It’s every manager’s favourite time of the season.. Youth Intake Day! This was meant to be our golden generation, a few might make it but the vast amount of them I personally think won’t make our first team. The best player of the bunch by far is Dominic Towns, the young midfielder will likely play with our first team in cup games etc..
Just on the run in to the promotion play offs and Callum McManaman goes and gets injured and as our top assister since he joined hopefully we don’t miss him too much.
Finally our results have picked up! our second month unbeaten and we seem to be converting more and more chances. Quigley has found some form and our loanee striker/winger from Fulham Rasmus Weidesheim-Paul has finally found his feet and rescued us late on in the Carlisle and Tranmere games.
Results have gone our way! We are top of the League! Despite not winning all our games, somehow we are two points clear going into the final month of the season. We have the easiest run in, apart from a tight games against Newport on the final day of the season which could be decisive.
The poor run of form carried over into January, we crashed out the FA Cup to admittedly a Millwall side that comfortably beat us and despite the score line being only 1-0, it easily could have been 4,5 or 6.
Later in the month and it seems like we finally beat the slump, picking up some valuable points against play off hunting clubs like Port Vale and Crawley.
Just as all seemed right though, Wang, a young winger we had on loan from Wolves, picked up a season ending cruciate ligament injury and it leaves us another hole in the squad we need to fill in the January window.
November was such a good month, but December the wheels well untruly have fallen off. We played multiple teams we should have comfortably beaten but despite dominating games we couldn’t kill off these teams. However, we went to take on at the time 1st and 3rd in the league in Newport and Plymouth and comfortably despatched of both of them.
The results against the clubs around us saw us go top of the league on goal difference, despite us having a very shaky month.
Another month, another player of ours leaving for Accrington.. This time Luke Charman a player we brought in as a back up striker to Scott Quigley, decided he didn’t want a new deal as we couldn’t guarantee him the game time he wanted. It’s looking more and more like January is going to be all about rebuilding our strike force.
Finally we got a preview of this seasons youth intake! And with a lot of relief it appears to be a ‘Golden Generation’ just how good it is remains to be seen but the preview looks very good.
It was never going to last forever, but unfortunately our 8 match unbeaten run in the league has come to an end thanks to a club expected to be title challengers in Chesterfield. The loss seemed to have sparked a downturn in form that saw us on the reverse end of some very tight games.
Bolton who got relegated from League One last season, did manage to keep most of their squad together so our loss away to them doesn’t surprise me. Thankfully the narrow win against Carlisle where we came back from 0-1 down shows a glimmer of hope.
It’s no shock at all that our downturn in form came around the time we lost influential playmaker Josh Kay, and given that and the injury to Alfie Payne, I decided that reinforcements were needed. Thankfully in League Two, you can sign free agents outside of the transfer windows, therefore we looked long and hard and came up with Alex Woodyard.
The former Non-League journeyman has recently broke into the Football League with Peterborough and Tranmere, before being released and signing for us. His scouting report reckons that he is a good League One player so hopefully he can help us get to that level.
Sadly our loss of form has seen us slip of the top of the league, thankfully we still sit in the automatic promotion places which is still a massive over achievement for us.
The juggernaut which is Newport County are looking very strong contenders to win the league. They lost their first 3, then drew 3 and haven’t failed to take maximum points from a game since.
Well what a month! We’ve been inconsistent as hell but we keep going.
It seems at the moment we either win convincingly or don’t turn up, what id do for a run of 1-0 wins! This is probably my fault, we’ve picked up a few knocks along the way and it’s really exposed just how shallow our squad is, and with our youth squad being so poor, its meant that we’ve had to fit a few squares in round holes.
Two of our best players in August have picked up severe injuries in Kay and Payne and going into the last game against Morcambe I thought we’d struggle without them, until loan signing Wang decided to have the game of his life!
Its these injuries that have lead me to dip back into the free agent market, the lad we’ve signed isn’t a world beater, but has signed a fairly cheap deal at £600 a week and was more than happy to sign until the end of the season, ideal when Kay will be back around Feb!
So here he is, the new man! Former Doncaster, Portsmouth and Bristol Rovers man Kyle Bennett.
With us having a sketchy month, I thought we’d slip down the league into mid table mediocrity which frankly everyone would have been happy with, myself included. However, some how, some way we sit joint top of League Two, with a goal difference massively helped by our 7-1 demolition of Crewe back in August.
So August, our season got underway and we still made a couple of little improvements squad wise.
We made a great start to the month, and in the league managed to go unbeaten during August. Two of our key men from last year, players that we turned down offers for in the summer, have made amazing starts to life in the football league, Josh Kay and Scott Quigley. They are our joint top goalscorers and Kay is nearly in double figures assist wise already.
The best of our new signings so far has been young midfielder Alfie Payne, the free agent signing has been consistently achieving 8.0 ratings and has been instrumental in creating chances and making key passes. The rest our our new signings have taken a little while to settle in but are on their way to being solid players for us.
Before deadline day at the end of August, we made a couple of late changes to our squad. Youngsters Waddington and Penfold left us on short term loan deals, mainly for game time as neither was going to be challenging the first team. Waddington would have got a few games but him being an important player for Stockport who are also playing his wages in full made the decision easier.
We also made a late addition, Luke Charman, a striker who is just a bit more first team ready than Penfold who we sent out on loan and will give us another option rather than Angus and Quigley. Admittedly he may only get cup games if Quigley maintains his current form but we will wait and see.
Im in self-isolation, so here’s the return of our Barrow FM2020 career!
After squeaking through the play-offs last term, we certainly have a job on our hands. Thankfully, the board have given us a great chance of achieving this due to our budgets and expectations.
With us after contract clauses etc kicking in, only spending roughly £15,000 a week on wages it leaves us a great deal of room for making additions and strengthening our squad. This will only be helped by us shifting on some of the limited dead wood and letting a few contracts expire.
So as you can see above, we moved a few players on, including a few that might surprise some of you. Hindle and Stewart played vital roles for us last season, after we got a few injuries they stepped up and really helped us in our promotion push. Unfortunately both just won’t cut it in League Two and are at an age where we should think about cashing in as we did.
The rest of the players that left were mainly squad players who just didn’t quite cut it and wouldn’t get a look in this season.
Now onto incomings and there is a few!
Despite having a bit of money to spend we haven’t really needed to use it, the new link to Fulham has proved worthwhile, giving us cover at centre midfield and right back.
Wang from Wolves was also a cheap move for us, with us not paying a penny of his wages and he will compete for a start at right wing.
Matthew Platt joined us from Blackburn for £10,000, the only money we spent this window. He impressed me last season on loan and will be a starting centre half for us again this season.
The rest were free transfers, Denham and Bailey are both centre half a position we needed depth. Onodi is a new back up keeper from Villa who may challenge for a start later in the season. Payne is a great free signing from Norwich, the youngster will bring some flair to our team in central midfield. Randall featured heavily for Sutton last year, and will provide a bit more competition at right wing, provided he can make the step up.
Into the games, we did really well this Pre-Season, picking up some wins against teams we probably should have lost and earning a few quid along the way.
Our first game of the season is at home too Port Vale, so tune in next time to see how our start to life in the Football League comes on..