Season 6 – 2023/24
Into the 6th season and Telford and a bit of a landmark season in many ways. To catch up with my review of last season then click here. The 2023/24 would be a huge season both for myself and the club, perhaps even a make or break one. A good year last year needed to be followed up on. I needed to make some strides forward and aim for the play offs. Trying to advance out of the Conference National was key this year (again). However as I had mentioned at the end of the last blog I was becoming bored, perhaps even stale at Telford. If a decent opportunity was offered to me, perhaps something a little different, I would more than likely have my head turned.
Let’s kick it all off with the additions to the squad this year.
Sam Hornby – GK – Free Transfer
No 1 Jonny Maxted had seen better days and Sam Hornby on a free was a good step up between the sticks. Good attributes across the board, could play sweeper keeper if I wanted. All in all a good signing I felt.
Richard Bakary – DR – Free Transfer
Right back had been a problem area for a while. I decided in the end to go with as attacking a full back as I could. Bakary was released from fellow Conference side Salford and I liked his attacking player traits.
Odin Bailey – AMR – Free Transfer
Ok granted Odin Bailey (great name) isnt a right winger however I feel he has fantastic potential as an inside forward on the right hand side. This will instigate a slight change in tactic. With Bailey as an inside forward on the right cutting inside and Bakary at attacking wing back, bombing on behind him I hope to get more goals and help for Mick Hoyle upfront.
David Sohna – DC – Youth
Ok so not a transfer but the latest promotion from my Youth Academy is centre back David Sohna. Still only 17 but with some really tasty looking attributes. Along the same lines as fellow youth graduate Rowan Presland in that he has great mental and physical attributes but His Technicals need work. Will get game time though this year.
Stright into July and some decent friendly results. Beating Championship Huddersfield and youth graduate Richard Wright bagging 4 goals against Walton. 2 losses against league 2 clubs Morcambe and Northampton didn’t worry me.
2 more friendlies and 8 goals scored led nicely into the first competitive games of the season. 3 wins and 1 defeat a great start with Odin Bailey already proving decent with 3 goals and Ashley Graham smashing it in midfield also with 3 goals.
A bit of an up and down month where we couldn’t string wins together. 3 wins and 2 draws from 7 games was ok. With Mick Hoyle back on the scoresheet and Ashley Graham continuing to knock in penalties.
October bought us crashing down. Only 1 win In 5 league games and after crashing out the FA Cup in the qualifying rounds for the first time this save. A real shocking month highlighted by 0 goals for Mick Hoyle up front and very little support goals wise from any other area. 4 games In the month where we failed to score. Shocking.
A slight improvement in November with Mick Hoyle finding his shooting boots at last. Still just 1 win from the month was dissapointing but at least we remembered how to score.
Another average month. Which was fast becoming the standard this year. Hoyle and Bailey continuing there good partnership upfront as IF and AF with 6 goals between them this month.
Heading into January and we were boringly and kind of deservedly mid table. 13th was about right considering our poor form. But we were still only 6 points off the play offs and with an up turn of form anything is possible in this league.
A much better month in January. An injury to Mick Hoyle saw his understudy Richard Wright grab 4 goals and guide us to 3 victories this month.
Unfortunately their was a real down side to this January.
That’s right the jewel in my youth crown, left back Rowan Presland had attracted a ton of interest (in the end I think 36 clubs were interested). Eventually after pretty much rejecting everything, the board intervened and accepted this offer from Premier League Swansea. AFC Telfords record sale and I managed to pop in the 50% of profit clause aswell which I can imagine will bring in a decent amount of money at some point in the future. A really disappointing moment as Presland was becoming an incredible full back, it was probably coming though and he wasn’t the only youth prospect who had much bigger clubs sniffing around him. Obviously I now needed a left back to replace Presland.
Patrick Webber – DL – Loan from Chester
I was pretty happy with being able to bring in Webber on loan, it was a quick fix and he looked a decent player with well rounded attributes for being a good full back at this level.
Much better month, out the FA Trophy but 3 wins in the league was fantastic. Richard Wright continuing his great form in Hoyles absence with 2 more goals and some great performances.
I’m grouping the last 2 months together as I’m conscious of how long this blog has gone on for and I need to come to its conclusion. The last 2 months essentially tell the same story, inconsistency. However it was common in the league and we now sat 2 points off the play offs with 1 final game left.
Its then I received the thing that would turn my head, Brentford, sat 20th in the Championship, offered me an interview and then consequently the job as manager.
After deliberating I decided to take it. Yes there was only 1 game left of the season, we had a chance of making the playoffs and I had built up a real decent young squad and youth setup in the 6 years at AFC Telford but I felt we hadn’t seriously challenged the top of the Conference in all my time here and maybe I had just ran out of steam at Telford. So it was with a heavy heart I left Telford to take over at Championship Brentford.
Brentford – Potential and Problems
After taking over I had 2 games left at Brentford where we could still be mathematically relegated. I won 1 and lost 1 meaning we survived which was great. Here is the final Championship Table.
Survival which was great although looking at the table we had lots of problems, only scoring 53 and conceding a massive 72 goals. Both would need looking at.
So my time at Telford has come to an end. Not only that but I feel that my blogging in this style will be no more. Having moved to Brentford an interesting idea came to me. Brentford have no Youth Academy, in fact no youth setup at all. To cut a long story short they scrapped their academy due to any usable talents being stolen, effectively, by Premier League clubs for peanuts. However I’m made of sterner stuff. I feel I’ve already proved at Telford that I can nurture youth players, induct them into the first team successfully, and then if necessary hold out for the most amount of money I can get for them. This will be the new focus then. I was blessed at Telford with a fantastic youth setup for the level we were at. Brentford will be a different kettle of fish. With 0 setup at all, in fact not even a HOYD in place, I can literally plan and design the youth academy from the ground up. Obviously results will still have to be good so I can stay in the job but this will be in the background as far as my blogging goes. I will focus on improving the academy, getting good players through the system, coaching and mentoring, integrating them into the first team and hopefully turning Brentford academy from non existent to top class!
Its a tall order but I feel it will be an interesting journey, one I hope you will all join me on.
(If anyone is interested AFC Telford managed to sneak into the Play Offs and actually won them! Promoting them to League 2. Makes me happier but slightly jealous, I shall keep my eye on their progress as I am at Brentford)