What are my expectations for this season?
There are far more unknown quantities than known quantities.
Is George Long, assuming he will be our first choice goalkeeper, good enough for the Championship? He conceded 14 goals in 6 appearances last season, but given the type of games they were – cup games and end of season games, I’m not sure how much he can be judged on this.
In defence, we have more certainty. Burke and de Wijs both became good defenders last season, Lichaj was a solid player too – and is now captain, which seems a solid choice.
For central midfield, we have respectable quality too in Irvine, Stewart, etc.
Miraculously we still have Grosicki and Bowen – but how long for? Josh Bowler, who we have signed on loan is so much of an unknown quantity having played just one senior game.
Up front, we’ve signed Tom Eaves from Gillingham. A decent lower-league player who had a pretty excellent season last time around – but can he make the step up to the Championship? He does seem worth a punt.
Potentially, we have signed some very interesting League One players – and we’ve had success before signing the like of Harry Maguire and Sam Clucas. Perhaps previous success will be repeated?
The manager is another unknown quantity. He did respectably at Peterborough and Doncaster – the Allams, for all of their sins, do have a record of appointing successful managers, mostly.
And of course, the giant elephant in the room is whether Bowen and/or Grosicki are sold before the window closes. At the moment, I’d suggest both are more possible than probable, at least from what I can tell.
If I recall correctly, last year I expected us to finish around 17th, but with a risk of being dragged into a relegation battle.
This season I am marginally more hopeful. We do have some good players here, even if you assume Bowen and Grosicki will be sold.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up in a relegation battle – especially if the known unknowns turn out to be not up to the job…my real worry is the goalkeeper position and the lack of experience there.
Likewise, I wouldn’t be too surprised if we challenged for the play-offs, especially if we keep one or both of Bowen & Grosicki.
In summary, I haven’t really got a clue.
I’m going to predict a finishing position of around 15th. I shall be following the #hcafc hashtag on Twitter, whilst watching the cricket. Kind of interested. Kind of.