Welcome to another instalment of Sexi Brexi, a Football Manager 2019 series following Marcus Allback as he aims to take Stockport County to the top of English football. If you missed the last post, we saw how Stockport fared in their first season back in the Championship. Go and read it by clicking the link below!
The squad and signings
Despite being on a very strict transfer budget, manager Allbäck and technical director Angry Tony Pulis managed to make three great signings!
Former La Masia wonderkid Adria Bernabé signs after being released from Man City where he only made 4 cup appearances in 4 seasons.
Allbäck: “A really exciting young player who adds a lot of creativity to our midfield. He seems to be thriving in his new environment and after watching him in practice I’m certain he’ll become a leader both on and off the pitch.
Angry Tony Pulis: “He looks weak. A soft touch and a soft boy in a man’s body. He’ll never achieve anything”
Stockport had to fight Glasgow Rangers for the signature of 18-year-old Northern Irish prodigy Gavin McCarthy. Despite his young age he’s already played 100 games for Ballymena in the Northern Irish top division.
Allbäck: “I love his irrationality and speed. Hopefully he’ll score a lot of goals for us this season, helping us stay out of the relegation battle”
Angry Tony Pulis: “He can run, sure. And he can kick. But what is he going to do when the crosses keep raining in? What? We’re gonna play the ball on the ground this year!? Oh, fuck it then. Fuck all of it!”
Neco Williams, a free transfer from Liverpool will be a welcome addition to the club as the right wing back position has been the one most lacking in depth after loan player Ashley Richards left the club. With only one game for Liverpool in his six years at the club, he’ll certainly need playing time.
Allbäck: “He has all the ingredients needed to become a great modern wing-back! He is a man for the starting eleven straight away!”
Angry Tony Pulis has already left in a fit of rage and is nowhere to be found for a comment.
Four players were also promoted from the Academy. None of them ready for first team football straight away, but all of them interesting enough to be given a chance in the squad at least.
The new signings give the squad a nice well-rounded look with decent coverage in every position. With the Angry Tony Pulis rating system, the defensively minded players are still rated the highest, with Songo’o topping the list with a DC rating of 75.0, primarily because of his excellent mentals. In every position there are players rated 60 or above, with last season’s sensation Herbie Kane at a 66.3 as a Box to box midfielder and Academy graduate Daniel Gibson at a 63.8 as a Deep lying playmaker. New signing Adria Bernabé manages to climb above 60 in the DLP position as well, despite a poor base rating of 25.4.
The feeling at the end of last season was that the team would be fighting a relegation battle this season as well, but after some success in the transfer market and nice improvements of players in the squad, the feeling is that this might become a better season!
This view was not shared by the pundits who seem confident that the Stockport side would struggle massively! Let’s prove them wrong!
The first half of the 2023/24 season – The Championship
The team certainly hit the ground running, immediately building on the form that saved them from relegation last season. A fifth place after six games was more than anyone had hoped for and spirits where high. Then disaster struck. The single most important player, goalkeeper George Long, tore his Achilles tendon keeping him off the pitch for at least six months. Since the transfer window is closed, the team is left with 34-year-old reserve keeper/goalkeeper coach Ben Hinchliffe. He looked awful going into last season and has certainly not become a year better, so things are looking grim if Marcus Allbäck can’t find a decent keeper on a free transfer.
After a couple of atrocious appearances by Hinchliffe, Stockport managed to sign Jonny Maddison.
He is decent technically and is certainly an upgrade compared to Hinchliffe even though he’s obviously not of true Championship quality. In his career he has been a solid keeper for Wrexham in the Vanarama National the last couple of seasons and has made 15 appearances in League Two a few years ago but this is certainly a step up for him.
With Maddison at the back, the team didn’t manage to replicate the fantastic form from the start of the season, but at least the performances become much more solid. With regained stability Stockport only lose three games in the rest of the first half of the season, but with only four wins in the same period there is no real climb up the table. Instead they join a large group of clubs within just a few points of 6th placed Brighton as the winter break hits.
Actually there are only seven points between 6th and 18th place, meaning that anything is possible for 9th placed Stockport going into the second half of the season. A couple of solid performances will see the club become real playoff contenders, while a few losses in a row might make the rest of the season into a relegation struggle instead!
Thanks for reading another excellent post by Mikaelinho. You can follow him on Twitter here:
- Twitter: @mikaelinhofm