The transfer window is coming, and you know what that means; speculation!
The fact is, nobody can tell what Michael is thinking, apart from Jez and the gang, obviously. We look on every week and think we know what’s needed, some think we need more than others, but the truth is we don’t know for sure. We don’t work with the players every day, nor do we know who might be capable of playing where. There’s also this to consider we don’t know which players might be out of contract at the end of the season. When we’ve signed faces on multi-year deals, that leaves some degree of ambiguity.
I know you’ll all think we need to focus on several areas, but I’ve come up with the two areas I feel we need to fill in order to become a top ten side. Before I start, just pause on that; we’re some way from being a top ten team right now, but yet we’re tucked in 13th. I don’t think Michael has done badly at all with the players he has, the injuries we’ve suffered and the disappointment of deadline day. I also don’t think the new signings have been as bad as some have made out; a few have taken time to settle (one or two have yet to do so), but on the whole we’re not in terrible shape.
I would say I don’t think we’re limited to these two positions, but I think they’re the most important to fill. Without further ado, where do I think Michael will concentrate his efforts this winter?
Genuinely, I think if we were to sign two players in the (and I get sick of saying this) Brennan Johnson mould, I think we’d be top ten. When I say Johnson, I don’t mean several million pounds of young talent, I mean aggressive players in terms of running at people, but who have a degree of success when doing so. Obviously, Morgan Whittaker is a player we believed to be coming and he fit the bill nicely, and we’d been linked with Theo Corbeanu, who looked dangerous for Sheff Weds, so it’s obvious we were barking up the right tree. These are players who ask questions of full-backs, the same as I expected Hakeeb Adelakun to do, but you’d hope for a bit more success. We were lucky with Brennan Johnson, and although we had Rogers and people talk about him as if he excelled for us, he didn’t. Actually, the whole fawning over Rogers thing is interesting because aside from a couple of good goals and the MK Dons game, I felt he didn’t always influence matches enough.
I hear people talking about him and Johnson as if they were sensational for us; Johnson was very good, but in your ratings on the Stacey West, only six players scored lower than him, and they included Ethan Ross, Max Sanders and Remy Longdon, none of whom had regular game time. You rated James Jones, Theo Archibald and Robbie Gotts higher, on average. I’m not saying they were better players, but the thought of a player who has left is often more attractive than the actual input he had at the time.
I’d like to see us sign two wide players, one for either flank, to give us some real variety going forward in the final four months of the season. We’re clearly lacking there, we play very narrow at times and when we do get pace out wide, usually it is a left-back in the makeshift winger role (Bramall), or Adelakun who has been largely disappointing.
The second area I’d love to see us sign someone, and I’m not sure we will, is in the creative midfield area. I know you’ll all think it should be a striker, but the fact is we got to the top six last season with one fit striker, and by the time Christmas gets here, we’ll have two; Dan and Tom. Both are decent strikers and I still maintain that to a degree, our style won’t lend itself to bringing in a Mo Eisa or James Norwood character. They need a team building to suit them, and we have a set approach that worked last season. There’s no reason it can’t work this season, and at times, it has. We’ve just been ravaged by injury, one or two not living up to expectations and others drifting in and out of form like a sleepy driver drifting in and out of the middle lane of a motorway at night.
We do have a creative midfielder or two; Sorensen and Bishop are both capable of a pass on their day, but there is a massive lack of confidence at times. Despite having enough players to fill two midfield, I don’t think we have seen consistency on any level. Bishop is gifted, but can disappear in games. Fiorini loves a shot from the edge of the area, almost as much as a sideways pass. Lasse is a great character, but he hasn’t shone as yet and is still only a youngster. Even Conor McGrandles has been in and out of form, and whilst Max Sanders is starting to bloom, I don’t see someone capable of conducting play when Liam Bridcutt is out. When Liam is fit, we move better, when he’s out, we can look like a seized engine struggling to start. What we need is a player capable of pinging a sixty-yard pass forwards into feet, but also of finding the ball that splits a centre back and full back like an axe splitting kiln-dried wood.
We still need to replace Grant and Johnson with like-for-like players. Yep, you’ve basically read 1,000 to find out something you already know! The sad thing is, we all know it, Michael will know it. Actually, we have a better squad of players we actually own than we did last season (go on, have a look…. ), but the loan signings we brought in haven’t had the impact. For me, two quality loans this transfer window could make us top ten (both wide players). One creative midfielder could put us just outside the top six.
I think the thing that really grates the most is this; I think the quality creative midfielder we need could already be in the squad – it could be Sorensen, Sanders or Bishop. One of them just needs to grab the bull by the horns and achieve some consistency. Just in case though, it wouldn’t hurt to loan one more in, would it?