Season Preview Part 2 29/07/2013Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
Part Deux. Next lot up tomorrow.
INS: Jermaine Beckford (Leicester City, Undisclosed), Robert Hall (West Ham United, Undisclosed), Connor Wilkinson (Millwall, Undisclosed), Alex Baptiste (Blackpool, Free), Gary Fraser (Hamilton Academical, Free), Marc Tierney (Norwich City, Free), Hayden White (Sheffield Wednesday, Free)
OUTS: Marcos Alonso (Fiorentina, Undisclosed), Kevin Davies (Preston North End, Free), Rob Lainton (Bury, Free), Joe McKee (Morton, Free),Alex McQuade (Shrewsbury Town, Free), Sam Ricketts (Wolverhampton Wanderers, Free), Jack Sampson (Morecambe, Free), Gregg Wylde (Aberdeen, Free), Adam Blakeman, Ben Dennis, Lewis Fielding, Ben Hampson, Gary Fraser (Partick Thistle, Six Month Loan), Jay Spearing (Liverpool, End of Loan)
OUR EX-TROTTERS: None
THEIR EX-ORNS: Chris Eagles, Marvin Sordell
RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Two competitive 2-1′s to the home side, Lloyd’s goal scant consolation at the Reebok with Vydra’s brilliance deciding a close game at Vicarage Road.
POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:
Baptiste Knight Wheater Tierney
Lee Holden Medo Eagles
VERDICT: Dougie Freedman’s decision to quit fourth placed Palace for struggling Bolton last season looked an odd one on the face of it, almost as odd as Bolton pushing the boat out for a contracted manager who’d only had eighteen months at the helm at Selhurst where he’d lost as many games as he’d won. Perhaps his perception was that Palace were overachieving whilst Wanderers were only going to improve. He was clearly proven correct on the second score and arguably the first also. Much as Palace earned their win in the play-offs, they’d done a fair job of trying to balls up their top six place; a ten point cushion in early March had only dropped to four (from Bolton) by the end of the season, ten games and only one win later. Going into 2013/14, Freedman’s Bolton look a strong and confident side; the summer recruits have been solid, and in Stuart Holden, if he stays fit, they have a fine player in a very strong midfield who was prevented from contributing for much of the last two seasons through injury. Centre-back remains an issue, as does Wanderers’ iffy away form – only four wins away in the League last season. Perhaps most significant of all is the pressure that Bolton and Freedman will be under, the former in the second year of parachute payments with a drop in income if they don’t go up , the latter working under the pressure of expectation for perhaps the first time in his managerial career. There are a number of strong sides in the division that will expect to compete for automatic promotion and they ain’t all going to swing it. Nonetheless, with strength in depth the Trotters look good for a top four finish, automatic not out of the question.
INS: Mohamed Coulibaly (Grasshoppers, Free), Ian Harte (Reading, Free), Elliott Ward (Norwich City, Free)
OUTS: Frank Demouge (Roda JC Kerkrade, Free), Jonathan Meades (Oxford United, Free), Charlie Sheringham (AFC Wimbledon, Free), Matt Tubbs (Rotherham United, Six Month Loan), Steve Fletcher (retired), Danny Seaborne (Southampton*, End of Loan)
OUR EX-CHERRIES: None
THEIR EX-ORNS: None
RECENT ENCOUNTERS: A League Cup tie ten years ago, the first game in the wake of the death of Jimmy Davis, settled by Scott Fitzgerald in injury time. Prior to that, two single-goal wins in the Division Two title season, 1997/98, the second of which saw Steve Palmer start in goal.
POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:
Francis Elphick Ward Daniels
Ritchie Arter O’Kane Pugh
VERDICT: Another of the more surprising developments of last season was that in October of Eddie Howe leaving Burnley – mid-table in the Championship – to return to Bournemouth, then in the League One relegation zone. Bournemouth are Howe’s home town club… nonetheless, he must have had a sense that something good was about to happen at Dean Court. What was as remarkable was what did happen next… on the back of four consecutive defeats the Cherries beat Orient the next day, only their second victory of the season, and embarked upon a run of 21 league games that saw one defeat and three separate spurts of five consecutive wins. Then they lost five on the hop. Then they won eight on the hop, before missing out on the title by virtue of two points dropped at Tranmere on the final day. All or nothing then… but whilst Bournemouth are a bit of an unknown quantity it’s difficult to predict anything other than mid-table consolidation for next season. There’s quality in the side, particularly in the midfield where Pugh and Arter have both attracted admirers. Up front, Brett Pitman had a patchy time at Bristol City but he too is “back home” and can probably be relied on for a few goals – although despite Bournemouth’s status as League One’s leading scorers it’s not altogether obvious who will share the load with the maverick striker. Too much to struggle. Not enough to challenge. Fifteenth.
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
INS: Adam Chicksen (Franchise FC, Undisclosed), Matthew Upson (Stoke City, Free)
OUTS: Stephen Dobbie (Crystal Palace, Free), Ryan Harley (Swindon Town, Free), Anton Rodgers (Oldham Athletic, Free), Gary Dicker, Marcos Painter, Vicente, Wayne Bridge (Manchester City*, End of Loan), Dean Hammond (Southampton, End of Loan)
OUR EX-SEAGULLS: None
THEIR EX-ORNS: Liam Bridcutt, Will Buckley, Will Hoskins, Tomasz Kuszczak
RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Defeat at Vicarage Road in Nathaniel Chalobah’s debut courtesy of a Craig Mackail-Smith penalty, and a stonking victory at the Amex including that goal.
POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:
Bruno Greer Upson Calderon
Lua Lua Orlandi Buckley
VERDICT: I should confess that I was more worried about Brighton than Palace. Before the games. Brighton were the side with a bit of fire in them, on something resembling a run of form, and with a striker in Ulloa to provide the end product that might not quite always have been there previously – even if, as others pointed out, Albion were kind of doing what we were doing, but not as well. As it turned out Brighton fizzed briefly but were then comprehensively outplayed and beaten by Palace… the stuff that’s come out since suggests that a lot of the drama was backstage, but whatever. Brighton’s season fizzled out.
Since then Poyet has left and the Camp Nou-schooled erstwhile Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Óscar García has come in. Changes to the playing staff have been minimal at the time of writing… Upson, the senior recruit, spent half of last year on loan in Sussex anyway. There’s still a good month before the transfer window closes of course, but as it stands it’s difficult to see Brighton doing any better than last season’s not quite good enough. Poyet may, by all accounts, not have been the most pleasant bloke to work for but he got his team playing well. García will have achieved something if he emulates his predecessor but there are too many bigger, stronger squads in the division for Brighton to have any more than a fair-to-middling shot at reaching the play-offs again. Eighth.
INS: Scott Arfield (Huddersfield Town, Free), Alex Cisak (Oldham Athletic, Free), Tom Heaton (Bristol City, Free), Joseph Mills (Reading, Free), Daniel Nizic (Sydney FC, Free), Ryan Noble (Sunderland, Free)
OUTS: Adam Evans (Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Free), Wes Fletcher (York City, Free), Lee Grant (Derby County, Free), Alex MacDonald (Burton Albion, Free), Chris McCann (Wigan Athletic, Free), Shay McCartan (Accrington Stanley, Free), Martin Paterson (Huddersfield Town, Free), George Porter (AFC Wimbledon, Season Loan), Joe Jackson, Brian Jensen, Dane Richards, Jon Stewart, Aryn Williams
OUR EX-CLARETS: None
THEIR EX-ORNS: Sean Dyche (Manager), Tony Loughlan (First Team Coach), Ian Woan (Assistant Manager)
RECENT ENCOUNTERS: A pair of draws, the latter of which after a see saw match at Vicarage Road in which an injury time Sam Vokes equaliser cost us three points.
POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:
Trippier Mee Shackell Lafferty
Stanislas Marney Arfield Wallace
VERDICT: On the face of it the Clarets have traded down over the summer, having lost the excellent Grant, skipper Chris McCann and professional irritant Martin Paterson, and with Charlie Austin’s future still up in the air at the time of writing. Like many others, Burnley are being painfully cautious in the transfer market but we know from experience that Sean Dyche has done a more than decent job in similar circumstances in the past. No surprise to look at the team above and quickly assess that the back four ought to be more than solid enough; with the incoming David Jones – effectively switching shirts with Wigan-bound McCann – in place as enforcer Dyche is once again setting his side up to be solid first, with anything else a bonus. A sensible priority, since if Austin does leave it’ll be for less than they might expect to pay to replace him, given the well-publicised failed medical at Hull. The squad’s not particularly deep either, but you’d back Sean to have them solidly but unspectacularly bottom half.