Marcus Braddock concludes his look back at the season
After a week’s break it's time to finish off my review of the season that's just passed. Last time I looked back at the first part of the season under John Askey and then with Danny Coyne and Eric Ramsey which leaves the first few months of Sam Ricketts stewardship. I don’t want to go over the actual results one by one, we lived through it and the statistics are there as a record. I'd rather look back on my reflections at the time and with the benefit of a few weeks distance from what was a difficult season.
My first feeling with Sam was that he didn't seem to have a great deal of experience other than coaching qualifications and a few months at the helm for Wrexham who did well under his management. But you have to get your experience somewhere and an ex player with his levels of playing experience, he should have had exposure to lots of coaching methods and made some good contacts. Before Rickets arrived, Coyne and Ramsey were enjoying the sort of bounce that sometimes comes along with a change in management. It meant there was no real bounce for the new man when he arrived. Without looking at the fixtures, I remember feeling a little sorry for Sam as his first games were quite challenging ones compared to some in the games preceding his arrival. The most promising results in his first couple of months were probably the two Stoke games and the two against Wolves showing that Ricketts can motivate his team to perform well in high-pressure games.
By contrast, Towns Skybet League One campaign became a little stop-start with good performances in one half but not so much in the next as the right combination was sought. To step up a couple of levels is a difficult ask at the best of times, you have to do it with someone else's squad selection with limited time which takes a certain amount of courage. I've seen this sort of situation go pear shaped enough times, anyone who's followed football for a fair duration will have. Filling a manager’s post is fraught enough at the best of times and obviously it's not as easy as critics would have you believe. A quick look at the social media of any club will see fans of all ages and genders saying how we've got to get a 20 goal a season striker and some creativity as if football's a game of Lego. Obviously, football players aren't as regular as plastic bricks, any more than any of us are. Some don't fit together so well or fit better than others and so on. With that in mind I think Sam’s done a pretty good job of steering us clear of a potential relegation, especially with a team that had been finding results difficult for much of the season. Yes, we had to wait until the last couple of games of the season to make sure, but it could have backfired for him as it has for so many others.
Rickets additions in the transfer window were quite good choices, Ro-Shaun Williams, a young defender from Manchester United who looks like a class act, Town old boy Dave Edwards returning after a successful career in the top two divisions, Romaine Vincelot a solid defensive midfielder, defender Scott Golbourne who has plenty of experience at higher levels and Tyrone Campbell, a powerful young striker who has a great pedigree and a good eye for goals. As you might expect, a couple had injuries but on balance Rickets signings have had a significant impact on our form.
Another pleasing feature of the second half of the season was to see our away record improved to the point that it was our away form that brought in the bulk of the points in the last weeks of the season. Ironically, it was our home form that seemed to suffer as the season finished with just one home win in the last ten games.
I’m encouraged enough by the back end of last season to be feeling quite positive about the approaching one. We have a few areas that need a little attention but for the most part we have a decent pool of players, particularly in central midfield where we look to almost have an embarrassment of riches. Hopefully new additions will bring us a little excitement during closed season and we can get on with the pre-season programme for our fifth consecutive season in Skybet League One.