Heading into Joey Barton’s second season in charge, Fleetwood Town will have to deal with raised expectations more than last term, with their manager now having had the time to get his feet under the table and go about moulding the squad to fit his philosophy.
With the Cod Army finishing a disappointing 12 points off the playoffs last season, Barton will be hoping for a much-improved performance this time around and he won’t be too disappointed with the start they have made to the season so far.
With Fleetwood having picked up 10 points from a possible 18, the season started in brilliant fashion with a great performance at one of the promotion favourites Peterborough United, as the Lancashire based outfit ran out three-one winners at London Road.
This has been followed up by two more victories, one draw and two defeats.
Barton will no doubt be pleased with the transfer business he conducted this summer, with the additions of Ched Evans on a permanent deal following his loan spell last season, free transfers Paul Coutts and Josh Morris providing much needed League One quality and experience to an already talented squad.
In addition to their incomings, Fleetwood possess the talent required to see them finish high up the table this season, with key goalscorer Paddy Madden having hit the ground running so far this term with four goals in first six appearances this season, averaging a goal every 88 minutes per game, a superb return for any striker.
Madden of course also provides vital promotion experience to the squad, with the Irishmen having fired Yeovil Town to the Championship, for the first time in their history, via the League One playoffs back in 2013.
It is this experience along with the seasoned campaigners in Matt Gilks and Peter Clarke that will prove crucial for a squad that has an average age of 26, making it one of the oldest squads in the league.
Another player who will be key to their promotion chances is midfielder Jordan Rossiter, who has arrived on a season-long loan from Glasgow Rangers.
The young midfielder who was once tipped for the top while at Liverpool will be looking to prove his worth to his parent club’s manager Steven Gerrard, with the 22-year-old maintaining Fleetwood’s high tempo possession play from the base of a three man midfield this season.
Lastly, one other player who has immediate impact with his displays so far this season is defender Harry Souttar who arrived on loan from Stoke City, the youngster has recorded the most aerial balls won in the Fleetwood squad with 5.5 per game, whilst also maintaining an average pass success rate of 79%, underlining his importance to the team when starting attacks from the back.
With Barton’s team recording some of the highest statistics in League One for passing gradients, the Fleetwood manager will be hoping that his players can transfer that possession into goals.
If they can do this, there is no reason why they won’t be there or thereabouts in the playoff race this season.