Number 1
14 years ago
2 days ago
3,604

Boxing Day has arrived, fully in the busy Christmas period.

 

We had a home contest against West Ham United, who had actually ended up below us in the table having struggled for form after David Moyes walked out to take the Poland national team Job. Which… interesting.

 

Aiming to pile on the misery were…

Christensen - Lavinier, Edmundson, Franco, Thompson - Robson, Anderson - Gooch, Shashoua, Holland - Piroe

 

We need 3 points - after all, our only home league win so far was against Bournemouth way back in August. Was this to be the day?

We did it! And about time at home.

 

This wasn't as showy as beating Bournemouth 5-0, but it still did the trick. Anderson scored a fine drive just after the 20 minute mark, while a very nicely set up goal saw Holland scoot one in just after the break. West Ham had the odd chance here and there, but not enough to stop us from taking the victory.

 

Good thing too given I didn't really fancy our chances in our following games. First all of was a trip to the King Power Stadium to face a Leicester team that's ended up challenging for a Champions League position.

 

Making this team would be…

Christensen - Vincent-Young, Edmundson, Franco, Thompson - Robson, Anderson - Gooch, Shashoua, Holland - Piroe

 

With no game between Boxing Day and New Year's Day, I did name a relatively stable setarting line-up.

That didn't go so well, alas.

 

I wouldn't say we were necessarily outclassed, but it didn't exactly go well either. Poulsen put them ahead, we missed a glorious chance to equalise, Pulsen duly scored again in first half stoppage time, and we ambled to the end before substitute Jamie Vardy put us out of our misery late on.

 

Lucky us, therefore, to get Chelsea at home next and fight a side in with a title shot.

 

Aiming to prove this time was the time for an upset were…

Christensen - Vincent-Young, Woolfenden, Franco, Thompson - Choudhury, Harper - Semenyo, Twine, Morris - Piroe

 

Bit more of a shuffle in use here, although one suspected we'd be in for a tough time either way.

 

Would we manage something here?

Well, winning this one was a long shot but our attacking output… jeez. We had one off-target shot all game, and Chelsea might as well have left their keeper and defence at home with such numbers.

 

The only really doubt was Chelsea being punished for an oddly lackadaisical attitude where a long period of the second half saw nothing happen and the Blues rarely look like building on Kai Havertz's opener. Oddly, our one shot of the game woke them up into thinking they might blow it, so they duly pressed again until Timo Werner made it 2-0.

 

So we move on. Frankly, it's the least we can do after such a misfire.

 

The January window is now open, meanwhile, and my attitude is to find the right bargain. We only have roughly £5million to work with, so it's not going to be a big spending spree, but arguably nor do we need it to be. A few  back-up players will be sent on the merry way, so it's as much about strengthening on them.

 

Before that, lower league outfit Walsall were making the trip to our place for an FA Cup Third Round tie.

 

Aiming to avoid a shock would be…

White - Vincent-Young, Woolfenden, Darling, Thompson - Robson, El Mizouni - Gooch, Twine, Morris - Semenyo

 

Sort of a hybrid of reserve and first-team, including the choice of Bert White in goal. So, how would we do?

Well we did it the hard way but it counts I guess.

 

I was fearing the worst when Walsall stunned us with a long ranger that crashed home. But as the game went on, we began to show our now Premier League qualities and hit them hard. Quickfire goals from set-pieces by Darling and Morris turned the scoreline on its head, before a nice goal by Twine just after the restart sealed this one in our favour.

 

Happily, we avoid the Cup upset and can move on to a 4th Round tie against West Ham United, who may or may not have to take on our new signings. If we can figure out who they are of course.

Number 1
14 years ago
2 days ago
3,604

Early on in the January window, we began to make some moves in the outbound direction. Connor Chaplin and Sam Morsy were out of contract in the summer, and we managed to get both out the door. Chaplin made a £225k move to Championship strugglers Cardiff City, whilst Wolverhampton-born Egyptian international Morsy initially agreed an end-of-season free move to Zamalek but had it bought forward for £150 grand.

 

This also meant a re-allocation of something important, as although he wasn't playing a lot, Morsy was still captain. So defender George Edmundson, who had been vice-vice-captain for most of the season, was promoted to being the new outright captain.

 

An improving Arsenal, who are beginning to get back into European place contention after a slow start, would be a tricky first place to mark this milestone. But we had to go anyway.

 

Making the squad for our visit to the Emirates would be…

Christensen - Lavinier, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Thompson - Choudhury, El Mizouni - Gooch, Anderson, Semenyo - Piroe

 

Considering who we are, we've gone pretty attacking. Would this pay dividends?

That's a handy result if I'm totally fair.

 

Arsenal didn't necessarily batter us per say, but they did have a consistent enough string of chances and struck first when a foul by Thompson gave them a penalty that Iheanacho duly scored.

 

After the break, Arsenal were consistently creating chances but didn't find that killer second goal and instead, we pulled a fast one on them when Semenyo headed in Gooch's cross from close range. We duly rode it out from there, taking an unlikely but impressive point.

 

Indeed, we've actually not had a terrible return at the big clubs, taking points from our visits to Spurs and Man City before this, and a draw at Arsenal is not to be sniffed at.

 

Just as well we had the precedent of a draw at Man City to go on, given our next assignment was to welcome them to Portman Road. Albeit this time a very different Manchester City, given that since our last meeting, they've appointed Mauricio Pochettino as manager. Indeed, this is the former Spurs and PSG manager's first game as Man City head honcho after they sacked Thomas Tuchel.

 

With trepidation, we looked to see if we could pull off a surprise against the big spenders from East Manchester, with this squad taking the wheel…

Christensen - Vincent-Young, Edmundson, Franco, Thompson - Choudhury, El Mizouni - Gooch, Harper, Shashoua - Semenyo

 

Would we manage something unexpected?

Yeah… not this time. But then a 3-1 defeat is perhaps the better end of outcomes one might get now against the spending power of this lot.

 

We actually did well to stay in the game, responding well enough to a pair of Julian Alvarez stunners with Semenyo scoring just a minute after Man City's second and we were still keeping in the game in the first half.

 

In the second, however, the away side took control. They frankly should've scored their third a lot sooner, with De Bruyne having one disallowed by VAR and the Belgian missing a penalty, but no matter who we threw on, we couldn't match the challenge and Alvarez scored a cracking free-kick to make it 3-1 and decide the contest in the away team's favour. Drat.

 

But all we can do at this point is move on. And with that, we have a trip to West Ham United, making this something of a frequent fixture of late given we played them on Boxing Day and have an FA Cup tie with the Hammers also coming up.

 

Making my starting line-up for the clash at the London Stadium would be…

Christensen - Lavinier, Edmundson, Darling, Thompson - Choudhury, Anderson - Holland, Twine, Semenyo - Piroe

 

Could we take a giant leap towards Premier League survival in a big clash at the one-time London Olympic host venue?

A point isn't bad and we'll absolutely take the gratification that comes with an injury time equaliser but we really do need to convert more of these draws into wins.

 

All the action came in the second period. West Ham dominated the early phase of the second half and struck through Minamino's fine finish, but in quickfire fashion, Morris came off the bench to equalise.

 

We would then fall behind after Bergwijn, who set up the opener, scored to put West Ham in front again and we would only manage half-chances and easy stops until finally we broke through at the end thanks to Piroe's finish from a ball by sub Shashoua.

 

This game was our last commitment of January, meaning it is now time to check out the table.

We've still got enough security ahead of the Premier League relegation zone, with a six point advantage. Admittedly we'd be advised to build on just having 4 victories, but we're getting enough points at a decent rate and keeping those fears at bay for now.

 

The transfer window is also now up, and the final stages would indeed be busy. We let some people out the door, with Wes Burns, Ethan Robson and youngster Michael Mellon making loan exits.

 

Meanwhile, we had some incoming work to do in parallel. First in was German winger Ansgar Knauff, signed on loan from Borussia Dortmund (and who indeed scored in the Europa League semis for Frankfurt at West Ham last night), with the hope he'd provide us something different.

 

Then we followed up his arrival with two permanent signings. First in was Portuguese midfielder Samu, bought to the club for an installment-oriented £5million move from Spanish second tier side Almeria.

 

After that came in a challenger to Thompson's monopoly at left-back, as we purchased American full-back George Bello, coming to the club for £3.5million from German outfit Armenia Bielefeld. 

 

Of course, this splurge at the end of the window didn't change on fundamental stat…

Some football finance types say wages is a key driver for how to expect teams will behave in a league table. By that logic, we should be having a Derby County 2007/08 with our tiny wage bill. Yet we are still ahead of the curve, and if we win a crucial six pointer at Bournemouth in our next game, our position will become even more advantageous.

 

So let's see if we can get this going in our favour.

Number 1
14 years ago
2 days ago
3,604

While we've pootled along efficiently enough in our Premier League debut season, we have won all of just 4 games in the top flight so far. One of those was against Bournemouth, so repeating the feat to complete a home and away double over the Cherries feels like it would be extremely helpful in our goal to stay up.

 

Taking to the turf for this big one would be:

Hladky - Lavinier, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Thompson - Choudhury, Harper - Knauff, Shashoua, Morris - Piroe

 

The big call is a start for Hladky over Christensen in goal, as arguably is bringing back Woolfenden over Franco and throwing in our new loan signing Knauff from the start.

 

Would these selection gambles pay off and help us to a big three points?

We did it! Get in.

 

We seized an early lead courtesy of Piroe, who finished from Shashoua's pass, and ground it out from there, resisting Bournemouth's disparate attempts to level (including a period of pressure from about 60-80 minutes) before breaking to seal the deal through a late second by substitute Twine.

 

This felt like an important three points, and a necessary one. We arrived with a six point lead on the relegation zone and a defeat would've guaranteed that advantage being eroded, especially given it would've given confidence to those below that we are catachable.

 

Now we needed to turn focus onto the FA Cup. We made it into Round 4, and that bought us a tie against another PL struggler in the form of West Ham.

 

Making my team were:

Hladky - Vincent-Young, Darling, Franco, Bello - Choudhury, Samu - Gooch, Anderson, Knauff  - Piroe

 

We beat West Ham at Portman Road in the Premier League a few weeks earlier. Would lightning strike twice?

A replay is going to be required then.

 

This was a low quality game. We had the better of the first half when we got going but were lucky not to concede in a largely uninspired second half, with Kurt Zouma having a late winner disallowed.

 

So that means a replay. Joy.

 

That battle is of course it's own one in a few weeks. Before that, we had a home Premier League match against Southampton to worry about.

 

This was the reverse of the opening fixture of the season, which had seen us take a credible point off the Saints at St Mary's, not least as Southampton have a genuine shot at European football for next season and would provide us with another tough test. Though they all are at this level ofc.

 

Aiming to go one better than the opening day were…

Hladky - Woolfenden, Edmundson, Franco, Thompson - Samu, El Mizouni - Gooch, Anderson, Holland - Piroe

 

So, would we do the business here?

No we would not.

 

We made a glorious start as we got the luck of Southampton have an early goal disallowed before Piroe swept in Thompson's cross.

 

But after keeping Southampton at bay for most of the first half, we fell asleep at the end of the first half to allow Loren to equalise before Sadiq - the scorer of the disallowed goal at 0-0 - got himself on the scoresheet.

 

We had over half an hour to try and pinch something off the Saints, and yet… nothing. It's like our attack just gave up, even with the mentality change and switching names. So frustrating and annoying.

 

Naturally, I would expect better from the FA Cup replay against West Ham, which followed next by giving both ourselves and the Hammers an extra contest.

 

Making the team for this one after a bit of a reshuffle were…

Christensen - Vincent-Young, Woolfenden, Franco, Bello - Choudhury, Harper - Gooch, Twine, Knauff - Piroe

 

Would this be a success?

Less said about that one the better tbh.

 

We matched West Ham early on even after the setback of Escalante's opener. But a penalty for a foul by Franco tipped this in West Ham's favour, with Soucek rolling it in before Bowen scored after the break. We did have a few chances late on, but by then the game had already gone.

 

So that was a misfire if we're being honest with ourselves.

 

Next up was a chance to do better, as we had a bit of a relegation six pointer in the form of a trip to Brighton, who had been promoted with us last season. I say with us, they absolutely crushed the Championship whereas we had to win the play-off lottery, though so far, we're matching them as far as keeping our heads above water.

 

Looking to succeed where we didn't last season and take a victory over the Seagulls would be…

Hladky - Lavinier, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Thompson - Choudhury, El Mizouni - Gooch, Anderson, Shashoua - Piroe

 

Would we win out here?

All square at the AMEX then.

 

Frankly Brighton should've won this one. They were the better team with plenty of chances but just couldn't beat Hladky, who was in great form, and we pounced through Anderson with just over 20 to go.

 

However poor defending gave Kozlowski a tap-in and a quickfire equaliser and we went back to holding on. Managed that though.

 

A point is a pretty respectable outcome if we're being honest with ourselves from this one.

 

So ends our commitments in February, so just time for a quick look at the Premier League table as we move ever closer to the end of the season.

As you can see, we are still in a very advantageous position when it comes to securing our Premier League status. While we've won only 5 games, we still hold a commanding 10 point lead on the relegation zone, and have some big games against Leeds, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Burnley. Win those 4 would take us onto 39 points, and that would in all probability be enough.

 

So, let's keep at it. Survival is achievable despite our paltry wage budget, Championship-level squad and whatnot. But it would be a pisser if we fell apart from here, lost the lot and went down. So let's fucking have it.

Number 1
14 years ago
2 days ago
3,604

A fairly important game for us was next in sequence, as we welcomed Leeds United to Portman Road. The team from West Yorkshire are below us in the table, so a win could very well open the door for us to get one step closer to confirming survival.

 

Making the teamsheet were…

Hladky - Lavinier, Darling, Franco, Thompson - Choudhury, Samu - Gooch, Anderson, Shashoua - Piroe

 

A win would be a huge result in our survival fight. Would we grab it?

This is a bit of a less than ideal result tbh.

 

We should really have won . Much as we started slowly and conceded an opening goal to Dia, we improved quickly. Piroe equalised with a penalty just before the half-hour and it was largely us who had chances. But we never found a second, and instead Leeds made us pay as Dia made it 2-1. Dia also scored a further goal only to have it disallowed, but after their winner went in, we seemed to just run out of ideas.

 

In a less than ideal follow-up, we had to travel to Old Trafford to take on a Manchester United team who are reigning champions and still have an outside shot at regaining their title. They beat us 5-1 at home in a game we'd actually dominated, so we had been given a difficult task indeed.

 

We opted to reshuffle, changing formation and personnel to this tweaked version…

Christensen - Lavinier, Woolfenden, Franco, Thompson - Harper, Choudhury, Samu - Gooch, Piroe, Semenyo

 

Manchester United away then. Would we pull off a surprise?

Nevermind.

 

We actually did well to take the lead through Semenyo after he was first to Lavinier's cross, and for 35 minutes or so we were able to keep an ever-escalating Manchester United attacking squad at bay.

 

Then sure enough, Vitinha and Mbappe scored either side of the break, and we were back to being up against it. Pogba made it 3-1 just after the hour and it needed a few stops by the recalled Christensen to stop it getting even worse from there.

 

That match was, in truth, never likely to be one to provide us the biggest reward and getting us closer to survival. This next one, however, was. One of our few away wins so far came at Selhurst Park, when we beat Crystal Palace and took victory over an Eagles side who have spent most of this season in the relegation zone.

 

Now the time had come to try and get a very necessary repeat, and try to beat Palace again. Doing that would very much keep us in pole position to stay afloat.

 

Our selection for this one would be…

Chirstensen - Woolfenden, Darling, Edmundson, Bello - Samu, Harper - Semenyo, Anderson, Shashoua - Piroe

 

Would this gang succeed?

Victory shall be ours. Hallelujah.

 

We missed a great chance when Piroe got one wrong just before the break and it looked like it might not be our day. But a sustained spell of pressure yielded rewards when Shashoua scored our goal just after the hour. From there, we managed it well enough, preventing Palace from creating too much (save for one great chance at the end denied by Christensen) and took home a much needed three points.

 

So yay us. We're inching closer to survival, and it turns out my performance is gaining admirers…

With Celtic boss Ange Postecoglu moving south to take the Leeds job, the Glasgow club offered me an interview thinking I might be a suitable enough candidate to move north of the border.

 

Flattering, but not for me at this time. The goal isn't to stay at Ipswich until this save wraps up, but it's too soon to seek pastures new.

 

Moving on from that distraction, we had another big game to look forward to in the form of a trip up the road to our East Anglian rivals at Carrow Road. Norwich City are going for a top half finish, while we're happy just to be sticking around.

 

Aiming to take a great success that would delight our fans would be…

Christensen - Lavinier, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Thompson - Choudhury, Harper - Gooch, Anderson, Shashoua - Piroe

 

Could we go to Norwich and win?

No win, no loss. This was a pretty low quality game in truth. Norwich had the best chances as our attack failed to show up, but in truth, neither side really deserved to win this one.

 

So let's move on.

 

That was the last game before a March international break, so it seems as good a time as any to check the latest Premier League table and this is where we're presently at…

Ten points clear with 7 to go. A few more points will take us above that magic 40 point mark, though the gap to Burnley and Bournemouth means it's possible 35 might just be enough.

 

I'd like to taste some more victories though. So let's see where we get in our final few fixtures.

Number 1
14 years ago
2 days ago
3,604

The time has come for one more push, where a few more positive results should confirm us safe even before May starts. Which, given we were forecast to finish last and by wages should be last a long way, is a magnificent achievement.

 

A few big games are also coming up as well, with Aston Villa and Burnley among our upcoming fixtures, even if tougher looking tests against Liverpool and Spurs are then due to follow.

 

First of all are Villa, who actually got the Champions League places in season 1 but begin our meeting just one place and point above us in a disappointing season.

 

My starting line-up for this one would be…

Christensen - Lavinier, Edmundson, Franco, Thompson - Choudhury, Harper - Shashoua, Anderson, Morris - Semenyo

 

A few reshuffles it is then. Would we do something good here?

Another draw for the list.

 

Leon Bailey snuck in an opener and our joy at an immediate potential leveller was swiftly annulled when Semenyo had a prospective equaliser disallowed. In truth, the second half was low quality with neither one of us actually doing well, but we managed to break the boredom in the best manner with around a quarter of an hour to go as Shashoua tapped in an equaliser.

 

Mariano had a late winner for Villa disallowed by VAR, and despite both of us putting decent chances together late on, there was no winner. So, all square.

 

A crucial game then followed. Defeat to Burnley could induce some anxieties ahead of a few late dicey games, but victory would in all practical terms confirm our survival. So I would like to see us get the job done.

 

Seeking a key victory were this selection….

Christensen - Lavinier, Edmundson, Franco, Thompson - Samu, Harper - Anderson, Shashoua, Semenyo - Piroe

 

Can we do the job and defeat a big rival in the battle for survival?

Job done. Get the fuck in there.

 

This was a generally low quality game, and one that could well have ended differently had Dwight McNeil not had a goal disallowed.

 

We very much made the most of this misfortune when Semenyo turned in Piroe's knockdown and smashed the ball home from close range. Burnley had a few opportunities after that, but we largely kept them at arms length and saw the job through, defeating the Clarets in their own backyard to move 10 points clear of the relegation zone with 5 games to go.

 

Basically, we should have this. The majority of the work has been done and we should be on course to stay afloat.

 

That should be a good combo. Next up may be back-to-back games at our home, but leaders Liverpool and a Spurs team challenging for top 4 are next up, and winning either one of these games will be a big effort.

 

Still, Liverpool up first. Let's try our luck, with this team chosen to try and take down the leaders…

Christensen - Woolfenden, Edmundson, Franco - Vincent-Young, Samu, Anderson, Thompson - Shashoua, Piroe, Semenyo

 

Something of a pivot for this one, as while we don't play 3 at the back very often, we do have it trained for special occasions.

 

Would we pull off the upset?

The draw specialists do it again, and get a very decent result as well.

 

This was a curious contest in many respects. We stunned Liverpool as Semyno turned in an early goal, and were keeping Liverpool under control right up until the half hour mark, at which point Joel Gomez turned the ball in.

 

We should've taken control of the contest when Andy Robertson was dismissed, but instead Mo Salah got a goal for the Reds. Yet just ten minutes later, substitute Twine put us back on level terms with a well taken finish.

 

No more goals were scored after that, so we took a very credible point from battling against the team in pole position to win the Premier League under Jurgen Klopp with his almost Galacticos type 11.

 

Spurs were next up, and a decent result would confirm that we were mathematically secure of survival at our first attempt.

 

Aiming to take Spurs down would be…

Christensen - Woolfenden, Edmundson, Franco, Thompson - Samu, Harper - Shashoua, Twine, Semenyo - Piroe

 

Could we do it?

Another draw. We're weirdly good at this, given this is our 16th draw of the season - 3 more than the next highest.

 

For a while, we actually did look like we might be on to take the lead. But we couldn't make the most of chances in the period when it looked like we might take the lead, and instead Spurs threatened a late goal of their own, although in the end, we resisted adequately enough and prevented them from winning the match.

 

Still, back-to-back draws against Liverpool and Spurs at home is a sure sign that we belong at this level imo.

 

This result would however have a byproduct…

We've only gone and bloody well done it.

 

Sure, getting 16 draws isn't the best of ways, but we were predicted to prop up the Premier League. It helped we won 5 out of 6 games against the teams in the bottom 3, but it still counts.

 

My goal was to keep Ipswich Town in the Premier League in our first season in the top flight, and I wasn't entirely convinced we'd do it, but in the end, we were rarely so deep that I thought we were doomed. It's job done, as demonstrated by the table below.

Three games remain of our season, and we have an 11 point lead on Burnley. Nobody has been officially relegated yet, with Bournemouth and Crystal Palace still having some hope they can leapfrog Leeds, even if Burnley look the biggest threat to the West Yorkshire side.

 

But screw that argument. We are staying up, say, we are staying up. Get in!

 

In some respect this takes the pressure off, as we achieved what we needed to. But I'd like to see us go out on a high all the same, with final games against Brentford, Everton and Newcastle to come and wrap up the season. So let's see if we can grab some more joy for the road.

Number 1
14 years ago
2 days ago
3,604

With our Premier League survival secured, there's an argument the pressure is off for our final 3 games of season 3 as Ipswich Town boss.

 

That might well be the case, particularly as we are several points clear of the teams below and a similar amount off the top half. But I don't like losing games. So I wanted to see if we could grab an extra win for the road, starting with our trip to face Brentford.

 

Oddly this ended up being the Monday night game, meaning the game's TV companies would be showing 12th v 14th… probably not the biggest audience ever.

 

The starting line-up was a tweaked one as we tried out some players. Namely…

Christensen - Lavinier, Woolfenden, Franco, Bello - Choudhury, Samu - Knauff, Twine, Morris - Shashoua

Hmmm… nothing much of note tbh. We ended up resting top scorer Joel Piroe, and lacked goal accuracy with the Dutchman not involved. Brentford had one stand-out high xG chance, but in truth, neither side really created a lot to write home about.

 

So that was a bit meh.

 

Next up, we welcomed Everton to Suffolk in the hope of grabbing victory in our final home match of the season, in a game again selected for Monday night transmission despite being between two teams in midtable. Why, I do not know.

 

Making this starting 11 would be…

Hladky - Lavinier, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Bello - Choudhury, Harper - Gooch, Anderson, Holland - Piroe

 

Would we sign off our home campaign with a win?

Alas, we end a decent year at home on a bit of a whimper.

 

We were facing an uphill task from the moment Dele Alli put Everton ahead inside the opening five minutes and rarely looked like getting into it from there. Periodically we created the odd chance here and there, but nothing really spectacularly troubling for Jordan Pickford and a goal by Marcus Edwards late on wrapped up the points for our guests from Merseyside.

 

Shame, but that's football. Not that it got that much easier for our final match of the season, as we travelled to face Carabao Cup winners Newcastle United. We'd also be doing so without Elliot Anderson, with his final game being played due to his loan from SJP and in truth, we weren't impressed by him to consider bringing him back next season. Not least as the Mags want £26million for us to do so.

 

Aiming to win in our final assignment were…

Christensen - Woolfenden, Darling, Franco, Lavinier - Samu, Choudhury, Harper - Gooch, Shashoua, Holland

 

Could we sign off for the summer in style?

Instead of signing off in style, we let Newcastle wave goodbye to the campaign with the points. Bah.

 

We were up against it pretty much straight away, with Allan Saint-Maximin scoring an opener and less than 2 minutes later, Raul Jimenez rifled in a penalty. Pedro Goncalves' strike made it 3 just before the break and it was pretty much over as a contest from there.

 

We'd actually created the odd chance here and there and would grab a goal just after the break through Nathan Holland, though the sense this game had gone was proven by the fact we gave run outs to young subs Tawanda Chirewa and Jack Manly, as we seek to show we can actually give minutes to youth prospects.

 

We conceded one more for the road, this time to Jimenez, as we signed off from the season with a thumping loss at St James' Park.

 

This meant no win in our last five games of season 3, although we'd done the work to prove that wouldn't be a disaster.

Given the low expectations many had for us coming up into the Premier League, 14th place is a fine achievement. 17 draws did a fair wedge of heavy lifting in the end - this was the highest in the Premier League - but we have ourselves a decent platform to build on.

 

In the summer, my work has to be on finding the players that can help us build on this. My budget to do this is…

£50million-odd. I think we can sign a few decent players for that, even if pay rises means the wage bill might be a bit marginal.

 

Time for a look at the best 11 of the season…

Such is the level of squad rotation that we deployed that I doubt I ever actually selected this starting line-up all in the same game together. The fact our main CMs snuck in with a sub-6.7 rating across all their appearances does demonstrate this is an area of the pitch to develop, although it's pleasing to see Edmundson and Woolfenden do well to step up to the PL challenge having been with us from the start.

 

So that concludes season 3, and arguably the best achievement so far. It was already an escalating level of difficulty but I didn't think we'd stay up going into this, or at least, we'd be 17th. To come 14th with an 8 point margin on the bottom 3 and having rarely looked like we might be in trouble is a great achievement.

 

Whether it was worth the board jumping to this big announcement is another question

This is gonna be a while off though. So tune in next time when we prepare for season 4 as Ipswich Town boss, and aim to keep Ipswich Town up for a second consecutive season.

 

Oh yeah. Don't be shy, comments welcome.

Bohaska
3 weeks ago
4 hours ago
4

How do you do it?

Number 1
14 years ago
2 days ago
3,604
By Bohaska 10 May 2022 - 08:07 AM UTC 

How do you do it?

Think I'm just lucky. I know 4-2-3-1 Gegenpress, which has been my usual formation, is seen as overpowered on FM22 but equally I could easily try that every game and get mullered. This was almost like an Allardyce-like arrangement - win all the six pointers, sneak a few draws here and there, jobs a good'un.

 

Number 1
14 years ago
2 days ago
3,604

Season 4 is upon us as we begin a second season in the Premier League. Aspirations can only be really to make it to another one as we still largely have a Champ/L1 squad that we managed to get to 14th.

 

To that end, new signings were targeted and have duly been purchased…

Apologies for the dreadful job I did of combining the ones split either side of the season.

 

I wanted 2 new right-backs, an extra winger and an extra option to play number 10 off the strikes. Got the lot. Djed Spence was first in as a good extra option to play as a right-sided utility player, but the first choice right-back is likelier going to be Mads Roerslev after I found out the well-regarded Brentford right-back was transfer listed.

 

In-between was the signing I didn't necessarily need but felt was too good to ignore. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall had been sold by Leicester to Burnley and did a decent job despite Burnley being relegated. It took a whopping fee, but he's been bought in and is an immediate presence to improve my midfield.

 

With Harry Darling struggling and a highly regarded newgen defender arguably too soon to throw in, I wanted a PL-experienced CB to join and got it in the form of Lewis Gibson on a free transfer from Everton, with the idea he'll be a back-up to Edmundson, Franco and Woolfenden, who remain as my first choice 3.

 

Signing our extra options going forward took longer, but came through. An oddly structured deal was agreed with Nottingham Forest to sign superstar winger Brennan Johnson, while I made a late choice to sign Diego Rossi, who becomes our latest signing from the USA after I bought the Uruguayan international in from LAFC.

 

On paper, these should be upgrades on our squad. Getting rid of those I didn't want, however, proved a challenge. Idris El Mizouni joined a team in Tunisia, Harry Darling was sold to Derby and was nearly followed by Ben Morris until he turned down their contract, Ethan Robson made a somewhat surprise move to League 2 Burton Albion, and we shipped out a ton of other bodies on loan. Kane Vincent-Young, Wes Burns, Jordan Shipley, Tyreese Simpson, George McEachran and a ton of young kids made loans, some of whom I wanted shot of but proved oddly hard to get rid of.

 

Oh yeah. We also opted not to renew the loan deals for Marcel Lavinier and Elliot Anderson. The former had been great in his two seasons on loan from Spurs but they wanted too much, while Anderson didn't do enough for me in his single season on loan from Newcastle.

 

In the eyes of my assistant, I should be putting my faith in this lot…

I'm not sure how I'll use it in practice tbh, however.

 

Anyway, the season preview suggests…

… that it's going to be a struggle. Again. Least Mikel Arteta got Swansea promoted to give us some company at the bottom in the expected table. But we defied the odds last season and I wanna be confident we can do it again.

 

Pre-season treated us to this…

A mixed bag overall, but going unbeaten is a decent place to be in as we prepare for it. Scoring seven goals in draws with Ajax and Inter Milan is the kind of WTF factor pre-season is good at delivering, which if nothing else might provide those who attended with a sign we're decent. Drawing with Birmingham City was a disappointment but beating AC Milan… that's a good sign right?

 

Anyway, the season is now here and we must begin with a home contest against Fulham. Second time in our four seasons that we begin our campaign at home to the West Londoners - curiously in the only two seasons we've been in the same tier as the team from Craven Cottage.

 

Making my first team of the new campaign were…

Christensen - Roerslev, Edmundson, Franco, Thompson - Samu, Dewsbury-Hall - Semenyo, Rossi, Johnson - Piroe

 

Last time we opened a season at home to Fulham produced a 1-0 home win. So, what about this time?

A 1-0 home win again, you say? Delightful stuff Geoff.

 

This one was decided early on. Debutant Rossi with one of the touches I was hoping for with fine control and the pass to set away Piroe, who found the winning goal inside the opening six minutes.

 

In truth, we could have won this one by a bigger and better margin. But winning games counts at this level, as proven last season when we won 5 out of 6 games against the 3 teams who went down. If we need to do this kind of thing again, we are off to a splendid start.

 

More of a test would follow in our next game, mind. That would be an early season visit to Anfield, and to face reigning champions Liverpool. Oh goodie.

 

Maybe this is the sign of a bold team after it's debut campaign or the sign of an idiot, but I stuck with the 4-2-3-1 positive approach, picking…

Christensen - Roerslev, Edmundson, Franco, Thompson - Choudhury, Samu - Johnson, Rossi, Holland - Piroe

 

So. Anfield. Would we grab something here?

That perhaps went as well as expected tbh.

 

No shots on target at all in the 90 minutes, with the game duly spent on the backfoot hoping for Liverpool not to hurt us and our goal difference too severely. In the end they settled for 3, compared to the 4 they struck in this fixture last season, which… Progress?

 

There's not a lot more I can say about this one really. We fell behind to Van Dijk early on, and were never really in this one. So let's move on.

 

That would be in the form of the Carabao Cup, as faced Oxford United. In theory, we could have a kind of advantage in this one, given the side from the 3-sided stadium (assuming they're still at the Kassam Stadium) loaned both Shipley and Simpson from us, and neither is allowed to play here.

 

That's the theory anyway. Aiming to avoid being on the wrong side of a cup upset would be this 11…

Hladky - Roerslev, Woolfenden, Gibson, Bello - Choudhury, Dewsbury-Hall - Spence, Harper, Shashoua - Semenyo

 

So in short, a few of our first choice picks from last year came in. But would they yield a win?

Success is success in this game I guess.

 

It helped that we started Dewsbury-Hall and he duly did the job, scoring early on then setting one up five minutes later for Harper to strike. We dominated the first half and added another one when Harper set up Semenyo.

 

Yet we seemed to coast for a while in the second half, and nearly paid for that when Oxford scored two goals in just under 20 minutes to get back into it. But then Oxford defender Curtis Tilt accidentally turned the ball home after a free-kick had been partially cleared, and we duly made the most of such fortune. 4-2, game up.

 

Wrapping up August, meanwhile, was a trip to Birmingham and a match against Aston Villa.

 

Aiming to take the points at Villa Park would be…

Christenen - Roerslev, Edmundson, Franco, Thompson - Samu, Dewsbury-Hall - Johnson, Rossi, Shashoua - Piroe

 

Would victory come our way?

Nope.

 

Mariano put Villa in front and for all that we did create a healthy number of chances, we weren't good at turning them into goals. So we lose back-to-back PL games.

 

I suppose 1 win from our first 3 is OK but it's nothing special, and we want to stay up. So let's see what we can do from our September fixtures next time out.

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