The Squad: An early season analysis
There has been a lot of changes in the squad since Sven took the reigns; but how well has our defence, midfield, and attack coped during the first five fixtures?
Isaksson - No1 keeper, injured and not played yet, must be a plus to consider we have him to return. No rating.
Hart - No2 keeper at the start but bench warmer so far. Excellent prospect and star performer in the Carling cup. 8/10
Schmeichel, - No3 keeper but elevated to No1 due to injuries to the above. Has been excellent in the five league games so far. Great prospect. 9/10
Goalkeeper summary. Andreas is Sweden`s number one and would get into most Premier league sides. Kasper and Joe, both being twenty, are excellent prospects.
The club can rely on these three for many years to come. Andreas` injury has enabled us to blood the other two and they have taken the opportunity superbly. 9/10
Dunne the captain and longest serving player. Signed by Joe Royle for 3m. Excellent and almost faultless until his sending off at Ewood. 8/10
Richards is possibly the best academy player the club ever produced. still only 20 and a full England International. Has done little wrong. 9/10
Onouha is another great prospect from the academy. Bench warming so far, but played well in the Carling cup, 7/10
Logan`s is exactly the same report as that given for Onouha therefore the same mark. 7/10
Ball has seen suspension and Garrido limit his appearances so far. Nevertheless very reliable when needed. 6/10
Sun remains very versatile. Plays anywhere at the back or in midfield. Always a good option for the bench. 6/10
Corluka has played in all six games so far, most of them at right back. At 21 he remains a very good prospect and has made a very solid start. 8/10
Garrido is rightly keeping Ball out of the team and at 21 he has an excellent career ahead of him, 8/10
Defenders summary. Only two goals conceded in the first five league games, and that includes games against the likes of Arsenal and the caretaker champions. It is hard, at present, to find any fault with the defence and goalkeeping positions. 10/10
Hamman has been like a new player this term and has improved considerably on last year`s showing. Might need resting from time to time. 8/10
Johnson is yet another great prospect from the academy. At 20 he has a lot still to learn but is certainly one for the future. Needs to show a little more aggression. 8/10
Ireland has the same report for him as that given to Johnson. However not quite as good. 7/10
Elano, the Brazilian maestro, has great skill but like the two mentioned above he is a little lightweight. Without doubt he is a class act. 9/10
Geovanni has the same report as that given to Elano. Scored two excellent goals so far; those goals pushing his mark upwards. 9/10
Petrov has lots of skill but only tends to get involved in ten minute bursts. A lot more is expected from a player who has 60 plus caps. 6/10
Fernandes is one for the future and at 21 is a real prospect. Excellent buy at £2 million and a potential future captain. Only one start so far so on potential alone he is marked. 9/10
Midfield summary: Lots of class, pace, and potential with the only obvious weakness being it is too lightweight. We need a midfield destroyer; a quality aggressive ball winner is without doubt a priority for January.
If one can be found I feel that Johnson, Fernandes, Ireland and Geovanni should for this season be squad players, bench warmers with just a few starts. Only Elano, Petrov, and Hamann should be automatic starters and that is based on experience alone. 7/10
Mpenza looks the part and is very fast however his speed does not appear to coordinate with his thoughts. Capable of 8 to 12 goals and is ideally suited to coming into the game late from the bench. 6/10
Bianchi is the summer`s most expensive signing and looks world class one game and quite ordinary the next. Has still to learn how to play Premier league defenders but is potentially very good. 7/10
Bojinov received a serious injury early in his city career. A great prospect who I believe will eventually be Sven`s best buy. Potential alone leads to his mark. 8/10
Striker summary: Valeri`s injury has reduced our attacking options. Due to little involvement so far from Samaras, Vassell and Sturridge it seems we will, until January, need to depend on Mpenza and Bianchi. I do not see either scoring more than 1 in 4, so goals will be hard to come by. A quality striker is needed in January and I am sure Sven is working on that already. Bojinov will be back early 2008 but for the moment, with regards to strikers, I can only offer a mark of 6/10.
Quality defence, hard working midfield, if at times a little lightweight, and no prolific goal scorers. I expect when we win, it will be seldom more than 1-0, 2-1 or 2-0, and likewise I cannot see our great defence conceding more than 2 goals; draws will either be 0-0 or 1-1.
Just top ten this season but potentially a very good, young team that will certainly improve and will be expected to challenge the top six next season.