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rock bus

Have we actually improved the starting 11?

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Firstly, I do think this has been an incredible transfer window so full credit to Webber and I’m excited to see how these new players will do.

But, I seem to recall that Webber said the aim was to improve the first 11 and bring in quality over quantity. Up to now the only first 11 changes have been Rashica for Buendia, Gilmour for Skipp and Lees Melou for Dowell. I’m not sure that on an individual basis each player is really an improvement. And from a performance and style/tactical perspective not sure we have see an improvement or enough to say we will do any better in premier league than last time.

it will now be interesting to see how Farke uses the new weapons he has been given. We are clearly much stronger in depth BUT will we see the basis of the first 11 change? Will he drop the likes of Hanley or Gibson,  Krul, Cantwell, McLean, Rupp, Pukki etc to allow the new players to start?

Its going to be a tough transition and he’s has to get it right pretty quickly.

Potentially very exciting times ahead!

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10 minutes ago, rock bus said:

Firstly, I do think this has been an incredible transfer window so full credit to Webber and I’m excited to see how these new players will do.

But, I seem to recall that Webber said the aim was to improve the first 11 and bring in quality over quantity. Up to now the only first 11 changes have been Rashica for Buendia, Gilmour for Skipp and Lees Melou for Dowell. I’m not sure that on an individual basis each player is really an improvement. And from a performance and style/tactical perspective not sure we have see an improvement or enough to say we will do any better in premier league than last time.

it will now be interesting to see how Farke uses the new weapons he has been given. We are clearly much stronger in depth BUT will we see the basis of the first 11 change? Will he drop the likes of Hanley or Gibson,  Krul, Cantwell, McLean, Rupp, Pukki etc to allow the new players to start?

Its going to be a tough transition and he’s has to get it right pretty quickly.

Potentially very exciting times ahead!

If Gilmour is 'for' Skipp, who is Normann 'for'?How is it fair to judge who has or hasn't upgraded what if you get to decide which player equates to what replacement....if Tzolis AND Rashica replace Buendia's output, does that mean Buendia is twice as good as either one of them?

You can't seriously look at it so one dimensionally.

Some of what you say is fair, but how can you say who has improved the first 11 when you don't know who the first 11 comprises?

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Personally feel we’ve upgraded the squad. A lot of the players we’ve brought in i wouldn’t groan about seeing their names in the starting line up. Players like Stiepermann, Placheta, Hugill, McGovern, etc have been good servants but i always felt our bench never really had any game changers or were the same faces subbed on in the 86th minute, in which not to change the game but to waste time. Plus barring injury/suspension that would only be their case to start.

We now have a more in depth unit with every single position up for grabs so no player is 100% nailed on this time round to start. So in essence, eventually i feel we have improved the starting 11. Might take a few games but by game 10 i’m sure the players playing will be a lot different from the ones that started against Liverpool. 

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The players brought in mean we have genuine competition for every position, so even if some of them don't get straight in to the team they'll push their team-mates harder to keep their places. Must be good!

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Posted (edited)

The point is that we've sold Buendia and used that money to practically buy a whole new team. Gibson and Giannoulis were already accounted for in last season's budgets, so we've effectively replaced Buendia (plus the players we let go or phased out such as Trybull, Leitner, Stiepermann, Tettey, Klose, Drmic, Hernandez and Vrancic) with Gunn, Williams, Kabak, Gilmour, Lees-Melou, Normann, Rashica, Tzolis and Sargent.

No one of those players can replace Emi directly, so we've bought a bunch of different weapons that should give us a great deal more versatility. Have we improved the team, though? I'm not even going to bother with the subs; I believe it is abundantly clear that the subs in our 20-player matchday squad will be hugely and demonstrably better than two years ago.

I've ignored the autumn period with the ridiculous injury crisis, so no trying to claim Tettey and Amadou as a centre-back partnership. I've gone for what I believe to be our strongest possible XI from two years ago.

Two years ago: Krul, Aarons, Hanley, Godfrey, Lewis; Tettey, Vrancic, McLean, Buendia, Cantwell; Pukki.

Nine of those players are nailed-on starters when fit, based on total number of appearances made; only Hanley and Vrancic started fewer than 25 of our 38 matches.

This year: Krul, Aarons, Hanley, Kabak, Williams; Gilmour, McLean, Normann; Rashica, Pukki, Cantwell.

Immediately there are so many problems with choosing an XI here. A lot of these players are yet to settle, but what's abundantly clear is that the XI is improved by virtue of being able to choose it from a pool of outstanding players. On paper, the two XIs above look roughly even to me (indeed, six of the starters from this team were starters two years ago).

However, the team from two years ago largely picked itself (with the exception of choosing between Hanley and Zimbo at CB, and Vrancic in CM ahead of whoever else). Looking at this squad, there are so many variables and weapons. Three at the back? Four at the back? Double pivot, or three central midfielders? A 4-5-1 with wingers, or narrow 4-2-3-1 with inverted 'wingers' playing narrow, or 4-3-2-1 without a conventional '10'?

While any chosen XI from our squad may not on paper appear demonstrably better than our strongest XI from two years ago, how often does your supposed strongest XI play together? Factor in injuries, suspensions, loss of form and the necessity of changing tactics/systems to try and thwart much stronger and smarter opposition, and it's clear to me that over 38 games, our starting XI will be massively stronger than it was two years ago, precisely because of the way the squad has been strengthened.

There is absolutely no reason that we shouldn't stay up with this squad. Sure I'd take 17th now, even if Farke wouldn't, but he has his well-documented 'gun', and then some.

Edited by Feedthewolf
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What we have does is improved the squad as a whole and now have good depth on the bench to change things up. Hypothetically speaking you could start a team of: 

Krul

Aarons, Hanley, Kabak, Williams

Gilmour, Normann, Lees-Melou

Rashica, Pukki, Cantwell. 

Bench: Gunn, Gibson, Gianoullis, Sorensen, Mclean, Tzolis, Dowell, Idah, Sargent.

Still leaving Zimbo, Omobamidele, Rupp, Placheta, Mumba, Byram, McGovern.  

Options there to move Todd/Dowell into the 10 start Tzolis over a midfielder, any of those on the bench could comfortably come into the first 11. This isn't my preferred 11 just an example of who strong the squad is on the whole now.  

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I think once they are in the side Kabak, Normann and Tzolis should all be improvements on who they replace. 

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Overall I think there’s been a decent improvement. Sure, you could write out our best 11 now and compare it to last season and probably argue the pros and cons of the two teams. Where we have improved though is the squad. Last time in the Prem injuries totally killed us as we didn’t have the quality in depth to cope. With respect we were playing Tetty at the back and keeping our fingers crossed that Zimbo would be passed fit. Rupp was forced to play as the 10 and look what happened when Pukki injured his toe and had to be rushed back when he was clearly unfit.

This time we will have guys coming in who will be of a similar standard desperate to do well and keep the shirt. In similar situation to last Prem season we would have Hanley/Gibson, Tzolis/Dowell, and Sargent all ready to step up. Even Cantwell who was a standout last time we were up will be looking over his shoulder at Tzolis on the bench.

Big improvement.

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Its a squad better built for the Premier League. Rashica, Sargeant, PLM, Normann etc. are all more athletic players than we had in the past. Its a team built to not be bullied, outpaced and outrun. To me thats a clear improvement.

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4 minutes ago, Jim Smith said:

I think once they are in the side Kabak, Normann and Tzolis should all be improvements on who they replace. 

Tzolis can only replace Rashica or Cantwell in the current system, that's the sort of competition we need!

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To my mind the level of the whole squad has gone up and that is the important thing. Time will tell who gets favoured with regular starting positions, but if we end up with a regular line up that doesn't change much, it means the team is working well and it could be that better players are left out because of it.  

So whether any one player is an upgrade on any other, it remains to be seen - and as I say, it is the team as a whole that matters, not any individual in it.

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On paper yes we’re better, I’d like to see more of the counter attack game going.

My fear is Pukki isn’t fitting into what we need to try and do. And Farke needs to be brave and make that change if it continues not to gel up front. 

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I think the best way to look at this is to ask - if this NCFC squad played 38 times over the course of 9 months against the squad from two years ago, which squad would win more?

I don't think that there is any doubt that the current squad would win more.

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We've got two decent starting 11s now:

Krul

Aarons  Hanley  Gibson  Williams

Gilmour  Normann  McClean

Cantwell  Pukki  Raschica

 

Gunn

Mumba  Omobamidele Kabak Giannoulis

PLM  Sorensen  Rupp

Dowell  Sargeant  Tzolis

 

I'd argue even that second 11 is stronger than a lot of the lineups we put out 2 years ago.

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5 hours ago, rock bus said:

We are clearly much stronger in depth BUT will we see the basis of the first 11 change? Will he drop the likes of Hanley or Gibson,  Krul, Cantwell, McLean, Rupp, Pukki etc to allow the new players to start?

I think it's too early to answer that question but clearly we will know by the end of the season when the starting 11 could be very different. I think the point is all the players we signed have potential to become starters in the Prem that doesn't mean they will walk into the team

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

It’s a valid and fair question @rock bus

I like and agree with the points made by @Feedthewolf and @Beefy is a legend , though the Premier is an unforgiving beast and I think the question drives at the heart of what it takes to succeed - or even survive - at the top English level. 

I have always liked the coaching term ‘weapons’ - very much as distinct from ‘good’ or ‘complete’ players. 

Weapons are understood to mean players that cause opposition coaches a problem that they cannot ignore. Something that means they cannot simply ‘play our own game’. 

Buendia got bought for the odd £40m because he is a difficult-to-stop weapon that has a direct impact in a low-scoring sport. Priceless. 

Previously I think we could add Pukki to that. Meaning we had 2 weapons in the Premier 2 years ago. 

The unspoken fear in the OP question is something like this:

’Is it possible to be better as a squad overall, yet conversely less dangerous as a team?’

If you like maths you could say our average quality level has gone up from 6 to 7 across the squad, though we have lost a 9.

so what?

An instructive answer - apologies for the very 2D analysis any Newcastle fans - might be to watch  the Steve Bruce (an arch Premier pragmatist) sets up his expensively-assembled team. Newcastle spend lots of money acrosss the squad, though everything comes to life when Saint-Maximin gets the ball. He is a weapon. ‘Set Up gruff and (sort of) solid and then watch the weapon go’…..

Even very early signs show that there is both good playing - and financial - growth to be had from Tzolis and Sargent. All the other players have good things about them and look like solid squad upgrades. 

Goals and assists are the strands of gold thread in the wind though. The coverers of inferior sins.

We are better. For sure. Winning games is the currency though. Not losing them by less. 

Parma  

 

Post script: I should add that the Premier is now extremely unforgiving of any weakness in a team. Excellent data analysis means that you cannot ‘hide’ weaknesses as well as you once could. This is a converse point to weapons. There is no doubt at all that we have focused on this to make sure there are no obviously-exposed Achilles heels in our team this time around. That is certainly good and fundamentally necessary progress. 

Edited by Parma Ham's gone mouldy

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Overall, yes we have. If Buendia was still here and not much had changed, I can't see anyone from the past keeping Lees-Melou out of the side for example. Rashica we've not really seen yet, but with Tzolis to come into the first team as well we've gone from having only Buendia and Cantwell with pants backups in our attacking arsenal to being able to choose two from Rashica, Cantwell, Tzolis, Dowell, Sargent. I think the biggest thing is they have learnt that having such a thin squad last time around really cost us. We may still have got relegated if our key players had been fit, but there's no doubt we would have done better than we did. And in a league where fine margins are everything it could have been the difference. 

Farke will be a very happy man having to pick his best XI each week now, before it pretty much picked itself now he has a host of talent to choose from

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One would have to see the new players in action, but I question the whole idea of an ideal starting 11. I don't have the time to look back, but how often in the 2019-20 season could we field our notional best starting 11? Probably not that often.

And it is now even more than before a game where substitutes are crucial. How often does a team go through a game without making a substitution? Again, not often.

Added to which, Farke's ideal starting 11 against, say, Liverpool is unlikely to be the same as that against Burnley, and that for Burnley won't be the same as that for Brighton. Even without seeing the incomers it seems certain the squad is significantly improved from 2019-20.

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I think that in effect is the entire point of this transfer window Purple, we have not only a plan b, but C, D, E etc. We have a very flexible squad now, with most players able to play in multiple positions in multiple formations. It definitely gives us the ability to be progressive in a game, whereas 2 seasons ago we had one plan and it either worked or didn't 

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, PurpleCanary said:

One would have to see the new players in action, but I question the whole idea of an ideal starting 11. I don't have the time to look back, but how often in the 2019-20 season could we field our notional best starting 11? Probably not that often.

And it is now even more than before a game where substitutes are crucial. How often does a team go through a game without making a substitution? Again, not often.

Added to which, Farke's ideal starting 11 against, say, Liverpool is unlikely to be the same as that against Burnley, and that for Burnley won't be the same as that for Brighton. Even without seeing the incomers it seems certain the squad is significantly improved from 2019-20.

I'd disagree with that last point...I actually think Farke's team would be the same regardless of whether he's playing a Liverpool to a Burnley, which has been a failing of his in the Premier League to date.

I don't think he adapts his team selection to who we're playing enough. 2 seasons ago he contined to roll out the same team/formation week in week out with the same (bad) result.

2 weeks ago at Man City we really should have gone 5 at the back and packed the midfield in front of them.

Edited by GJL Mid-Norfolk Canary

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Posted (edited)

The squad or team on the day has to be greater than the sum of its parts. That's now down to Farke.

I think (as in other successful Farke seasons) we'll start slowly and then start to motor as the team settles down.

Definitely a glass half full optimism for me and the first 2 or 3 games were always a shot to nothing. Season starts for me (early) against a dodgy looking Arsenal. We have to go for them.   

Edited by Yellow Fever

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6 minutes ago, GJL Mid-Norfolk Canary said:

I'd disagree with that last point...I actually think Farke's team would be the same regardless of whether he's playing a Liverpool to a Burnley, which has been a failing of his in the Premier League to date.

I don't think he adapts his team selection to who we're playing enough. 2 seasons ago he contined to roll out the same team/formation week in week out with the same (bad) result.

2 weeks ago at Man City we really should have gone 5 at the back and packed the midfield in front of them.

Perhaps now, with what looks like not just decent cover but to an extent varied cover in every position (Sargent seems not to be the same type of striker as Pukki, for example) Farke will be more flexible.

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The squad has definitely improved since the weekend.  Our primary aim should be to improve the defence and stop conceding goals from errors.  If you can keep clean sheets or concede one or two points will be more of a likelihood.

Until the new signings can be introduced and are made aware of Farke's requirements stick to 4 4 3.  But as soon possible go to 3 CB's, 2 WB's, 1DM, 1AM and 3 upfront.  This gives more ability to defend properly.

Is Kabak a CB operating on the left noone will be displacing Gibbo any time soon.  If he is then ok replace him, but you are replacing potentially our best CB although not shown yet.

Team to set up:

Hanley 

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Hanley  Kabak Gibbo

Aarons Normann Gilmour Willliams

Rashica Pukki Cantwell

changes where necessary where replacement provides better option.  Tzolis on left once fit.

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To get the best out of your starting 11, you need a squad which will push those on the pitch. We never had that last time up, it was an issue which lead to 13 defeats and relegation.

Now we have at least two very good options in each position which means if you don’t perform you’re on the bench or out the match day squad.

On paper we have signed three very good youngsters with massive potential in Sargent, Tzolis, Kabak. Loaned in two superb youngsters in key areas in Williams and Gilmour, a solid midfielder in Lees-Melou and now two really good international loans with option to buy. All of the above can be thought of as starting 11 players, all definitely on par with our squad from last time up and with the blend of established players a very good transfer window.

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