September - October 2020
After an impressive preseason, a good start was always possible in the league and the league cup. However, winning three on the bounce and ending up top of the table with a tie against Chelsea in the 3rd round, I could not have predicted for my first competitive month in management.
We bolstered our first-team with three signings, bringing in defender Matty Pearson, winger Michael Duffy and midfielder Ross Wallace for a combined £200,000.
These three signings have helped a lot on the field and also with providing depth when we need it during a tough match.
We started with a great opener against Swansea, setting our attacking stall out for how we would approach Stoke in the same way, winning by the same scoreline.
In the 2nd round of the Carabao Cup, we took down our first Premier League side with a penalty win over Fulham as Ademola Lookman failed to convert the decisive penalty to keep the newly promoted side in the shootout.
Confidence was oozing against a weaker side in Rotherham United, winning our third 3-1 fixture of the season and the second in as many games in the Championship.
A win versus Chelsea would have been nice in my first month of management and even though we came close, we lost due to a very unlucky Jake Cooper own goal, deflecting in from a curling Pulisic shot.
We capped off the month with a fantastic 2-1 win against last season’s play-off favourites Brentford at The Den courtesy of two Kenneth Zohore goals in the first half.
Our final match before the international break was against Swansea City and we were able to comfortably win before the first half-hour with a two goal lead as Zohore and centre-back Jake Cooper both scored.
We returned after the break against newly promoted underdogs Wycombe Wanderers. There was certainly a lack of match sharpness throughout the break, exemplified by some of the lazy crosses and shots on show. However, we were able to make it 1-0 right at the death with Jake Coopers second goal in as many games.
3-1 was the score at home to Luton Town as we put the relegation candidates to the sword at the end of the game.
The first table-topping fixture was next up and we went into the day two points ahead of 2nd placed Barnsley. We went 2-0 down before the break, with Zohore reducing the deficit just after the hour mark. However, this was not enough to stage a comeback, raising concerns about the team’s bottle - a concern raised last year during the play-off push.
After a comfortable 2-0 win against Preston to regain top spot, we immediately lost it at the end of October with our second defeat of the season coming against Huddersfield Town at home.
With pundits predicting a mid-table/bottom half finish for us this year and the board expecting a top-half finish, to achieve 2nd spot after two months at the helm seems to be good going.
At the moment, there are three contenders for the top two spots including us, Bournemouth and Barnsley as we are all within two points of each other. Down in 4th are Reading, who sit a fair way back, five points below 2nd spot that we currently occupy.
We expect greater competition as the campaign wears on, particularly from the likes of Watford and Brentford whose quality inevitably has to shine through at some point.
Wycombe Wanderers - the preseason favourites for relegation - are performing well above expectations in mid-table as Rotherham United, Coventry City and Sheffield Wednesday all lie in the relegation zone.
Sheffield Wednesday are still yet to reach 0 points following their 6-point deduction for their violation of the EFL’s profit and sustainability rules.
It's very much a case of simply enjoying them whilst they're here. Parrott is never going to be a possibility unless he's in his mid-thirties given his potential. Zohore is a possibility, it just remains to be seen what West Brom think of that.
It will certainly need a long-term fix at some point and we do have back-up options for the loaned strikers. As for the thuggery, it might have to wait until January