Welcome to the next part in my “local to legend” series with Christchurch FC. In the previous post we went through our half-season review. We looked at how the club was doing, how the team were performing and any transfer that happened.
If you have just joined us, review the series from the start here.
In this part, I will be talking through our first preseason in the Southern Premier League. All things preseason, friendlies, expectations and ofcourse transfers.
Anyone for a Friendly?
As I’ve probably explained this before the love I have for the use of friendlies for match fitness and tactics familiarity.
Christchurch FC played 6 friendlies this preseason against a good mix of teams. We lost only 1 friendly against Northampton Town 4-0. However, we did manage to draw 2 friendlies versus Farnborough and Bournemouth U23s 1-1 and 2-2 respectively. Christchurch FC won 3/6 friendlies against level and lower opposition in Trowbridge, Poole Town and Gillingham Town. In total we scored 9 and conceded 6. A not too bad preseason. Also our record against Bournemouth U23s is getting much better year on year.
So, for the first time since managing Christchurch FC expectations were not inflated. Well, in the league anyway.
Southern League Cup
In the Southern League Cup we are expected to reach the third round. Christchurch FC enter in the second round. As I’ve said many times, I’m not too bothered by this competition. The prize money for winning it is pants. I will be playing mostly my fringe players in this competition.
After a successful first season in the FA Trophy. I’m looking to better our first round exit from last season. We are expected to get to the first round, one better than last season. Christchurch FC enter the competition in the second qualifying round. I would expect us to progress beyond the first round.
The main cup competition that we’ll be participating in this season. A competition that I take very seriously. I’ll always try to field my strongest XI wherever possible. After a disappointing FA Cup run last season, I’m determined to improve on the third qualifying round exit. We are only expected a second qualifying round finish, but I know we can do so much better than this. At very least I would like to achieve a first round finish.
Southern Premier League
Yes, we have made it one step further to our short term goal of reaching the National League South. We are one promotion away from this goal. However, I don’t think it will happen this season. We are expected to fight bravely against relegation which technically means, you’ve got no chance of survival. In a league with the likes of Farnborough, Poole Town, Salisbury, Weston Super Mare and Bishop’s Stortford it will be tough. The media are predicting we’ll finish 16th, 5 places above the relegation places. I would be very happy with that come the end of the season. Like I’ve said I’m predicting 2 seasons in this division possibly even 3 if things don’t go our way.
There have been a lot of changes this time round, going for experience rather than youth. But, truth be told as long as their good enough they’ll play.
Josh Tibbetts, a young English goalkeeper. Signed on a free transfer from Tring. Tibbetts is currently our best rated goalkeeper and because of that he’ll be number 1 from the start of the season.
Emmanuel Ighorae, a 25-year-old English striker. Signed on a free transfer after he was released from his Salisbury contract. Ighorae comes one of our better rated strikers.
Charlie Smith, a 24-year-old English defensive midfielder. Signed on a free transfer after he was released from his Chippenham contract. Smith joins the club as a rotation option for the defensive midfield position.
Danny Morton, a 27-year-old English right fullback and midfielder. Signed on a free transfer from Rugby. Morton will be utilised on that right hand side up and down the pitch. His versatility will be second to none at this level.
Matt Smith, a young English central defender. Signed on loan from Yeovil Town. Smith will make a great addition to our defensive unit.
Danny Burns, a 23-year-old English central defender. Signed on a free transfer after he wa released from his Chippenham contract. Burns will add a great depth to our defensive unit.
Mickey Burdett, a young English attacking midfielder. Signed on loan from Swindon Town. Burdett will add great depth to the squad. I’m not sure as to what position he’ll play yet, but he’ll add quality to the midfield area of our squad.
Chris Assombalonga, a 29-year-old English striker. Signed on a free transfer from Chippenham. Assombalonga will make a great addition to our striking force. He’ll also provide competition for places.
Grant Bignall, a young English left fullback. Signed on a free transfer after he was released from his contract from Brighton. Bignall will be involved in the first team squad and fighting for that number 1 left full back position.
Robbie Burroughs, a young central midfielder. Signed on a free transfer after he was released from his contract at West Brom. Burroughs will be more of a rotation option. However, his fantastic potential will come true for us I believe.
Quite a few players left the club this season, so that we could bring in the quality players we have done.
Bradley Williams left the club to join North Greenford on a free transfer. Williams was no longer needed and failed to perform on a number of opportunities.
Kunle Otudeko left the club for Lewes FC. Another player that had expended his use at the club.
Tyler Parrott has left the club for Sporting Bengal. I was hoping Parrott would stay as he was young, had potential and performed quite well for his age in recent times.
We also released Rhys Slack, Daniel Wearing, Jake Durrant, Leon Arndale, Peter Alexander, Lewis Hornby, Reece Batchelor, Jack Uttridge, Barry Cogan, Kieran Ainslie, Sam Rents and George Branford.
Our promotion to the Southern Premier League has enabled us to upgrade the amount of staff numbers we can employ. So, this meant we hired 2 goalkeeper and fitness coaches. We also replaced our current physio and scout.
Our backroom staff are the best rated in the division across all 3 categories (coaching, recruitment and medical). In employment at the club we have:
1 Assistant Manager, Head of Youth Development, Director of Football, Chief Scout, Scout, Chief Data Analyst, Head Physio and Physio
2 Fitness Coaches
3 Goalkeeper Coaches
Our squad this season is looking pretty solid for achieving our goals this season. Different from last season we are actually paying Burns and Assombalonga £200 per week. I’m not sure whether this is a good idea or not to be honest. The rest of the squad are on amateurs contracts and are not being paid apart from bonuses.
The squad that we have ready for the season ahead should be good enough to push for a mid table position around 12-16th. The only issue I have with the squad is after the first eleven there isn’t much quality in depth. Those injuries need to stay at bay for us to be successful this season.
A combination of youth and experience should see us right come the end of the season. An average age of 21 shows that we’ve not got a lot of experience in the squad, but I imagine just enough to see us through. The exuberance of youth will come good in the end I’m sure.
A Final Word…
In part #11, I will be talking about how things are going in our first season in the Southern Premier League. There will also be talk about domestic cup competitions as well as tactics.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read my blog. Please help us grow by liking and sharing the content. If you would like to leave a comment, please do so.
Subscribe to the website to receive email notifications of when a new post is released.
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook for even more Football Manager content and until next time, Good bye.