Thursday, July 05, 2007

Eriksson has holes to fill

Sven-Goran Eriksson has asked Thaksin Shinawatra to
finance virtually an entire new team after overseeing his first training session
at Manchester City yesterday. The former England coach is alarmed by the parlous
state of the current squad and wants to bring in as many as 10 players before
the transfer window closes.

Putting to one side any jokes about who was the one player who actually managed to impress Eriksson, if the reports (and virtually all of the press carried this story today) are indeed true it underlines quite just how much work needs to be done - with not a great deal of time for action.

Eriksson will undoubtedly have ideas of who he wants to add to the squad, in addition to reports of the current incumbents but where exactly needs strengthening, and which areas are the most crucial.

For me, the biggest problem is the lack of genuine starters (to borrow American terminology) and this is the area Eriksson needs to address immediately.

The goalkeeping area is generally set - despite Weaver's exit, with Isaksson the de-facto number 1 and Hart and Schmeichel benefitting from loan spells last season and ready to push one another for the back-up role.

Defensively, a line-up of Richards, Dunne, Onouha and Ball obviously lacks the qualities of Distin could bring but it would be a good signing to oust any of that quartet and realistically all that is needed is adequate cover for injuries and perhaps to spell Richards and Onouha from time to time to prevent burn out.

Midfield is perhaps the biggest concern of all, and perhaps some of last seasons goalscoring problems can be traced to a glaring lack of creativity in the midfield area. Among our current squad, there doesn't appear to be a genuine stand out player who has seemingly nailed down a guaranteed first-team spot. We have two (very good) prospects in Ireland and Johnson who I expect to play a large portion of the season but they are only really supplemented by 'depth' players (Jiha Sun) and players who are on the wrong end of the careers (Hamman, Dabo).

It is apparant that someone to replace Barton's energy is required, in addition to someone who can provide much needed creativity in the middle of the park and we also have yet to replace Shaun Wright-Phillips with a genuine wide player (on either side of the pitch).

The strike-force (hardly an apt description) is in a mess though and there is a strong case for none of last seasons forwards being retained in the current campaign, and this is the area that Eriksson is believed to have targeted more than most (with Yakubu again being strongly linked). I wouldn't be sorry to see either Dickov or Corradi ushered out of the door, but think Vassell's England connection could help him remain whilst Samaras is reported to be keen to stay and for all his struggles last season it would be perhaps foolish to cut our losses on him quite just yet.

Whilst Eriksson is likely to have players in mind, he has little over a month to actual get players in ahead of the start of the campaign and you have to wonder how much activity there will be. Whilst there are leftovers on the coaching staff from the Pearce regime, it may be that perhaps he will have more of an eye on the January window once he has had time to assess the squad for himself in competitive action.

Looking at the current squad though it does illustrate both how light we currently are and how much work is needed.

It may well be that the reported tranfer kitty of £50 million handed to Eriksson will ultimately not see too much spare change.

vote it up!


Bluesology said...

If Sven is looking to fill holes, then the secretaries at City better watch out ;-)

Seriously though, £50m at today's prices may not be enough to bring in real quality in every position that needs attention.

Can't help feeling that we're lagging behind and missing out on potential bargains, eg Steven Davis £4m to Fulham, Jagielka £4m to Everton, both of whom would have been good value as squad strengthening signings. Reo-Coker is at Villa now, so the number of decent midfielders is declining fast. Sven can't hang around much longer - let's hope the never-ending buyout does actually complete by the weekend

Anonymous said...

I think everyone has been a little harsh on mentioned before, there was very few chances created from midfield last year, with little or no quality in wide positions, from where an old fasioned centre forward like Corradi feeds. I'm a season card holder & I rarely saw Corradi have a bad game. He's strong, good in the air, holds the ball up well & relishes a battle.(Samaras does none of those things!). It's been forgotten in his case that foreign players tend to take a year before they settle into English Football (like Henry & Ronaldo both did)Corradi rarely played 2 consecutive matches, so what chance did he have to acclimatise? I think he's become a bit of a scapegoat, just as The Goat suffered at the hands of the boo-boys when he first arrived. I'd rather have Corradi than Samaras any day!
Nick, Congleton

Anonymous said...

I think the strengths for want of a better word of Dickov and Vassell are known. However, Samaras and Corradi and still up for speculation. Corradi is a bustling forward who will thrive on crosses, rather than balls into his head with his back to goal which is all he got last season. I saw him get one decent cross, at Portsmouth and he scored from it.

Samaras is still a rough diamond! I still think he has talent, however he spent a lot of last season on the bench or out of position, with no support from another front man. His confidence was obviously shattered and maybe Sven can address that. Give him decent service from midfield as well and maybe we'll see some of the potential he showed in Holland which has been coached out of him in the last 18 months

Anonymous said...

how long can you give a 30odd year old to settle? by the time corradi does find his feet he'l be collecting his pension at ths rate, get rid now.

samaras has been ruined by mismanagement and bad coaching, he is still young enough and shown glimpses of quality to work with.

as far as midfielders go, am not sorry we missed out on reo-coker, why pay 8.5mil for a worse player than we just let go for 3mil less??

i hope sven has been using his FA payed holiday to do some scouting, i'm still having nightmares of him luring Nicky Butt back to Manchester as his first signing

weenie said...

Nothing is inspiring me to renew my Citycard but I'll probably do it anyway. If I just see one goal scored I think I'll be happy...