It has been long said that surviving the Premier League is a difficult task. Surviving the second season is the real task, supposedly. It isn’t as relegation awaits far more teams at the end of their first season in the big time than the second. I looked at every Premier League Season ever, so here are the stats.
The first season is more dangerous. Plenty of teams have failed at the first hurdle so I knew that I had pitfalls to avoid. Second season syndrome is also typified by similar pitfalls. This post goes over my first and second premier league seasons.
Signing no one is usually the worst thing you can do. The difference between the Championship and the Premier League is huge. Playing style between teams changes, quality of play jumps, and the length of the season is different.
I avoided the first pitfall by splashing plenty of cash but I still followed the transfer policy I outlined on The Higher Tempo Press.
Jamie Harvey impressed me enough on loan from the 2016/17 season that I permanently signed him for £3.5M.
Harvey did well enough for me, getting a 6.96 average rating. 4 assists across 35(1) appearances is lacklustre, but with playing the narrow 4-2-3-1 we often did not create crossing chances, preferring to play it short and sharp in front of the defence.
During the second season, Harvey again was my first choice left back. This time in a more defensive role as we usually played a wide 4-2-3-1, meaning he was not nearly as attacking this season. He picked up a mere one assist but managed to get a 7.08 average rating across his 35 games.
Harvey was our first choice left back both seasons, and for £3.5M. You really cannot complain about his performances – easily he has been one of my best signings.
Giovanni Di Benedetto joined the club for a respectable £9M. Since joining he hasn’t performed exactly how I expected him to, but his goals return is still good. 10 goals in 15(5) appearances during the first season, and 3 in 8(2) for the second. He has never been given a big run of games in the side to settle down. This second season has seen some unhappiness because of this, but I hope with some tactical changes coming we will be able to rectify the issues.
Conor Doyle has been a bit part player since joining for £6M from Derby. A good signing overall, he has struggled with staying in the first team with only 15 (2) appearances in the first season and 21(2) during the second. A 6.88 average rating across the two seasons is below par, as a 7 average rating is what everyone should be aiming for. Yet I am willing the give the benefit of the doubt as he has not made a single mistake that has led to a goal since joining.
Goran Vuksan-Cusa has been my flop. Everyone has one. I thought this was going to be an absolute steal. Low wages (£17K), medium transfer fee (£8M) and only aged 20. Goran joined us on the 1st January, so half way through the 17/18 season. 5 goals in 7(5) games – smasher. Unlucky that our strike force is so strong so didn’t get loads of play time but absolutely was showing fantastic potential, and ability. Second season syndrome struck our striker though, and he went without a goal throughout the league season and scored a mere one goal across 4(5) games. Honestly, he didn’t get the chance but when playing his movement was slow and sluggish, and he never threatened.
Marko Bauhofer joined for a mere £1M. I didn’t really need the player, though I suppose he is close to an Allan Jones replacement as the dynamic midfielder. Marko isn’t as good as Jones, but at 22 years old he certainly still has time to grow. He certainly played more during the first season, starting just one game during the second. He averaged a poor 6.73 across the two seasons, though the lack of game time really hasn’t helped him out. Hopefully, we’ll keep a hold of him as he is a good backup player.
Jerry Udoh joined us on the cheap. I love my bargain defenders apparently. £3.4M while on the transfer list at Hull is decent. At right back we needed that competition for the place with Doyle and Udoh provided that. He is on big wages, and I’ll likely look to move Udoh on soon because of that. I’m looking at keeping our wages as low as I can.
Ívar Gunnarsson joined as our first choice GK. Dirt cheap, good attributes but poor statistics. Likely the reason he was so cheap were his average ratings at Wolfsburg, and his opening to his career at Norwich was ropey at best. Luckily when given a full season between the sticks he absolutely stood up when and where necessary.
Miguel Gómez was an interesting signing. Originally he did not get a work permit, but after a season on loan, first at Austria Wein and then at C Cerro Porteño. Not great levels but when he was there he played fantastically. I signed him to be my main centre midfielder, but due to his work permit issues, he didn’t make his debut until a year after his signing. His average rating deceives a little bit because technically he was very good, but defensively he showed some weakness. We’ll need him to improve that side of his game if he is to break into the first team in a position that has lots of competition.
All of those guys were signed during the 2017/18 season, meaning they’ve been around for around 2 years now – whether out on loan or in the first team squad. They aren’t all of the signings I made, only the ones making the first team progress.
Now we have the people who signed during the 2018/19 season.
Ángel “Capi” Capitanich joined first. What a player. Before you see him, just know this: 34(4) games. 90% passing accuracy. 3.46 tackles per game (more than our first choice centre back). The big issue is that Capi doesn’t provide the final ball, nor does he pull the trigger. Capi has played in his favoured deep lying playmaker DM role for most of the season and so he isn’t there to play those killer balls, as long as someone else does. He has the trait “Play short simple passes” which plays a big role. He plays a key role in our possession-orientated game, I think overall I’d like to keep it like that.
Sebastian Sander, I signed as a centre-back to challenge Treacher and Walsh. He pushed a bit too much though and became the first name on the teamsheet. 7.19 average rating across 37(1) games for £8.75M sounds like a good deal for the 21-year-old. I am very, very happy with him.
Issa Niané joined to be my right-footed version on Robert Walsh. Quick, strong, consistent. Nothing special about this guy, but again I think we struck a bargain with this £6M signing.
Tim Fleifel joined in the AM role. Seriously technically gifted player, and I don’t think we’ve got the best out of him yet. Another bargain buy at £1.7M, and though he disappeared on international duty over the New year period he racked up 25(1) appearances. Sadly only 2 goals and 3 assists in that time and a 6.75 average rating, but I think he will only do much better in the future.
Archie Owen filled that Patrick Clarke shaped hole in the side after the latter left at the end of the 2018/19 season. Owen is quick and clinical. 17 goals in 28(4) games is a great return for the Englishman. If we can get the ball in behind the opposition rather than expecting to smash through them Owen will score many more goals in the coming seasons.
Alec Wilson is the final signing we’ll talk about in this post. I have no idea why we really bought him because he isn’t anything special. I suppose with Brexit looming we needed a few more English players in the side, and Wilson filled a backup midfielder role. He didn’t really do… anything this season.
North London dominance has taken full effect, with Arsenal winning the title during the 2016/17 season and the 2017/18 season. Followed by Tottenham winning the 2018/19 season. We certainly proved a good, if not spectacular side though with a 13th place finish followed by a 9th place finish. We’ve yet to get a positive goal difference, with a -21 goal difference and a -1 goal difference. The first season we conceded a whopping 75 goals, the second most in the league while scoring 54. The second season we conceded 53 and scored 52. The defence was much improved, and hopefully, that trend will keep going.
We actually dominated very well from game to game, with the highest pass completion percentage and joint top possession stats, but as we beat Liverpool twice and both times had more possession I think we came top of the charts.
I don’t want to delve into tactics too much as that is a whole future blog post on its own, but what let us down was our ability to hit the target. We took enough shots, but we just didn’t hit the target with enough of them.
Keep progressing is the idea. Continue our tactical progression into dominating games, but we need to start creating better chances in the hopes that we can score more goals. We’ll defend by starving the opposition of the ball, by keeping our defence covered by a defensive midfielder, and perhaps, if the squad can handle it, a high press by an aggressive frontline.