As we begin the season, we have been made aware that anything less than a mid-table finish will be considered unacceptable by the board. Not only that, I see our side as capable of fighting for the promotion playoffs this season, so a lower-half finish would be unacceptable.
The first match of the season sees us away at Loftus Road, playing a QPR side that is expected to finish significantly higher than us. Realistically, a draw would be a good result against QPR as we step into the Championship with what is considered a mid-table squad. A win away at QPR on our first game of the season would be a huge boost and hopefully set a precedent going forward into the first bit of the season.
We played in the usual 4-3-3 formation (4-1-2-3 DM Wide in game). From early on we seemed to be playing a bit part in the game, not getting a real shot on goal until the second half. We took the early lead due to an own goal from QPR’s Ngbakoto, but it still seemed like we were playing from behind the whole game, that is until the young sub Matt Grimes struck a precise upper-corner goal from 18 yards out in the 87th minute to settle the game.
After the first league game, we played in the first round of the EFL cup at home against League 2 side, Hartlepool United. It was as easy of a game as could be expected so we played a mostly rotated side. We went 2-0 up in the first half and conceded early in the second half while only allowing 3 total shots compared to our 16.
In our second league match, Birmingham City visit us at Elland Road. A side considered to also be seeking a mid-table finish, Birmingham City shouldn't be too much competition for us, as I consider us a side capable of better than mid-table. We went with the same squad we used against QPR, with the exception of swapping Bartley for Cooper to partner Jansson at center-back.
The teams seemed to be evenly matched until Birmingham broke on a defensive error and scored 30 minutes into the first half. Going into the second half, we established ourselves as the superior side, not allowing a single shot on target for the entire half. Marcus Antonsson put us level in the 50th minutes with a precise strike of Hernandez's cross, and then put us ahead with an 88th minute goal made possible by a superb through ball from the late substitute: Kemar Roofe.
Our third league game was at home in Elland Road against Fulham. They are considered to be a contender for a position in the top 5 in the league, and are a team that we have to step up against if we are to realize my dream of achieving a playoff spot.
The same team was selected that had soundly defeated Birmingham City 3 days prior. Marcus Antonsson showed his prowess with a strike from Hernandez's cross to put us ahead a mere 7 minutes into the game. We continued to show dominance throughout the game, only allowing a total of 3 shots from Fulham. Unluckily for us one of those 3 shots found it's way into our net off a headed cross at the far post.
While we did have an excellent start to our campaign, the game against Fulham ending level was a mild disappointment. Antonsson proved he could make the difference out in front for us, and will be relied upon as a goal scoring threat for the entirety of the season. From this point we have to change some inconsistencies and holes in the formation, and look for better results against the team coming up. The remainder of August will prove to be pivotal in our progress towards the remainder of the season, and we must bring our all into each match.
Be sure to look out for Episode two coming out on the morning of Friday, the 10th of February.
FM fanatic and football pundit