Hello! Welcome back to the Retirement Home, where our team of over 35s are struggling to adjust to life in the second tier of English football. Back to back promotions felt like an enormous achievement – keeping this lot up would eclipse that.
Here’s how the table looks as we rejoin the action:
We’re barely averaging a goal a game but with the bank balance less than zero, we’re pretty much stuck with what we have. A 1-0 home defeat to Charlton includes a lot of huffing and puffing but nobody with sufficient breath left to blow the Charlton house down.
What’s worse than that? A 0-0 draw with Tranmere, that’s what.
Recently relegated Wimbledon go ahead early and get a man sent off. Opportunity knocks and we equalise – twice – but still lose. All of this after Quinn misses his first penalty for us. When your luck is out…
Good news at last as this chap turns 35. No, I don’t know who he is but beggars can’t be choosers. I will call him Roland.
He makes it a debut to remember, “running” through for a one on one to seal three points against Hull. Take that, Hateley.
His arrival seems to have perked us up. We’re behind at Brentford but a second half turn around sees us leave with all the points. Lush.
Ipswich absolutely batter us. Thankfully Songo’o is incredible and lets only one in, whilst Pani and Chamberlain sneak two goals against the run of play.
That’s three straight wins so a trip to 3rd place Stockport becomes a bit of a free hit. As it is, we go 4-0 down and despite restoring some late pride, it’s an away day loss.
Home to Bradford is a chance to get ourselves back on track. Instead, we lose 1-0 and Voro is out for a month. The Spaniard is one of the very few to average above 7 this season.
A 1-0 defeat at Leyton Orient is woeful. We’re in trouble here.
Remember the start of the season when we thrashed Oldham? What a time that was. Here, we manage to lose to the team 23rd in the league. Send help.
A home defeat to Barnsley has us in a world of trouble. What can I do? Time to scour the freebies.
Alan Knill! He’s a human male aged over 35. He was a regular with Rotherham just last season so he’ll maybe help. I mean, we’re still desperately short of goals, but maybe we can just play for draws?
He makes his debut at Reading and we’re behind after 7 minutes. Grim. My game plan to play three centre backs and play Proctor as a central midfielder looks to be in tatters but Roland scores twice before half time before Proctor seals it late on. Yes!
West Brom are the next to be bored to death by the new, defensively astute Retirement Home. Three vital points.
A 0-0 with Barnsley in the cup means we’ll have to replay. We lost this fixture 2-0 just a few weeks ago though so I’m calling it progress.
I don’t have high hopes as we travel to promotion chasing Crystal Palace. They batter us but Songo’o repels their many, many efforts before Roland scores a sucker punch down the other end. Alan Knill, I love you.
Just when you think you’ve seen everything, we beat Chelsea 2-0 to complete a remarkable turnaround in our form. Proctor is a new man in his central midfield role whilst Knill has calmed everybody down.
Unfortunately we exit the FA Cup in disappointing circumstances. Barnsley have to play with 10 men for more than a half but we can’t find a way past David Watson. Nuisance.
Still, we’re 7 points clear of the drop zone with 17 games to play.
We’re 10 points from the playoffs which is a bit of a pipe dream. I dread to think what this lot would be like another division up the ladder so consolidation is the aim. We’ve got debts piling up though so my dream of signing Vinnie Jones may have to wait until the summer.
The averages don’t make great reading. Songo’o is probably the best goalkeeper I’ve had in terms of how good he is compared to the rest of the squad. The three centre backs (forgive Knill wearing 9, I’m too lazy to move around all the numbers) are doing well but the attacking players are all atrocious. Except Roland. He’s been a useful addition.
Join me next week as we go looking to secure another season of First Division football. Bakero’s injury has increased to 6 months, so I’m fairly sure he will never play again. Toodles for now!