Season Review 2015/16
My third season in charge saw FC United playing in the fourth tier of the English league system following promotion from non-league last season. It again proved a successful season, with the club massively exceeding expectations in both league and cup competition. Our exploits saw me headhunted by Shrewsbury, and a couple of our players being tracked by Premier League and Championship clubs, culminating in a bid for our striker…
npower League Two (stats)
The expectation was to avoid relegation. But then I’ve never been one to do what is expected. We moved into first place after only 15 games, and we never relinquished it, despite periods where we struggled to get wins and racked up many draws. Towards the end of the season we started to throw away a good lead, and we went into the final game needing a draw if York won. It turned out that we didn’t need to as York lost, but we won anyway, making the gap between us look bigger than it was going into the game.
FA Cup (stats)
We reached the third round for a second consecutive season, where we again met Championship opposition. We put in a good shift, but in the end the class difference told, with Matty Fryatt’s brace sealing it for The Seagulls.
Capital One Cup (stats)
Our first experience in this cup, hopefully the first of many. We were comprehensively outplayed by our opposition, though our gigantic centreback Noel Mercer earned the MOM award with an 8.1 average rating.
Johnstone’s Paint Trophy (stats)
I was absolutely delighted with our run in this competition, as we faced League One opposition in four of the six rounds! We should have beat Crewe in normal time, until our GK Rhys Taylor scored an own goal that was completely preventable. We sneaked past Carlisle with a mostly second string squad. A full strength squad failed to beat York without the lottery of penalties, though Wrexham should have been beaten a lot easier than the scoreline suggests. Going into the Rochdale game I held little hope of a result due to injuries and fatigue, but a surprising 2-0 win gave us hope for the second leg. Rochdale took an early lead in the away leg, and I thought that they were going to run up a cricket score. The early momentum didn’t last long and we scored late in each half to reach the final.
We were always going to be up against it against Brentford. They had already knocked out Tottenham in an earlier FA Cup round! We gave it our best, and we came out with a respectable loss, having kept it to 0-1, with our left-back Lee Molyneaux earning the MOM award.
Man-mountain centreback Noel Mercer was a new recruit, joining for £150k from Linfield and had a debut season most players could only dream of! A stunning 8.05 average rating for the season in all competitions, as well as League Two most Man of the Match award winner with 16, and also the league highest average rating with 8.09. How he didn’t win Player of the Year, I’ll never know.
Stuart Evans had another productive season in front of goal, scoring 37 goals in all competitions, with 33 of those in the league. The 18 year old poacher also earned his first senior Wales cap and was the subject of a £500k bid from Stoke(?) which was promptly rejected.
Cledan Devonald is the type of player that does an excellent job but just gets on with it and is almost unnoticed. Often involved in all phases of play, rarely setting a foot wrong.
Besides the aforementioned Mercer, another key signing was also from Linfield, and also for £150k. Raymond Telford is a young Defensive Midfielder with huge potential, which will potentially see him become a ‘good Premier League’ DM. If that is true then his transfer will have been a bargain, and his first season was solid if unspectacular. Lee Molyneaux came in to strengthen the left side of defence and did well. Euron Allen and Stuart Hornby are both young strikers to back up Evans, though neither are great, they were free and on low wages.
Some of our players are good enough to get us promoted, others aren’t. We have been given a provisional budget of £1.19m and wages of £31k, so as long as we can identify targets, promotion has to be the aim.