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Season Preview 2022 – Part 5 28/07/2022

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.


INS: Cohen Bramall (Lincoln City, Undisclosed), Peter Kioso (Luton Town, Undisclosed), Conor Washington (Charlton Athletic, Free)

OUTS: Alfie Burnett (Forest Green Rovers, Free), Jake Cooper (Altrincham, Free), Jacob Gratton (Farsley Celtic, Free), Michael Ihiekwe (Sheffield Wednesday, Free), Freddie Ladapo (Ipswich Town, Free), Angus MacDonald (Swindon Town, Free), Joe Mattock (Harrogate Town, Free), Mickel Miller (Plymouth Argyle, Free), Michael Smith (Sheffield Wednesday, Free), Rarmani Edmonds-Green (Huddersfield, End of Loan), Will Grigg (Sunderland, End of Loan), Jordi Osei-Tutu (Arsenal, End of Loan)


THEIR EX-ORNS: Rob Scott (Head of Talent ID)


2020-21 4-1
2014-15 3-0
2004-05 0-0 1-0
2003-04 1-0 1-1
2002-03 1-2 1-2
2001-02 3-2 1-1
1996-97 2-0 0-0


Harding          Hall             Wood
Ogbene         Rathbone        Barlaser          Wiles          Ferguson
Washington           Eaves

BLUFFER’S GUIDE: As has been described elsewhere by people who know more about this stuff than I do, there’s a horrible game of “don’t blink first” being played this summer.  Players are out of contract, but nobody’s got any money because of pandemics and stuff.  So players are still out of contract waiting for contracts that probably aren’t coming and because in part there are players out of contract there’s a general reluctance to spend actual money amongst those who haven’t got much of it because sooner or later out of contract players are going to have to lower their demands aren’t they and so why spend money on transfer fees that you probably won’t have to.  And anyway, Man City are bound to have some kids to loan out.

So everyone’s waiting for this kind of frantic supermarket sweep in the closing days of the window, which is a game that isn’t terribly relaxed for anyone but least of all the likes of Rotherham who, newly promoted with a thinnish-looking squad anyway have picked up injuries before the season’s started and had two experienced anchors poached by neighbours and friends Sheffield Wednesday.  This leaves the squad without a physical presence up front, patching things up at the back and short of leadership all round.  The utterly likeable Paul Warne continues to play a straight bat but admits that the squad is, writing ten days before the season starts, a good five players short of being competitive.

Famously, the Millers have spent the last six seasons yo-yoing between the second and third tier (and the two prior to that just a place above the Championship drop zone like an anxious bungee jumper not quite brave enough to take the plunge).  It’s not a given that the run will be extended to seven, but much as there are well-run clubs yo-yoing between the top two tiers unable to bridge the gap to more monied rivals at the top of the tree, so Rotherham need the wind behind them to compete in the Championship and it all seems rather flat and still at the moment.


INS: Anel Ahmedhodžić (Malmö, Undisclosed), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United, Season Loan), Tommy Doyle (Manchester City, Season Loan); Reda Khadra (Brighton & Hove Albion, Season Loan)

OUTS: Oli Burke (Werder Bremen, Undisclosed), Luke Freeman (Luton Town, Free), David McGoldrick (Derby County, Free), Harry Boyes (Forest Green Rovers, Season Loan), Harrison Neal (Barrow, Season Loan), Femi Siriki (Rochdale, Season Loan), Lys Mousset, Ben Davies (Liverpool, End of Loan), Morgan Gibbs-White (Wolves, End of Loan), Charlie Goode (Brentford, End of Loan), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa, End of Loan)




2019-20 0-0 1-1
2010-11 3-0
2009-10 3-0
2008-09 0-2 1-2
2005-06 2-3 4-1
2004-05 0-0 1-1 0-0
2003-04 0-2 2-2
2002-03 2-0 2-1
2001-02 0-3 2-0
2000-01 4-1 1-0
1998-99 1-1 0-3
1997-98 1-1/0-4
1995-96 2-1


Baldock       Ahmedhodžić        Egan            Clark                Stevens
Berge           Norwood           Fleck

VERDICT: There are some stereotypes are hard to shake.  For instance, it’s not invariably the case that Spurs are showy and flimsy.  There have been plenty of obdurate, dull Tottenham teams in the past.  But when they sign someone that fits the mould, or build a team in that tradition it feels comfortable.  It feels right.  (I’d normally cite the signing of Ginola here but that was 20+ years ago, so I may need to update my “for instance”s at some point).

Anyway, it feels right to see a hard-nosed Blades team that conceded 19 goals in 27 League games under Paul Heckingbottom in the second half of the season stocking up on defenders.  It feels right.  Admittedly United are still playing three at the back (having reverted to this under the new boss) – though I’d be disappointed if they still go in for that fancy gallivanting that was such a feature of the season in which we got relegated.  Jack O’Connell, perhaps the star man at the back that year (again, two centre backs called Jack also fits the stereotype), has been out for two years with doubts understandably rife about his prospects of a return despite evidence of his being back in training.  There’s also cover in the wing back positions in the shape of Jaydon Bogle and Max Lowe, both recruited from Derby two years ago (although Bogle too is out for a while).

This is an experienced and relatively settled looking team – eight of the last Blades eleven that we faced in 2019 are still at the club.  The goal threat resides largely in the fragile Rhian Brewster, that might be a concern… and there are underlying worries regarding infrastructure, investment and ownership (although these things are relative, hellooooo Birmingham).  It was surprising to see Slaviša Jokanović fail so comprehensively at the start of last year in a division in which he has always thrived in the past – this is put in part down to unfulfilled promises regarding investment in the squad.  So…  United should certainly be strong contenders, but being caught up in the churn of the Championship is not beyond the realms of possibility.


INS: Dwight Gayle (Newcastle United, Undisclosed), Josh Laurent (Reading, Undisclosed), Liam McCarron (Leeds United, Undisclosed), Aden Flint (Cardiff City, Free), Harry Clarke (Arsenal, Season Loan), Gavin Kilkenny (AFC Bournemouth, Season Loan), Will Smallbone (Southampton, Season Loan)

OUTS: Benik Afobe (Millwall, Undisclosed), Alfie Doughty (Luton Town, Undisclosed), Joe Allen (Swansea City, Free), James Chester (Derby County, Free), Steven Fletcher (Dundee United, Free), Tom Ince (Reading, Free), Will Forrester (Port Vale, Season Loan), Douglas James-Taylor (Walsall, Season Loan), Tashan Oakley-Boothe (Lincoln City, Season Loan), Mario Vrančić (Rijeka, Season Loan), Tommy Smith, Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Manchester City, End of Loan), Josh Maja (Bordeaux, End of Loan), Liam Moore (Reading, End of Loan), Jaden Philogene-Bidace (Aston Villa, End of Loan), Romaine Sawyers (West Brom, End of Loan), Abdallah Sima (Brighton, End of Loan)

OUR EX-POTTERS: Daniel Bachmann

THEIR EX-ORNS: Jack Bonham, Peter Etebo, Ben Wilmot

2017-18 0-1 0-0
2016-17 0-1
2015-16 1-2
2007-08 0-0 0-0
2005-06 1-0 3-0
2004-05 0-1 1-0
2003-04 1-3 1-3
2001-02 1-2 2-1
1995-96 3-0


Wilmot             Flint               Souttar
Clarke         Smallbone       Kilkenny      Laurent             Tymon
Powell      Gayle

BLUFFER’S GUIDE: There’s a challenge in writing stuff like this based on limited experience of actually watching the opposition play football (to crown which I only semi-watched the 3-2 win under lockdown two years ago to whatever extent that might have been informative – I was supposed to be on a stats course being run from the States and obviously ended up engaging with neither pursuit to a successful degree).

So… you’re rather over-reliant on opinion gleaned from messageboards, with the inherent bias borne of the suspicion that summer recruitment has been “shrewd” (the most inane of adjectives now used exclusively to describe transfer activity).  I even saw a Cardiff fan predicting darkhorsedom for the Bluebirds on Twitter the other day (no, really).   Depending on your vintage you might remember being excited by the summer arrivals of Diego Fabbrini, Jamie Moralee, Trevor Senior.

Thank heavens, then, for Stoke City who seem to be under no illusions as to what and where they are.   Getting on for three years in, Michael O’Neill’s veneer has worn off as the side has failed to develop;  his team is described as overly defensive and ponderous, there is a limited goal threat and some of the better players in the squad (Powell, Souttar, Campbell) have missed long period through injury. The summer has seen them lose a lot of experience;  there’s talk of the much-sought Keinan Davis coming in on loan but more in hope than expectation.  From this distance City look to be on a downwards slope,  the caveat being that if, as seems inevitable, O’Neill runs out of time there could be a reset.  As it stands whilst you’d expect there to be too much quality for Stoke to actually get relegated, you’re looking at a finish significantly closer to the bottom than the top of the table.


INS: Ali Ajese (West Ham United, Season Loan), Dan Ballard (Arsenal, Undisclosed), Jack Clarke (Tottenham Hotspur, Undisclosed)

OUTS: Lee Burge (Northampton Town, Free), Aiden McGeady (Hibernian, Free), Stephen Wearne (Grimsby Town, Free), Jordan Willis, Arbenit Xhemajli, Nathan Broadhead (Everton, End of Loan), Leon Dajaku (Union Berlin, End of Loan), Callum Doyle (Manchester City, End of Loan), Ron-Thorben Hoffman (Bayern Munich, End of Loan)

OUR EX-BLACK CATS: Ashley Fletcher, Danny Rose


2016-17 1-0
2015-16 2-2
2004-05 1-1 2-4
2003-04 2-2 0-2
2002-03 1-0
1999-00 2-3 0-2
1998-99 2-1 1-4
1996-97 0-2/0-1
1995-96 3-3
1982-83 8-0


Gooch             Batth            Wright              Cirkin
Neil                   Evans
Roberts            Pritchard            Clarke

BLUFFER’S GUIDE: Back in the mists of time before the internet and the Premier League, sources of information about football were a bit harder to come by.  Newspapers, of course, kept up a running commentary.  Football magazines up to a point.  Rothmans.

But for your discerning teenager it was always Panini albums. Snapshots in time that became iconic, defining a child’s understanding of every club in the top division, sometimes accurately and sometimes less so.  Formulaic pen portraits and reliable statistical information, but also a distorted picture due to accidents of time and the variability of sticker distribution.  I remember that in Football 80, the Norwich City badge was “hard”.  I don’t know why I remember this.  My Football 80 album has long since fallen apart (I retain Football 82 onwards for a few years, ditto Fussball 83-88 and most major international tournaments.  These have survived many pillages and clear outs where the likes of Rothmans have not).

I have one Football 80 sticker though, pristine, unpeeled.  John Hawley of Leeds United, which kind of proves my point since Hawley moved to Sunderland in the summer of 1979, presumably just after the Leeds photocall.  Wikipedia suggests that he only played 33 games for Leeds and 25 for Sunderland which is obviously wrong, since in my head he’s a stalwart of both of the era, along in the latter case with Panini veterans Steve Whitworth, Jeff Clarke and Gary Rowell.

Anyway, as you’ll have gathered and without as much as a Panini album to fall back on these days my familiarity with Sunderland’s current lot is limited.  You’ve always got to worry about a team promoted through the play-offs, particularly since Sunderland were one of a mob of sides bundling for position for much of the run-in.  Against that there’s obviously a huge fanbase to mobilise following their first promotion in 15 years and a side that looks full of experience in the second tier.  At the time of writing there is anxiety at the lack of cover for Anthony Patterson in goal and Ross Stewart up front – the latter top scored in the division last season after scarcely suggesting any such prolific streak in a moderate Scottish League career up to that point, it will be hugely significant to Sunderland’s chances how well he adapts to the season’s new challenges.

Sunderland haven’t finished outside of the top and bottom three in this division since 1995;  the smart money’s on them breaking that duck this time, if closer to the bottom than the top.


1. ROGER BOON((Hopemole) - 28/07/2022

I have followed BHNS for years and it is an essential part of my supporting Watford ( now over 50 years).I just want to express my appreciation of all the graft you put into it. It is invariably informative,down to earth,thoughtful,positive and infinitely relatable.Keep up the good work and let’s hope this is a successful season of resetting a la GT.

Matt Rowson - 28/07/2022

Amen Roger, thanks very much

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