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Season Preview 2022 – Part 3 26/07/2022

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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HULL CITY

INS: Doğukan Sinik (Antalyaspor, Undisclosed), Ozan Tufan (Fenerbahçe, Undisclosed), Allahyar Sayyadmanesh (Fenerbahçe, Undisclosed), Benjamin Tetteh (Yeni Malatyaspor, Undisclosed), Oscar Estupiñán (Vitória Guimãraes, Free), Tobias Figueiredo (Nottingham Forest, Free), Jean-Michel Seri (Fulham, Free), Nathan Baxter (Chelsea, Season Loan)

OUTS: George Honeyman (Millwall, Undisclosed), Keane Lewis-Potter (Brentford, Undisclosed), George Moncur (Leyton Orient, Undisclosed), Tom Eaves (Rotherham United, Free), Richie Smallwood (Bradford City, Free), Harvey Cartwright (Peterborough United, Season Loan), Tom Huddlestone, Di’Shon Bernard (Manchester United, End of Loan), Marcus Forss (Brentford, End of Loan), Liam Walsh (Swansea, End of Loan)

OUR EX-TIGERS: None

THEIR EX-ORNS: Ozan Tufan, Randell Williams

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2016-17 1-0 0-2
2012-13 1-2 1-0
2011-12 1-1
2010-11 1-2
2007-08 1-0 0-2 / 1-4
2006-07 2-1
2005-06 0-0 2-1
1998-99 0-0

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Ingram
Jones        Figueiredo    Greaves
Coyle           Seri      Tufan          Fleming
Longman         Sayyadmanesh        Estupiñán

BLUFFER’S GUIDE: I must confess to not having a profound knowledge of the Turkish Süper Lig. The names of the clubs I can do, but I couldn’t tell you much about them, their heritage, their strengths and weaknesses.  I couldn’t locate many more than the Istanbul big three on a map.

But dipping into the Süper Lig on your app whilst scrolling scores is always worth doing.  This is where you find former Premier League players thought lost down the back of the sofa – so for example Leroy Fer is at Alanyaspor, Federico Macheda at Ankaragücü, Yannick Bolasie at Çaykur Rizespor, Mame Biram Diouf at Hatayspor while former Hornets Stefano Okaka, Brice Dja Djédjé and Ally Mallé also lurk.

Since the Tigers were taken over last season by Turkish media man Acun Ilicali this is also where they do a lot of their shopping, or at least where a load of rumours sprout from.  This means that while it all feels rather ambitious – and certainly the ownership of previous encumbents the Allam family is unlikely to be much mourned – it’s difficult to judge from this distance quite how good these players are.

There’s one exception of course – Ozan Tufan, whose arrival must have something of a question mark over it given that this season’s challenges will be less salubrious and more frantically energetic than those which failed to motivate him to an adequate level of fitness, botheredness or velocity in the first half of last season at Vicarage Road.  City meanwhile dismissed Grant McCann, a little harshly but perhaps inevitably, within a week of Ilhan’s takeover and replaced him with former Georgia, Ajax and Rangers front man Shota Arveladze.  There was a bit of a wobble but not enough to threaten the more committed relegation candidates at the foot of the table.  It’s difficult to know what to expect this season – certainly some significant names have moved on in the shape of George Honeyman and Keane Lewis-Potter so there’ll be a bit of bedding in, after which I don’t think it would be a surprise to see City anywhere in the inconsequential regions of the table.

LUTON TOWN

INS: Alfie Doughty (Stoke City, Undisclosed), Carlton Morris (Barnsley, Undisclosed), Louie Watson (Derby County, Undisclosed), Cauley Woodrow (Barnsley, Undisclosed), Luke Freeman (Sheffield United, Free), Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest, Season Loan)

OUTS: Danny Hylton (Northampton Town, Undisclosed), Peter Kioso (Rotherham United, Undisclosed), Sam Beckwith (Maidenhead United, Free), Elliott Lee (Wrexham, Free), Kai Naismith (Bristol City, Free), Corey Panter (Eastleigh, Free), Josh Neufville (Sutton United, Season Loan), TQ Addy, Jake Peck, Jed Steer (Aston Villa, End of Loan)

OUR EX-HATTERS:None

THEIR EX-ORNS: Henri Lansbury, Dion Pereira

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2020-21 1-0 0-1
2005-06 1-1 2-1
2002-03 1-2
1997-98 1-1 4-0
1996-97 1-1 0-0
1995-96 1-1 0-0
1993-94 1-2
1982-83 5-2

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Horvath
Bree                Bradley          Burke              Bell
Clark            Campbell          Freeman
Woodrow      Adebayo      Morris

BLUFFER’S GUIDE: The extraordinary stupidity of Brexit.  The shameless cynicism and cruelty of the Rwanda exercise.  The Police Bill.  The brazen corruption of the awarding COVID contracts.  The arrogant entitlement of partygate.

So no, I don’t “hate” Luton, even allowing for the fact that in the cathartic escapism of football fandom most… many… some would accept that the word hate can be bandied around rather more lightly than in normal life.  “Hate” is reserved for the truly hateworthy.  A low bar is set in football, to facilitate the drama of defining a bad guy to face your good guy. This can become a self-fulfilling kinda thing… there was nothing remotely pleasant about running the gauntlet from Kenilworth Road back to the railway station back in the days when we played each other regularly and that sort of thing feeds the fire but the identity of the bad guy is arbitrary, an accident of geography.  (Not the good guy, obviously.  As most readers will agree the yellow shirt is something genuinely virtuous and to be cherished).

It’s 25 years, near as dammit, since we faced the Hatters in consecutive seasons.  Lots has happened to both clubs since but the current Luton side is surely the strongest they’ve boasted in that time.  If last season’s play-off place saw Nathan Jones’ high-energy pressing side punching above their weight they seem to have capitalised upon their momentum by re-enforcing well and comprehensively.  Signing two forwards from a relegated club (one of whose fathers played several times for the Hornets against Luton many years ago) may suggest questionable pedigree but we’ve been promoted on similar strategies before.  At the very least Luton have given themselves a puncher’s chance of emulating last season’s efforts in this volatile division.  With the club on its most positive footing for many years, they’ll also have the benefit of as united a support as you’ll find anywhere – in contrast to the mood at a club relegated twice in three seasons without a win at home since 2021.  That factor, at least, is somewhat within our control.

MIDDLESBROUGH

INS: Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers, Undisclosed), Liam Roberts (Northampton Town, Free), Ryan Giles (Wolves, Season Loan), Zack Steffen (Manchester City, Season Loan)

OUTS: Djed Spence (Tottenham, £12,500,00 plus add-ons), Toyosi Olusanya (St Mirren, Free), Nathan Wood (Swansea City, Undisclosed), Sol Brynn (Swindon Town, Season Loan), Grant Hall (Rotherham United, Season Loan), Joe Lumley (Reading, Season Loan), Martin Payero (Boca Juniors, Season Loan), Sol Bamba, Lee Peltier, Neil Taylor, Folarin Balogun (Arsenal, End of Loan), Aaron Connolly (Brighton, End of Loan), James Léa Siliki (Rennes, End of Loan), Andraž Šporar (Sporting Lisbon, End of Loan)

OUR EX-BORO: Ashley Fletcher

THEIR EX-ORNS: Uche Ikpeazu

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2020-21 1-0 1-1
2016-17 0-0
2014-15 2-0 1-1
2013-14 1-0
2012-13 1-2 2-1
2011-12 2-1
2010-11 3-1
1999-00 1-3 1-1  0-1

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Steffen
Dyksteel         Lenihan         McNair
Jones        Crooks         Howson     Tavernier      Giles
Watmore         McGree

BLUFFER’S GUIDE:  Fantasy Football.  Just kicking off Year 28 of our office comp at work;  back when we started nothing was on the Internet, we had team sheets sent via snail mail each week.  A summer auction is the main focus, and an evening of much drama and lots of swearing.  Only Paul could be relied upon to keep his cool… while the rest of us were spunking our budgets on strikers (Shearer, Bergkamp, Vialli were the forwards in my first squad) and gambling on exciting new arrivals in the Premier League (at least half of whom would fail miserably) Paul would quietly hoover up dull but effective stalwarts.  He won the league three times before retiring with a little well-earned smugness.

Boro’s team is the sort of side that Paul would have ended up with. Solid and sensible, with an equally solid and sensible bloke in charge.  The defence looks redoubtable, the midfield well balanced and the wing-backs, with the delivery of serial loanee Ryan Giles and the startling Isaiah Jones, carrying the sort of attacking threat that we’ve heard and talked about so much this summer with respect to our own team. Just like Paul’s fantasy teams they’re barrel scraping when it comes to the forwards as it stands, and rumours surrounding the future of Marcus Tavernier (who we were supposed to be interested in three years ago) are a bit of a caveat.  However the hope is that they’ll bring in as many as three forwards before the end of the window (including Cameron Archer, who half the clubs in the division seem to be banking on).  You’d fancy play-offs at worst, with a decent chance of automatic if they’re able to recruit successfully.

MILLWALL

INS: Zian Flemming (Fortuna Sittard, £1,700,000), Benik Afobe (Stoke City, Undisclosed), George Honeyman (Hull City, Undisclosed), Jamie Shackleton (Leeds United, Season Loan)

OUTS: Jayden Davis (Crawley Town, Free), Connor Mahoney (Huddersfield Town, Free), Dan Moss (Woking, Free), Alex Pearce (AFC Wimbledon, Free), Mahlon Romeo (Cardiff City, Free), Jed Wallace (West Bromwich Albion, Free), Joe Wright (Bath City, Season Loan), Kai Garande, Sean O’Brien,  Junior Tiensia, Dan Ballard (Arsenal, End of Loan), Oliver Burke (Sheffield United, End of Loan), Luke Freeman (Sheffield United, End of Loan), Sheyi Ojo (Liverpool, End of Loan)

OUR EX-LIONS: None

THEIR EX-ORNS: Terry Bullivant (Chief Scout), Paul Robinson (Coach)

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2020-21 1-0 0-0
2016-17 0-1
2014-15 3-1 2-0
2013-14 4-0
2012-13 0-0 0-1
2011-12 2-1 2-0
2010-11 1-0
2005-06 0-2 0-0
2004-05 1-0 2-0
2003-04 3-1 2-1
2002-03 0-0 0-4
2001-02 1-4 0-1
1997-98 0-1 1-1
1996-97 0-2 1-0
1995-96 2-1

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Bialkowski
Hutchinson            Cooper              Wallace
McNamara                Mitchell         Honeyman            Saville                  Malone
Afobe             Flemming

BLUFFER’S GUIDE:  “No one likes us, we don’t care”.  Maybe.  Liking would be overstating it, but it’s difficult to actively dislike a club employing Robbo on the coaching staff and boasting a reliable stop-off at Borough Market en route to the away fixture, whatever other traditional and dubious associations with the Lions.

Other than a two-year aberration in the top flight in the late, eighties, Millwall have spent nearly sixty years slowly yoyoing between long spells in the second and third tiers.  Gary Rowett’s current side represents a bit of a high water mark, the Lions having finished in inconspicuous top-half positions in the Championship in each of his two-and-a-bit seasons at the club.  The steadily evolving side has been robust and disciplined, more likely to win by nicking a one-nil than by scoring a hatful but this summer has seen a changing of the guard with Jed Wallace, upon whom the Lions had been rather reliant for goals and creativity at times in the past, leaving at the end of his contract and three attacking players brought in in the shape of last season’s loanee and supposed Watford target Benik Afobe, record signing (at a relatively modest £1.7m) and Ajax graduate Zach Flemming and all action midfielder George Honeyman.

Quite how successful that transition is will determine how sustainable Millwall’s push for a play-off place is.  Top six is not impossible, but nor is slipping back into the also-rans if the new signings are unsuccessful.

Comments»

1. Old Git - 27/07/2022

I too am indifferent to Luton, although MK Dons is a different matter. And perhaps you will allow me to add to your ‘truly hate worthy’ list. Climate deniers, the Supreme Court of the United States, the World Cup in Qatar, the British electoral system and the gormless supporters of Manchester City and Newcastle who happily ignore the murderous abuses perpetuated by their owners as long as it gives their clubs an unfair financial advantage.
Oh yes, and Roger Milford.

2. Walthamstow Hornet - 27/07/2022

Having been attacked at The New Den a few years back after we unwisely taunted them about their collapsed share price during an away win, I have no problem disliking oreven hating Milwall though I agree about the beer stop at Borough Market!

Matt Rowson - 27/07/2022

That’s called natural selection, no? 😉

Joe Richardson - 29/07/2022

Thanks for all your ongoing efforts in preparing these posts Matt, as others have said it’s a highlight of pre-season for so many of us.

On the subject of Luton, I continue to have admiration of them for refusing gambling sponsorship on their shirts. I was excited to see an adult version of our new home kit without the sponsor in the launch video, so e-mailed the club shop asking if I could buy one (a close family member is a gambling addict, thankfully 3 years+ without a bet). Unfortunately I was informed they won’t sell me a version without the sponsor. 1-0 to the Hatters on this one, and another year without a team shirt for me.

Matt Rowson - 29/07/2022

Thanks Joe. “Yes but the money” isn’t a compelling argument, I agree.


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