Almost the Fourth-Quarter Report

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Almost the Fourth-Quarter Report

Post by JohnC » 10 Jun 2020, 23:09

First-Quarter Report, I noted:
Our finish to last season left us in 7th place. This season, we sit in 7th place. In both cases: not quite good enough, if sixth place is the cut-off line for ‘good enough’. It’s hard to argue that the managerial change has had a positive effect on our results.

In my Third Quarter Report, I stated:
As things stand, we face dropping to seventh and competing for the last play-off spot ….which is where we were at this time last year. Improvement? Our quarterly returns this season are a study in flat-lining.

We Wuz Not Robbed/Cheated
Messrs Fry, MacAnthony and Ferguson are offering different versions of the notion that we were going to accelerate smoothly up the table in the final nine games of the season.
After thirty-three games, I happened to believe my own version of this (in my third-Quarter report, I had this to say):
Unsubstantiated Speculation: above Wycombe and Fleetwood, good for fifth place. In the play-offs, our proven ability to keep clean sheets may pay dividends.

However, add the last seventeen games of last season to the thirty-five games of this season, and after fifty-two games under the current management we are a sixth/going on seventh-place team – seventh place, in fact, if/when the team below us (last season it was Doncaster) wins its game in hand.

It is pointless, in more ways than one, to speculate on what might have been. In last season’s last-quarter run-in, claiming four points from promotion-chasing Portsmouth and Sunderland looked a bit of a challenge, but we managed it. Conversely, few would have predicted that, during the same period, we would clock up defeats to Bradford City and Walsall, (both of whom were relegated), and to Wimbledon,(who avoided relegation on goal difference).

This season we got what we deserved.

Coventry are probably happier than we are over the Godden deal (14 goals in 26 League One appearances during his injury-hit season). Eisa’s 14 goals came from 29 LI appearances. Eisa managed one goal in his last 11 appearances, Godden had five in his last six games.
We are reported to have spent approaching £2m on Eisa and Taylor; I wonder how much Wycombe, Oxford and Fleetwood spent.

Outgoing: It’s hard to see Brown or Knight returning on loan. Szmodics appears to have left.
Returning: I imagine Naismith (recuperating) and O’Hara will return from the far north, though I suspect they’d both prefer to stay at Hibs and Motherwell respectively. Cooper may stay on at Plymouth.

I don’t know the contractual status of most of the following, but one way or another, I’d be surprised to see Toney, OHara, Bennett, Woodyard, [/b]Cooke, Cooper, Thompson and Chapman feature next season. Add O’Malley, Brown, Knight and Szmodics to that list, and we have twelve likely departures.

Financial reality may trump ambitious rhetoric.
If we signed no-one, we could start
Pym, Butler, FBT, Kent, Beevers, Taylor, Reed, Ward, Dembele, Eisa and Jones;
with Boyd, Mason, Naismith, Kanu, Tasdemir on the bench. Not an intimidating line-up, but arguably a competent one which might be good for a mid-table finish.

[/b]Free Agents
I’m not sure what Knight’s status at Leicester is, but it might be worth asking a question.

Second Comings
CMS, McLean, Paul Taylor, Tomlin and Boyd should probably not have come back. Finding a striker to complement Eisa is likely to be challenging. Conor Washington may find his position with Hearts untenable, given that club’s current uncertain status, and at twenty-nine, he should still be able to provide an energetic presence in attack.
In the current climate there may be lean pickings for free agents. Maybe Grant McCann decides that Maddison has not earned his stripes at Hull. There’s probably too much of a whiff of burned bridges/boats with Maddison, but his return might be worth considering, however briefly.

Incoming Loans
If we are to continue to dabble in this market, we might look to Parkead in Glasgow. Celtic have striler Jonathan Afolabi, signed last season from ManchesterCity, but apparently not yet close to first team consideration. Current first-team lynchpin Callum McGregor had a loan spell with Notts County a few years ago, so Celtic might be amenable to a season-long loan. Unfortunately, he’s a prospect, not a proven starter. Afolayi came from Manchester City, and Celtic got good returns from their previous dealings with City – Patrick Roberts, Olivier Ncham and Jeremie Frimpong -- so there are promising precedents with regard to quality.
Celtic also have Siriki Dembele’s younger brother, Karamoko, on their books, but that’s another story.

The Great Imponderable
Ivan Toney.

A Possible Way Forward
Not so long ago, Burton got promoted on the strength of keeping twenty-two clean sheets and a goalscoring record of 57 scored and 37 conceded.
This season, we kept fifteen clean sheets in thirty-five games....

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Re: Almost the Fourth-Quarter Report

Post by bristleposh » 11 Jun 2020, 07:57

You’re never going to please all the people all the time. Personally I have, apart from the final outcome, found the season enjoyable. The one thing I can’t get my head around is our inability to see out games when either in the lead or level. Without that 95th minute equaliser against ten men at Wycombe we would have made one of the play-off spots our own. Our best attacker of the season was arguably ur best defender as well. Replacing him is going to be one hell of a problem, hopefully when people are allowed to return to football stadia I’ll start taking an interest in football again. I certainly won’t be watching any of the play off matches or premiership games, I have no interest. If we are lucky enough to return to watching games live, hopefully Bristol Rovers, Swindon, Plymouth and if Cheltenham or Exeter come up to getting to a few more games to go to. My main thought of this season has been one of disappointment, especially of the way it was finished.
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Post by JohnC » 18 Jun 2020, 16:52

Last ‘season’, we scored 68 goals and conceded 40; Coventry topped the table with 48 scored against 30; Sunderland played one more game in finishing eighth, notching 40 and conceding 32.
In one sense, it could be argued that we scored twenty more goals than we needed to. Bear that in mind when pondering how to replace Ivan Toney. Project those scoring numbers to a complete 46- game season and we’d have managed eighty-nine for and fifty-three against.
I noted recently in a different thread that
‘Not so long ago, Burton got promoted on the strength of keeping twenty-two clean sheets and a goalscoring record of 57 scored and 37 conceded.
This season, we kept fifteen clean sheets in thirty-five games....’

Last season’s L1 goals were divided as follows:
Potential/Actual Leavers
Toney 24
Maddison 9
Szmodics 4
Knight 3
Total 40 (Adjust to 52 for a 46 game season)

Eisa 14
Dembele 5
Ward 3
Butler 2
Taylor 2
Kent 1
Reed 1
Total 28 (Adjust to 37 for a 46 game season)

If we want to achieve a play-off spot with a theoretical minimum total of sixty goals, who will provide those goals? Maybe the retained players might manage
Eisa 15
Dembele 8
Ward 4
Taylor 5
Jones 5
Reed 1
Boyd 1
Total 39

Where are the other twenty-one goals coming from?
Toney replacement 15
Defenders 4
Own goals 2
Total 21

As things stand, I’m not too optimistic.

The defence has to step up in a big way; firstly by maintaining its late-season back-three solidity. With Beevers, Kent, Thompson and a fit Naismith to choose from, that ought to be achievable, though they won’t have the added protection of Toney at set-pieces. At the other end, they need to produce more than the three goals scored by Butler and Kent (set against the four own goals shipped by Butler (2), Kent and Mason).
Collectively, last season Beevers, Kent, Mason, Butler, Thompson, FBT and Bennett made 161 appearances for a net goal contribution of minus one.

There’s a huge challenge ahead. Reflect on our only non-relegation Championship season this century, 2011-2012, when we could feature Taylor, Sinclair, Tomlin, McCann, Boyd and Rowe in a starting line-up, with Frecklington and Ball on the bench. Multiple goal threats.

In one sense, we’ve done well with main striker signings since relegation: Assombalonga, Marriott, Toney. However, none of their stellar seasons has contributed to promotion….

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