he proper threw his dummy out of the pram and threatened me he would leave the club. Well, I'm the manager and none of my players will ever be bigger than the club so he was immediately transfer listed. He's now off to South Korea to join Jeonbuk who chalked up £11 million for his signature, which may rise to over £13 million with add ons.

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 29

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Liam Cullen's goal with about 10 seconds of the game to go salvaged a point for us after a disappointing performance.

Transfer News: Transfer deadline day saw the arrival Fernando Andrade from Porto. The 30 year old winger looks absolute quality for us and we picked up for just £21k with his contract running out at the end of the season! As long as he makes the transition to English football OK, he could prove a very shrewd bit of business!

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Transfer News: The big announcement for us on deadline day was the signing of Chuba Akpom from Middlesbrough, signed as the key replacement for our two strikers that were sold this month. I managed to prize him away from Boro for a fee of just £5 million (rising to £6 million with add ons) and I'm buzzing to have him here, especially as it weakens the league leaders by losing him.

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Transfer News: The big departure was Kyle Naughton who leaves the club for Plymouth.

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Award: January has been a good month in the transfer window but it's also been a good month on the pitch and I get a Manager of the Month award for our good form.

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Injury: Disaster!!! New number 1 keeper, Robin Zentner is out for 3 months with injury!! Just 1 day after the transfer window closed so I can't replace him!

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 30

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Losing my number 1 keeper is really going to hurt us if this game is anything to go by. There is an argument to say that Andrew Fisher (stand in keeper) was at fault for both the goals here.

Sky Bet Championship

Matchday 31

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Another below par performance from the goalkeeper cost us here. His match rating for this one was 5.7!! Luckily, we were decent enough going forward to earn a point but we really should be beating a side that are sitting 22nd in the table.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 32

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We're shipping goals for fun now and another 3 conceded against Sunderland means another defeat on the board.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 33

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Wow, a clean sheet!! I wasn't expecting that as we finally get our defensive act together and record a narrow victory over promotion chasing Luton.

Sky Bet Championship
League Table

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We are just outside the playoff spots again, with just 13 games of the season left. There is still plenty of time for things to change in either direction and a good run of results could well see us break the top 6, but just as easily a run of bad results could see us drop out of contention for the top 6.
 
Good to see you are enjoying your new save so far. Been strugling to keep the motivation up myself.

Hope you are able to get to the promotion places!
 
Good to see you are enjoying your new save so far. Been strugling to keep the motivation up myself.

Hope you are able to get to the promotion places!

Cheers mate. I am really enjoying this one to be fair. Feel like this season has sent me on a rollercoaster of emotions though with some very mixed results and changed up the tactics and approach to games more often than I ever have. It's really made me think all season, but it seems to have sparked my enthusiasm once again and I can't put it down.
 
1st April 2023

Sky Bet Championship

Matchday 34

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Mixed emotions about this one as we fight back from 3-1 down, which is great! But then to take the lead in the 87th minute and then not win the game is a real kick in the teeth.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 35

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What a result!! I changed my formation to a more defensive 5-2-3 (of sorts) and with a cautious and counter attacking approach and it worked an absolute treat! Oh I do love it when a new tactic comes together perfectly.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 36

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We used the same formation again as we did against Burnley, but this time it wasn't anywhere near as effective.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 37

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Some tweaks were made to the 5-2-3 to make it a bit more attacking down the wings for this game and it paid off nicely against the relegation strugglers.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 38

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We weren't at our best against another side battling relegation, but we got the job done just about, with Akpom's low powerful effort getting us over the line.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 39

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Nothing short of awful! We had 2 shots in this whole game with an xG of 0.08!! Lucky to get away with just a 1-0 defeat!

Club News: With all the money we made in the January transfer window, I asked the board to invest a bit back into the facilities at the club.

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Club News: The youth recruitment gets a boost as well.

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Youth Intake: Talking of youth recruitment, this season's intake looks pretty decent on the face of it with some good prospects.

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Youth Intake: Ian Fisher looks like the most promising of the lot and could develop into a very handy attacking midfielder for both us and the national side in the future.

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Player News: Well I didn't expect to see one of our players popping up on the list of top 50 wonderkids, but 17 year old Ben Lloys is right there in 44th place.

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The youngster is on loan at Mansfield this season and is one I need to be keeping my eye on for sure!

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 40

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Massive, massive result! We reverted back to a 4-2-3-1 for this one after I took some criticism from the fans in the Stoke game for my negative tactics and I'm pleased to say a more attacking approach got us the win and should have got the fans back on side.

Sky Bet Championship
League Table

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Just 6 games of the season remain and that win over Watford has kept us very much in contention for the playoff places. It's going to go right down to the wire by the looks of it. Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, Huddersfield look like they're gone.
 
12th June 2023

Sky Bet Championship

Matchday 41

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This result was massive for us and puts paid to any real hopes 9th placed QPR had of making the playoffs.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 42

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What an absolute ******* joke! Just look at those stats...how the **** did we lose this game!!

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 43

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We only narrowly beat the bottom side despite having 23 shots at their goal. We must do better when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net.

League Update: With three games left, we have just about snuck into the top 6. It's in our hands now and winning all 3 of our final matches will guarantee a playoff spot.

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 44

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Chuba Akpom's 18th and 19th goals of the season gave us the win over Rotherham here and bring us to within 2 games of the playoff spots.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 45

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A terrible result against another side battling relegation and it may just have ruined our chances at the playoffs in the penultimate game of the season!

League Update: Luckily for us, Hull also lost, so it's still in our hands with one game left. However, that game is against 2nd placed Sheffield United who are looking to secure automatic promotion! It's all to play for on the final day! Hull's final game was against Birmingham who are hovering just about the relegation spots and might just need a win to stay up!

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 46

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Despite Liam Walsh getting sent off early into the second half, we managed to get the job done and we make the playoffs with a superb result on the final day!

Sky Bet Championship
League Table

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Hull were actually beaten by Birmingham, so even if we hadn't won we would have still finished 6th. However, because Burnley lose to Watford, we actually leapfrog them to 5th place, whilst Sheffield United concede 2nd and automatic promotion to Luton.

Sky Bet Championship
Playoff Semi Final First Leg

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We take a very slight edge into the second leg but it's all to play for still. Slightly disappointed to throw a 3-0 lead though and feel like we could have been going into the second game with a bigger lead.

Sky Bet Championship
Playoff Semi Final Second Leg

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Absolutely gutted! In the final minute of the game, Ben Brereton Diaz scores his 32nd goal of the season to see Blackburn into the final and it's another season of Championship football for us.

What hurt even more than the 90th minute winner for Blackburn was the fact that I thought Sam Surridge had sent us to extra time in the 95th minute only for his goal to be ruled out for the narrowest of offsides. Football can be a cruel, cruel game at times!

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Blackburn met Burnley in the playoff final at Wembley and will remain in the Championship with us next season after being well beaten.

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Budgets: This year I earned a lot of money in transfer fees, but I did use a lot of that to transfer into the wage budget to allow me to bring in a better calibre of player. Because of that, the board have only given me a small transfer budget for next season, but they maintain the wage budget which is a good thing as it means I won't have to sell any of the players I brought in this year. I feel we are in a strong position to make a challenge for automatic promotion with this squad next year.

8.14 budgets.JPG
 
END OF SEASON 2022/23 REVIEW

An emotional season finishes with slight disappointment in the end, but we were not expected to make the playoffs so we overachieved and I feel the squad has been through a lot of changes but for the better and we should be stronger next year.

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Nothing to shout about in either of the cups though.

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Overall Squad Stats

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New Arrivals

9. new arrivals.JPG


Best 11

9. best 11.JPG


Club Awards

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Commercial Summary

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The club is in a stable enough financial position as we end the season.

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28th July 2023

So going into the Summer, this is my current squad and my potential plans for each player. There are some obvious gaps that need filling either with permanent or loan signings and obviously this list is a guide and subject to change depending on what bids come in, but gives an idea of where my head is at.

1.1 squad.JPG


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Transfer News: The first player to leave this Summer is Jay Fulton as he moves to Reading for £2.5 million. He was a backup mostly last season and I think we can replace him with better.

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Transfer News: Next out the door was Liam Cullen as he was another player I deemed not good enough for us. Birmingham take him off our hands for £375k.

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Club News: One thing that might help with loan signings this season is a new link that has been established with Arsenal.

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Transfer News: Two players signed for us on 1st July as their contracts with their respective clubs came to an end. The first is Dominic Gape who leave Wycombe and will offer us depth in central midfield although unlikely to be a regular first team starter.

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Transfer News: The second is a bit of a coup for us as we pick up Lewis Gibson from Everton. He was offered contracts by plenty of other Championship clubs as well as Celtic and Aberdeen up in Scotland, but we won the race for the centre back's signature.

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Transfer News:
There was a gutting departure though. I've been trying to get Ryan Manning to sign a new deal all year and no matter how much money I was prepared to throw at him, he simply wasn't interested and had his heart set on leaving the club. He joins Sunderland on a free.

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Transfer News: With Manning leaving the club, it left a big hole at left back that needed filling. I wasted no time in filling it as Massadio Haidara signs for the club from Lens for £675k. His work rate is second to none and overall he looks like a great player.

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Transfer News: The man that has been brought in to challenge Chuba Akpom for his spot up front, is experienced German striker, Sven Michel. He has a goalscoring ratio of 1 in 3 games throughout his career and joins us from Union Berlin for a fee of £235k.

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Transfer News: Taking advantage of our new link with Arsenal, I moved to bring in Brooke Norton-Cuffy on loan for the season. He won't cost us anything and is definitely good enough to make a name for himself here this year and show what he can do.

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Transfer News: Possibly my most exciting signing of the Summer is Fulham's Bobby Decordova-Reid who joins us for £975k. The 30 year old Jamaican midfielder could be a bit of a star with us this year I reckon...I hope at least!

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Transfer News: Argentinian central midfielder, Rodrigo Villagra, looks like an excellent player and I think he is a massive signing for us this Summer. He's only here on loan for the year from new parent club, Arsenal, but he is the sort of player that could take us to the next level!

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Transfer News: The big departure of the Summer is Harry Darling. I didn't want to sell the centre back but the £8.5 million offer we received from Gent was too good to turn down and can be invested back into a couple of positions at the club.

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Transfer News: Another loan signing in next, this time to bolster the attack. Elliot Anderson looks like a decent prospect for Newcastle and after helping Sheffield United to a 3rd place finish in the Championship last year, this time he will look to play a key part in our success.

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Transfer News: Let's finish this update on a Welsh signing. I said I wanted to remain focused on keeping some form of Welsh contingent in the squad throughout my time at the club and will look to make one Welsh signing a season at least. This year's is Tom Lawrence which might initially **** off the Swansea faithful as he used to play for Cardiff, but that was 7 years ago and he only donned the shirt 14 times, so I'm sure they'll see the bigger picture and what Lawrence can bring to us this season! He cost us £725k to bring him here from Rangers.

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2nd September 2023

I think our squad is a much stronger one than when we started last season, but the bookies don't agree and still feel like we are only likely to finish just inside the top half. Hopefully we can prove them wrong again.

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Transfer News: Just before the season kicked off, there was a couple of departures from the club. The first was Liam Walsh as he moves to Bradford on loan for the season. I tried to sell him but nobody would buy him, so at least Bradford are picking up 90% of his wages for the season. Ben Cabango is also off, but this is a permanent deal as he joins Lens in France for £1.7 million.

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 1

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Unbelievable domination on the opening day of the season, but it took us right up to the 95th minute to finally find the winning goal. We had 61% possession here and 26 shots to Hull's 3!!

Carabao Cup
First Round

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No less than 9 changes were made to the starting lineup and we definitely suffered for it. An embarrassing defeat in the first round of the cup against lower league opposition.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 2

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Back in the league and back at full strength, we had no excuses for not beating a newly promoted side. We were again incredibly dominant though with 68% possession!

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 3

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Still undefeated in the league, but another disappointing result in a game we should have won!

Club News: The junior coaching has had another boost following my request to the board. We're now at an excellent level of academy coaching.

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Transfer News: We have created so many chances in our opening games of the season but putting them away has proved a struggle. Maybe the loan signing of Rb Salzburg's Karim Konate can change that!

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Transfer News: And one final boost to the squad is the arrival of Jamaal Lascelles on a permanent deal from Newcastle. I paid £2.8 million to bring him to the club and am hoping he can make a big difference to our fortunes this year.

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Transfer News: Meanwhile, Morgan Whittaker joins Luton on loan for the season. We have a lot of options going forward and they were willing to take on 60% of his wages and pay us £120k per month for the loan so it seemed like a good deal.

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With the transfer window now shut, the squad looks like this until at least January.

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 4

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Konate went straight into the lineup and his 31st minute debut goal gave us the lead against our local rivals. From then on, we were easily the better team and record a deserved victory.

Sky Bet Championship
League Table

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Four games in and although it's been an unbeaten start to the season, it still feels slightly underhelming as I genuinely think we should be sitting here with maximum points. However, I do have to take into account that we have had a lot of new players come in this Summer and hopefully we will just get better and better.
 
1st November 2023

Injury News: How's my ****** luck!! Semi Ajayi, my main centre back and newly appointed captain, is out for virtually the whole season with injury! What a massive blow!

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 5

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What a ******* result! Despite getting 2 men sent off in the first half (one as early as 7 minutes), we managed to still get the win over Sheffield United. After costing them promotion on the last day of the season last year as well, they must really ******* hate us.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 6

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Another good win and one we had to work really hard for.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 7

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Would have been nice to get some revenge after them knocking us out of the playoffs last season, but in the end we have to be happy with the point as they dominated us for the entire game and we were holding on for dear life with 10 men at the end.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 8

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Good turnaround after going 1-0 down just before the hour mark. Millwall always give us a tough game, but we have a good record against them.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 9

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Birmingham haven't had the best of starts and really we should have won this by a much bigger margin. But a win's a win and it keeps our unbeaten start going.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 10

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Our most impressive performance of the season so far. At 4-0 up, the concentration dipped a little bit and they got a couple back, but it was never in doubt against a side sitting 3rd at kick off.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 11

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We were the better team here but not that much better that we can feel agrieved not to have won. A decent enough point though against a decent side.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 12

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A penalty just 15 seconds before the full time whistle is blown give QPR a point! A disappointing result for us in a game I fully expected us to win!

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 13

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Right up until their sending off, I was wondering how the **** we were 2-1 up as we'd been absolutely terrible to that point. After the sending off, Ipswich posed no threat and we probably should have added another goal to make the scoreline a little better.

Sky Bet Championship
League Table

3.11 league.JPG


We are 13 games into the season and unbeaten, but Norwich are on another level this year and are still 5 points ahead of us with a game in hand! However, if you'd have offered me this position with no defeats after this many games I'd have absolutely taken it!

Player News: Chuba Akpom has been in superb form this season and his recent performances have earned him the Player of the Month award for October and his goals have led him to the top of the Championship goalscoring charts.

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3.12 akpom goals.JPG
 
14th December 2023

Sky Bet Championship

Matchday 14

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A narrow but solid victory!

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 15

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A really nice win over our fierce rivals and well deserved as well...we battered them!

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 16

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We played Sunderland 4 times last year (twice in the league and twice in the FA cup with a replay required), but we only beat them once, so our record wasn't good against the side from the North East! With that considered, this was a very big win for us and a potential banana skin avoided!

Norwich finally lost their first game of the season away at Wolves, which leave sus as the last remaining unbeaten side in the Championship. Guess who our next game is against...

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 17

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Wolves might have put an end to Norwich's unbeaten start in their last game, but they couldn't do the same to us. We played some lovely stuff at times as well, created the better chances and in a tight game, if anyone deserved to win it would have been us. I'll take the point though as it's a very good one.

Club News: More investment from the board as the training facilities are getting another upgrade. All of this will go a long way in attracting better players to the club in the future.

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 18

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Bobby Decordova-Reid had to come off the bench and play at right back for the second half after Lewie Coyle came off injured just after the break. It's not his most ideal position, but it was his cross that provided the opportunity for Sammy Ameobi to rise high and hammer home a powerful header which put us in front. Lewis Gibson added a late second with another header to seal the points.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 19

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Easy as you like this one! We had an incredible 74% possession and Cambridge didn't have a single shot at our goal in the whole game.

Match Preview: Norwich were up next for us and it was 2nd vs 1st in the table. It's going to be really difficult just scoring in this game...Norwich have only conceded 7 goals in 18 games and kept 14 clean sheets!!

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 20

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Despite having 67% of the possession, we failed to score, just like so many other sides this season. Their defence isn't amazing, but their keeper was immense and made save after save after save.

Jack Butland has 16 clean sheets in 20 league games now....that's just crazy!

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 21

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We reacted to our first defeat of the season by immediately getting back to winning ways! Big result under the circumstances.

Sky Bet Championship
League Table

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As we close in on the half way stage of the season, we sit at the head of the table. Only two teams have scored more than us, only one team has conceded less...things are going pretty well at this stage.
 
20th January 2024

Sky Bet Championship

Matchday 22

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This was a great point away at one of the best clubs in the division. Great character shown to come from behind twice as well and it was great to see Decordova-Reid getting on the scoresheet against his former club.

Injury News: With Semi Ajayi already out, the last thing I needed was to lose Jamaal Lascelles for the busy Christmas period :-(

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 23

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Brighton have by far and away the best squad in this division (even if their league position doesn't reflect it at the moment), so there is no shame in this defeat and it was a decent effort.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 24

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Our Boxing Day fixture saw us face off against top of the league Norwich for the second time in the space of 3 weeks. And again we were unable to penetrate their immovable defence and suffer another defeat.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 25

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Our final game of 2023 ends in a comfortable win over a relegation threatened Birmingham side.

The January transfer window is now open and here are the plans for my squad going into it. I'll be looking to keep most of the team here, with the exception of a couple of players who are edging for a move. I have £2 million available to me to spend as well to bring in any suitable improvements.

5.6 transfer plans.JPG


Loan Recall: I'm totally not happy with parent club Arsenal as they have recalled Rodrigo Villagra from his loan with us. He had made 22 appearances for us this season and was an important part of my team, but Arsenal are ****** that we apparently are not playing him as a Ball Winning Midfielder, even though you can see from his form that he was absolutely thriving as a deep lying playmaker!

5.7 villagra.JPG


5.7 villagra form.JPG


Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 26

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Really poor. We should have won...they only had 4 shots and we dominated possession with 67%!

Transfer News: My first signing of the January window is a new striker and a bargain at that. Dion Drena Beljo only cost me £2.4 million (paying £1.2 million up front) and at just 21 years old, he could lead our line for years if he reaches his full potential!

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Transfer News: Then came in the replacement for Villagra and I have to say I'm really pleased with this one. Billy Gilmour joins us from Brighton on loan for the rest of the season and absolutely fills the void left behind in defensive midfield.

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 27

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I didn't **** about and got both my new signings straight into the starting lineup and it was Beljo's debut goal that got us a massive win over 2nd placed Watford!

Transfer News: Olivier Ntcham had decided he was leaving the club at the end of the season on the bosman ruling and plenty of clubs came in and offered him contracts to sign at the end of the season on a free. One of them was Qarabag and he agreed a deal with them. Determined to get something for him, I let them take him now for £1.3 million.

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Transfer News: A player I did want to offload this Summer and get his £11k per week wages off the bill was Fernando Andrade who has really failed to make an impact since I signed him last year. He joins Internacional for £825k.

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FA Cup
Third Round

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We knock out our old foes Sheffield United. Just another reason for them to hate us!

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 28

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We should have had this wrapped up and done well before West Brom got their injury time equalizer. Definitely a case of 2 points dropped!

Sky Bet Championship
League Table

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Norwich are back on top and have opened up a 6 point lead over us now, but in turn we have a 4 point buffer back to Watford. However, the big sides are queueing up behind us and it's going to be a very competitive final few months of the season.
 
26th February 2024

Transfer News: We have an exciting new attacking signing in the form of 20 year old Turkish attacking midfielder, Omer Beyaz. He brings plenty of creativity and flair to the side and should be an exciting addition for the fans to enjoy watching on the pitch. We paid Stuttgart £1.8 million to bring him here.

6.1 beyaz.JPG


Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 29

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We had to work hard for this, but we did and we got the job done with a professional and determined performance. Dion Beljo came off the bench to score again making it 3 goals in 3 appearances for him since his arrival.

Transfer News: It's deadline day and I didn't have much in the way of plans to add new signings, but I did want to try offloading a couple still. Sven Michel joined us in the Summer as a backup striker and has played 10 times this season but without scoring a single goal. He joins Portsmouth on loan for the rest of the campaign and they will pick up 50% of his £11k per week wages.

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Transfer News: Even though I had no plans to add anyone in particular, I simply can't resist a deadline day signing and this window sees 18 year old Eliesse Ben Seghir come in from Liverpool on loan for the rest of the season. They signed the youngster from Monaco for £7 million in the Summer and he now has a chance to come here and show his new parent club what he can do.

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 30

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We were pretty poor going forward here, but a strong defensive display earned us the victory.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 31

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Not good enough and our local rivals get some revenge over us after we beat them at their place earlier in the season.

FA Cup
Fourth Round

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This was always going to be difficult against a West Ham side that sit 4th in the Premier League, but what disappointed me was the sheer lack of fight from us...we were absolutely terrible and never in this game at any point!

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 32

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Sheffield United finally get one over on us, thanks to help from the referee handing them a soft penalty late on! ******!

Sky Bet Championship

Matchday 33

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Fantastic comeback win against last season's playoff finalists, who are once again making a strong bid for the playoff spots again this year.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 34

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Matt Grimes put us bang in trouble getting sent off so early with us already 1-0 down as well. Despite that, the lads turned in a brave effort and we very nearly got something from the game, but another late goal conceded costs us precious points.

Sky Bet Championship
League Table

6.10 league.JPG


With 12 games remaining, we've dropped out of the automatic promotion spots after a recent run of bad form that has seen us lose 3 of our last 4 games in the league.
 
31st March 2024

Sky Bet Championship

Matchday 35

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More points thrown away! When we are 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go, I do not expect us to be dropping points! ****** off and I made sure my players knew it at full time!

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 36

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Much better performance and a good solid win which was much needed.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 37

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We were never in this one and deserved to lose, even though it hurts to concede another late goal in a game.

Our next three games were going to see us take on Reading, Sheffield Wednesday and Hull. Three sides that are hovering just above the relegation places and nothing less than 9 points will be deemed acceptable for us to keep up our push for promotion.

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 38


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Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish! Drop points straight away on our run of three must win games.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 39

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Much better!

Youth Intake: My Head of Youth Development thinks this is a good intake, but after looking over all the young talents coming through, I have to admit I'm a little disappointed and none of these players excite me as future first team prospects.

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Injury News: Semi Ajayi only played the first 4 games of the season before picking up an injury that has kept him out ever since. He is finally back, but I will now have to gradually introduce my captain back to first team football.

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Player News: Our young, upcoming star, Ben Lloyd is once again named in the Top 50 best wonderkids in the world, rising from 44th last season to 41st this year. He is currently out on loan at Lugo, getting some regular first team action in the Spanish LaLiga 2.

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Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 40

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Chuba Akpom had an absolute field day in the first half here and single handedly ensured the game was over before half time.

Sky Bet Championship
League Table

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Norwich look like they have won the league quite comfortable at this stage and just a couple more wins for them will confirm that. It's us and Brighton that are hunting down the 2nd automatic promotion spot in these closing stages.

And just look who our last game of the season is against!! We have a tough run in to be fair, also having to play Fulham and Stoke who sit 4th and 5th respectively.

7.10 run in.JPG
 
13th May 2024

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 41

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A fantastic point earned as we come back from a goal down on three seperate occasions against one of the sides breathing down our neck in the league.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 42

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Wigan are fighting for their lives down in the relegation places, but I still expected us to win this game, but the lads lacked the desire to get it done. Poor, poor performance and result to match.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 43

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We certainly weren't anywhere near our best, but Preston were absolutely terrible which worked in our favour. Chuba Akpom rounding the keeper and tapping home into an open net on 49 minutes was enough for the win.

Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 44

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The magnitutude of this victory cannot be understated. I feared the worst when we went down so early in the game, but Dion Beljo's brace saw us pick up possibly the biggest 3 points of our entire season.

League Update: Brighton lost to Stoke in the same weekend as we beat Fulham and that was enough for us to leapfrog them into 2nd with just 2 games to go!

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The penultimate round of fixtures would see the only two teams that could take automatic promotion away from us face off against one another, whilst we would play bottom of the table Cambridge United in the evening kick off. If Brighton and Watford draw, then it would leave us needing a win to secure promotion to the Premier League.

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But it was Brighton that won that game, meaning that they temporarily jump above us back into 2nd place.

8.7 brighton watford.JPG


Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 45

8.8 cambridge.JPG


We did our jobs in professional manner with a solid performance and comfortable win.

So it's us vs Brighton in the final game of the season for a place in the Premier League...it doesn't come any bigger than this!

8.9 swans vs brighton.JPG


8.9 league.JPG


Sky Bet Championship
Matchday 46

8.10 brighton.JPG


A very, very good performance gets us the point we needed! Matt Grimes first and only goal of the whole season was an excellent direct free kick that hammered into top bins!

Sky Bet Championship
League Table

8.11 league.JPG


Promotion is secured on the final day in what was an extremely competitive Championship season. Norwich ran away with it a bit, but there are a whole host of quality ex Premier League sides that were stacked up behind us and we can feel incredibly proud to have beaten them all into 2nd place.

With promotion to the Premier League in the bag, the board announce that we will get nearly £40 million to spend this Summer and the wage budget gets a boost of about £40k as well. It's not a lot though when you consider there are 4 Championship sides this season that worked with wage budgets over £1 million!

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In fact, I immediately rebalanced the budgets slightly to increase the wage budget to nearly £650k, at the expense of some of the transfer budget though.

8.13 budget adjust.JPG
 
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