September 12th 2020. The day the footballing world has been waiting for. The Premier League and the EFL announced in July that the 2020/21 season will be underway very shortly. Ahead of the new season, I have decided to take a look into the future of the 24 teams making up League One for the new campaign, with an in depth look at what each team has to offer for the coming year. Ninth on the list, is Joey Barton’s Fleetwood Town:
The 2020/21 season will be Fleetwood Town’s 113th in their history, and their seventh consecutive in League One. Their last venture outside of League One was their promotion campaign from the 2013/14 season, when Graham Alexander led his side into League One after defeating Burton Albion in the Play Off Final after a 4th placed finish. Their first campaign in League One saw them finish in a very respectable 10th place, before struggling the next season and surviving in 19th. The 2016-17 season was almost incredibly successful, finishing 4th in League One before losing to Bradford in the semi-finals. In 2017/18, they couldn’t continue their upward rise as they fell to 14th. Season before last, in Barton’s first year, they settled in mid-table with an 11th placed finish. Last season, after PPG was implemented, Fleetwood snuck into the play-offs in 6th position, before losing 6-3 on aggregate to Wycombe Wanderers. Fleetwood will be once again looking for promotion with Joey Barton at the helm.
Joey Barton is heading into his third season with Fleetwood, having taken over from John Sheridan after he left the club to join Carlisle United in the summer of 2018. This is Joey Barton’s first job in management, after his ban from playing had expired, therefore retiring from football once it had been completed. Barton’s no-nonsense approach to football has seen him have a few run-ins with managers across his two years in charge, notably Barnsley’s ex-manager Daniel Stendal after it was alleged by West Yorkshire Police that he had headbutted the German in the tunnel after the game. In an interview with TalkSport, Barton revealed how management has given him ‘newfound respect for people I used to criticize.’
Since the start of the 2019/20 season, Fleetwood Town have used eight separate formations across four competitions this season. The most used one of those is the 4-3-3, which was the set-up for 31 of the 46 games. So, for the squad set up, I will be looking only at the 4-3-3. All of the formations were found using Transfermarkt.
27-year-old Alex Cairns was Fleetwood’s first-choice goalkeeper this season, making 32 appearances across four competitions. The back-up to Cairns was Billy Crellin, who played eight times last season after returning from a short loan spell with Chorley. Also part of the goalkeepers’ union was Matt Gilks, who joined the club from Lincoln City in the summer. He played six games this year.
All stats supplied by WhoScored. Cairn’s contribution this season wasn’t as good as it could have been for a side pushing for promotion, with only 44 saves from his 27 league appearances. His performance against Wycombe in the play-offs showed that he was bailed out a lot this season by his defence.
On the right-side, 24-year-old Lewie Coyle was the preferred right back this season, playing 42 times and getting one goal and six assists along the way. Coyle was originally on loan from Leeds, but joined the club permanently in the winter. Supporting him was Macauley Southam-Hales, who played four times for Fleetwood this season. Stats wise, Coyle made 66 tackles and 34 interceptions in his 35 league appearances this year, a very good season for the youngster despite his red card in the Play-Offs.
On the left, the only recognized left back was Danny Andrew, with the 29-year-old making 45 appearances across all competitions this season, with the only game he missed being the EFL Trophy match against Liverpool U23’s. Andrew scored five times this season, getting two assists as he spent a few games on the left-hand side of midfield as well as a full back.
In terms of the stats, Andrew made 52 tackles and 26 interceptions in his 37 league games. Not as defensively sound as Coyle, but as we saw Andrew was more of a threat going forward, scoring a wonderful goal against Wycombe in the Play-Offs.
In the centre of defence, 21-year-old Harry Souttar was Fleetwood’s first-choice centre back this season after joining on loan from Stoke City. Souttar made 41 appearances this season, scoring three times and getting one assist. He didn’t have a settled partner alongside him this year, with Peter Clarke being the most capped second choice. Clarke played 17 times, scoring three times before making the move to Tranmere in the summer. Ashley Eastham was a winter sale to Salford, making 15 appearances before his move was confirmed. Another defender Fleetwood had for the first six months was Jimmy Dunne, who was a loan deal from Burnley. He played 11 times this season, scoring once.
Eventually, Souttar had a partner for the final few months of the season, with Lewis Gibson joining from Everton on loan. He played 11 times without scoring. Stats wise, you can only look at Souttar as a consistent performer across the season. He made 37 tackles and 39 interceptions this season, so wasn’t as defensively sound as Coyle and Andrew, but Souttar was very good with the ball. He even had 23 shots this season from centre back, also attempting 1600 passes.
In the centre of the pitch, Fleetwood had a fair few options to choose between. 32-year-old Paul Coutts was the most picked midfielder, playing 39 times in all competitions, scoring twice and getting three assists. Alongside him near the beginning of the season was Kyle Dempsey, who played 30 times this year, getting two goals and four assists. A possible forgotten man is Jack Sowerby, who also played 30 times for Fleetwood this season, getting one goal and one assist. Jordan Rossiter joined the club on loan from Rangers in the summer, playing 19 times but didn’t make another appearance after November.
Callum Connolly was a winter loan signing from Everton, playing 15 times and getting two goals. He was used occasionally as a centre back as well as a defensive midfielder. Glenn Whelan was another winter signing by Joey Barton, joining from Hearts. He played 13 times for Fleetwood, without a goal. Stats wise, Paul Coutts made 45 tackles and 13 interceptions in his 34 league appearances, being very good with his last-man challenge. Dempsey had a 78% dribble success rate, and a 79% pass accuracy. Was a very good midfielder for Fleetwood this season.
On the wing, Fleetwood had a few players to work with. Josh Morris was the first-choice left winger for Fleetwood this season, moving between the left wing and the middle of the pitch. He played 43 times for them this year, with nine goals and six assists. A very good campaign from the summer signing. On the right, Wes Burns was the starting man opposing Morris, playing 43 times and getting two goals and two assists. Not as good as Morris, but was a dependable player this year.
Ashley Hunter played 19 times for Fleetwood before joining Salford on loan in the winter, scoring once. Barrie McKay was a winter loan signing from Swansea, playing 10 times, scoring twice and getting two assists. Stats wise, Josh Morris had 48 shots from his 35 league appearances. He was fairly unsuccessful with his dribble completion rate of 34%, but does have a 77% pass accuracy rate. Compare that to Wes Burns, who had 37 shots from his 36 league appearances, had a 48% dribble completion rate, and a 68% pass accuracy.
Going forward, Paddy Madden was Fleetwood’s top goalscorer this season, getting 18 goals from his 44 games this season, with 14 of those coming in the league. A very good season from the attacker marginally overshadowed by his red card in the play-offs for play acting. Playing a supporting role to Madden was Ched Evans, who got 12 goals from his 35 appearances in all competitions, including two in the play-offs.
28-year-old Conor McAleny played 17 times for Fleetwood this season before joining Shrewsbury on loan in January. He scored three times for Fleetwood before his loan spell. Also in the squad was Harvey Saunders, who played 12 times without scoring a goal. Stats wise, Paddy Madden had 76 shots in his 36 games, but he struggled aerially against stronger defenders. Ched Evans had 80 shots from his 30 league games, and was slightly more dominant in the air compared to Paddy Madden.
- The Transfers
Fleetwood were very good last season, pushing themselves into the play-offs under Joey Barton. This season they will be looking to go one better and be in the promotion hunt by the end of the season. So far, Fleetwood have bought in three new players so far. The first of those is 24-year-old Callum Camps, who was released by Rochdale at the end of the season. He played 38 times for Rochdale last season, scoring eight goals and getting eight assists. An excellent season from the midfielder, who could be a very key player for Fleetwood next season.
Also joining is Jordan Rossiter, who spent last season on loan from Rangers, but has now joined permanently after his release from the Scottish side. In line with their love of Merseyside loan signings, Fleetwood have brought in 19-year-old Morgan Boyes from Liverpool for a season long loan. The centre back is highly thought of by Liverpool, so it should be a good deal for the North-West club.
In terms of outgoings, the biggest departure was Lewie Coyle’s transfer to Hull City, with the full back leaving after only six months as a permanent signing with Fleetwood, alongside three years of loan deals. Is an area that needs to be looked at. Also leaving the club was Ashley Hunter, who has made his loan deal with Salford permanent. Matt Gilks was released by the club, and subsequently picked up by Bolton Wanderers as a player/coach.
The club have let two players leave on loan, with Billy Crelin and Nathan Sheron joining Bolton and St Mirren. Three players that were part of the ‘unretained’ list that are still without a club are Kyle Dempsey, Conor McAleny and Dean Marney. The club has also seen Harry Souttar, Barrie McKay, Callum Connolly and Lewis Gibson leave the club after their loan deals expired.
The Problem Areas?
Being in the play offs mean Fleetwood have a good basis to build their squad from, but that have lost a lot of players ahead of the new season. In goal, they still have Alex Cairns as their first-choice goalkeeper, with 18-year-old Szymon Czajor being the current back up player for Cairns. Could be an area looked at. At right back, after the sale of Lewie Coyle, the club has only Macauley Southam-Hales to work with. Don’t be surprised if a new right back is the position to strengthen first. On the left, Danny Andrew is still with the club, whilst Eddie Clarke and Ryan Rydel as supporting players. Probably won’t be an area to work on immediately.
In the centre of defence, Fleetwood have only one senior defender to work with and that is 19-year-old Morgan Boyes on loan from Liverpool. Fleetwood will need at least two more defenders this season to have any chance of being near the play-offs. In the centre of the pitch, Fleetwood have a fair few options. Glenn Whelan, Jack Sowerby, Callum Camps, Paul Coutts and Jordan Rossiter are all still with them. May not be a position to be looked at instantly. On the wing, Josh Morris and Wes Burns are the two first choice wingers still, but without any competitive players challenging them. Going forward, Paddy Madden and Ched Evans are still going strong. Probably won’t be an area of concern unless one of them leaves.
I’m not suggesting by any means that I am a scouting guru who has an extensive knowledge of the world of football, but I do like the process of the transfer windows, and trying to be someone who can identify talent when it becomes available. For each team, after identifying the problem areas, I want to try and see if I can find any players for a specific set of positions who could be suited to each club, based on previous transfer years and the club’s reputation surrounding incomings:
- Right Back –
Jon Flanagan – Rangers – 27 y/o – Free Agent
Has been linked with Fleetwood and Sunderland in the last few days, and Fleetwood need a new right back.
Nathan Byrne – Wigan – 28 y/o – Transfer Fee
With Wigan’s administration problems, the club are looking at selling some of their assets. Could Fleetwood strike up a deal for Byrne if a Championship club doesn’t come calling.
Chris Gunter – Reading – 31 y/o – Free Agent
Released by Reading in the summer, and could find a new home with Fleetwood in League One.
Jazz Richards – Cardiff – 29 y/o – Free Agent
Released by the Welsh side in the summer, playing 11 times for them this season, could get a lower end Championship side, but maybe a top-end League One team could interest him.
Chris Solly – Charlton – 29 y/o – Free Agent
Turned down a new contract from Charlton in the summer, but I don’t know if he’ll be a Championship player next season.
Ki-Jana Hoever – Liverpool – 18 y/o – Loan Deal
Another Merseyside youngster, in need of guaranteed first team football if he is to develop for Liverpool.
- Centre Back –
Harry Souttar – Stoke – 21 y/o – Transfer Fee
Has been linked with a return to the club, but will cost a hefty fee. Will Fleetwood be willing to take a chance on him again?
Ben Heneghen – Sheffield United – 26 y/o – Free Agent
Spent last season on loan with Blackpool. Could be enticed into a move to Fleetwood if they can prove that they are play-off contenders once again.
Robbie McKenzie – Hull – 21 y/o – Free Agent
Released by Hull in the summer, could be the perfect defender for a whole host of League One teams this summer.
Angus MacDonald – Hull – 27 y/o – Free Agent
Just been released by Hull but is a very good League One defender. Could be an ideal place to get his career restarted.
Charlie Raglan – Cheltenham – 27 y/o – Transfer Fee
Was very good for Cheltenham last season as they got into the play-offs, and is looking like a player who could make the move to League One.
Jarrad Branthwaite – Everton – 18 y/o – Loan Deal
I said that Fleetwood love a loan signing from Merseyside, so could they go in for another in the form of Branthwaite.
- Winger –
Randell Williams – Exeter – 23 y/o – Transfer Fee
Deserves a chance in a higher league, but he does have Championship interest. Exeter has apparently had a bid rejected from Hull City for his services.
Mark Duffy – Sheffield United – 34 y/o – Free Agent
Released by Sheff Utd in the summer, and has been linked with the club in the last week or so.
Gareth McCleary – Reading – 33 y/o – Free Agent
Has been linked with Fleetwood in the past. Probably isn’t good enough to be a Championship winger anymore, could Fleetwood be his fairytale ending?
Bez Lubala – Crawley – 22 y/o – Transfer Fee
Was very good in League Two last season, and should be getting a move to at least a top end League One side next season.
George Cooper – Plymouth – 23 y/o – Transfer Fee
Has just been promoted with Plymouth, but could the temptation of a team near the top end of the league be a deciding factor for Cooper.
Jonny Smith – Oldham – 22 y/o – Transfer Fee
Nine goals and six assists last season, could be in line for a move into League One very soon.
It’s always difficult to tell how each team is going to fair in the new season, because we haven’t seen many signings nor the influence of pre-season friendlies. Just by going off how each team is expected to deal with the current COVID-19 financial troubles, and what each team is capable of doing under much greater restraint right now, I think that Fleetwood could be in for another season of top-10 football. If they can bring in some quality players, then they will be pushing for promotion. But they have a few areas that are very weak.
What do you guys think? How do you think Fleetwood Town will fair in the new season? Will Joey Barton’s third season in charge see them get promoted? Or will it not be third time lucky for them? Let me know in the comments below and make sure to follow All Out Football on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.