After "The Prem"
After the win against Leicester, we played Tottenham at Elland Road. While the scoreline is only 0-1, we were totally outclassed and I don't think we got more than a couple of shots off. Then we had the disgraceful performance that was our EFL Cup 2nd Round loss away at Burton Albion. We lost in extra time, but if you look at the stats we had absolute control of the game, they just got lucky for both of their goals and won with that. Over the next 5 games starting with Arsenal and ending with Manchester United, the only game we were legitimately present for was the Huddersfield Town Game. Late sub Albian Ajeti grabbed what I thought would be a late winner, but then we were pegged back in the 90th minute to end the game level. After the Manchester United game, we beat Middlesbrough at Elland Road in a rather uneventful game that saw our young backup keeper, Bailey Peacock-Farrell step in for an injured Marco Silvestri. Then we played a 0-0 bore against Everton that saw Bailey Peacock-Farrell injured, meaning that Will Huffer, our 19-year-old prospect keeper had to step in against Stoke. We did well given the fact that we had a 19 y/o keeper that was not our long-term solution to the position, but we suffered a late equalizer to lose out on even more precious points in this campaign against relegation.
The Keeper Conundrum
Now, after Marco Silvestri was injured I didn't think it was all too big of a deal, and then Bailey Peacock-Farrell suffered a similar injury. Then I began panicking, since we were no-longer in the transfer window, so I started looking through the prospective keepers that we could bring in on a free transfer. There was a total of 5 of them, and 4 were rubbish that might not make it in League 2. Luckily, we stumbled upon Stade Rennais' keeper, Benoit Costil, whose contract had seemingly been terminated. We grabbed him up just in time for the game against Southampton. He was such quality, that I hoped he could even challenge Silvestri for the starting spot when he returned from injury.
League Game 12 - 11/4/17
Going into this game, we were sat in 16th, and Southampton were sat 5th. I expected this game to be just as hard as ever, but given that they seemed to be resting some of their key players, I thought we might have a hope of even just a draw. Our new keeper, Benoit Costil, who has only been with us for 4 days would be starting, and we had no backup keeper on the bench as anyone would be just as good or better than Will Huffer (sorry Will, just business). Our outfield players generally the same who had been playing for us, baring Raphael Guzzo who steps in for a slightly-injured Leroy Fer, and Diego Poyet stepping into midfield for a suspended Liam Bridcutt, and Dedrick Boyata stepping into the defense for a suspended Giuseppe Bellusci.
I have been known to underestimate the opposition from time to time, and this time more than any I regret it. I just wish that a draw would have been a possible result, but Southampton just tore through us that game. Aron Johannsson's goal just before the half being our only consolation. We were simply outclassed by a side that were flying high and seemed unbeatable in the league. This was definitely a debut to forget for Benoit Costil, as he allowed 4 goals, 3 of them being goals that I could have seen Silvestri handling. He has a tough job cut out for him if he is to challenge for the starting role.
League Game 13 - 11/20/17
Today's line-up sees Leroy Fer return to midfield, and Giuseppe Bellusci return to the defense. This is a game that seemed totally winnable going into it, even off the back of the trouncing we received against Southampton. Burnley were in about the same position in the league as we were, and we seemed to do rather well against such teams.
We started the game off strong, snatching a 2-0 lead right at the end of the first half. We maintained this lead for the first 25 minutes of the second half, and they scored their own pair of goals within 4 minutes of each other. When Leroy Fer scored his 88th minute goal, I thought for sure that we had secured the 3 points and would step a little bit away from relegation, but this was not to be. Benoit Costil was having an absolute shocker of a game, and his mistakes were responsible for allowing their second goal, so I did the unthinkable and subbed in Marco Silvestri. That didn't work out so well, as Marco Silvestri basically gave the game away as he rolled the ball right into the path of a Burnley player, and with none of our defenders near him, he easily beat Silvestri for the winner.
League Game 14 - 11/24/17
Bournemouth were a team that was sitting right below us in the table, and so I was confident that we could at least get a draw from them, if not beat them. If the game against Burnley was any indicator, we could definitely compete with these lower-table teams. Albian Ajeti comes in this game to get some highly-requested game-time, on threat of his loan being terminated if he didn't. I didn't have another backup striker, so I had to give him game time. Marco Silvestri starts in goal after the poor performance of Costil in the last game.
Callum Wilson is turning out to be quite the goal scorer for Bournemouth this season, scoring his 8th and 9th goals in 15 games against us. The fact that we weren't in this game on the score line is a little bit disappointing, and frankly I don't think Ajeti will be playing for us anymore, so we'll have to find a solution in another striker. Our goal-scorer Joel Pohnjanpalo is the one that ultimately came in and saved the game for us after Callum wilson scored what was his second and seemed to be the goal that sealed our fate. We rescued the point and remained out of relegation for now thanks to Pohjanpalo.
Mentality Going Forward
Going into the rest of the season, we must find a way to win against these teams that are sat right near us in the table. If we can't find a way to do that, we might be relegated, and even though we produced a miracle last season I don't think that the board will be able to look past relegation this season. Also, with the transfer window coming up, we will need to let Albian Ajeti go, and find a new striker who serve as either a new 2nd or 3rd choice for us, behind Pohjanpalo.
FM fanatic and football pundit