Flying High (September – January)

It’s been a really good half of the season. Unlike last season where we hovered amongst the last play off spots this has been a convincing and dominating run considering we are the newly promoted team. I had confidence in my team in being able to handle this division. However I am well aware of the shocks that this division can throw. Play offs one month, hovering near the bottom the next. I am not a complacent man. We keep this up we’ll get play offs, minimum. The players and staff know my expectations. The board don’t. I try to keep them “out of the loop” as much as possible. Can’t have any interference in my job, can I? They should stick to writing cheques and we’re all happy.


Beating Aston Villa in the Derby is always a treat. It’s a great feeling for the fans to send them home knowing that we are the best in this region. Obviously Aston Villa are a bigger club in terms of structure, history and tradition. I’m working on changing that. Now we’re in the same division we are in direct competition. It’s great and as a fan myself, an ex player, an ex captain I always love beating them. Losing to Bolton at home was poor because they are a poor team. What a decline they’ve had since their stay in the Prem. I want to win all home games as far as possible. Or at least not lose. A point against Leeds, another fallen giant was fine. QPR away was our most fortunate result yet. They pummeled us in the first half and rightly went 1-0 up but Remy’s injury ruined them. His skill was much missed and instead of worrying about them we could now open up and make them vulnerable which we did. A good win. Preston away was a mixed result. They are in good form but fell below us in League 1 so I do have regrets with that result.

September Results

October Results

Another great month. I can’t complain much about the Burnley result because we were fortunate to get back into it with an own goal. The way I see it is we played 3 promotion candidates this month (Burnley, Middlesbrough and Derby) and got 6 points. Huddersfield and Bournemouth were routine. What we’re showing is firepower up front which makes teams drop deeper to make it harder for us. If anything that plays in our hand because we get the first goal, naturally our opponents open us. With Dicko, Jacobs and Ismail on the wings we’ll run riot on the counter.

November Results

A short month. I will only delve into the Birmingham game. Another one of our local rivals. Away from home. 2-0 down at half time. Getting abuse from their fans. Humiliated. Then a stonking second half. They didn’t know what hit them.

December Results

A fine way to end a fantastic year. Goals galore in this month. Dicko has 21 goals in 24 games. Phenomenal. We start games fantastically well. What a tempo! Goals come early. Control from then on. Brighton was disappointing because we scored in the 3rd minute. Dicko again. These days only scoring 1 goal at home is poor. That shows how far we’ve come.

 

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The Start of the Season (August Review)

The board shared my sentiment that we were too good to go down. To be honest I’m surprised at how calm they were in informing me of that baring in mind what happened the last time we were in this league. But anyway, the season is back and it’s great to be underway. Sunderland, Aston Villa and West Brom have come down to this league. Villa’s long stint in the top flight has come to an end. 3 clubs who are no matter what Premier League institutions.  One final transfer occurred since our last briefing. Sako has joined Blackburn on a free transfer. His contract was up for renewal. He wanted 44k. He’s a mediocre Championship player. Let him rot there.


August Results

It’s not a bad start by any stretch of the imagination. The goals are coming in but an obvious weakness is our leaky defence. I have to take a look at my coaching manner for this because as individuals we are good at the back. Batth, Stearman, young Kourtney Hause, Ward and also a player who I genuinely didn’t know was on my books called Georg Margreitter. He was one of those who were loaned out by the club before my arrival last season and he’s a useful player at center half and both full back roles. He’s staying. Federici has the quality but is making mistakes and has to buck up his ideas. Training has been set to team cohesion and defensive positioning for now.

We got of to a great start with wins against Milwall and Walsall in the COC. Milwall are a dogged opponent no matter what but they have the quality to make a push for play offs so to beat them quite comfortably was a good indication of our own quality.

The next three fixtures were against clubs who on reputation are as big as us in this division but these clubs are capable of getting promoted. Brighton away was a tricky game because they have a group of players who know the league, who can perform in a team and to a standard to accumulate wins. Players like Gordon Greer, Lewis Dunk, Buckley, LuaLua and others. I don’t know how they still haven’t been promoted but in my eyes it’s only a matter of time. Therefore a 1-1 draw is a good result. Wigan and Charlton battered us and put us down a level.

I’m not bothered about the COC because we are not going to do well at this stage and it’s better to focus on the league. So essentially Fulham had a bye.

Ending the month with a win against Sheffield Wednesday was fantastic. It’s a tale of two strikers at the moment. Leon Clarke and Dicko my starting pair. Clarke horrifically off form but maybe like last season after a slow start he’ll grow. Dicko is a quick, direct threat and will cause havoc to opponents. He’s already started well and we need to keep him at a level where his goals will achieve something.

Pre Season

I see no reason why we are cannot do well in this division. The Championship is an exciting league and very open. From experience of watching seasons unfold a pretty daunting position can swiftly change around with a good run. My squad has remained largely the same. We have a young group with potential. They should never have been in the third division but that’s another story. The previous regime has been wiped out. This is my club.

Pre Season

Pre season is important to my role of assessing players and tactics. For the players fitness and cohesion is the most vital thing to take out of it and it’s our primary focus for the first 2 weeks into it. However I must get our team technically able to get results in this league and to do this we have to work on our tactical game and roles within it. Each player has a role to play and is training on improving their attributes to best fit. If not they may not have a future here. What these results have shown is goalscoring is not a problem. Granted our wins came against mediocre opposition, I take the positives in we can run a team into the ground. Pace is a key aspect of this team and my system. As I said this league is very open so as long as we stick to our principles we will do well.

As I alluded to above, I want to keep the players who served us in League 1 together. I think for this club we have to take small strides to restore stability not only in the football side but financially too. It’s not just me not wanting to dent the finances, but our potential should see us through safely in this league. Therefore these were our only two summer incomings. Ross Draper is a former Wolves player therefore he knows the club and can instantly settle, or at least easier than others. As a central midfielder his main qualities are his defensive contributions. Good mental abilities, physically a terrific player but he can also play. I think his experience will be vital because while I don’t expect many goals or assists for him, he will be my “general”. The man who knits the play together. John Marquis is a young striker who was recommended by my scouts at a trial game. He has some potential but this is more of a punt. It’s win-win because I will make some sort of profit on him and for the player if he develops well can be an asset for us or have the experience from being with us to move on. I don’t think he’ll play too much with Leon Clarke, Liam McAlinden, Nouha Dicko and now Jake Cassidy but why not see what we can do with him? Cassidy got 20 goals in League 1 last season on loan at Tranmere so he is like a new signing.

For financial reasons these players left. Ricketts has been at this club for a long time but was underwhelming in League 1. He’s in his early 30s so I thought letting him go to Huddersfield will allow for me to get the younger guys more game time. Golbourne was a tough decision. He’s a competent left back and left midfielder and ideally he would have made a squad player but he wanted to leave the club so when Blackburn came in it was good for all parties.

Carl Ikeme is a shocking goalkeeper and I am amazed he will be in the Premier League. Poor reactions, shot stopping, decision making. He never filled me with confidence when played and no doubt that spread to the defence.

The final four players I do not class as my players. They were out on loan last season because of their stupidly high wages particularly for their ability. Jesus Christ, what was the club thinking of when giving contracts!? We got a fair share of money for these players and cleaned up the wage bill with their departures. One player who did survive the cull having not being with us last season was Stephen Ward. He’s done himself well in pre season. At this level a good left back and his ratings last season at Milwall was a low 7. Originally I wanted to sign Scott Malone and had a fee of 650k and a contract discussed but he chose recently relegated Sunderland. Bastard.

 

These players have gone on loan for some experience. The first 4 are promising. Dean Harrold hasn’t got much going for him.

These are just crap. O’Hara on his 45k a week contract couldn’t find a club so got released! He’s awful.

So pre season was eventful. I’m confident in my squad. We can achieve a lot. Tactically I’ve gone for a 4-4-2. I feel my squad is balanced in most areas and because I rely on wing play and rotation of wingers, I need to have a pair of strikers to be in the goals to keep the momentum going. I have 3 quality strikers for this level in my view. Watch this space.

Highlights of the Season

Our captain Richard Stearman led by example. Having put in a transfer request at the start of the season, he turned my opinion of him around. Not the most athletic however what he has is tremendous presence which transfers to those around him.

Stearman

Sako has good attributes for a wide man. His physical attributes allow him to get up and down the line, and he has good delivery. 18 assists isn’t to be messed about but he is also a frustrating player to manage with his lazy attitude in training and his poor goalscoring touch.

Sako

Zeli Ismail is a talent definitely. I have my problems with getting him the right development in terms of playing time. His decision making isn’t up to scratch as expected at his age but he has the time and core attributes to be a very good attacking player. I will work with on his physical attributes so he can be a regular threat up and down. He’s a work in progress.

Ismail

Elokobi surprised me. At the start of the campaign he wasn’t in my plans. He was a big, overweight lump. He didn’t have the football brain to understand what to do with the ball. But as the season went on he became a vital part at left back and center back. His contract is up for renewal so I’ll wait to see what happens with him.

Elokobi

Kevin Edwards is my best ball playing midfielder at the moment. He is the most developed and has good tenacity and an engine on him. He needs to score more goals as midfield goals are imperative to higher level success. A  consistent performer.

Edwards

Danny Batth is an exciting young talent. At his age he is already a domineering defender with his physique and he can only get better. He scores goals, is a constant menace amongst opponents.

Baath

Leon Clarke came into his own in the second half of the season. He’s a powerful striker and my go-to man. He’s not quick but can hold the ball up and shoot with great power and accuracy.

Clarke

Away Record Home Record

Our home record was brilliant. Only 2 defeats meant coming to our place was a daunting task for opposition. We score goals galore so you have to play really well to beat us at Molineux.

Away from home was okay. Nothing special but we improved heavily after the second half of the season when our confidence in our new system grew. At starts of games we pummel teams to get the early goal and play from there.

Board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Award

End of Season Board Review

League 1 Champions

Award

Winning Manager of the Year was nice. To receive recognition for my performance is great and this is just the start. My project is long term. This is a work in progress.

April – May (The Run In)

Consistency is the key to winning Championships. You have to assert yourself amongst others. Make your mark quickly and accelerate away. It will take a serious challenge to pull you back. Unfortunately our campaign started off slowly but we have pulled it back with a serious challenge. We’ve gone through the motions and seized initiate. League 1 is ours

That’s not something this club should celebrate. Mismanagement has directed this club into this shambolic position. My job is to get them back up. The first stage is done.

April ResultsMay ResultFinal League TableLeague 1 Champions

January – March (Getting through the Gears)

It had been well aware to me that if anything was going to cost our promotion push it would be our defensive organization. My players have shown that they are getting to grips with a high intensity game plan. Carl Ikeme isn’t cutting it between the sticks with his lack of command and in general his poor decision making. I had plans to replace him with a more seasoned performer. Adam Federici was transfer listed for a million pounds. What he brought was great agility, reflexes and command. He was my target. He is my number 1. I also saw my group in midfield is inbalanced. We have 4 players who play out on the wings. We have Jack Price, Lee Evans, David Edwards, David Davis and Kevin McDonald in midfield. A relatively young midfield who don’t have the nous of playing a complete role. For this reason I brought in Andy Reid on loan from Forest. He will provide the experience and composure on the ball which will spread to the rest.

January Transfers

We got off to a fantastic start with a 3-0 win away to Tranmere. My players had to be rotated heavily during this festive period to avoid fatigue. More importantly Leon Clarke got himself back amongst the goals with a hattrick. Leon is a player who has great power and presence but his movements on the ball, and in between the lines is very reactionary. He doesn’t get himself in the goalscoring positions enough thus far but I need him to keep firing.

Unfortunately we couldn’t carry on with a good run (again). Gillingham comfortably beat us. Their played good football, exploiting our high line with neat play amongst their players. I notice that we have a problem from 45-55 minutes in terms of  containing opposition pressure.

Preston at home was a mixed feeling. Top of the league at the time so in one way a point is fine, however I want to win my home games. Then again we got a clean sheet against tough opposition so we can show defensive resilience. It’s a shame we don’t carry on and our last results were very disappointing this month.

January Results

February Results

February much more successful month. A pretty hectic month but I’m happy with 4 out of 6 wins. Crawley at home we lost in the last 10 mins, Brentford were the better team and I have no complaints.  What’s good is that we have gone away from home and scoring plenty of goals. 3 goals in 4 different games. Contented.

March Results

A pretty flawless month right until the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. As I alluded to scoring goals is fine but the consistency level at keeping up with a tight backline to get the victories is needed. It’s happening and I’m satisfied. We took 18/18 points in the league this month so that’s great.

I can’t help but look back at this result with disgust. We were by far the better teams. Played good football, we were penetrating down the wings but couldn’t find a finishing touch. I have to take a share of blame. I was complacent with my changes. At 0-0 I was confident if anyone was going to get a winner it was me. I was saving my subs for later. They got round the back in quick succession late and stole the game. Ikeme played because he had played every round prior. I don’t regret it but I regret not making changes. A trophy, no matter how insignificant is good.

Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final

 

Slow Accumulation (September – January)

Things haven’t been that well in terms of results. I’m confident we’ll step up in gears now the second half of the season is coming up. I just can’t help but feel my ambition of implementing an aggressive mentality among my players isn’t rubbing off well. And I’m not talking about the young guys. They’ve been fine. I’m talking about my so called “pros”. Jamie O’Hara has been on the booze again. I instructed my reserve manager to give him 60 minutes. He put in a 6.2 rating. Jamie will be let go in the summer. Carl Ikeme has been leaking in goals a lot and fills me with no confidence. I can’t believe Nigeria gave him his international debut. My only theory for this is some sort of Prince over there has got hold of his bank details. I believe the phrase is “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”. I will sort this out in January.

Results have been inconsistent. We’re yet to put up a convincing winning run. We’re hovering around the play off spot but that’s no good. We were 2-0 up and 3-2 up against Swindon and dropped 2 points. For me that shows incredible naivety. To throw away a two goal lead is criminal, to then regain the advantage and not win is suicide. Looking at the results it looks like our defending is poor. To an extent yes. Clean sheets have been scarce. However our finishing is just as bad. We create the chances but none of our midfielders have the conviction to go on. When I was a player at this grand team we prided ourselves on having ruthlessness in front of goal. There is an underlying problem going on where our players sit back too soon in games. This must stop.

September Results

 

September was a really bad month. 1 win out of 5. Swansea in the Cup was a valiant effort but we haven’t shown it in the league. Maybe our players are more interested in playing good in front of Premier League managers, where more interest through TV is placed upon it.

October Results

I was foolish to think we turned the corner. The first two games of October was what I like to see. No tippy-tappy play. Quick, efficient passing, high intensity, pushing up the pitch and hitting the opponents with pace and tricks. The 0-4 defeat was a humbling experience. I hate losing. That hurt. Bouncing back is key. We failed.

November Results

Much better month. Nice to see 3 clean sheets. Even nicer to see us getting amongst the goals. I want to win all home games ideally but our late equaliser against Brentford was a good moment. What I will say is nothing grates me more in management than losing a cup game and then beating the same opposition shortly after. This happened twice! A nice FA Cup run would have been grand. The JSP means nothing to me but we want to win to kick this club back into gear.

December Results

In the Final of the JSP. Pretty average festive period. Not much to write home about.

As I said not bad. Lets get up to the top shortly. I will look to strengthen our back line with a new goalkeeper. This is the time to kick on. Promotion is imperative, or my job is gone.