The goal this season remains the same, avoid relegation. The gulf in class between ourselves and the established Premier League outfits is sizeable. With back to back promotions we’ve had little chance to build up the finances required to bring in any marquee players, so we’ve been working with what we’ve got (plus a few cheap additions) and playing to our strengths. The story so far sees us in 15th place, 7 points clear of relegation at the halfway point. This is very much a consolidation season.
We did our business early so the squad could familiarise themselves with a new formation I developed, a 4-1-4-1 formation designed for taking on the Premier League as underdogs. We’ve used it a lot this season, both home and away, and although we’re sitting just a few points above the relegation zone it’s served its purpose to good effect. The aim of the new tactic was to keep things tight, stifle the opponents and hope to nick a goal. As a result we’ve got one of the best defensive records in the league having only conceded 18 goals in 20 games (only four teams have conceded less).
The flip side is we haven’t won many games (4) but we’ve converted a lot of probable defeats in to draws including trips to Everton, Wolves (who are 5th) and Arsenal. Aside from a 4-2 defeat at Chelsea the scorelines have been low with only one or two goals in each game, exactly what I was aiming for. It’s been a very defensive approach to the season but I won’t mind if it keeps us in the division. If we can establish our position in the top tier we’ll be able to generate some financial clout and bring in better quality players, embed a more attractive brand of football, and improve our facilities so we can eventually look towards developing more youth talent.
We’re approaching the January transfer window and although were low on funds I might dip in to the loan market if one or two quality players become available, just to freshen things up. Our 22 man squad has been sufficient in terms of cover, rotation and keeping the squad happy but if there’s a chance to bring in a quality player I’ll look to do it. I’ve got my eye on Renato Sanches of Benfica, their looking to loan him out to gain some first team experience.
Things didn’t go well for us in the League Cup as we went out to Reading in the 2nd round, at home. Fortunately our favoured FA Cup gets underway soon with a 3rd round home tie against Peterborough. I’ll be looking for us to fair better in this competition and put together a decent run.