What do we need to improve the team/squad?

I’ve not been too active on here of late and I apologise for it.
Things have conspired against me somewhat and I was frankly too busy to find time to write anything on Friday.
The truth is also though, that I frankly just haven’t had sufficicient interest to be bothered.

It’s not that I don’t care. I do massively and that will never change.
But it just feels like the wheels have come off our season. It’s all a bit uninspiring, as is the football in particular.
We’ve looked clueless for at least a couple of weeks according to the vast majority of us , but I actually think we’ve been poor since pretty much the turn of the year and have said so.

It’s possibly just a poor run of form. Combine it with by far our most influential player in Grealish being out, coupled with Matt Cash, who for me has been eye-opening in showing how much we lack without him, also being injured and it’s all quite understandable.
The good news is that both will probably be back for the Spurs game and we’ll hopefully begin to see a pickup in our form.

What’s been concerning is how we’ve looked a different side with a drop off in form and a couple of injuries.
It’s not to be unexpected of course. After all, I wonder how many of us would have predicted that we’d be guaranteed safe this early in the season?
Certainly I’d got us tagged for 13th-14th, something in that sort of area.
So if we didn’t pick another point up this season, we’d have already done okay.

But as it stands we’ve done brilliantly. So much so that if you were to add in games, such as Sheffield, we could easily have been ten points better off. That puts you on a par with Chelsea and that’s without thinking about it.
Of course, if every team won the games they “ought” to, things would look different, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

The point is the season is already in danger of becoming a big anti-climax.
Which led me to thinking what we can possibly do to prevent a similar situation arising next season.

I know it’s all conjecture and speculation on my part and I’ve often said that I’m not a fan of that sort of stuff, because it’s invariably wrong.
But if we just call it what it is, ie 100% guesswork on my part, perhaps that helps clarify where I’m coming from.

So what do we need?
The goalkeeping doesn’t even need discussion does it?
Unless Heaton agitates for a move. The reality is he isn’t going to get a look in if Martinez is fit, so it’ll be cup games only. Would he be okay with that?
Even if he did end up going, we’d still be in pretty good shape and I’m not even going to counternance the idea that Martinez will be going anywhere.

We’re actually in good shape in defence too. Matty Cash is a great left back. I’d release Elmohamady for a last payday and just think Guilbert will be gone, regardless of what I think of him. So competition for Cash, it is then.

I should probably jump in here and say that I don’t understand how we’d we able to spend much money, but think that we probably will, which means we have to move up a level if we’re too improve. £10 million players are not going to cut it now, but the full backs is where you might get away with it.

Targett has done superb this season, but he also needs competition. Taylor’s contract is up at the end of the season and I just can’t see us renewing it. I some like him, but I’ve never rated him and don’t think he makes adequate backup for where we want to be. So a right back too.

Central defence is probably good enough too. I still have issues with Mings at times, but there’s no doubting that his game has improved. Hence I have to look at the statistics and admit that my opinion of him was totally wrong and we’re in a good place. I believe Hause is good back up as is Engels, even if I think Dean Smith isn’t convinced.
So we may see a central defender in, but I doubt it. We have bigger priorities.

Defensive mids and both Luiz and Nakamba are very inconsistent, but I believe Luiz has room for improvement and we should remember he’s totally pulled the strings for us at times. Nakamba is what he is and if we had boatloads of money, I might replace him. Otherwise I think he’ll stay and I’d be okay with that.

And then things begin to get a lot more complex.

The obvious one for me is Ross Barkley. I like him, because he has flair skill and all the right attributes. But he can be poor as well. Has he done enough to justify us buying him at £40 million or whatever it is?
As it stands, no, not by a long chalk. So he goes back to Chelsea.
Trezeguet? I really like him, but if I’m being ruthless, he goes, the same as El Ghazi. I don’t think they will, because they’re both good enough for the squad. Unfortunately we just need better.
Traore is listed in the official squad as a forward, but he’s more of an attacking midfielder type to me, so I mention him in section. I think he’s too inconsistent too, but he won’t be going anywhere and he will continue to feature. I’m fine with that as he does have something to offer and when he’s performing, is very good to watch.

Morgan Sanson won’t be going anywhere either, that goes without saying.
I can’t say I’ve seen much in Jacob Ramsay up to now, but he’s one for the future. I could argue that I think he’s getting too much time, but it is good that Dean Smith is keeping a lot of faith in him. The question for me is how long does he get to really start to show something?
And here’s one that might upset some of you.
How long does John McGinn get to start performing? It seems like blasphemy to even ask that, but if we’re being honest, the vast majority of us think he’s been awful ever since he came back from injury. How long do you give a player to start showing some form? Well, he gets the rest of the season. He even gets a while next season. But what happens if he hasn’t started performing by the winter window? It’s a long way off and I just hope he comes good before then. But the harsh reality is that he’s been nowhere near the player he was in his earlier Villa peak.
Again, we need better than he’s been playing.
Grealish doesn’t even need discussion.

And finally, Strikers.
Ollie is the main man and playing a blinder. He’s beginning to look very tired to me, but it’s to be expected.
He’ll still be the main man next season. The good news with him is he’s not the finished article and I look forward to him improving. I just hope we can supply adequately to keep his desire going.

Wesley will be the interesting one. I’ve said many times I don’t rate him, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to give him every chance. He’s been out for 15 months and reading between the lines, is still weeks away. I seriously wonder how that will have affected him and have a nagging feeling it won’t have been in a good way. No doubt we’ll see.
Which leaves Keinan Davis. I like him. When there was talk about him going to Derby, my Derby supporting mate asked what I thought. I replied that I thought he had the lot. Except that he just doesn’t score. We seem to like to hump the ball at times and it seems to me Davis is exactly the type of player you bring on to lump it to, as part of a close front two. He then just holds the ball, to relieve pressure if we’re under the cosh or he knocks down for Watkins.
Unfortunately Smith will not and never will play him like this. Hence my opinion says Davis playing in the middle with Watkins moving out wide, to not feed off anything Davis gives, means Davis is a total waste of time at the club.
If I was him, I’d be demanding to go out on loan to a club that would play him to his strengths or sadly, just bang a transfer request in. The money might be good, but the manager is destroying him as a player, in my opinion.

So where does that leave us?
Goalkeeping is fine. The defence is okay. The attack isn’t brilliant, but things aren’t desperate either. Could we use another striker? If Wesley doesn’t turn out okay, we’re definitely short.

Which leaves the midfield, which I believe is where all of our issues are. There’s not enough creativity and not enough goals. Grealish has got 7, as has El Ghazi. I’ll include Traore, who has 6. And then next highest is Barkley on 3.
And a massive issue is we don’t have a simgle player who puts a decent cross in. When Elmohamady is your best bet, there’s a problem. Forget Hourihane. I have and he will not feature next season because he just isn’t good enough in open play.

A lot revolves around how much money we have to spend, but I’d like to see a couple of quality midfielders in and would expect that’s where any money will be concentrated.

It’s been a very decent season, which has led to massively raised expectations, which is perhaps making our current drop in form seem a lot worse than it really is. I’d expect us to pick up again, especially when grealish and Cash are back and firing, meaning we’ll pick up more points.
Hence we’ll have progressed.

That’s about what most of us wanted isn’t it?


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  1. Avatar
    Bill Pearson.. March 24, 2021 at 3:28 pm .

    It seems our Jack causing a bit of a bidding war for his rights of carrying their brand , 4 different sponsors are after his signature . go get them Jack.

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