Our squad and the transfer window
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.
Join the conversation
Harry reckons we're a bit light in CM and I'd possibly agree except there are a few possibilities - modders and Kranjcar - either could play in off the left allowing both to play together; Keane could play as an attacking midfielder in a 3 striker system - just possibilities.
All in all I can't complain too much about our striker situation - there is good backup there and Dos Santos has done and can play as a striker (he's even listed as a striker on the club's website) but the defensive side just leaves me a bit uneasy
At left-back, do we really want to go signing another player who will then knock Bale further down the pecking order when Assou-Ekotto is back in 3 weeks time? He will eventually get fed up and leave if he doesn't get decent chances. For the mean time, we have Naughton, Bassong and even O'Hara as cover there, I'm satisfied with that.
Central midfield is another matter. I'd personally be happy to see O'Hara come back as competition, but I think he's decided that his future lies elsewhere, and I would imagine that Sandro will join at some point to replace him. A short-term signing would be pointless so, again, I'd be happy for us to wait it out.
Not sure how well we would cope without Lennon or Palacious. Lets hope we do not have to find out!
Apart from these 3, we appear to have adequate cover for all outfield positions.
How on earth can you honestly think we don't need strengthening. We havven't settled for mid table we are supposedly trying to nick a CL place we have to strengthen or miss out
IF WE LOSE DEFOE THE WHEELS ARE LIKELY TO FALL OFF.
We have never had this before and so this is all new and there is a fear of letting the transfer window go by with little activity, we could shoot ourselves in the foot and slowly see fourth spot fall from our grip (as I suspect we will), especially when you consider our final few fixtures most notably Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd all in a row.
And so while we need to prepare for the second half of the season and use this transfer window to our advantage we also need to be careful not to disrupt the balance of the squad. Yes I agree that Bentley, Pav, Hutton, Alnwick and even maybe JJ’s days are numbered and the sooner we get them off the wage bill and funds in the bank the better, however I’m not sure if we need to go out and buy another four or five players in each area of the park.
Personally the area of most concern for me is the defence, yes I know we have kept four clean sheets without Woodgate or King but it is a long old season and I personally would like to see the above five mentioned shipped out, O’Hara brought back for midfield and a youth striker sat on the bench hungry for his chance rather than a 60K a week International who has lost his confidence and hunger. This leaves the defence, personally I would like to see Harry test West Ham with a bid for Upson, they need the cash and he is a tried and tested Prem player with Engalnd caps. I would feel quite comfortable with King and Woodgate being out knowing that Dawson and Upson were holding the fort with Bassong on the bench. That leaves the GK as mentioned I would get rid of Alnwick and bring in Joe Lewis as cover for Gomes, still young enough not to get the hump about sitting on the bench but clearly rated very highly even by Mr Capello considering a recent squad call up.
All in all I see that as squad strengthening without any major disruption going into the second half of the season, it would also leave a nice amount in the kitty for Redknapp to re-asses the squad in the summer and maybe even pick up some outstanding unheard offs from the World Cup as I’m sure like always there will be a few outstanding players putting themselves in the shop window during the summer.
A reserve keeper would be a sensible move, as I don’t think Cudicini, Alnwick or Walker are good enough, but buying a "reserve keeper" is a risky move, as we’ve shown with Cudicini (who cost us a few goals earlier in the season). If we can, we should aim for a promising young goalkeeper who can aim to challenge Gomes.
Are you seriously suggesting Keanes performances are on a par with Defoes this season ?
Our chance to break top 4 is now. Next season gets tougher with Man City spending even more and their signings bedding in.