SEASON REVIEW: Strange year ends with nucleus emerging says supporters chair
It wasn’t a rollercoaster of a season, because rollercoasters always end at the bottom.
But it was one of the strangest seasons I have known. We started brightly at Bristol City, thought we had hit the depths going back to our traditional League Cup failure, and then had that unforgettable 7-1 defeat at Peterborough.
Gradually, we turned results around with the defence learning to clear the ball. We went six games unbeaten, mostly against top sides, but momentum was hit by a badly-timed international break and the well-publicised off-field problems that affected several of the squad and undermined the whole season.
By the time we got to Barnsley, we had lost seven in a row and found ourselves 2-0 down at half-time and seemingly beyond hope.
But football doesn’t work that way – we scored five second-half goals, won 5-3, and picked up a few more points before a January slump that left us so close to the relegation zone.
Online polls and phone-ins called for Paul Jewell to be sacked – club owner Marcus Evans remained loyal though and was rewarded with a good run, starting with a 5-1 crushing of West Ham (Sam Allardyce issued an email of apology to their fans the next day).
The last 19 matches yielded 33 points, which, over the course of a season would give us 80 points and comfortably get us in the dreaded play-offs.
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We have – at last – the nucleus of a decent side as we go into the summer, so it’s a matter of strengthening rather than rebuilding, for the first time in years.
A midfield including Andy Drury, Ryan Stevenson, Luke Hyam, Jimmy Bullard, Lee Martin and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas is a good start, Michael Chopra will do better with Jason Scotland and maybe Ronan Murray coming on.
Defensively, Carlos Edwards, Aaron Cresswell, Tommy Smith and Damien Delaney have done OK – but I am sure that in addition to a goalkeeper, we will add more strength at centre-back and options at full-back and maybe a striker too – Connor Wickham back on loan?
That would give us a real shout of a seriously good season to come. Promotion? It might be a step too far, but we can all dream.