Wednesday, 31 December 2008

What we need in January

In a rough order.
  • A centre forward. This has been a fantastic goal scoring season so far - 38 in 20 in the league, second only to Chelsea. But our centre forwards haven't been up to it. We've played Benjani, Sturridge, Evans, Jo, Caicedo and Vassell up front, and they have eight league goals between them. It's been even worse than last year, when Bianchi, Mpenza, Vassell, Samaras and Benjani took it in turns to prove they weren't up to it. The main name in the papers is Roque Santa Cruz, for now obvious reasons. It sounds as if he's almost nailed on to come. He would be perfect - having the physical presence to hold up the ball and bring Ireland, Robinho etc into the game, and also the instinct to get on the end of SWP and Petrov's crosses. Similarly, Craig Bellamy or Jermain Defoe could give us that goal scoring nous we're looking for.
  • A central midfielder. Given Hughes' adoption of a 4-3-3, there's no room for passengers in the midfield three. Ireland and Kompany have excelled so far (although both looked very tired in December), but they need top quality support. Hughes clearly does not trust Hamann, Elano or Fernandes, for various combinations of personal and tactical reasons. Having to play SWP in midfield was one of the worst aspects of our disappointing autumn. Given that Michael Johnson looks unlikely to return to fitness any time soon, we need one or maybe even two midfielders to provide us with some much needed strength and experience: Kompany and Ireland are both only 22. Scott Parker, Marcos Senna, Esteban Cambiasso - all good buys if we get them.
  • A centre back. Richard Dunne, Micah Richards and Tal Ben Haim - all worse than each other this season. Whichever combination we've gone for, it's been error after error after error. Ben Haim looks like he won't play for us again, any may well join Allardyce at Ewood Park as part of the RSC deal. Dunne has recovered some form of late, but was poor at Blackburn on Sunday. Richards was benched for the first time in ages, and has not looked fully focussed for some time. While club captain Dunne is an important mark of stability, and Richards is still an outstanding talent who should be given time, Hughes should at least have the option of not playing both of them (and, for me, Nedum Onuoha is not the answer). Kolo Toure (27) and Matthew Upson (29) are the names we see the most, and would both bring much needed experience to our defence.
  • A left back. Javi Garrido is the second most improved player at City this season, but still might not quite have it. His problems were always more physical than technical, being both too slow and too weak when he arrived here last summer. Hughes and Bowen's intensive fitness training has improved him significantly, and he is now a competent Premier League left back - something Michael Ball has not been for years. But we can still do better. Wayne Bridge would be perfect: we don't have time for allow for a 'bedding-in period', and so his Premier League experience gives him the advantage over, say, Taye Taiwo or Fabio Grosso. Bridge is also a very good player.
  • A goalkeeper. Regardless of what one thinks of Joe Hart, and I don't think he's had an exception 2008/09 thus far, Kasper Schmeichel is not a good number two. Having a 21 year old first choice keeper backed up by a 22 year old on the bench is not an ideal combination. Ideally we'd find someone experienced who would want to come in to mentor and compete with Hart - Brad Friedel would have been perfect. While we could easily go and buy Shay Given from Newcastle, it would be very difficult to pick Hart ahead of him. Which might not be a bad idea. But you can see the issue here: do we want to replace Hart, or improve him? Until Hughes knows the answer to this the next move is unclear.
  • A new contract for Danny Sturridge. His deal expires in the summer, leaving him free to negotiate a bosman transfer very soon I think. Talks are ongoing, but we saw on Sunday his prodigious talents - the volleyed finish and then the dribble and through ball for the second. Cannot be allowed to leave.


tommytheblue said...

bellamy doesnt have goal scorig nouse he rarely gets into double figures.. his striker rate is actually quite poor and clearly he isnt a nice character to bring into the changing room. i odnt rate roque and certianly not at the price we will pay for him...but i would prefer him to bellamy.

senna would be good, parker is average and would dissapoint me. Cambiasso is world class, i'm not sure we could get him now, but if we could he would a unique skill, he' very much in the same style of hamann, his position and tackling is excellent, but he can also create with great passing.

may i add yaya toure has now been added to the list! any one remember when he was in greece and he shone against us in a pre season friendly. We all know he is aclass act now!

kolo would be a great addition, fresh start, top class defender. i dont see upson as an improvement on dunne.

goalie. We need to improve on hart, he needs to sit out for a few season cup games and the like.

Given would be a great choice, hart would have to budge, as he isnt good enough yet. He is part of the problem not the answer.

happy new year jack

tommytheblue said...

may i add lahm aswell. he has been linked aswell lol...

he would be far better than bridge.

Vincent said...

Agree with most of what was said.. Think ye may be a bit harsh on Joe Hart.. thought he's done quite well behind what's been a poor defence this season but have to agree that a 21 year old as back up to a 22 year old is far from ideal.
Like to see Vassell, Mills, Ben Haim, Glauber, Fernandes (seems to have gone backwards this season), Didi, Etuhu, Ball, Benjani, Elano & Onuoha shown the door.There's a lot of dead wood who are just not up to it.
In their place, the Defoe, Santa Cruz, (but give Sturridge more game time), Toure (Barce), Toure (Arsenal), Senna (himself & Kompany together in midfield and suddenly our back four could look good again) and Bridge. Kompany's ability to play equally as well in the back four as in midfield combined with signing Toure (Arsenal) could help Dunne & Richards get their act together. At present there's no competition for them. Ben-Haim looks like a championship defender at times & Onuoha just isin't good enough.
Think twill be summer before we can get Lahm, Kaka, Ribery & the other 70 players we have been linked with.

JPB said...

Agree about Yaya Toure. He would be as good a holding player as any we could get. He's big, strong and can pass too. I don't think Guardiola's a big fan either - the arrival of Keita and emergence of Busquets has frozen him out a bit.

I think Phillip Lahm is a bit overrated, and would be pretty content with Bridge at least for now.