So the summer transfer window was shut last night and for the first time in quite a while we weren’t involved in the deadline rush. Something I usually enjoy but don’t necessarily believe in. I like the seat I sat on, watching from afar as our rivals struggled to hustle in their targets at hiked prices. A seat that’s not squeaky when you feel your team has improved where needed (if you’re not bothered by the loans out). Being the glamorous club that we are I enjoy the spotlight but stealing Willian from the spu*s was more than enough fun for me. And yet myself I ask, “was it worth it?” to which I unconsciously reply “time will tell”. Before I evaluate our rivals’ dealings a look at our team is key.
- Kevin De Bruyne
- Van Ginkel
- And everyone else that left early.
Where did we need improvement?
- Midfield – Numbers
Signed a young energetic box-to-box man in Van Ginkel. He’s very balanced and I like such players at the base of the 4-2-3-1. Essien returned and I see that as merely cover and won’t complain at all. Looks much fitter than last season when he departed from Madrid. Its nice to still have Mikel (look no further than his presence vs Bayern last Friday) as he, Ramires and Lampard would easily be the mainstays in those positions. I also like that the 2 cover players are a mix of young and old (mvg and ess). 5 players. 2 positions.
- Attacking Midfield – Numbers
Why numbers? Last season:
|Player||2012/2013 Starts (Subs) – Club + International|
A few cameos for Marin/Bertrand and Ramires/Moses’ several appearances on the right wing didn’t stop our brilliant three creators from being overworked. We did play in 8 competitions but the ones that weren’t our usual didn’t amount to a total of 10 games and so shouldn’t be a factor. These positions were our strength and we relied on these players over and over but they are only humans(duh) and we really needed to acquire cover over the summer to bring out the best in them
10 goals + 10 assists makes kevin de bruyne an easy recall and he is definitely not in want of quality as a creative midfielder. It also helps that he’s at home on the right side of the pitch, an area we’e struggled with.
Willian is a brilliant footballer and it’s great to have him after missing out on him a few years ago. He’s comfortable across all 3 positions (not unlike de bruyne, both excel even in deeper roles) and always wanted to play for us. There isn’t much more could you ask for.
Schurrle. I can be cliché with the pace, width and hardwork he offers because that’s about it. And yes, that football intelligence expected of a German.
Marin and Moses? Two signings proposed/supposed to offer more natural width than the brilliant 3 being replaced by players more similar to those 3. Bad decision? No. Neither seemed like cutting it (yes I know Moses had a few decent games/important Europa league goals but doesn’t compare to the quality of WILLIAN?).
Quality wingers are a rarity in our current football world. And while everyone is raising/chasing attacking midfielders across Europe, we have six of such who are QUALITY competing for 3 positions and you have to love it.
- Center Forward – Quality.
From Torres-Ba to Torres-Ba-Lukaku (who everyone was hoping would be our main striker after a solid stint at WEST BROM – an opinion I quite loudly never shared) to Torres-Ba-Eto’o. Do I like this forward line? Yes. Do I love it? No. With strikers, you aim to have diversity in style (skillful, target man, poacher) and age/experience. At the mention of target man Lukaku’s frame lights up immediately but is it worth keeping him just to have a strong player to bring on when you can’t break down tough defences? Is he better off at Everton where he would most certainly start 30+ games? Lots of questions I can ask, but if Mourinho felt that a strong target man was integral to his season plans he would’ve kept him.
Why don’t I love it?
Simple. The striker problem is still there. We merely added a 32 yr old on a 1-year contract.
If Samuel can hit full fitness, I trust his killer instinct to put him in the 20’s by the seasons end. Why? Diverse finishing (something Niño lacks).
Of all our forwards Torres understand our players best and we generally play better when he’s on the pitch. The conundrum for me is why this hasn’t been reciprocal for the most part (topic for a different day).
Ba? I think he’s lucky to still be here. Not a bad 3rd option to have and I hope he improves and seizes his opportunities.
PS: I think Schwarzer for Hilario and Turnbull was perfect.
Ozil to Arsenal takes the cupcake. Why will a player who is one of the best in the world by any standard in his position move to a team with far less ambition/ quality? Not playing time cause barely any footballers should start ahead of him. Potential? Certainly not THIS Arsenal squad. I have to believe he didn’t realize how unsure his position at the club was until late and at the end he made a decision. I don’t see why Madrid will reject a 42m with the amount of talent they’ve brought in (looking from their perspective because footballing-wise the transition makes little football sense). Let’s talk about 42m. Why will a team with Giroud and Podolski as strikers, Flamini, Diaby as defensive midfielders, a maximum of 3 decent centre backs and Wilshere,Ramsey, Arteta* and Cazorla as creative options choose to spend practically all of their transfer kitty on a position they seem to be doing best at? If we see more of such in the near future it’ll make sense. Yet, I still don’t see them as realistic title challengers. Yet.
Brilliant though the Ozil signing is, it remains ridiculous that we end the window with £100m in the bank and no new striker, CDM. #AFC
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 2, 2013
Why Ozil left?
Arsenal midfield problems, will he solve them?
Rating: ***** (My mind screams 4 (fee + position) but just because its Mesut I gave a 5. He’s THAT good)
Fellaini to United. I really don’t know what Manchester United is looking for in midfield. Creativity? Grit? Balance? The bilbao lad whose clause they almost released was set to be one of the worst knee-jerk buys in recent history and luckily or unluckily they dodged that peel. It bothers me (not really) that with all the midfielders across Europe they’ve gone for Marouane. Tottenham Hotspur can sign Christian Eriksen for 10m* but UNITED have to settle with Fellaini. Is it because Moyes wants be reunited with his boy or they actually need him in the team? Questions.
fellaini. utd need rooney so badly right now.
— antonio (@ToyeCFC) September 3, 2013
Moses and Sahko to Liverpool. Moses will offer little by way of improvment. Sahko, is a good defender and will certainly do no harm to an already great defence. IF Livepool can keep either Sturridge or Suarez firing they won’t find it hard to gain points.
(I know nothing about the other guy.)
Eriksen and Lamela to Spurs. Eriksen, all things being normal, is set to be a huge star in this league. He has and is surrounded by all it’ll take him and I can’t overemphasize how big a deal this is barring the dutch injury plague. I may be very wrong but, Madrid in 2-3 years? Lamela, on the other hand, is another decent technical wide player and would be more of a difference maker than Chadli on the other flank. Quailty dealings potentially, but I’m not worried at the moment.
6-7 new players in your first team. doesn't work like that!
— antonio (@ToyeCFC) August 30, 2013
In conclusion I ask 2 questions. Does any other team in the league possess an outright better team/squad on paper? Does any other team posses a better manager than Mourinho? If the answers are no, what then could stop us from winning the league? I hope I never find out.
PS: The ratings evaluate the transfer dealings based on my opinion of the players’ worth vs fee, potential and tactical fit into the team.