Right then, after another hectic transfer window dominated episode last time out where we brought in a further 14 players, it’s now back to football in this episode. At the end of the last update and after the first month of the season we were sitting top of the league, but with only 7 games played everything was just kicking off and it could all change in the blink of an eye!
I wanted the focus to be entirely on the football this time but with a few potential suitors knocking at the door to prise me away it’s fair to say my head was turned. Anyway, In this update I will be taking you through the months of September, October, November 2026 as we have 15 games to get through in all competitions. Off we go…
September promised to be a good month as we faced Swansea, Barnsley, Cardiff & Blackburn in the league, all teams that I fancied us to beat. We also had a fairly difficult draw in the Carabao Cup as we faced Derby at Pride Park.
Oh wow. Oh dear. Oh christ. Oh… you get the point. Back to back defeats?! Starting with Swansea away, it was a case of the game turning on a single event. We took the lead in the 17th minute through Lewis Potter before being given the chance to double our advantage from the penalty spot only 2 minutes later. Neil Maupay stepped up but the keeper saved! Swansea then equalised only 6 minutes later and from that point onwards both teams were pushing to get the winner but it was Swansea who got the decisive goal (1-2).
The game away at Barnsley was equally as frustrating. This time it was Maupay who gave us the lead after only 6 minutes before we conceded 2 goals in 8 minutes to go into half time 1-2 down. I gave the boys an absolute rollicking (arms thrashing and all) and the performance improved in the 2nd half. Joe Powell scored a fantastic goal to level the game 2-2 with 25 minutes remaining and it was a case of attack vs defence as we tried to get the all important winner. Unfortunately the boys pushed too high up the pitch and we were exposed by a fluid counter attack for Barnsley to take all 3 points at the death (2-3).
Two very poor away trips meant I was delighted to be back at the Bet365 and I would have taken a victory in any way, shape or form. As was to be expected it was a very nervy game with few chances at either end, fortunately on loan Arsenal wonderkid Elias Lemos popped up with what proved to be the winner in the 10th minute (1-0). I was delighted to get back to winning ways in the league and had in fact prioritised my strongest XI for that game rather than the cup tie against Derby.
As it was the backup brigade did very well when called to action and actually probably did enough to win in normal time (1-1). We got the job done in the end though as we went through to the 4th round on penalties. Back to league action to round off the month with another home tie against Blackburn, it was another game of few chances but Matias Fonseca came off the bench to score a crucial winner in the 68th minute (1-0).
A poor month overall both in terms of results and performances. Not sure what happened, we were so strong last month but our standards just seemed to drop off a cliff this time around. Hopefully the fact we managed to scrape a couple of wins out would be enough to keep us amongst the big boys…
Indeed it was! Still only early in the season but we were there or thereabouts amongst the top sides which is what we need to maintain. Hopefully October would be a better month all round.
Some big tests await us this month as we face away trips to recently relegated Middlesbrough and promotion favourites Leeds & Aston Villa. If we couldn’t beat Swansea & Barnsley away how on earth were we going to do against this lot? Only one way to find out…
Ok, not perfect but certainly more like it! At first viewing you may think it was a late winner that secured us the victory away at the Riverside but Kwame Poku’s 89th minute strike was actually to put us 2-0 up in the game, before we conceded a sloppy consolation (2-1). Another frustrating draw against Aston Villa followed as we were 2-0 up and cruising with only 30 minutes left before a late fightback saw them salvage a draw (2-2). To be fair they probably deserved to win the game so we will take the points, but it was frustrating that my teams constant sloppiness was costing us crucial points.
We returned to the Bet365 stadium for a game against my former employers, this was our best performance in a while to be honest as we dominated from start to finish, restricting Lincoln to just 3 shots in the whole game. 2 goals from Matias Fonseca was enough to secure a 3-1 win. Another fantastic performance and another 2 goals from Fonseca sent us cruising to a 2-0 win against Charlton. It seemed that our performances at home were spectacular whilst our performances away left much to be desired, perhaps a change of tactic is needed away from home? Let me know what you think down in the comments or on socials.
2 away trips to finish the month starting with our 4th round Carabao Cup tie against premier league Watford. We honestly did enough to win the game but their quality shone through in the end as an 83rd minute 25 yard strike from Zambo-Anguissa knocked us out of the competition. Not too disappointed as it allowed us to focus more on the league going forward. Speaking of the league, our final game of the month was a trip to Elland Road to face clear title favourites Leeds. Wow… I mean wow. Now under the guidance of Thomas Frank after they sacked Scott Parker at the end of the season, they completely played us off the park, we were battered from start to finish and I still have no idea how it finished 0-0. I honestly wouldn’t have complained if we had lost 0-6, that’s how dominant they were. So leaving there with a share of the points felt more like a win!
A much better month in both performances and results against the fellow big boys left the table looking like this:
Right up there amongst it! It’s all so congested though as you can see, which means with a couple of poor results you could easily be mid table. Hopefully we can maintain our form and start to create a little gap from the play-offs to the rest of the league, I don’t want what happened last year to be repeated!
October also brought some very interesting speculation. Mark Hughes had been sacked by Premier League Bournemouth and we were a wanted man. A lot of people would have suggested to apply for the job but I don’t tend to look to leave a team until I have achieved what I wanted with them or unless I absolutely have to in order to progress with the save (Bala Town to Lincoln for example). If a team asks to speak to me that’s a different story (Lincoln to Stoke), but I won’t go out of my way to leave unless I have to.
As it was Bournemouth never got in touch and they decided to hire Genk’s manager in the game Gerardo Seoane so good luck to him!
November brought another run of fixtures that I was hopeful we could take advantage of. There were games against Derby & Fulham that promised to be tough but I was confident we could win 3 out of 4 games this month and finish in a strong position heading into the busy festive period.
An unbeaten month is never to be scoffed at, but I was so frustrated with some of the results. We kicked off the month with a 1-0 win against Bristol Rovers, another top quality performance and if my attacking players were more clinical we could have been looking at a cricket score! The game away at Preston just compounded my belief that the boys were not enjoying playing away from home for whatever reason, we played them off the park but they got a lucky goal in the 79th minute and we had to settle for a draw following Jacob Brown’s 85 minute equaliser (1-1). At least the performance was good, but I might need to put some extra finishing training in next month as we can’t keep creating the amount we are and not putting them away!
Fortunately our shooting boots were back on against fellow play-off hopefuls Derby. This was the complete opposite of recent performances, we had very few chances but took them all, whereas Derby were rampant but just couldn’t finish their dinner! We round off the month with a deserved 1-1 draw away at Craven Cottage courtesy of a goalkeeping blunder from Fulham’s Kamil Grabara. To be honest this felt a bit like karma because he was my number one target in the summer and one of the keepers who rejected me! At least he payed me back in someway.
With that we are at the end of November 2026! Let’s take a look at how the table is standing heading into the festive period:
Don’t get me wrong, 2nd place is very promising. I would have snatched your arm off for it at this stage had it been offered at the start of the season. However my performances are worrying me. I suppose there are 2 ways of looking at it, if we know we can play better and go on and do it then we have a great chance of winning the title, equally perhaps we have just been lucky up until this point and it’s destined to catch up with us eventually?
I guess only time will tell but I may need to try a new tactic away from home as it’s champagne football at the Bet365. Anyway, at the end of the month Middlesbrough sacked Willy Sagnol and offered me a job interview, I know you’re probably thinking that because they’re 18th I wouldn’t entertain it. However they have only just been relegated from the Premier League and have an incredible squad, plus they are rich… like VERY RICH, and with only 20 games to go there is plenty of time to recover them to potentially finish in the play offs.
Plus if you grew up watching football when I did Middlesbrough were reaching UEFA cup finals and are for my reckoning a real ‘sleeping giant’. In the end though I decided to reject the offer of an interview as I feel we are building something here and only a Premier League side or a reputable team from abroad could really tempt me away.
Join us next time as we face the all important winter months of December & January. Games come thick and fast and I really feel it is all about how we cope during this period that will define our season. Come through it unscathed and we could be looking at automatic promotion, if our performances continue to be so inconsistent we may not be so lucky for much longer and could lose out on a play-off place again!
Find out how we get on in the next episode which will drop on Monday 8th March 2021.
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