2022/23 Season Preview - Forest Green Rovers - Championship
We are quite predictably the least favoured team in the division, and getting off to a good start will be crucial. Coton
is promoted to vice-captain, primarily to groom him for the captaincy when Bangura
retires, but also because I was impressed with his leadership at the tail end of last season.
A fairly solid off-season and some really good players brought in. It didn't start well when the board advised that they expected us to avoid relegation at the very least, then gave me a total wage budget which is less than title favourites Newcastle are spending on a single full-back! I could have gotten more funds but didn't want to commit to a mid-table finish, although signing a new two-year deal gives me some security.
The biggest bonus was having the scouting range increased to cover all of Europe. As such, my scouts found a few players who had been released by bigger clubs on the continent and I was able to strengthen without splashing out heavily on transfer fees. Lester and Risvig left to clear up some wage budget, while I also sold a sell-on clause I had from a previous transfer for Jacob Holmes to Wrexham, and this went towards the wage budget too.
First came Ed Groves for £5K from Barnsley. Surprisingly he can't play centrally given his height and physicals, but he immediately strengthens left-back which has been a problem position for us. Next in was Mihailo Tisma who was released by Cardiff, after only making two league starts in two seasons (and scoring three goals).
Rennes then gave me a gift, releasing 19-year-old Alain Owona, who has the potential to be a Premiership standard central midfielder and should prove a danger from set pieces. From the same French scouting trip comes young Qatar international Fahad Al-Ansari, who will provide genuine competition in goal after being released by PSG.
Despite the above signings, central defence remained a big problem. Polish u21 captain Maciej Machaj signed cheaply but still looks a rotation option at best, and all my other targets wanted wages too high, even free-agent veterans looking for one final club.
Then, a week out from the new season, one my scouts in Croatia found an absolute gem in Luka Marsic plying his trade at Varazdin in the Croatian third division. As we go into our first league match he is still considering a contract offer after a £60K bid was accepted, so hopefully he is available for our first away fixture at Leyton Orient in a week's time, where he can mark club favourite Martyn Rooney.
We kick off the season at home to Bournemouth, very aware that games against the fellow unfancieds will define our season. We are also temporarily ground-sharing with Swindon Town as the New Lawn is expanded to comply with league requirements.