A good start to the season for Blyth Spartans

So, it's the middle of November and I'm pleased to report Blyth Spartans are doing much better than I expected we would, considering the amount of new signings brought in and departures from the club. Spartans are currently 1st in the table, 6 points clear of Gainsborough and 8 of AFC Telford and Guisely. We had a great run of results, unbeaten in 11 until the defeat at Corby where an injury to Liam O'Brien meant youngster Joe Segar, who although performed well the game before against Hyde, committed two mistakes and thus our run came to an end.

However, the very next game, Spartans met League 2 side Port Vale in the FA Cup 1st Round. I'd decided to bring back O'Brien, who despite only just recovering from a gashed leg, had a fitness rating of 72%. This gamble ultimately paid off as Blyth Spartans shocked the professionals 2:1! Hopefully we can get to the third round and draw a Premier League club away, to get some cash to help the finances.

I've been very busy in the transfer market, off-loading some dead wood including the ancient 39 year old player/assistant manager Chris Swailes. I've also been recruiting heavily with 18 new signings. After looking at the expired contract filter in the player search I picked up some excellent African and French amateurs from the French lower divisions and also the obligatory glut of free transfers.

I spoke about him earlier in the post, but one of my best signings is undoubtedly Liam O'Brien. He was a casualty of the Portsmouth cull at the end of the last season and I signed him up on a free. I knew of him as he was the former youth team goalkeeper of the team I support, Queens Park Rangers. O'Brien has only conceded 10 goals in 17 games and has some good keeping stats and vitally (for me) 13 in handling and 15 in reflexes.

Another class act for Spartans is the rock at the heart of the defense, Mustapha Traoré, who scored the winning goal against Port Vale. Traoré used to play for Caen and is a Gambian international with a very handy second nationality of French.

The third of my star signings is Gabon international striker Armand Ossey, brought in for free from Blanc-Mesnil in France. He, like Traoré, has a French passport which negates work permit rules and has also been instrumental in Blyth Spartans good form with 8 goals in 12 games.

The squad is healthy though, with 11 different nationalities the team has blended together. I do believe having a lot of French speaking players has helped them all to settle and integrate with the English speaking ones.

These three, with midfielders Togolese Kuami Agboh and Mauritanian Mohamed Benyachou are the backbone of my line-up which is 3 at the back, a defensive midfielder, 4 across the middle with the wide players being attacking wingers and 2 strikers. I feel this has worked really well for me as my centre halves are of better quality than my full backs and it allows me to accommodate all my class midfielders.


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