There are just eight games left of this campaign, meaning we are now more than 80% of the way through.
By this time next month, we’ll have just two games to go, and one would hope we’ll be safe and secure in the third tier for another season. Thoughts will turn to the next campaign, as is almost inevitable, and there will be few looking back over this one with much excitement. Sure, we’ve had some great results, some good performances and a few moments of quality, but on the whole it’s been inconsistent and a little frustrating.
I think this is typified by the fact we’re 38 games into the season, and only three players have started more than 30 league matches. Only five have started more than 20, which is perhaps the root of our problems. Last season, 13 players started 20 or more matches, with eight starting 30 or more. Granted, there’s time for a couple of the current squad to bump up their numbers, but it still underlines what hasn’t gone in our favour this season.
It also makes the Player of the Season award a tough one to give out. In fact, I can only see three main candidates, and your ratings on the site have highlighted that. However, I’ve put together a list of the top six ranked players, in alphabetical order. Whilst there is still a portion of the season to go, someone might emerge as a challenger, but I think when the voting happens, these are the six we’ll be picking from (and it’s a list that can be narrowed to two, in my opinion).
Ted Bishop – Apps 28 (7) Goals 4
I certainly don’t mean Ted a disservice when I say this, but the fact he’s amongst the top six players (that’s when taking into account longevity as well as performance) says a lot about the overall season. I don’t think Ted has been bad; at times he’s looked like he has real quality, and he’s had to be flexible, shifting around the field like the wrong colour on the face of a Rubik’s Cube. The fact he has made more starts than all but six in the squad also says a lot; he’s only started 60% of our league matches, and yet in seventh in terms of league starts. He’s had some great moments, most of which have come at full-back. I’m not sure he’s going to be many people’s pick for Player of the Season, but I will say he’s done enough to prove he can be an important squad member next season.
Cohen Bramall – Apps 26 (9) Goals 2
I know, right? At Christmas, Cohen was on the list of players likely to exit the club, and yet here he is, amongst the top six rated players in the squad. I guess, like Ted before him, it reflects the overall consistency within the squad. I’ll be honest, I genuinely didn’t think Cohen would see out the season; his pace is devastating, but he never really looked like settling into any sort of rhythm. Defensively I do still worry, but the recent switch to three at the back has really helped him. In fact, since Christmas, I think he’s done really well. He offers plenty going forward and he’s not afraid to get a ball into the box. I think there’s work to be done with him, the attributes are there, and that’s clearly been evident in recent weeks. I guess the phrase ‘needs to be consistent’ could apply to a number of our players, not just Cohen. However, he’s still one of the players you feel could be a big hit for us.
Josh Griffiths – Apps 35 Clean Sheets 2
Josh is third in terms of average rating; he’s twice won your Player of the Month and yet he kept just two clean sheets n the league all season. Often, he was not blamed for goals we conceded as the defence was so porous, but overall I’m not sure his loan spell will be looked back on as being as successful as that of Alex Palmer. However, he has to be up there for the Player of the Season, just because he made as many league starts as anyone, and has only since been passed by one player. That said, can you really pick a keeper as POTS when he’s only kept two clean sheets? It’s not as if we were under the cosh game after game.
Conor McGrandles – App 37 (1) Goals 2
McGrandles was voted your Player of the Season last time out, and he’s one of only two serious contenders this campaign in my eyes. I don’t think he’s been as good this time out; he’s scored fewer goals, (two compared to four), and has often born the brunt of fans’ anger for losing the ball in key areas (Wimbledon at home sticks out). It’s been challenging for him, last season he almost always played with Jorge Grant or Liam Bridcutt and therefore had some protection, but he’s been a lonely figure in our midfield at times. Since Christmas, I think he’s settled nicely and has helped pull us through some matches. He’s one player you can always rely upon to give 100%, which some fans suspect hasn’t been the case with some.
Regan Poole – Apps 42 Goals 1
For me, this is a no-brainer. I can’t think of another player who stands out in terms of the Player of the Season, and I find it incredible that there were those crying out for Regan to be dropped at the start of the season. He’s a leader, he’s always committed to the cause and solid in the challenge, and he’s had to shuffle around the team a little, playing both full-back, and in the middle of defence as part of a two or a three. I prefer him on the right of a three, without a doubt, a point I was not sold on when he arrived here. We may lose Conor McGrandles in the summer, and if we do, Regan Poole is the obvious man to take the captaincy. He’s done so already this campaign, and I think he will eventually be our captain if Liam Bridcutt were to leave. He stands out for me as the only serious choice for the POTS.
Anthony Scully – Apps 29 (3) Goals 12
If you’d asked anyone at the end of October who the best player to appear for City this season was, you’d be told Anthony Scully. With eleven goals and three assists before we’d changed the clocks, he looked on course to break the 20-goal barrier, and perhaps the £1m sale mark in January as well. However, since then he’s struggled to find his form; he’s got just a single goal this year, although he has chipped in four further assists. It should be noted of his 12 goals, eight have been in the league and three of those have come from the spot, leaving as many goals from open play as John Marquis in the league, and only one more than Lewis Fiorini. That’s not to devalue his efforts, not at all, but anyone reading this might say ’12 goals in 29 starts and he’s not a shoo-in’? No, not for me. I just think his injury has left him playing catch up a little in terms of fitness, and opposition teams have managed to stop him playing. There’s more to come from the former West Ham man, no doubt, and he is likely to be a contender for POTS, but in my eyes, perhaps just on the outside looking in.