Date:Sunday July 19 2009
Article by Wswilly3
I have been analysing our current squad and as we all know it is not yet complete. We have made four great signings but I would contend that if we want to compete this season, as a top 4 club we need to make four more signings and sell six of our current players.
Yep four in and six out is a must and this would then leave us with a squad of 26, supplemented with youth players of potential. Hopefully we will have the courage, confidence and the money to do this and thus not run the risk of spoiling the ship for a 'hap'orth' of Arab lolly. So here are my thoughts but please, feel free to shoot me down if you disagree, as I have the skin of a rhinoceros due to the fact that I couldn't afford factor 15 on my recent holidays.
Our current first team squad comprises of 30 available players (this excludes the two on season long loans). Of these, I would argue that three are really Championship and not Premiership level and should be sold - these would be Kasper Scheichel, Kelvin Etuhu and Ched Evans. I would further argue that Tal Ben Hain, Javier Garrido and Benjani are not top 4 Premiership level and should also be sold and that Shaleum Logan and Vladamir Weiss have yet to prove they could aspire to this top 4 level but may well have the potential in the longer term.
I also believe that to have a realistic chance of breaking into the so-called elite we do need a first team squad of around 26 players (with some youth cover), all of whom could genuinely be regarded as of top 4 calibre.
If one does the above arithmetic on ones fingers and toes, we would be left with only 22 players who would be fighting it out for the first team and the bench. These are shown below in groups related to a 4 - 3 - 3 format (the most likely if both Robinho and Tevez are to regularly make the starting line up) but this could easily be adapted to differing formations. In these groupings the first number indicates the number of positions required for a team line -up and the first named players are the most likely starters in these 11 positions from the current players, with the rest named as cover.
1 position - Goalkeeper : Given (cover: Taylor)
4 positions - Back 4 - Richards, Onuoha, Kompany, Bridge, (cover Zabaleta, Dunne)
1 - Holding Midfield 1 - De Jong
2 - Central Midfield - Box to Box /Creative : Barry, Ireland (cover Elano, Johnson)
2 - Support Strikers - width/hole : Robinho, Tevez (cover Bellamy, Wright-Phillips, Petrov )
1 - Hold Up Striker - Adebayor (cover Santa Cruz, Bojinov, Caceido)
So what does this show about our balance of players?
Well looking at the above one can clearly see that we are more than adequately covered at 'hold up striker and support striker' with nine players in contention for the total of three positions available - a 3 to 1 ratio which should cover for injuries, suspensions, substitutions and international call ups.
Equally it is strikingly obvious that we are not adequately covered at back four level with only six players in realistic contention for four positions - a 1.5 to 1 ratio which is hugely tight across a whole season. It could be argued that on this basis we need a minimum of two and ideally three defenders, two of which could cover for centre half and one for left back.
In both the single position roles of goalkeeper and holding midfielder we are only adequately covered if we do not sustain any long terms injuries to Given (as Taylor is not an adequate long term replacement) or to de Jong, for whom Kompany or Zabaleta could cover but at a cost to the defensive numbers.
This is I believe is a risk we have to take, if we are to end up with a manageable squad of say 26 players with emergency cover from say Logan and Weiss, making up the 28 player first team squad.
This leaves the absolutely vital area of central midfield, the box to box engine room which also has to provide creativity to bring our undoubted attacking skills to bear. Here we have four players competing for two positions, a ratio of 2 to 1 which is just about adequate, if the two cover players didn`t have questionable elements about their abilities to play in these roles.
Michael Johnson has the attributes but has to be a injury concern, whilst Elano has the attacking skills but does not inspire confidence in a box to box role which given our attacking emphasis is going to be vital. So it seems fairly obvious that more cover is needed in this area in attracting a genuine central midfielder with a balance of high energy levels and creativity.
We have made some outstanding signings this close season and have correctly moved out a whole raft of players. However I would contend we still have to cull the squad by a further six and need to sign four new players, if we are to end up with a balanced squad that can genuinely compete for a top 4 place. These would be:
- Two central defenders and a left back to create a ratio of just better than 2 to 1.
- One central box to box and creative midfielder to create a ratio of 2.5 to 1.
Failure to do the above would mean we have spent the best part of £200 million but risk the likelihood of achieving a top 4 position, which I believe we would definitely do if we invested say another £60 million (£50 million net, after the sales of the six players I suggest).
Come on City, don't spoil the ship for a 'hap'orth' of Arab oil and by the way keep buying petrol for your car for as they say 'every little helps!'
Date:Sunday July 19 2009
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