Record Last Season + Quick Summary:
League Two - 19th; W 12 / D 12 / L 22 / F 59 / A 75 / Pts 47
Darren Way’s Yeovil Town had a baptism of fire in their opening fixture of 2017/2018, being on the receiving end of a 8-2 monstering by Luton Town. Some notable wins were achieved in the early stages, most notably against eventual champions Accrington Stanley and Coventry City. Goals were never especially difficult to come by, but keeping them out was an entirely different matter. Midwinter was the best period and the bulk of their victories came in that spell, defying the doom-mongers. They saved their best performance by doing the double over The Sky Blues, putting six past them in a truly bizarre encounter.
Way’s charges upset many a betting slip with a finish of 19th, ensuring that The Glovers have featured in the bottom six for a fifth year in a row, including their consecutive relegations between 2013 and 2015.
Top Goalscorer: François Zoko (13 goals in 35 starts/3,041 minutes)
Top Creator: Otis Khan (6 assists in 35 starts/2,919 minutes)
Manager/Head Coach: Darren Way; the lion’s share of his playing career came at Huish Park. What ‘Weasel’ didn’t have in stature, he more than compensated for with his battling, energetic performances in midfield. He announced his retirement eight years after returning to the fold following an injury-plagued stint at Swansea City. Indeed, a serious accident off-the-field had him wheelchair-bound for a time, having to learn to walk all over again once he was on the slow path to recovery. Slowly rising the ranks in the backroom, Way has now been in charge at Yeovil for nearly three years, working wonders to keep them above the trap-door, and his efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
Ins: Korrey Henry (West Ham United U18s), Nathan Baxter (Chelsea U23s on loan), Carl Dickinson (Notts County), Sessi D’Almeida (Blackpool), Garry Warren (Inverness Caledonian Thistle) & Diallang Jaiyesimi (Norwich City U23s on loan).
Outs: Nathan Smith (free agent), Oscar Gobern (Eastleigh), Ryan Dickson (Torquay United), Daniel Alfei (free agent), Connor Smith (Boreham Wood), Artur Krysiak (free agent), Jonny Maddison (Darlington) & Otis Khan (Mansfield Town).
Predicted First XI & Shape:
Tactics: With the first-team squad currently so small, a number of the above pick themselves. Stuart Nelson’s positioning is decent, which helps no end due to his propensity to come for crosses. Ahead of him, Tom James can play across defence, and might be one of the few in the division that starts as a left-footed right-back. His aerial ability is reasonably high, and he rarely gets caught out in behind. Bevis Mugabi is one to watch out for from set pieces and has been impressive in pre-season alongside stand-in captain Omar Sowunmi, who’s very much in the old-school fashion of centre backs and possesses colossal strength. On the left, Carl Dickinson will keep well in his own half, and is very aggressive in the tackle when he needs to be.
Sessi D’Almeida will cover plenty of ground in between defence and midfield, and his ability to link the two will be crucial to Yeovil retaining the ball and winning it back quickly when there’s a turnover. Rhys Browne is very fast and good on the dribble; his versatility will also doubtlessly come into play as the season wears on. Jordan Green is a steady influence on the right flank and will provide whipped crosses for the strikers to meet first time. Alefe Santos is a flair player, more at home on the wing but can also operate centrally when required. His understanding with the likes of François Zoko will be important, as will his runs into the area to provide greater numbers.
Zoko is a veteran at this level, and will surely be looked to both to score the goals and help develop the younger players on the roster, not least of whom is likely to be Diallang Jaiyesimi, a nippy wide forward by trade.
Predicted ‘Area’ of Finish: Circling the relegation drain; there remains a lot of uncertainty regarding the playing squad. Clearly, only just being able to fill a bench is far from ideal (and that’s assuming they’re all available). This might help to build a siege mentality and also give opportunities for academy prospects at the Somerset outfit. Way is obviously operating with at least one hand proverbially tied behind his back, and it’s difficult to foresee any outcome other than another season of toil. They face Bury in less than two weeks on the opening day of 2018/2019 and will hope to swell their numbers before then, with the summer window closing early and leaving little time for substantial reinforcements. Zoko will lead the line admirably, but will that be enough? They’re my most certain choice for the lowest category at the time of writing.