Season 5 Part 2
Its time to finish off our 5th season here at AFC Telford hopefully I would end this season much better than the last one we spent in the Conference National League. To read up on how the 1st half of the season went then just click here.
Heading into 2023 we were sitting relatively comfortably in 11th place. After bothering the play offs for the first few months of the season we had dropped off a bit and our form through November and December had been sketchy at best but if we managed to turn this around an assault on the play off spots was still a possibility.
January is where I had a slight change of tactic. After a poor December and then 2 losses at the start of January I’d slipped right down. I was unhappy with how the team was performing. I felt my DM was offering little in terms of cover, and I was having too little of an impact with wide players. So after losing at home to Stockport and after 1 league win in 7 I changed tactics and formation.
I scrapped the DM and went with a flat 4-4-2. Pretty basic counter attack style but I thought it might help us grind some results out. Academy forward Richard Wright grabbed the 2nd striker spot next to Mick Hoyle. Boy would they strike up an instant partnership. In the next 4 games we won all 4, scoring 10 goals. Wright netted 5 times in the first 3 games and Hoyle adding 3 more. 8 goals from my new strike partnership in 3 games! Maybe I had a stroke of genius.
February was a decent If unspectacular month. We crashed out the FA Trophy to Chesham which was dissapointing but not a disaster. A draw to Maidenhead was a shame but we followed up with 2 more wins in the month. Although our unbeaten run in the league with the new tactic was undone by 1st placed Solihull Moors who were really a class above us on the day.
Now geniuniely my favourite part of the season and once again it was down to Mason Palmer my HOYD to keep up his 100% golden generation record this save. Could he keep it up?
Haha he’s only gone and done it again. 5 intakes, 5 golden generations! Also the 2 players he mentions that are due to his coaching style are both very decent and I will highlight later. I can’t put my finger on it but our youth system seems to be showing no end to the talent it can produce. Maybe its the proximity to and use of Lilleshall, or our Cat 1 status and staff I’ve employed but whatever it is its proving invaluable.
On to the nitty gritty and the stand out players.
Myron Coates – ST
First up is Myron Coates. Great name, great prospect! Good Finishing, First Touch and Heading give him a real great start along the road to being a decent striker. Another 5 star potential player to add to the ranks aswell and I like the look of him a lot.
Danny Warrilow – ST
Another striker this time Danny Warrilow but a completely different prospect. High Determination, Physical attributes, Work Rate, Teamwork, Aggression, Off The Ball. Essentially a support striker of the highest potential. I really really like Warrilow. I dont know why can’t put my finger on it but there’s something about the way his attributes “look” I know that sounds odd but when you play FM for long enough certain patterns in the attributes, especially for good players, stick in your memory. We shall see.
Lee Maguire – GK
Last on the highlight list is Lee Maguire. I’ve found keepers really hard to both come through a youth intake and also realise their potential. Maybe because it’s easier to give say a striker some actual game time as you can stick him up top with an experienced head for 45mins at a time. But a keeper is a very high responsibility position and one I rarely trust a young keeper in. However Maguire has the highest current rating of my youth intake this year and on the face of it could be a real decent keeper. Decent starts in Handling, Agility, Reflexes and One on One’s. I will try my hardest to help him realise his obvious potential.
And here we have it the cream of this year’s intake.
I don’t think the depth of quality is there as much as in previous intakes but damn there’s still some good prospects. 3 Leader personalities aswell in this top 7 which is interesting.
One more thing to tidy up in March is a new signing!
Oliver Younger – DC – 20k from Darlington
I’d been tracking a new centre back for a while as I thought I desperately needed an upgrade In that area (both first team centre backs have been with us since season 1 and 2 respectively). Oliver Younger is a player I’ve had on my shortlist for sometime. My scouts rated him very highly indeed, a 100 rating to be precise. I liked his attributes especially Decisions, Positioning and obviosuly Marking and Heading. Still young at 23 and he will be a good player for us for many years hopefully.
Finally after all that side distraction it was back to our League form. The signing of Younger at centre back tightened our defence up in the first 3 games of the month. 3 clean sheets. Unfortunately we also failed to find the net in those 3 games. In what was, possibly the most boring 3 consecutive games of FM I’ve ever played! Annoyingly then we lost the penultimate game of the month in a 5 goal thriller before 2 more goals for academy striker Wright saw us sign off the month with a win. Unfortunately those 3 stalemates really knocked some stuffing out of our play off bid.
And to top it all off a really poor last month. This has happened a few seasons in a row now and is something I’m going to have to look at. Perhaps my first teamers end up suffering from a bit of tiredness but our last month is always really poor. 3 more goals for Mick Hoyle who I finally managed to persuade to sign a new contract (at great expense and after promising the earth to him). But other than that a barren month with only 1 win. The last 2 month’s have seen us fail to score in 6 out of 11 matches. Not a great record and I still get the feeling I haven’t got this right tactically. I believe the players are more than capable of smashing this league. But somehow we always seem to come up short. I may go back to the tactics board at the end of the season.
With the lack of other months its clear we didn’t make the play offs. But where did we finish up?
11th is decent mid table. But for me it’s not good enough. I need to get out this league and into the proper football league so I can really work on building up the club and trying at least to get close to the Premier League. Finishing just 5 points off the play offs was gutting, especially after our really sketchy last 2 months. Those 3 0-0s should have all been wins and that would have put us in the play offs. However I was still way off the top of the League both points wise and consistency wise. A humongous 25 points off top spot Wrexham. That seemed like an utter chasm at the moment. Looking through Wrexhams squad I didn’t see too much difference between us and them talent wise.
So a frustrating season but ultimately one that saw us stay in the league, overachieveing in the process (we were predicted relegation). And one in which I feel the squad has been improved.
More detailed analysis will happen next blog but I feel that next season will be really key. I dont feel like hanging around the Conference leagues for too long despite all I’ve built up at Telford. And, if I don’t see too much improvement I may think the unthinkable, a move elsewhere. Anyway thanks for reading!