Season Review 2017/18
So here we are. The Championship. Possibly the biggest and most competitive second division in the world. And I want to get out of it as soon as possible! My stock as manager has risen significantly of late, due to the success we’ve enjoyed to this point. I’ve been approached by no less than eight teams this season, of which four were in the Premier League, and the most notable of those was Southampton during pre-season – who had a £28m budget as well as offering Europa League football! But I declined them all. I have a mission here to complete, and I’ll do my best to see it through.
npower Championship (stats)
With the way we started this season, we had no business hoping for promotion. But after ten games or so, we started to find some form, and even went on a six game win streak, which put us in a much more favourable position. We had our ups and downs, but we found ourselves in the playoffs as teams around us failed to pick up points while we did. The playoffs were a tense affair. We were drawn against Cardiff, and we only managed a 0-0 draw at home in the first leg, which put considerable pressure on us in the second leg. The tie finished 1-1 after 90 minutes, but in extra time our super-sub Stuart Evans scored a brace to take us through to face Blackpool in the final. The final proved to be one of the longest matches of my life, or so it seemed. We were inseparable for 120 minutes, with no goals scored. Penalties were to decide our fate. Four goals to three later, we were going up!
FA Cup (stats)
When we drew Liverpool, my mind was fresh with the giantkilling of the previous season. Though little did I expect us to do it again! A strong Liverpool side, they had chances but failed to put them away, and we took advantage on the counter whilst also taking the few chances we had. Crystal Palace were the better side on the night too, but again our defence stepped up to deny them any good opportunities. The 5th round is the furthest we’ve ever reached, and it is where our adventure ended. I had to rest players because our play-off charge was more important, but to only lose 1-0 to a Premier League side with a weak side – I’m happy with that.
Capital One Cup (stats)
I blame the Doncaster game for starting a poor run of form in the league, as the tiredness caused from going all the way to penalties crippled our team for the next few matches. I was also angry that it went that far, as we were 3-2 up until they scored on 90+7! To say I was livid is an understatement. The Fulham game was an inconvenience, and I was rather glad to go out of the competition to concentrate on League matters.
Noel Mercer was again our star, breaking the npower Championship records for both season average rating (7.86/47 apps) and for number of man of the match awards (19).
Fellow Northern-Irelander Gareth McDonagh was the top assist-maker in the league, and wasn’t too far behind Mercer in the average ratings either.
This seasons signings have been a mixture of hit and miss, killer and filler. On the hit list, Manrique Zamora has excellent stats, decent potential and all for only £1,000! Elliot Goddard looks like he could be a very good winger with a bit more time invested in him, and for free, I couldn’t turn him down. Luke Steele is ageing but still is plenty good enough for this level, especially at that price. Routledge came in during an injury crisis as a free agent, but ended up making the AMR spot his own, despite my assistant constantly telling me he is past his best.
As for the failures, Angelo Balanta is without doubt the flop of the year. He came in on a free, but on high wages. Six months later, he was off on a free as he was poor every time he played. He was out of his depth.
The jury is out on Ratkinov and Jarvis, but I can’t see them ever becoming more than backups. Steve Gray was developing well into a decent young CB, but when he questioned my managerial skills during a slump, he had to go. There is a 50% sell-on clause attached to the deal, so we may profit further in the future.
The aim is simply to stay up.