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  1. Negative hat on for a moment re: Aarons & Cantwell leaving. If Aarons is gone & Byram is out injured for 2/3 months (both quite likely scenarios), are we looking at Jordan Thomas or Bali Mumba for RB? Risky. If Cantwell is gone and Teemu continues to struggle, where will the goals come from? Drmic looks to Europe-bound and Idah is still a prospect, albeit a good one. If Drmic moves on, a striker will need to be brought in.
  2. I think Rupp will see plenty of pitch time next season. Some of his passing has been sluggish but he has the chance now to 'acclimatise,' and that extra half a second in midfield from dropping down a division should be a great help to him. From what we've seen of him so far, he adds to the defensive solidity but detracts from the attacking fluency of the team. Hopefully being in the Champo will enable him to be a bit more balanced as he gets to know the squad around him better. He's also one of the more experienced of the group. As I think Bethnal mentioned above, he could be a great option to help clog things up off the bench to protect a lead after 70mins. For 5 starting slots in midfield, as things currently stand we have: Cantwell, Buendia, Onel, Stiepermann, Placheta, Dowell, Josh Martin, Sinani, Tettey, Trybull, Sorensen, Leitner, Sitti, Vrancic, McLean, Louis Thompson & Rupp (along with Gilmour, Adshead, Fitzpatrick... from the u23s.) That's 17 senior players if I haven't missed any. Surely that needs to be trimmed? Loans for u23s and possibly Thompson, Sitti, Josh Martin, Sinani? Permanent moves for Leitner (injured?), Cantwell & Vrancic? Midfield options in a 4-2-3-1 given the above proposed outs: Tettey/Trybull Sorensen/McLean Buendia/Rupp Stiepermann/Dowell Placheta/Onel Looks good on paper to me. I wonder what Josh Martin makes of all these midfielders in the squad. He'll need to make some serious progress to push for a spot, yet he seems to have been earmarked as the next "starlet" to step up. Quite clever of the club to freshen things up early. More time for the new group to gel, leave the draining relegation in the past & start looking forward.
  3. One for a couple of years down the road I suppose. Another one for Neil Adams' roster? Welcome aboard Bali! The best of luck to you! Byram, Thomas & Bali for RB if/when Aarons goes? If Soto is the fourth of the "3 or 4 imminent incomings," are we waiting to shed a few players before moving again on incomings? I'm assuming Webber is flat out & earning his corn at the moment. Sinani, McCallum, Sitti, Sorensen, Placheta, Soto & Mumba - all young with potential. Idah, Martin, Thomas, Famewo, Adshead, Gilmour, Fitzpatrick, Hondermarck, Mair, Ahadme - all young with potential. Keep a core group together of more senior & experienced players, e.g. Krul, Zimm, Hanley, Tettey, Onel & Pukki, along with the likes of Godfrey & Buendia, and sprinkled with a few of these newer faces, and we should be competitive - on paper anyway.
  4. Too early to make a decent prediction. Transfer window closed & 12 games in will give a much clearer picture. Even then, sometimes momentum after Christmas does the trick; new signings bedding in & finding their feet etc. Anything less than top six next May will be deemed a failure. And if promotion isn't achieved in the next two seasons, the "plan/project" will also be deemed a failure. Every window is important, but this one seems to be "more importanter!" I still don't believe that the defensive personnel we went with last August was the primary factor in our demise. Aarons, Byram, Lewis, Godfrey, Zimmermann, Hanley & Klose are all good enough for top Champo, lower Prem for me, when fit & available. We had shocking luck with CB injuries. But Aarons & Lewis played virtually the whole season. If their primary job is to provide width, then the deep midfield has to anticipate, cover & screen. We were badly exposed in central midfield and also left the full-backs exposed with poor cover from the three behind Pukki. Including Tettey who was the best of a mediocre bunch, none of our deep/central midfield were up to the standard. And this in front of a makeshift central defence. The press all too easily exploited these weaknesses and then amateurish defending from set-pieces left us with no chance. Rupp & Duda was a fairly half-hearted attempt to rectify things in January. All of this along with Buendia being targeted and Pukki running out of steam led to what we saw pan out in 2020. I'm concerned that we cannot rely on the fitness & availability of Byram, Hanley, Klose & even big Zimm going into next season and I think Aarons will be leaving. I think we need to acquire at least one "quality" CB this window. Will the funds be released & will a sufficient/competitive wage be permitted without upsetting the apple-cart? Will Byram & Jordan Thomas be deemed sufficient at RB if Aarons leaves? Will Sitti be sent out on loan to get experience & game-time? Is Sorensen being groomed to be the long sought after CDM enforcer? On paper we have a decent set of central midfielders for a top six challenge but clearly none (yet?) for Prem level. It feels like we've been down this road before, but if the "bounce-back" is somehow achieved next May, hopefully this lesson has been learned and will be addressed. Costs money though!
  5. Every club that struggles during any given season can point to situations where they felt hard done by. If you're under the cosh and generally having to defend more, missed scoring opportunities take on an added significance. Just yesterday, we had four or five good chances to score. Yet Man City missed even more excellent chances, probably six or seven. While all three examples were costly and frustrating, there was plenty of time, games & opportunities in each of those seasons to put it right. Momentum & confidence are important, but I don't believe these three isolated incidents ultimately caused relegation. RVW was a very poor signing, CamJam is a good example of an "inbetweener" and every club has had negative run-ins with VAR. Going on the evidence of what we've seen in 2020, I don't think that if Pukki's 'goal' against Spurs had stood, he would have gone on to keep banging them in. We were sussed out by September. Soft in central midfield, vulnerable on the wings, easy to press & win turnovers, dodgy from set-pieces, snuff out Buendia and force Pukki to go deep = relegation.
  6. Think I largely agree there Surfer, other than the apostrophe! Cantwell & Aarons have probably done enough between them over the last two seasons to warrant a Prem team taking a punt. If so, 40m+ could well come in and good luck to them if they do choose to move on. Buendia is sure to have attracted suitors and would be very difficult to replace. I'd love to see him have another go in the Champo next year. I can't see big Zimm leaving. Hopefully he can leave his injury problems behind and lead the charge. I think Tim Krul is on board, a potential captain, but again I wouldn't blame him if another club offered him the chance in the top flight. If Pukki is still with us, & up for it; outstanding. I can't see the club shelling out the sort of cash for another forward of his ability. I think Ben Godfrey is developing into a player of real quality. Another season in the Champo could be the making of him. Sharpen his skills, improve his anticipation, get the experience and learn to better understand the "darker arts" and physicality required. He could be the club captain in 12-14 months time(?) Hanley is a great pro & if he could stay fit would be a great help to the team (see Timm Klose), but I think the club should be looking to sign at least one "quality" centre-back. This should be where a bigger investment really needs to be released in this window. (10m--15m?) Will a player of that calibre settle for the kind of wage the club will offer without upsetting the 'wage structure?' Jamal is another who could really benefit from another year below. I don't think he'll be as sought after. The Sam McCallum signing will hopefully help to drive both on to succeed. One of the weaknesses the club has clearly identified is pace out wide. If this is a new direction in the playing philosophy, the two full-backs won't need to commit as often and that should help tighten up defensively. Central and defensive midfield is the key area of improvement for me. Will the club feel that for the season ahead, this is already in place? Perhaps it is? Tettey looked ready to be the "mentor" a year ago and he played 29 games this season! One of the few consistent performers. Having him around for another year will do no harm. Will Leitner have another go? McLean performed well in the second half of the promotion season. I think Rupp, Trybull & Vrancic would be pushing to start at most top 6 Champo teams. At this point it looks like the club is looking to develop Sorensen & Sitti for these central roles. If that's the case, they'll need plenty of pitch time. Looking up top, I wouldn't be surprised if the club went with Pukki, Idah & Drmic. In a team playing well & (hopefully) having more opportunities to dominate possession & dictate the play, that could be very effective. The club look to have identified attacking midfield as another weakness. Onel has come out with credit from this dismal restart. Stiepermann looked out of his depth all year, but will probably see plenty of pitch time next year. Josh Martin looks to have been identified as the next player to hopefully 'step up.' Sinani will surely need a lot of time and work to get up to the pace. We need to be patient there. Placheta will hopefully make his mark. McLean & Vrancic can also slot in here. If Cantwell goes but Buendia stays, we could be set there. It will be interesting to see who wants to leave, and who Webber wants to leave. The squad is already taking shape. Despite this fairly pathetic relegation (certainly since the restart) and what looks to have been a case of settling for trousering the income from an unexpected promotion, I don't think the squad is actually looking that bad for another promotion push. The club have openly said that they wish to "consolidate" in the Prem, i.e. avoid relegation directly after the next planned promotion. Perhaps they yet will? It would require a huge turnaround from how things stand at the moment. However, it's a sad fact that since the early to mid 90s and the Sky-driven influence, money has turned the game into a monster. Largely agree with that too HB
  7. Don't smoke in the shower
  8. Would 'Przemak' get away with this I wonder. No VAR next year!
  9. If I remember correctly, Bally Smart never made it due to a lack of in-game intelligence & difficulty reading the play
  10. That crossed my mind, but I wouldn't call that inexplicable. And wasn't Gendry sitting at the big meeting of lords & ladies at the end? He didn't die. Maybe Vrancic could be the red-headed one from the brothel that Joffrey killed. I was sorry to see her go. Also I don't agree about Season 8 being bad. It was always going to tricky giving such a monster of a programme a satisfactory ending. One thing we can all agree on though is that me you and WD40 watch too much TV
  11. Who are you saying is Vrancic in your analogy? Varys?
  12. It was a peach of a pass from Mario alright. A cruel one to strike off the records. But I think every club has suffered from some questionable decisions over the season. When you're scrapping & under the cosh, you tend to be on the end of more 'pressure situations' and that's probably why we feel a bit harder done by with VAR. Still though...!
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