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Season Preview 2022 – Part 2 25/07/2022

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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BURNLEY

INS: Luke McNally (Oxford United, £1,800,000), Samuel Bastien (Standard Liège, Undisclosed), Josh Cullen (Anderlecht, Undisclosed), Arijanet Muric (Manchester City, Undisclosed), Scott Twine (Milton Keynes Dons, Undisclosed), CJ Egan-Riley (Manchester City, Free), Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Manchester City, Season Loan), Ian Maatsen (Chelsea, Season Loan)

OUTS: Nathan Collins (Wolves, £20,500,000), Nick Pope (Newcastle United, £10,000,000), Wayne Hennessey (Nottingham Forest, Undisclosed), Anthony Glennon (Grimsby Town, Free), Ben Mee (Brentford, Free), James Tarkowski (Everton, Free), Lukas Jensen (Accrington Stanley, Season Loan), Wout Weghorst (Beşiktaş, Season Loan), Phil Bardsley, Aaron Lennon, Erik Pieters, Dale Stephens, ?Matěj Vydra

OUR EX-CLARETS: None

THEIR EX-ORNS: Jack Cork, Martin Hodge (Head of Recruitment), ?Matěj Vydra

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2021-22 1-2 0-0
2019-20 0-3
2018-19 0-0
2016-17 2-1 0-2
2013-14 1-1
2012-13 3-3
2011-12 3-2 2-2
2010-11 1-3
2008-09 3-0 0-4
2007-08 1-2
2005-06 3-1 1-4
2004-05 0-1 1-3
2003-04 1-1 3-2
2002-03 2-1 7-4  2-0
2001-02 1-2 0-1
2000-01 0-1 0-2
1997-98 1-0 0-2
1996-97 2-2 1-4

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Muric
Roberts           Harwood-Bellis        McNally              Taylor
Brownhill             Westwood
Cornet                 Twine                  McNeil
Rodriguez

VERDICT: It feels a horribly long time ago now, but there were points not too far from the end of the season where it felt as if we might not get relegated.  With the benefit of hindsight any hope was misplaced, since the brief stiffening of our away form under Hodgson (beginning at Turf Moor) never looked like being converted into performances (and points) at home and couldn’t sustain itself against a difficult away run-in either. But with the home games we had to play, and much as we comprehensively merited our relegation in the end, it wouldn’t have taken very much. Ismaïla Sarr’s miss against Leeds will remain in my head as a point at which it could all have turned without risk of being proven otherwise.

There was a lot of competition for relegation last season, we had to work pretty damn hard to be one of the worst three and in the end it was the Clarets who joined ourselves and Norwich making the drop.  I must confess to having done more reading around Burnley than for most of these other pieces without really understanding where they are financially.  Certainly the immediate armageddon rumoured late last season doesn’t seem to have materialised, but the hole in the budget hasn’t gone away either.  One financial opinion that I found cited leveraged buy-outs as something that can be very good for a club or very bad for a club.  Given the possibility of the latter, given the high stakes being played with you have to wonder how it’s permissible for a previously secure club to risk suddenly being laden with ostensibly unserviceable debt – or for that dice to be rolled on its behalf.

Vincent Kompany actually arriving will have settled nerves but whilst there are few inexperienced  managers with contacts to burn from recent playing days who would be higher on anyone’s list as a new manager, he remains nonetheless an inexperienced manager leaning very hard on those contacts.  The Burnley squad needed refreshing but replacing Sean Dyche’s haggard savvy with a novice for a rebuilding job – Kompany’s talking up of his moderate-looking success at Anderlecht given context feels a bit desperate – and replacing wise old heads Ben Mee and James Tarkowski with albeit talented kids feels optimistic, borne of necessity or otherwise.  Any expectation of being able to plug a financial hole through player sales will have been checked by the state of the transfer market  – England international Nick Pope only fetching  £10m was met with alarm and the expected sale of Maxwell Cornet hasn’t materialised.  The Burnley squad lacks goals though the signing of Twine looks impressive….  it’s possible to see it going very well or very badly indeed for the Clarets.

CARDIFF CITY

INS: Ollie Tanner (Lewes, Undisclosed), Ryan Allsop (Derby County, Free), Ebou Adams (Forest Green, Free), Jak Alnwick (St Mirren, Free), Jamilu Collins (Paderborn, Free), Vontae Daley-Campbell (Leicester City, Free), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City, Free), Sheyi Ojo (Liverpool, Free), Andy Rinomhota (Reading, Free), Mahlon Romeo (Millwall, Free), Romaine Sawyers (West Brom, Free), Cedric Kipré (West Brom, Season Loan)

OUTS: James Connolly (Bristol Rovers, Undisclosed), Ciaron Brown (Oxford United, Free), James Collins (Derby County, Free), Aden Flint (Stoke City, Free), Marlon Pack (Portsmouth, Free), Will Vaulks (Sheffield Wednesday, Free), Leo Bacuna, ?Sean Morrison, Josh Murphy, Alex Smithies, Isaac Vassell, Chanka Zimba (Newport County, Season Loan), Alfie Doughty (Stoke City, End of Loan), Tommy Doyle (Manchester City, End of Loan), Cody Drameh (Leeds United, End of Loan), Jordan Hugill (Norwich City, End of Loan), Uche Ikpeazu (Middlesbrough, End of Loan)

OUR EX-BLUEBIRDS: None

THEIR EX-ORNS: Graham Stack (Goalkeeping Coach)

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2020-21 0-1 2-1
2018-19 3-2
2014-15 0-1 4-2
2012-13 0-0
2011-12 1-1
2010-11 4-1
2009-10 0-4
2008-09 2-2
2007-08 2-2
2005-06 2-1 3-1
2004-05 0-0 3-0
2003-04 2-1 0-3

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Allsop
Romeo         Ng          Kipré           Collins
Wintle            Rinomhota
Ojo           Colwill    O’Dowda
Watters

BLUFFER’S GUIDE: And here’s another club rebuilding, but in rather different circumstances.  Cardiff have seen a large number of contracts expire over the summer and a big overhaul is underway.  The club clearly had targets lined up, as free transfers flooded in in the early weeks of the window;  they briefly looked like being embellished by the slightly incongruous arrival of Gareth Bale, but that’s not how things turned out.

Palace demonstrated in the Premier League last season that a huge clear out of out of contract players can be a helpful thing, but it’s a big ask of Steve Morison, who stepped up from the youth team after Mick McCarthy’s departure, on the back of challenging finances.  Morison will use a number of City’s good kids but isn’t starting from a high base as far as the squad is concerned.  Muddling together a side strong enough to stay up would be an achievement.

COVENTRY CITY

INS: Kasey Palmer (Bristol City, Free), Callum Doyle (Manchester City, Season Loan), Jonathan Panzo (Nottingham Forest, Season Loan)

OUTS: Declan Drysdale (Newport County, Undisclosed), Josh Pask (The New Saints, Free), Jordan Shipley (Shrewsbury Town, Undisclosed), Julien Dacosta (Shrewsbury Town, Season Loan), Jodi Jones, Jake Clarke-Salter (Chelsea, End of Loan), Ian Maatsen (Chelsea, End of Loan)

OUR EX-SKY BLUES: None

THEIR EX-ORNS: None

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2020-21 3-2 0-0
2019-20 3-0
2011-12 0-0
2010-11 2-2
2009-10 2-3
2008-09 2-1 3-2
2007-08 2-1 3-0
2005-06 4-0 1-3
2004-05 2-3 0-1
2003-04 1-1 0-0
2002-03 5-2 1-0
2001-02 3-0 2-0
1999-00 1-0 0-4
1987-88 1-0

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Moore
Hyam        McFadzean         Rose
Kane                 Sheaf             Hamer                    Bidwell
O’Hare       Allen
Gyökeres

BLUFFER’S GUIDE: The spate of new stadia built from the mid-nineties to the mid-two thousands were blighted by sponsors’ names.  Easy to be sniffy when you’re not the one having to fund it of course, but I wonder how supporters of Huddersfield Town, say, refer to their home which has been named all sorts of things since its creation and is still the McAlpine in my head.

Coventry’s home was renamed the Coventry Building Society Arena last summer having previously been the Ricoh Arena since its inception.  City haven’t spent the entire interim playing there of course;  they’ve always been tenants, these days to Wasps RFC, and have spent two periods in exile at first Sixfields and then St Andrews in spells that have been emblematic of the difficult ownership of the club by SISU.  City fans would be forgiven not to feel a great affection for the place, despite a deal that saw them return to the stadium last season – the longer term plan seems to be for yet another new stadium.

Despite this fraught backdrop which also saw City drop briefly into the fourth tier in  2017, Mark Robins has engineered a turnaround having improved City’s league position in each of the last five seasons.  Last year exceeded expectations with the Sky Blues spending most of the campaign in the top half, eventually finishing a perfectly acceptable twelfth.  You’d have to worry whether that can continue;  for all that City are by all accounts playing exciting positive football that has generated something of an atmosphere at whatever the stadium is called for the first time Robins will hit a ceiling at some point, and despite his experience management under those circumstances is a different challenge.  City boast a small budget and a small squad in which loans were successful and important last year and which has been further thinned by summer trading at the time of writing.  The first eleven has quality;  the versatile Victor Gyökeres can play anywhere across front line and there’s quality behind him in Ben Sheaf, Gustavo Hamer and the sought-after Callum O’Hare.  City shouldn’t struggle, but matching last season’s finish would be an achievement.

HUDDERSFIELD TOWN

INS: Kyle Hudlin (Solihull Moors, Undisclosed), David Kasumu (Milton Keynes Dons, Undisclosed), Jack Rudoni (AFC Wimbledon, Undisclosed), Will Boyle (Cheltenham Town, Free), Connor Mahoney (Millwall, Free), Yuta Nakayama (PEC Zwolle, Free), Tino Anjorin (Chelsea, Season Loan),

OUTS: Lewis O’Brien & Harry Toffolo (Nottingham Forest, £10,000,000), Pipa (Olympiacos, Undisclosed), Reece Brown (Forest Green Rovers, Free), Josh Austerfield (Harrogate, Season Loan), Romoney Crichlow (Bradford City, Season Loan), Kian Harratt (Bradford City, Season Loan), Jaheim Headley (Harrogate, Season Loan), Kyle Hudlin (AFC Wimbledon, Season Loan), Jamal Blackman, Fraizer Campbell, Carel Eiting, Naby Sarr, Álex Vallejo, Levi Colwill (Chelsea, End of Loan),  Daniel Sinani (Norwich, End of Loan)

OUR EX-TERRIERS: Ben Hamer

THEIR EX-ORNS: Leigh Bromby (Head of First Team Operations), Jonathan Hogg

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2020-21 2-0 0-2
2018-19 3-0
2017-18 1-4 0-1
2014-15 4-2
2013-14 1-4
2012-13 4-0 3-2
2000-01 1-2 2-1
1998-99 1-1 0-2

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Nicholls
Turton          Pearson             Lees           Ruffels
Hogg        Anjorin
Thomas                Holmes               Koroma
Ward

BLUFFER’S GUIDE: Half-decent in the Championship is a dangerous thing to be.  There are The Likes Of Brentford of course who are steady enough to gradually build year on year (“doing a Brentford”  in the Championship surely soon to be as tired as “doing a Charlton” or “doing a Stoke” were at various stages in the top flight, long ago as each seems).

But a Huddersfield side who staged a credible bid for promotion last year, finishing third and falling to Nottingham Forest in the play-off final (with the added insult of a couple of iffy penalty decisions going against them) may suffer from having reached for the stars and not quite made it.  Most obviously, a side that was more than the sum of its parts is nonetheless ripe to be pillaged;  left wing-back Harry Toffolo and midfielder Lewis O’Brien, most obviously and cruelly were snaffled for £10m by the team who denied the Terriers promotion.  Goalkeeper Lee Nicholls, probably the side’s outstanding player, has signed up for a new deal but Toffolo’s departure with those of loanee Levi Colvill and out-of-contract Naby Sarr earlier exits means Huddersfield will need to replace half of the back line that were – alongside a prodigious threat from set pieces – the basis of the side’s success.  There are good kids coming through, but that’s still a big ask for new boss Danny Schofield, himself a source of variation after the surprise departure of Carlos Corberán.

The other issue with a failed bid for glory is that it builds expectations.  History is littered with clubs, Town’s opponents in the play-off final one such, who were tormented by their high bar for years after it was reached… this high bar can be dangerously treated as “the norm” by supporters rather than the halcyon period that it was.  In reality a top ten finish would be a decent result for Town next season but it might not feel it if they loiter outside the play-offs or start badly. The opening months of the season will be significant.

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