Welcome back! Season 7 is about to get underway and it’s time to draw a line in the sand and to try and transform the Academy from a bunch of hopeless kids to the stars of tomorrow…today. After two seasons of narrowly avoiding relegation and only free transfers under 23 at our disposal, the chances of progressing to a decent Premier League club seem small. However, you may have recently read my article about finding regens and armed with that information, I’m going to hunt high and low. It’s important that they get game time and if we go down, so be it. We’ll be well placed to come back and be stronger for it.
Oh and there’s going to be even more people around to see it
The hunt has gone well. Even if I don’t know for sure who Geoff Charlton is. Tim Flowers, maybe.
He’ll be loaned out, as will young Toby. I don’t know who he is either…
I’ve got high hopes for this wee dancer as well. Pace, off the ball, heading and shooting. What’s not to like?
Colin Hendry junior is next through the door. Angry young man.
This guy was highly rated but he’s actually not very good. Yet.
Better business here though. Roberto Mancini!
He’s good, but Signori. My my. I have high hopes for him.
Last but not least, it’s Bjorn Heidenstrom in junior form. His stats are still insanely good and I’m delighted to get him through the door. Let the good times roll.
To make room for some of these recruits we’ve had to move some of the old guard on. Simon Buckley has been with us forever but the Premier League is beyond him. He’s off to Altrincham.
Joby Gowshall is released on a free at the end of his deal.
This is how we’re starting the season – I’ll try and integrate the new lads slowly or when it starts going wrong.
The new stadium expects. The new stadium gets a 0-0 draw.
We usually concede several times an hour so this is progress. I think.
A win at Derby though is a real feather in our cap. Heritage is only booked for a foul that leads to the Derby penalty and despite that setback, we come back with a bang and win 2-1.
My good mood is ruined when we’re 2-0 down at half time to Newcastle. McBride gives us hope but Michael Oakes saves everything we throw at him. Billing has the brilliant idea to knack him when they’ve used all their subs and Kitson snatches a point against an outfield player. Ha.
If that was good then this was awful. Our reasonable start disappears in tame fashion as Bolton run riot at our expense.
The Leeds game is a disaster. We make plenty of chances but see them all saved whilst Leeds are clinical. Hool even has a penalty saved to round off a miserable day. Heidenstrom never misses.
We’re in one of our famous slumps and Fulham are the next team to keep us out with minimal fuss. Not much fun this!
We do at least score but still lose against Man Utd. Billing has missed approximately 8,000 chances so far this season but he scores when it barely matters.
Villa away is a stinker of a draw in the League Cup. They won the FA Cup and play Cup Winners Cup on a Thursday for crying out loud. We lead, twice, but have to settle for a draw. Signori junior rams in a free kick in a definite highlight.
More misery looks set to follow at Anfield. Liverpool are struggling but Robbie Fowler makes it 2-0 and it looks like another bleak day. Landonio pulls one back before Sol Campbell sees red for a deliberate handball and Franceschetti slots away the pen. There’s a lot to be said for having two Italian wonderkids.
Chelsea are our next visitors and that little Twiss puts them 1-0 up. I miss him dearly. Billing does bring us level but we lose anyway, for a change. No home win yet in front of our record crowds.
This isn’t working, so it’s back to three centre backs and just one forward. Hool goes into a back 3 and we immediately look better for it. Signori Junior scores twice, including another free kick, whilst Billing rediscovers his form. The only negative is Hool departing with an injury.
It’s just a week out for him but he misses the Arsenal game. His replacement, Fleming, is dismissed when we lead 1-0 and it’s downhill from there.
The International break at least gives us a chance to take stock and when we return we need extra time to see off Aston Villa. Rory ‘Denis Irwin’ Gallen with the decisive goal. Quite why we couldn’t just win on away goals after 90 minutes is beyond me.
Blackburn are one of the few teams below us so it looks like an important trip to Ewood. Former centre halves Stones and McConnell both line up against us but they can’t stop Franceschetti opening the scoring. We hang on for dear life with Heritage in great form but Michael Appleton equalises. A point is ok but Billing has other ideas, racing clear in the last minute and chipping the keeper.
It’s all too much for Capello, who having secured qualification for Euro 2004 sacks it off.
Who takes over?
Bloody hell fire.
Our centre halves are loose cannons. Alexander and Fleming are basically the same clumsy idiot and it’s the former’s turn to be sent off. Signori Jnr still puts us ahead but we can’t hold out. Blah.
The Pointless Cup is the perfect platform for his partner in crime to be sent off. We still manage to win but it’s hard to care. Last 16 is Arsenal.
Colin Hendry’s re-gen has played a handful of times and it’s enough for Celtic to make the first move.
It actually prompts bids from a lot of the big lads and Rowdy Roddy Anderson is left with the choice of 4 big British Clubs. He chooses…
…and he never played football again.
We look well set to win at home to Birmingham after Hool’s late goal but a 91st minute long range hit from Darren Fitzgerald crushes me. For crying out loud.
It leaves us where we always are. Just outside the bottom 3 and in need of a run of form.
Roy Evans is somehow under no pressure at Anfield but they are impressively crap.
The problem I’m having is that the centre halves are absolutely woeful. They all have low passing stats so the amount of goals that come from “…plays a loose ball” or “…misses the ball” and all those type of commentary lines that basically mean your defender is a clown. All I can do is hope they get better but I’m not sure they will. Franceschetti looks like he’s going to do well but inevitably it will lead to his departure before I know it. A lot of work to be done.
This is the last Academy update of the year, we’re obviously well into December now and so the Academy will return on Sunday 6th January. There’ll be a post next week with my traditional end of year send off but thanks for supporting the Academy save, this has probably been the most appreciated save I’ve done and I get more interactions about it than any other. Bye for now.