2017/18 – Championship – End of Season Review
Since I’ve become manager, it has taken two seasons to get out of each division. This season, we’re in the toughest and most competitive second division in the world. Surely it would be impossible to go up at the first try… Wouldn’t it?
Sky Bet Championship (stats)
The Championship. Lots of very good, ex-Premier League teams in the mix, with West Ham, Aston Villa and Southampton in the division this year. We were supposed to be relegation candidates, and for the first third of the season it looked as though the prediction was right. We only managed one win in our first ten games and we looked like we were in crisis. One successful team meeting later and we picked up another win, and ended up with five wins and a draw in the next ten which brought us up towards mid-table. We had a patchy Christmas period, and started 2018 with a 1-0 reverse against Villa. Little were we to know that would be our last loss for eleven games! We were propelled up the table and into the play-off places! We were only a handful of points off the top, but equally, we were only a couple of points away from falling back into mid-table. Our last nine games included West Ham, Forest, and Birmingham, all away, and in a row. Not much was expected, but we managed five points from those games, and eleven from the others, which means we went into the final game needing a win just to maintain our play-off place, but if other results went our way, we could even win the title! We beat Brighton 5-0 away, which was by far our best win of the season and guaranteed our place in the play-offs, and it also ensured automatic promotion! Southampton won, which meant we couldn’t win the title, but that wasn’t important! We were going up!!!
FA Cup (stats)
To top our amazing league season, we also had a fantastic run in the FA Cup, reaching the semi-final! Fleetwood, Sheffield United and Blackburn were all average opposition, but with the Chelsea draw, I wasn’t optimistic. Surprisingly we had the greater share of possession, though the oil-rich west Londoners had the better of the passing and shooting statistics. The game was ultimately settled from the spot on 75 minutes when our striker Kieran Lamb was felled in the area. Ex-Celtic right-back Darnell Fisher stepped up and calmly sent Petr Cech the wrong way to win the game.
Off to Wembley we went for the semi-final, to play Liverpool. The game was effectively over after only four minutes, when both Andriy Yarmolenko and Raheem Sterling scored within a minute of each other. Sterling scored again on 26 mins, and we looked to be on the end of a humiliating cricket score. Half time came, and to put it mildly, I gave the team a proper bollocking. We looked like a different side after that, and we looked like we had a chance to get back into it. McLeary’s goal on 56 mins was a start, but we couldn’t hit a cows arse with a banjo, and that was it. We were going home.
Capital One Cup (stats)
Again we were piss poor in the League cup, struggling past Dagenham and Redbridge with the aid of penalties, then being on the receiving end of what could have been a spanking by Southampton.
IN: We smashed our transfer record, but what a player! Marc Campbell is a CB/SW with the world at his feet, having come through Crewe’s famed academy and proving himself in their first team. After several rounds of bidding, Crewe rejected us, which led to the player becoming unhappy and requesting a transfer, and we ended up landing him for considerably less than we originally bid! We also landed some excellent free transfers, with Stuart Jones released from Manchester City, ex-United winger Kenji Gorre from Swansea and Darnell Fisher from Celtic.
OUT: Francomb was surplus to requirements after Fisher joined which was a shame as he was a good player for us. The rest were sold/released to make room for the new guys.
The best of a poor bunch, Maynard will probably not make it with us, but we’ll give it a try.
Stay up. At least that’s what we’ll try to do…