Day one of our new digs has been a hectic one. The first order of business was securing a 500k TV deal for the team. Talk about feeling like making a huge step forward - that's nearly twice as much as our team profited all of last season!
The board has also made the decision to make the club fully professional! This is something I've personally been striving for, and working within the confines of. It was difficult and time-consuming to switch over to as many full-time contracts as possible in the past, but that is now the past. This is a professional team now. =D
I have told the board that I fully expect to avoid relegation this season. This has secured us a transfer budget of 45k and a wage budget of 16.5k p/w. I will likely continue to play it conservatively in the transfer market, but we will not wait as long as we did in the past (when we first got promoted to BS Premier) to infuse the team with new talent.
Happy Easter, everyone!
One of the first things I set out to this season was revamp our coaching staff. Beforehand, the board didn't want to bring on any more coaches so we were stuck with what we had. The result was a bunch of two star training sessions. :no
Now that we have an allowance of 7 coaches, I terminated the contracts of everyone on the staff outside of one scout - Mike Price. If you recall, Price is rated red in judging potential so I have been relying on his scouting reports. Now, I have 3 stars in Ball Control, Defending, Attacking, Shooting, and Set pieces; 4 stars in Strength and Tactics; 5 stars in Goalkeeping; and 6 stars in Aerobic. I'm excited to see our players grow now that we have a half-decent staff on board! Not only that, but I was able to talk the board into improving our training facilities. This all goes along with what our approach has been so far in terms of bringing in players - we typically go with players that show good potential from scouting reports.
I've also managed to bring in a couple of key players on season-long loans from premier reserve squads. Our new starting GK is Alex Ball and we have a new starting MCa in Matty Ritchie. These guys are colossal upgrades at their respective positions and will go a long way toward helping us avoid relegation. And while I'd love to be able to sign them outright, I highly doubt that happens.
Current standings: 0/3/1, -1, 23rd position.
Talk about a nice run of results! I think the first few games were a bit of a feeling-out period for the team as we introduced two new starters. Seven games later, our team seems to be back to their usual ways. We aren't blowing anyone out, having scored no more than 3 goals in any game so far (3-2 win vs Wycombe). We're back to playing stout defense and opportunistic offense.
Matty Ritchie has an average rating of 7.06 thus far in league games, but I contend that GK Alex Ball has been the more impressive of the two highly touted loan players. Ball has only conceded 5 goals in 8 league appearances, has an average rating of 6.8, and is doing all this at the tender age of 17! If he keeps this up, there is no reason to doubt that we will not only avoid relegation, but we stand a chance to contend for immediate promotion!
Current standings: 4/6/1, +3, 7th position.
I want to see if you guys are able to download this match file and view it for yourselves. The match is against L1 team Millwall in the 1st round of the FA Cup. Hopefully it gives you some insight on the type of football that we like to play:
Our good early run was spoiled by an up-and-down series of games in the middle of league play. I'm still happy to be comfortably above the relegation line, but somewhat disheartened by the fact that we've definitely slipped out of contention for the playoffs. The reality is that we are still lacking enough talent to contend at this point. I already have my eyes set on improving the team for next season.
Priority #1 is to land a quality ST to replace either first-teamer Steve Hutchings or backup Lewis Hamlin - with the odds being that we replace Hamlin. Hutchings is only 21 so he has more growth potential than the 26 year-old Hamlin. The bottom line is I need a quality threat up front.
Priority #2 is to find a replacement for DR Robbie Rice. He has performed well for us (6.95 rating) so far, but his contract demands are getting a little out of hand for a player of his caliber. I'm fairly confident we can find an able replacement for the amount he's asking for.
Both Hamlin and Rice have been transfer-listed and I'm hoping a contending BSP team or bottom-feeding League 2 team offers something reasonable for either of them.
Current standings: 9/13/8, +2, 16th position.
A furious finish to end the season put us within 3 points of the 7th and final playoff seed with one game to go! Unfortunately, our bid for a miracle run fell short on the last day. I'm still happy with our results, however, and our board is too.
My initial expectations of avoiding relegation was met and exceeded. I expect next season to be difficult since we lose two of our top players as they return to their teams from loan. Hopefully this season's success will prompt the board to increase our budget even more next season and I expect us to make more through gate sales as well.
We already have offers out on a handful of defensive players as we look to improve in that area. Once we get a better idea on our budget for the upcoming season we will address the offensive side of things, with the hopes of signing a major player at ST.
Average attendance on the year was 3233 (4300 max, 1236 seated) with 1635 season ticket holders.
Corporate facilities are adequate.
Training facilities are basic. Undergoing upgrade this offseason.
Youth facilities are basic.
Click here for the final standings and here for the season in review.
Here is the final transfer information for the season.
And lastly here are the final team stats and here is our best eleven for 2011.