I posted previously that I, as have others would not object to seeing either Tripps or Davies, or even both being replaced, and as controversial as it sounds, even Rose. My mad ramblings was initially going to be a more considered response to my previous thoughts about our fullback situation, and as such was intended to be just another comment on the last bloeug.
Not anymore. Mwahaha…
We have a very good team who on their day can beat anyone, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. We are now regularly competing at the highest level, and in doing so our expectation as fans has been raised accordingly. The majority of our squad has been together for several years now, and in that time they have provided great memories and taken us on a journey that I doubt any of us were expecting. In my opinion (the only one that counts..) the team needs freshening up, I understand the argument that the team are settled, this is very true but, it is possible to be too settled as well. New signings should not be viewed by the players as a negative, resulting in their positions in the team being threatened, quite the opposite, it can help foster new positive challenges for the squad, and something I believe our players would actually welcome. For me the challenge our club now faces is a difficult but not insurmountable one. Considering the level we are now competing at, does the squad really need a host of ‘very good’ players or is it time to focused our efforts on trying to sign one or two exceptional players.
So then, back to that old chestnut, our fullbacks: I’m not entirely sold on the virtues of Davies or Trippier, not because of the utd result (other results are available), on any other day we would have won that game by a considerable margin. Neither are blessed with pace which doesn’t help when playing a high line, Davies is the better defender, but offensively his contribution is negligible, Trippier on the other hand is better offensively (to a point), but is often found wanting when it comes to his defensive duties. The fullback positions in modern football are now more important than ever to how teams aim to create space and chances in the attacking third, ideally you would hope to have players proficient in both roles i.e. attack and defence, do Tripps and Davies tick those boxes? No not for me. These though are the fine margins we now have to consider, given the quality of the team as a whole.
Another vital position we are about to have a vacancy for is deep midfield. We are about to lose Dembele (sadly) who under Poch has been an exceptional player for us, I know some think he could have done better i.e. scoring goals but, his role in the team has been to act as the conduit between defence and attack. Dembele provided defensive cover when needed, and also a platform which allowed us to initiate our attack from a deep midfield position, that he has done over the years with aplomb. So where do we (the club) look next to fill that void, a very good player, or an exceptional player? For me it would be the latter, partly because it’s a vital position within the team, it also shows the players, the fans, and also other potential future signings that we really do have ambitions to compete at the highest level and win silverware. I appreciate we are not as wealthy as the other clubs we compete with, and I am not advocating a wholesale change in the clubs transfer policy to spend as they do, rather, I see it as a case of less is more, why buy 3 good players when one exceptional player may be all we need.
I may use the term ‘exceptional player’ but I’m not daft enough (yet) to think we can sign who ever we want, that is simply not the case. I do however believe we can and should be able to attract the best young talent, especially when we consider what we have in our favour, we compete at the highest level, have one of the best managers around, and who’s reputation is based partly on giving young players a chance. I am aware that we have to be mindful of certain constraints such as the quota on foreign players, and yes we have a very good academy (which I think is great), but if the chance arises to sign the odd exceptional foreign player, then I say go ferret,
So does the idea of signing top young talent really stack up when we have a giant Lilywhite elephant to pay for? With the cost of the new stadium it goes without saying the club is going to have to be financially prudent, spending vast sums of money on players is not an option, but as far as I can ascertain it is not the ‘financial’ the millstone around the clubs neck that everyone purports it to be. As it stands the debt is I believe currently around £550m, with an interest rate on that debt at 2.5 – 3%, so that equates to about half an hour with FoF on a Friday night, or roughly £15-20m per annum. I do not believe this figure is prohibitive to the club signing players, definitely not, but what will be a key factor in how the club moves forward financially, is that it will need to remain financially healthy for the next 5 years in order to be in a favourable position to refinance the debt at that point. Do I think these financial constraints should hold us back? No. The money available nowadays compared to when Arsenal built their little oddity are vastly different. What we have to do is box clever, cleverer than all the rest, and that is something I’m absolutely sure we can do.
Other notable publications by this author include: Five go mad in Broadmoor