January 10, 2010
Before the start of the season, I wrote an article where I assessed our squad. In this article (which was written before Bassong joined), I said that I was largely satisfied with our squad, and hoped that Harry didn’t tinker too much. With the window open again, I very much hope we adopt this approach.
Our squad is strong, and growing in strength from week to week, as the players get used to the system and to one another. Players like Bassong, Huddlestone, and even Kranjcar have surpassed expectation this year, and this means that the squad is even stronger than we thought.
Goalkeeper: Heurelho Gomes, Carlo Cudicini, Ben Alnwick, Jimmy Walker
Right back: Vedran Corluka, Alan Hutton, Kyle Naughton
Left back: Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Gareth Bale
Centre back: Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate, Michael Dawson, Sebastian Bassong
Right midfield: Aaron Lennon, David Bentley, Giovani Dos Santos
Left midfield: Luka Modric, Niko Kranjcar
Central midfield: Wilson Palacios, Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas
Forwards: Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Robbie Keane, Roman Pavlyuchenko
(Jamie O’Hara due to return on 15th January.)
The only reason I see that we would need to buy in this window is if others leave. For example, it currently seems likely that at least one of Pavlyuchenko, Bentley or Hutton will go. We could probably cope with the loss of one of them without bringing someone in, as we have players who can adapt to cover (e.g. Kranjcar/Modric/Giovani can play on either wing, Naughton can play in either full back position, and we have players who can play “off” a main striker). However, were more than one player to leave, we would probably need another body.
Many fans are saying that now is the time to strengthen – that we have fourth, and that it’s down to us to lose it (which incidentally isn’t strictly true, because Man City are two points behind with a game in hand). My first point to those who feel this way would be that we have clearly benefited from a settled team (as illustrated by my post about our clean sheets) and changing this is a risk that, in my opinion, is not worth taking. My second point is let’s not run before we walk. We’ve started this season very well, but we are still a young team which has not had the benefit of a team like, for example Aston Villa or Liverpool, of having been together for a few seasons. You also then have the wild card Man City to consider. I still think that Europa Cup qualification is a sensible aim, and I’d personally be very happy with that given the disappointment of last season.
NOTE: just as I write this article, Kranjcar is quoted as saying: “we might have the best squad in the league”!
Since Harry Redknapp arrived:
Left (23, plus 5 Academy players)
Paul Stalteri, Hossam Ghaly, Cesar Sanchez, Andy Barcham, Charlie Daniels, Alex Olsen, Leigh Mills, Kieran McKenna (retired), Darren Bent, Didier Zokora, Chris Gunter, Ricardo Rocha, Pascal Chimbonda, Gilberto, Kevin Prince Boateng, Simon Dawkins, Kyle Fraser-Allen, Cian Hughton, Danny Hutchins, David Hutton, Jacques Maghoma, Takura Mtandari and Yuri Berchiche, plus Academy players Yaser Kasim, Saulo Asajile, Mark Clare, James Dalton and Ajet Shehu.
Jermain Defoe, Wilson Palacios, Carlo Cudicini, Pascal Chimbonda, Robbie Keane, Niko Kranjcar,
Sebastien Bassong, Peter Crouch, Kyle Naughton, Kyle Walker, Jimmy Walker
Redknapp brought in five players in January last season, and six over the summer.