Date:Friday September 8 2006
As Stuart Pearce reviewed this summer's business dealings at the close of the transfer window last month, he could be forgiven for being relatively satisfied with the fruits of his labours. Gone are more than a few of the youngsters who were unlikely to make it; the oldies who were past it; and those (mentioning no names) who had in recent times become the focus of the City boo boys due to a lack of application, loyalty, and/or discernable talent. In their places Pearce introduced players of arguably greater experience, a higher calibre, and with a hungrier outlook. He also significantly reduced the average age of the squad without compromising on experience.
There remain, however, a couple of burning issues which City fans will want to see resolved as soon as possible. Leaving aside the issue of a naturally left sided midfielder for the moment (let us first see if this season's left sided loanee is an improvement on those from the prevous two seasons) an important question to be answered concerns the creation and scoring of goals.
City have not had a naturally creative midfielder or playmaker figure since Benarbia and Berkovic were splitting premiership defences apart at will.
Whilst the midfield has been given added bite, and now boast the combined combative talents of Claudio Reyna, Joey Barton, Didi Hamaan and Ousmane Dabo, none of these are natural ball players - a significant problem given City's preference since SWP's departure for playing it through the middle. Add to that an almost entirely new look strike force (Vassell, Corradi, Dickov and Samaras) only two of whom have played together more than a couple of times (Vassell and Samaras) and it is difficult to predict from where City might produce goals - and therefore victories - this season.
In the three games played so far this season the 'goals for' tally numbers 1, a Joey Barton penalty.
The coming sequence of games, commencing with a fixture against Reading on Monday night, will hopefully provide some indication of how sharply Stuart Pearce feels he'll have to twist his chairman's arm in the January Window.
(Which strike pairing do you think will prove the most productive for City over the coming season?)
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