It's 414 days since the players returned to pre-season training ahead of the 2019/20 season. With so much going on since, we're heading back to the very beginning to start our review of the campaign just gone.
The players returned to Jersey Road for pre-season in late June with a week-long training camp in Austria confirmed for a fortnight later. The initial training group was supplemented ahead of the trip as goalkeeper David Raya signed from Blackburn Rovers and Ethan Pinnock swapped Barnsley for Brentford. Two more players would join while Thomas and the team were in the Tyrol, Pontus Jansson from Leeds United and Mathias Jensen from Celta Vigo.
Following a pre-season campaign that included wins over AFC Wimbledon and Norwich City, and draws against Wycombe Wanderers and Dynamo Kiev, the Sky Bet Championship season got underway on a sunny Saturday in early August. Our final season at Griffin Park began with perhaps one of the most unjust defeats in 116 years of games in TW8. Birmingham City taking the points courtesy of a 20-yard header, their only shot of the afternoon, while we saw three efforts come back off the woodwork.
Mbeumo for Maupay
The Monday after that Birmingham game saw one-in, one-out in our forward line. Neal Maupay, the scorer of 28 goals during the previous season, departed for the Premier League with Brighton and Hove Albion. In his place came France Under-21 international attacker Bryan Mbeumo from Troyes AC.
Up and running on the road
One area that Thomas Frank had looked to address in the build-up to the new season was our away form. It had taken until January to win on the road during the 2018/19 season with only two more successes added before the end of the campaign. However, we were straight up and running on the road this campaign with Ollie Watkins’ opening goal of the season confirming a 1-0 success on Teesside against Middlesbrough.
Late Leeds loss
A subsequent draw against Hull City meant we had taken four points from our opening three games ahead of a trip to Leeds United. The Whites went into the season as promotion favourites and were among the early season pacesetters. The game at Elland Road was a tight affair, Bryan Mbeumo striking the post with a curling effort during the opening 45 minutes. However, just as it looked like we would return with a hard-earned point, Eddie Nketiah struck the decisive goal with nine minutes to play.
The final game of August, and the final game before the international break, saw our best performance of the opening month. Derby County were blown away in the opening 45 minutes at Griffin Park as we gave a hint at some of the football which was to come over the season. Ollie Watkins, playing in the central striking role, netted twice with Bryan Mbeumo breaking his duck. The win lifted us into mid-table heading into the autumn months.