The Clotet era has been characterised by a rollercoaster of highs and lows. You can see it in the short term form graph. What is perhaps notable is that the peaks have got smaller, implying that the results, though not without their moments, have got progressively worse as the season has progressed.
Inevitably, this has had an effect on the long term form; the number of points in the 46 game to the end of December saw us reach a low of 71, one point ahead of Appleton’s worse League 1 total of 70 but still only one point behind where we were at the end of last season.
That said, we remain pretty much toe-to-toe with last year’s run rate. As I mentioned last month, though, Clotet has a challenge on his hands in the coming months; last year our form picked up significantly after Christmas, so we’re going to need some stellar results in the coming weeks if we want to keep up.
It’s not the fixture mix that’s causing the issue – comparing like-for-like results, for the first time last year’s results have crept ahead of this years. Had we played exactly the same teams in the same order, then we’d have one less point than last year.
And finally, another take – some have picked up on Michael Appleton’s first season in charge. We can debate whether Appleton or Clotet had the harder task – Appleton was rebuilding a squad, as was Clotet, but Clotet had, arguably, the more stable platform. He also had the harder task – building a League 1 rather than League 2 team. Looking purely objectively, however, after 25 games Clotet is three points ahead of Appleton’s first 25.
So what might this tell us; overall, under Clotet we have still had a steady season and those calling for his head are probably being a bit premature. That said, his star does appear to have faded. January offers an opportunity to bring in reinforcements and, without the distraction of the cup, a slightly more manageable post-Christmas programme in comparison to previous years. It’s important he capitalises on these opportunities.