We Were Making Love By Wednesday

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We Were Making Love By Wednesday

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Yes, yes, the title is taken from that famous Craig David song...And from it, you should have guessed that I've taken over as manager of Sheffield Wednesday. The Owls are a massive club etched in English football history, having once graced the heights of the Premier League! However, nowadays they find themselves down in the third tier, League One, and I think everyone would agree that this club is far too big to be playing down there! Well, everyone except Sheffield United fans I guess.


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With a value of nearly £7 million and a wage budget of nearly £250k per week, this club is operating at more than some Championship clubs, and the 40,000 seater stadium is worthy of Premier League football once again, so that's where I'll be looking to get us back to! And maybe even some European nights at Hillsborough one day!

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The squad offers an abundance of talent, although we are a little short in the wide attacking areas, and this is something I'll need to address with my £1 million transfer budget before the season kicks off.

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I'll be playing a tactic unfamiliar to me, as I don't normally play 3 at the back. However, I've created this and I'm really liking the look of it (granted, that is prior to us even kicking a ball and it may turn out to be shocking). But on paper, it gives us 3 centre backs to keep things tight, plenty of width in attack, pretty much 3 up front when we have the ball and some hard working and creative centre mids in there for good measure!

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Talking of centre mids, Barry Bannan is the best player in the squad by miles and everything....everything will revolve around him!

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The other player worth a mention at this stage is the man I'll be looking to, to score the goals that lead us to promotion! Josh Windass is decent for this level and there's no reason why he shouldn't bang them in down in this division.

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We've also got (possibly) the best goalkeeper in the division, who should single handedly win us points as well.

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So let's get this on the road! I'll be reverting back to my old writing style, rather than the monthly updates as I think this change in story telling might have been one of the reasons I lost interest in the Wisla Krakow save.
 
As far as the supporters and board are concerned, there's no ****ing about this season and anything less than automatic promotion will probably see me lose my job!

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I identified early on that I needed to bring in some more options for the wide attacking positions and I now feel I've addressed this with the addition of two exciting youngsters on season long loan deals from Manchester United and Crystal Palace! Being such a big club down in League One gives us the draw to be able to bring players like this to the club over many of the other teams in the division.

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Our pre season kicked off this year with an expected defeat to Chelsea, before a couple of stupidly big wins against non league teams, and was capped off with an impressive result against Leicester in Jamie Vardy's testimonial.

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The biggest surprise of pre season was Marvin Johnson scoring 4 goals in 5 games from his position at left wing back!

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The bookies make us favourites for the League One title this year and that's what I'm going for - anything less will be failure in mine, the supporters and the board's eyes! Although, 2nd place and automatic promotion would do!

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Our season would kick off against the newly promoted Port Vale and it would be a game we were widely expected to win, despite being away from home.

However, we did suffer a major blow just a day before kick off, as my number 1 striker suffers an injury in training that will keep him out for nearly 3 months!

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Callum Paterson was given the nod to lead the line and he had us in front as early as the 8th minute with a headed effort. Barry Bannan added a second on the hour mark with a beautiful free kick from just outside the box, but it wasn't quite game over as Vale hit back almost immediately. We responded to that goal well though and it wasn't long before our 2 goal lead was restored through loanee, Shola Shoretire, on his debut. That was enough to break Vale's spirit and we finish the opening day with 3 points.

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The Papa John's Trophy is widely looked upon as a bit of a noddy cup, but it can result in a day out at Wembley if you get to the final. We won't be putting all of our efforts into this competition for sure, but we will still be seen as one of the favourites to win it. Even with rotating the squad a bit for these games, we should do alright and have a group I'd expect us to win.

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Our first home fixture in the league would see us take on Lincoln City who had opened their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Bolton.

We left it late but did make it 2 wins from 2, as Liam Palmer bundled over the line with only a few minutes remaining.

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It would have been bitterly disappointing had we not won the game considering we had an incredible amount of shots through the match!

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Only a couple of games have been played and there are four of us that maintain 100% records.

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Our first cup game of the season would be an away day at Port Vale in the Carabao Cup. We would have every right to feel confident after beating them in the league 3-1 already.

It took a second half comeback to get the better of Vale here as we made things difficult for ourselves. They were clinical in that first half though, having two shots at goal and scoring with both of them, but in the end our dominance came through and we progress to the next round.

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We have every chance of progressing in the competition too as we've drawn League Two opposition in the next round.

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Ipswich Town are one of the other 'big' clubs in this division and up there amongst the favourites to go up this year. So there was no doubt that they would provide our stiffest test so far in these early stages of the season.

And they proved to be every bit as tough as expected and we suffer defeat for the first time under my management. We had plenty of shots but were restricted to half chances and long shots by a side that look defensively solid and will pose a real threat to our title challenge this year.

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Bristol Rovers have started their season unbeaten, beating both Shrewsbury and Bolton, whilst getting a draw away at Oxford United. We would be looking to break that unbeaten record.

But we were nowhere near good enough and it's back to back defeats! ****ing awful!

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There was a further blow after that result as well, as we lose one of our best centre backs for up to 7 weeks!


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After 2 league defeats in a row, I was hoping we could take advantage of playing lower league opposition in the Carabao Cup to get back to winning ways!

We were far from our best, but we did get the job done and hopefully we can take some confidence from this back into the league competition.

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But Derby County would present an altogether more difficult proposition.

So it was lucky that we turned in our best performance of the season! We were fantastic from start to finish and always looked in control of this one! Dominic Iorfa was dropped into centre back for the injured Palmer and produced a man of the match performance!

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Bradford City were our first game in the Papa John's Trophy and even with a heavily rotated squad, we made pretty light work of them to get off to a winning start in the comp.

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On transfer deadline day, I was able to add another centre back to the team and at the same time managed to weaken one of my main rivals. George Edmundson joins the club from Ipswich for a fee of £500k up front, plus another £150k in add ons. It utilizes all of our remaining transfer budget, but is a massive bolster to the defensive line.

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Edmundson went straight into the starting lineup and helped us on our way to a big win over early league leaders, Plymouth. Barry Bannan grabbed himself a brace from the penalty spot to cap off a well rounded central midfield performance.

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And we followed that up with a very easy win over a Morecambe side that will struggle to stay in the league if they play this badly every week! Shola Shoretire becomes the first player under my management to score a hat trick!

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It was a win that sent us to the top of the division!

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Portsmouth were up next and they will be looking to improve on a disappointing start that has them 16th in the table at kick off.

But we proved too good for them and their poor start continues. George Edmundson scored his first goal for the club with a header from a corner, whilst Michael Smith also came off the bench to score his first goal of the season since returning from injury - that too was a headed effort from a cross coming in from the left flank.

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Edmundson was again on the scoresheet with a brace against MK Dons as we took advantage of our set pieces in the second half of the game at Stadium MK. We proved that dominating possession doesn't always guarantee you a result here as we only had 37% of it, but still managed to have twice the amount of shots than our opposition.

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Five straight wins in the league has seen us open up a 2 point lead at the top and thus far, we are justifying our favourites tag! Bristol Rovers are the surprise package at the moment as they sit 3rd!

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Our second game in the Papa John's group would be against fellow League One side, Burton Albion, and we knew a win would see us qualify for the knockout stages. I also knew I could afford to play a relatively strong squad as we'd have an 11 day gap between this and our next game.

There was a small amount of rotation required though with some tired legs in the team. One of the lads that came in was Jaden Brown who scored a stunning opener as he fired a powerful shot into the roof of the net. The lead was then doubled just inside the hour mark as Mallik Wilks scored his first goal of the season.

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It's not official, but we are all but through after that result.

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Little bit of bad news on the injury front though as we lose George Edmundson for a month. With an average rating of 7.97, it's fair to say he's been absolutely superb since joining and that price tag of £650k looks a snip on his early form!

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On the plus side though, it was awards time at the end of September and my two young loanees came first and second in the young player of the month, whilst there is a first ever manager of the month for me.

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I feared the manager of the month curse might strike in our next game though as we went away to 16th placed Cheltenham.

And my fears were realised as we suffer a surprise defeat. However, we can't use the excuse that Cheltenham got lucky as they were actually good value for it...Don't get me wrong, we were poor as well!

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I demanded a better performance against Bolton!

And I think it's fair to say I got one from the lads!

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Newly promoted Exeter are down at the bottom end of the table and battling relegation this year. These are the sort of games we have to win.

And we did, without being troubled too much. A late consolation for them was as a result of us stepping off the gas in the final stages though and we'll have to be wary of this moving forward.

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We share a fierce local rivalry with Barnsley, so it's one of those fixtures the fans will look out for. And this one would be even more of a tense occasion with us top and them just 6 points behind us in 5th.

And I'm so p155ed off that we manage to throw away a lead as late as the 85th minute and somehow go on to lose the game! Livid doesn't even begin to explain how I feel after this one and the lads got the hairdryer treatment in the dressing room after!

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Wholesale changes were made for our final group game in the Papa John's Trophy with the result not holding any real significance for us.

It was a thoroughly professional performance from the lads nonetheless.

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And the result actually saw Leicester's young guns knocked out of the competition and it is Bradford who come through to the knockout stages after they beat Burton 4-0!

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Back in the league, we took on Shrewsbury, and found ourselves down to ten men as early as the 10th minute after a ridiculous challenge from Dominic Iorfa which was totally uncalled for, meant he saw a straight red and deservedly so! However, despite Iorfa leaving us right in the ****, the lad still managed to grind out an excellent victory! Proud manager!

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And that was followed up with a nice win at Burton Albion. 4 goals, 4 goalscorers, that's what we like!

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Oxford United sat 7th, but we would look to capitilize on their poor run of form, having lost their last two games to Peterborough and Portsmouth.

To be fair to them, they made us work bl00dy hard for it, but we did eventually walk away with the 3 points. Alex Mighten had easily his best game of the season...the inside forward was sensational in attack and his finishing was on point!

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We've now opened up a nice 5 point buffer at the top of the table as we look to push forward our promotion bid!

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End of October and the league awards are announced. Malcolm Ebiowei played runner up in the young player of the month in September, but has gone one better a month later.

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Whilst Michael Smith picks up the player of the month as well!

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Smith's ten goals this month have actually moved him into 1st place in the race for the golden boot this year! Incredible considering he missed the first few games of the season through injury.

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As a whole team we're scoring goals for fun so far this season, with 15 more than any other side in the division! Who said playing 3 at the back was a negative and defensive formation ;-)

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We would need to be at our best in attack as well for our next game. Peterborough are 3rd in the league and it would be a case of the team with the most shots against the team that has faced the fewest shots!

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As it happened, we had no problems creating chances at all, having 21 shots on the Peterborough goal!

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But somehow, we lost this game! I still can't quite understand how!

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It meant that the 5 point lead we had at the top has been immediately cut to just 2!

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Our schedule is getting busy and our next two games would both be in cup competitions and come within 4 days of each other! Kicking off with an FA Cup 1st round tie against National League side, Scunthorpe United.

An easy win was expected and an easy win was delivered!

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We'd drawn West Ham in the 3rd round of the Carabao Cup and they would present an altogether much more difficult challenge.

And we were battered by them! I'm actually kinda glad we kept the score to 5, after finding ourselves 4-0 down at half time and staring utter embarrassment in the face.

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I was really hoping that we didn't suffer too much of a hangover from that big defeat to The Hammers as we faced off against Accrington Stanley in our next league game.

But no, the lads showed plenty of resolve to return to winning ways against 'more appropriate' opposition. Lee Gregory was handed a start up front in replacement of the tired Michael Smith, and made the most of his opportunity bagging a brace.

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And with Peterborough losing at home to Portsmouth, our 5 point lead at the top was restored.

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Quickly back to the cup competitions and our Papa John's second round tie had drawn us against League Two side, Barrow.

The win came as easily as I'd have expected it to against lower league opposition and we're into the next round comfortably.

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And there was another 5 goals for us as we progress in the FA Cup as well. Cambridge did make things a lot more difficult for themselves with the sending off at the half hour mark, but this was still a very impressive performance from my lads. Michael Smith continues to show his goalscoring prowess with a hat trick!

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December and January are either going to make or break our season with a ridiculous amount of games to be played during just 2 months!

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But before we get into that stupidly busy period, we had an away day at Fleetwood to take care of.

But take care of them we didn't and instead have to settle for a draw.

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19 games into the season and that was actually our very first draw!

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No chance of repeating that draw as we record a very compehensive victory over Cambridge United in our next game. Michael Smith is turning out to be an absolute beast in this division and his first half hat trick had this game over before the break!

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And that would lead us into back to back league games against Forest Green Rovers. Away and at home both within 4 days of one another!

It was a good 180 minutes of football for us!

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And we're through to the quarter final of the Papa John's Trophy northern section after thrashing Morecambe! Lee Gregory was given a start as Michael Smith was rested and boy did he take his opportunity!

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Not to be outdone, Michael Smith returned to the lineup for Bolton in the league and banged in a hat trick of his own!

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Smith's stats this season are now bordering on ridiculous. He has only played 1182 minutes of football (averaging 65 minutes per appearance) all season and scored 23 goals!!

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Unfortunately, he couldn't find the back of the net against Charlton though and it's just a single point for us in this one!

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That was despite having 20 shots in the match!

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Cheltenham Town were our next opponents and they are defying all the odds this season and sit 5th in the table despite a pre season prediction of last place!!

We gave them a bit of a reality check though and it's yet another 2 goals for the goal machine!

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We'd needed Smith to be at his best again as we faced off against rivals Barnsley on New Year's Eve, a team that beat us 2-1 earlier in the season.

But he had a very rare off day. Lee Gregory did come off the bench to score an opener to put us in front, but we let it slip and have to settle for a draw!

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We've dropped to 2nd in the table, although we do have 2 games in hand over Peterborough who are 4 points ahead of us! Right now, it's us two pulling clear of the rest, but there is still plenty of time in the season for anything to happen.

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We only had a 2 day gap between our last game and the one against Exeter City, so most of the squad would need rotating.

Talk about make a statement! The lads that came in made a case for more first team football alright! What a result and Mallik Wilks absolutely had it off!

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The FA Cup 3rd round had pitted us against Salford City, a side we had already knocked out of the Carabao Cup this season in a 2-1 win in the second round.

We left it bl00dy late, but we knocked them out of another cup competition and we're into the 4th round.

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Staying with cup competition, our next game was away at Doncaster Rovers in the quarter final of the Papa John's Trophy.

And my lads showed great determination to come back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to win the game and progress to the semis!

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Our next two league games saw us play sides in the bottom 6 and we scored 9 goals on our way to two easy wins!

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Derby are massively underachieving this season and find themselves in the bottom half of the table, despite being tipped as promotion candidates pre season.

And we piled the pressure on them with a pretty comfortable 2-0 here. We didn't really get out of second gear, but then again, we didn't need to!

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That win made it 13 games unbeaten in the league! I hoped that wouldn't prove to be an unlucky run as we played Plymouth next.

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It didn't and we extend the run to 14 with a draw.

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There's been a takeover at the club by Robert Elstone. That name might not mean much to most, but he has history in the game, having been on the board at Everton until 2017 when he resigned from his role as CEO to take over as the Chief Executive of the Rugby Super League. Bit of useless information as well, but he is the brother in law of Mick McCarthy! The best thing about the whole takeover though is that Elstone has cleared the club's debts, which was much needed as we were about £4 million in the red. This should bring long term stability to the club and help us on our quest to get Wednesday back to the Premier League.

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My first game in charge under the new ownership would be the FA Cup 4th round. You could say we'd been handed a favourable tie at this stage away to Bolton...a match that would give us a good opportunity to conitnue in the competition.

It was a tight and nervey affair with both sides maybe not expecting to get this far, but we just about edged it and got ourselves into the 5th round!

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And it's likely that's where our FA Cup run will end as we have a home fixture against Manchester United coming our way!

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The January transfer deadline day has come round and with it a new signing for the club that I'm really pleased with. George Saville was signed for £1.2 million by Millwall at the start of last season and played 37 league games for them in the Championship. However, this season, he's only featured once and seems to have dropped down the pecking order, so I was able to snap him up for a meer £47.5k!! An absolute bargain for an excellent player at this level and will be capable of playing for us up in the 2nd tier if we get promoted this season.

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Just hours after he signed, Saville was in the starting lineup for the Portsmouth game and he helped us along to a 3-0 win!

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MK Dons would have had pre season hopes of maybe making the playoffs this year, but a disappointing season sees them lumbering in the bottom half of the table.

And we did them no favours, thrashing them 4-0 to make them rethink their position and just maybe how far off the top 6 they really are in this division.

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We haven't lose a league game in exactly 3 months now and because of that, we lead the way with 8 points back to 2nd placed Peterborough and we have a game in hand as well! We're looking pretty nailed on for an automatic promotion place at this stage bar a complete meltdown.

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My players sure are having an impressive season. I have the top goalscorer, the top 2 most creative players with the most assists and the two best players in the league on average ratings.

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Oxford United are one of those sides that always have the potential to mix it up and came into our game on a 4 match winning streak, so would be full of confidence!

But our own confidence is at it's maximum level right now and another win was recorded, capped off with Michael Smith's 30th goal of the season!

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We'd already beaten Burton Albion 4-1 in the league this season and 2-0 in the Papa John's Trophy, so we weren't expecting much trouble from them.

And we didn't get any. A comfortable 2-0 that could have easily been 4 or 5!

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Wycombe were our next victims as we made it 5 straight wins in a row in the league.

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And that result brought up our 100 league goals for the season and extends out lead at the top of the table to a massive 16 points. The league goals record is 111 and with 10 games remaining, I'll be disappointed if we don't break that!

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We'd have a little break away from the league for now though as we faced off against Chelsea's U21s in the semi final of the Papa John's Trophy. Now although Chelsea have one of the best youth development setups in the country, I fully expected us to get past them and into the final.

But it wasn't the best of starts as we found ourselves 1-0 down inside 4 minutes!

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It wasn't until the 34rd minute that we levelled things up from Mallik Wilks headed effort.

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On 39 minutes, we should have been in front when we were awarded a penalty, only for Barry Bannan to miss it. So at the break, we went in level, although the stats showed we had been the much better side. The half time team talk was simply to tell the lads to keep playing the way they were and the result would come.

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And I was proved right. We battered their goal in that second half and finished the game with nearly 30 shots! Only one more goal was scored though, but Michael Smith's close range tap in was enough to see us through.

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So the fans have get a day out at Wembley and it's Lincoln City that stand in our way of lifting the trophy.

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Three days later and we were away at 2nd placed Peterborough in the league. We had plenty of room between us and them and with an FA Cup fixture against Manchester United on the horizon, I took the risk of resting a load of key players, knowing we could afford to lose the game.

And lose we did. It was a tightly contested game, but with so many first choice players rested, we were just about outdone.

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That was our first league defeat in 19 games...a really impressive and possibly title winning run!

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We were at full strength for our next game....the FA Cup 5th round tie at home to Manchester United. After being thrashed by West Ham in the Carabao Cup earlier this season, I was hoping we might put up a bit more of a fight against Premier League opposition here, although I was under no illusions about just how tough a fixture it would be for us.

Especially as United certainly weren't taking anything for granted and fielded a full strength side.

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We performed admirably enough and kept the scores tight for 75 minutes with only a Fernandes penalty seperating the sides. They scored a couple of late goals to improve the scoreline but 3-0 is harsh on us and I'm proud of the performance overall.

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No offence to Accrington Stanley, but we would certainly appreciate easier opposition back in League One.

And they proved to be as well and it's nice to get back to winning ways.

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Although it was short lived as we lost to Lincoln in our next game, in what was a warm up for the Papa John's Trophy final in a few weeks time. Hopefully, we will reverse the result on that day!

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Despite the loss, we are still 10 points clear at the top of the table with just 7 games to go. The title should be pretty much in that bag and with a 16 point gap back to 3rd, automatic promotion is all but assured already!

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Port Vale are bottom of the league, so shouldn't pose much threat in our quest to win the league title as quickly as possible.

But they looked determined, whilst we didn't really show up, and it's a disappointing draw for us!

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And we look determined to crawl as slowly as possible to promotion as we suffer another draw against Bristol Rovers in our next match.

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One of the most exciting times of the year is youth intake! So it's so bitterly disappointing when the intake is this bad!

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After the dispapointment of two draws and a poor youth intake, we had to lift ourselves for the final of the Papa John's Trophy. The league fixtures between us and Lincoln have resulted in the home side winning 2-1, but there will be no home advantage in this one with the game set to take place at Wembley in front of a bumper crowd of 79,000 fans, which is a bl00dy good turn out!

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Here are the starting lineups for the final.

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It was on 23 minutes that Lincoln took the lead, completely against the run of play. As the graph below shows, all the momentum had been with us to that point.

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On the hour mark, we were level though, through that man Michael Smith! Now it would be a case of who could push on and get a winner!

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20 minutes later and it was Shola Shoretire that ran onto a through ball over the top and hit a nicely curled shot into the top corner of the net to put us in the driving seat with just 10 minutes remaining!

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And Shoretire added a his second and our third in injury time to seal the win!

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Our first piece of silverware under my management is in the bag!

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Now to win that League One title and complete a memorable double in my first season in charge.

As far as promotion was concerned, we sealed that in our very next game with an emphatic win over Ipswich!

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With promotion secured, the budgets for next season are announced and there is virtually nothing to spend on new players and the wage budget won't change either!

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Just one more win was required to now seal the title. 5th placed Charlton who are chasing a playoff spot would look to halt us in our tracks on that front though.

They managed to hold us to a draw, which means we'll have to wait a little longer.

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Although the goal we scored in that game ensures we set a new League One record for the most team goals in a single season!

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Fleetwood boss Scott Brown had been having digs at us in the media before our encounter with them, calling my team old and past it!

So there would be no better side to win the title against! **** you Scott Brown!

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Double winners in my first season! I'll take that!

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Our last two games were just a formality, but I'm still pleased we kept our concentration for finished strong!

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And so we end up winning the league by 16 points in the end. League One - completed it mate!

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END OF SEASON 2022/23 REVIEW

Sky Bet League One = Champions (promoted to Championship)

Emirates FA Cup = 5th Round (knocked out by Manchester United)
Carabao Cup = 3rd Round (knocked out by West Ham United)

Papa John's Trophy = Champions

Squad Stats...

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The New Arrivals...

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The Best 11...

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The Awards...

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League Awards...

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Every single one of the top 5 signings of the season are Sheffield Wednesday players!

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Commercials...

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Overall, the finances are in a decent enough position.

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Two players will retire at the end of the season. Goalkeeper David Stockdale, who started out as my number 1, but lost his place to Cameron Dawson as the season went on. The other player will be striker, Lee Gregory, who had a great campaign as number 2 to Michael Smith up front - in fact he very much went through the season doing his thing and being outshone by Smith who was amazing, Gregory probably didn't get the recognition or praise he deserved for scoring 21 goals in all competitions for us this year!

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Meanwhile, Barry Bannan has taken the decision to leave the club on a free transfer as he feels he needs a new challenge as he comes towards the end of his career. I'm gutted to lose him, but he is 33 years old and taking up £17.5k of the wage bill, so it's not the worst thing in the world, although I fully appreciate we will lose a very good player who has been a brilliant servant to the club.

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My first signing of the Summer was the season long loan of Amourricho van Axel Dongen. The 18 year old winger joins us from Ajax as he looks to show his parent club what he can do.

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Another season long loan deal was the confirmed with 18 year old Luke Chambers who comes in from Liverpool. Loans are going to be my best bet for improving the squad this Summer as we have no transfer budget. Chambers has every opportunity to make my left wing back position his own this year.

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The loan signing that could prove to be the most pivotal this season is the addition of Troy Parrott from Spurs. The youngster is widely tipped to have a fairly bright future in the game and he can take a big step forward by having a good season in the Championship for us!

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30th June is always an important day in the calendar as it's when our players with expired contracts leave the club and this year, there was no less than 21 on their bike!

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And the 1st July is just as important as it sees new players join the club as their contracts expire elsewhere. The first for us this year is centre back Joel Latibeaudiere who leave Swansea for Sheffield. He played 22 times in the Championship for Swansea last year and is a good addition to my back line.

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I'm excited about the next player to come in. 21 year old Sidnei Tavares came through at Leicester, but moved to Porto a couple of years ago where he played for their B team. With his contract expiring, I was able to bring him back to England on a free transfer and at a young age, he will only get better, although I expect him to be my main creative player in central mid this year.

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And my final free transfer on the opening day of July is a striker who has bundles of experience scoring goals at Championship level for a whole host of clubs. Benik Afobe comes in after he made the decision to leave Millwall.

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So at this stage, we still need a backup keeper. We have loads of cover for the 3 centre back roles so I'm not worried there and we have players to cover both the wing back position. Central midfield gives me good options and up front, we are good! My main concern right now is to bring in one or two more players to play the winger/inside forward positions, although my strikers can transfer into these roles if need be (although it's not their primary position).

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I soon added a wide front man to the ranks and he could prove to be the signing of the season I reckon. Anthony Knockaert is very much proven at this level and brings with him bundles of experience and lots of flair! A great signing on a free transfer!

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The final piece of the puzzle before the season started was to add a backup keeper. Joe Whitworth fills that void as he comes in on loan from Crystal Palace.

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Pre season went well, winning every game against mixed level opposition. The big victory over Rangers was the highlight for sure!

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The board are simply looking for us to avoid relegation this season and that will be the one and only focus for me.

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And the bookies seem to think we will based on their predictions and odds. But only just about. No surprise to see Southampton and Palace as the hot favourites to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

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We were handed the toughest possible start to life in the Championship. Away at recently relegated and title favourites, Southampton!

And what a ******* statement we made on the opening day! Not only did we beat them, but we were good value for it as well! Benik Afobe put us in front on his debut after being put through one on one by Knockaert. Knockaert then turned goalscorer for the second as he hit a beautiful curled effort from outside the box to secure all 3 points!

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In the first round of the Carabao Cup, we'd drawn League One side, Sutton United. A game I certainly expected us to win.

But we didn't! Not sure if this was a really bad off day, or total complacency, but we are out of the competition at the first hurdle this year.

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Back in the league, we were much better though as we made it 2 wins from 2, beating Coventry pretty comfortably.

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QPR had lost both their opening games of the season, so weren't exactly full of confidence coming into our next fixture.

And we took full advantage as we win again. Will Vaulkes scored the opener here with an absolute banger from 30 yards!!

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Three wins from three games bags me the first manager of the month award of the season!

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I can't quite believe what I'm seeing as we extend our 100% record in the league against Preston. Troy Parrott and Michael Smith both scoring their first goals of the season!

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Burnley had also made an unbeaten start to the season, with 10 points from their opening 4 games, and would present us with easily our toughest challenge in these early stages of the league campaign.

It was a tight game and we pushed them all the way, but they just about get the better of us on the day. A decent performance from us nonetheless.

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The chances of us getting anything out of our next game were slim too, as we faced off against Crystal Palace, who despite their relegation, had managed to hold onto star players like Ebere Eze, Marc Guehi and Michael Olise.

It was a heartbreaking end to the game in the end as we lose it in the 92nd minute! Not only had we held on for so long with 10 men, but there was definitely a hint of offside about the goal which wasn't given as well. Devastating and I hope we can lift ourselves up after this.

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My lads showed plenty of character and resolve as we come out fighting to win against Stoke in our next game! Proud!

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Overall, it's been a fantastic start to the season and we sit in the playoff spots at these early stages!

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And one of the early shining stars in our team has been Anthony Knockaert who has hit the ground running for us, bagging 4 assists already this season!

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After a positive start to my 2nd year in charge, I was rewarded with a new contract.

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Plymouth came up with us last year and have struggled in these early stages of the Championship season, sitting 22nd, so we had every right to expect a win against them.

So it was a bitterly disappointing defeat!

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Followed up with another defeat away at Hull. Although this one can be forgiven as they are top of the league and on a 12 match unbeaten run dating back into last season.

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We needed a performance against Blackburn to stop the rut and ensure we didn't get into a losing pattern.

And we got it. A solid 1-0 when it was very much needed and a strike worthy of winning any game from Will Vaulks.

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Now it was time for the biggest game of my Wednesday career so far, in the eyes of the fan anyway. The Steel City Derby against our fiercest of rivals, Sheffield United.

But neither side walks away with the bragging rights, although it feels like a victory for us after scoring such a late, late equalizer.

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It was a goal that seemed to really fire the boys up for our next game as we hammered Huddersfield to record our biggest win of the season so far. Troy Parrott bagging a brace after scoring that late goal against Sheffield United.

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Nottingham Forest came down last year and will be looking for an immediate return to the Premier League.

And they did their chances the world of good with a win over us. We can have no complaints as were largely outclassed here.

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But again, a good response as we come right back with a win over Bristol City. Benik Afobe came off the bench at half time and a delightful second half performance from him ensured we sealed the points.

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Blackpool have given John Terry his first manager's job, but he hasn't had the best of starts winning just 4 of his opening 16 games in charge.

And he didn't add to that winning number although they did hold us to a draw. When I say hold us, it was actually us that saved the point as Benik Afobe came to the rescue in injury time when he tapped in from close range.

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Afobe is going through a bit of a purple patch at the moment and he was on the scoresheet again as we completed a big victory over Birmingham. We were definitely helped out by the fact their best player went and got himself sent off in the 16th minute, but I'm not sure it would have made much difference anyway as we were devastating going forward here!

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We haven't just been great going forward so far this season, but we've been pretty solid at the back in a lot of games too. A large part of that is the form of George Edmundson who is looking more and more like an absolute steal at the £600k I paid for him last year.

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Sixteen games into the season now and we are still punching well about our weight and remain in the playoff places. Literally the only negative I can find about this year so far is that Sheffield United are just above us in the league!

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Peterborough came up with us last season and although they are not quite reaching the same heights as us this season, they are still overachieving and came into our game in 13th place.

We were too strong for them though and take another 3 points as our incredible season continues.

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Sunderland quickly remind us of the competitive nature of this division though as they come out on top in a ding dong battle between two sides who both had their share of the lead at different times in this match.

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However, that result seemed to spark something in us and we strung together 4 straight wins at the start of December, scoring 14 goals in the process!

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Included in that run was a massive result over 2nd placed Middlesborough, ending their 12 match unbeaten run in the league! Are we promotion contenders now?

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And all of a sudden, Michael Smith can't stop scoring, bagging himself 7 in his last 4!

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Smith was again on the scoresheet in our next game as well, although Reading did bring our winning run to an end and we have to settle for a solo point despite being in the ascendancy for most of the match.

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We were immediately back to winning ways with a thumping of West Brom on Boxing Day though. Smith's brace takes him into double figures for the season!

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That was before we lost for the first time in 6 games as we're beaten by Plymouth, who are turning out to be a bit of a bogey team for us having beaten us in each of our last 3 meetings!

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Just 2 days later we would take on a Hull City side that had already beaten us this season as well. With the squad requiring heavy rotation, I wasn't entirely confident we would kick off 2024 with a win.

We were staring defeat in the face again, but thanks to an injury time equalizer from Benik Afobe who came off the bench to score, we salvage a point!

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But it was bitterly disappointing to lose to our fiercest rivals in our next game, considering they went down to 10 men so early in the game!

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Despite a 3 match winless run, we manage to retain a top 5 position in the league. We are falling away from the leaders now though and the chasing pack are also closing in, so we know just how tough it will be to stay where we are!

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We were away at Derby in the 3rd round of the FA Cup and I took the opportunity to play some fringe players against our lower league opposition. They got the job done in pretty comfortable fashion and we progress to the next round.

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In both our next two league games, we were reduced to ten men, with two very different outcomes. A fantastic display of spirit from the lads earned us a great win over 6th placed Blackburn, before a really poor result against bottom of the table Huddersfield!

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With 11 men kept on the pitch for an entire game, we were at our absolute best against a struggling Preston side! Anthony Knockaert's superbly taken free kick was the pick of the goals.

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The January transfer deadline day was upon us and with no money in the budgets, we'd not made a single signing throughout the window. However, I'm really pleased to add a loan signing to the ranks for the rest of the season and it sees the return of Shola Shoretire to the club from Manchester United who will boost our attacking options. The 19 year old was part of our title winning team last season in League One, contributing with 11 goals and 6 assists, and its great to have him back in a Wednesday shirt!

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Steven Gerrard is now the manager of Bristol City and he's not having the best time of it there to be honest, with them lumbering in 21st place in the division.

And we piled on a little more pressure on Stevie G as we beat his side with relative ease at Hillsborough.

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In the 4th round of the FA Cup, we'd drawn Preston North End. Having already beaten them twice in the league this year, there was no reason to feel we couldn't get a result to see us into round 5.

But the sending off of Akin Famewo in the 3rd minute changed our whole game plan and although we took the lead on the half hour mark, we were eventually beaten as the extra man told for Preston! Disappointing to crash out in this manner!

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Back in the league, a pattern of win/lose occurred over our next 6 games as our form is becoming very indifferent in the second half of the season.

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It was a pattern that was broken when we played Sunderland though who confined us to back to back defeats in the league for the first time since October! Again, it is a stat that proves just how good our season has been though, considering we were tipped as relegation candidates.

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I mean, if you'd have told me we'd be sitting in the playoff spots with just 8 games of the season remaining, I'd have bitten your hand off for it! Palace and Middlesbrough now look like they'll be very hard for anyone to catch at the top, whilst all the playoff clubs start with S. A pretty useless stat but something I found interesting at least.

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Our defence will need to be as solid as possible over the next few matches if we are to hold on to a top 6 spot, but what is encouraging is that two of my defenders are effectively the two best players in the league this year!

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Our run in would begin with a really tough game away at Coventry, who were top of the form table and on a run of 6 games undefeated.

And to be honest, we really struggled and were dominated for most of the game. Coventry will be wondering how they only came away with a 1-0 win.

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That was now 3 straight defeats for us in the league and our playoff hopes were slowly dwindling away at the business end of the season.

With the run we'd been on, nobody expected us to get anything against 3rd placed Southampton in our next game. But we defied the odds to pick up a decent point to show everyone we might still have something left in the tank.

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But we were reminded by Crystal Palace that we are still a little way off the top clubs in this division and maybe a playoff spot is too much to ask for in our first season back in the Championship!

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And it might just be beyond us now as we drop 6 points off the top 6 places, with just 5 games to go.

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It's so disappointing to wait all year for a youth intake to come and then it be absolute dog ****. For it to happen to you two years in a row is tough to take, but that's the situation we find ourselves in.

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Although Oliver Stephens does look to have some promise.

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Despite taking 7 points from our next 3 games, unfortunately our dreams of making the playoffs are over as are too far back to make up the points gap to 6th with just 2 games to go.

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The dejection of having nothing more to play for seemed to effect the lads as we turned in a lacklustre performance against Cardiff in our penultimate game of the season.

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Although we did give the fans a great day out on the final day, with a win, and a game that threw up plenty of action and goals against Reading.

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So it's a 7th placed finish for us in our first season back in the Championship and although it's difficult not to be disappointed missing out on a playoff spot, we can still be incredibly proud of our achievements this year and it will have done our reputation the world of good in the English game.

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We can definitely feel gutted not to make a playoff spot this year though, considering we earned more points this season than all the clubs that finished between 3rd and 6th last season!

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As the season comes to a close, the club is taken over by a new chairman for the second time in 2 seasons!

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And our new chairman is delighted with the fact I am exceeding all of the club's vision points ahead of schedule.

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END OF SEASON 2023/24 REVIEW

Sky Bet Championship = 7th
Emirates FA Cup = Fourth Round (knocked out by Preston North End)
Carabao Cup = First Round (knocked out by Sutton United)

Squad Stats...

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The New Arrivals...

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The Best 11...

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The Awards...

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League Awards...

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The Commercials...

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The budgets for next season don't leave much room for me to improve the squad, so I might need to do a bit of wheeling and dealing in the market this Summer and a couple of players might need to move on to create funds.

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It's disappointing I didn't get more to spend considering the bank balance looks pretty healthy!

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On the plus side, the board did at least agree to upgrade the youth facilities at the club.

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The main thing I did want to do is tie down Championship Player of the Year, George Edmundson to a new contract, and I'm pleased he's agreed a new 3 year deal!

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What a 2nd season and gives you a chance to start building a team to fight for promotion and able to stay up even with the very limited budgets
 
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