Before the TW and all its attendant terror, the main discussion was, as always, around two things:
- Who had to go, and it was a large number including: Squillaci, Arshavin, Denilson, Djourou, Santos, Bendtner, Chamakh. Opinions were also split on Mannone (not good enough) and Gervinho (too Jekyll and Hyde)
- Who had to come: GK, DM, ST were the main calls, with lesser calls for defenders.
I am thus presenting an optimist’s view, perhaps, although no one can be as optimistic as Glic and his tattoos, which says that this TW was wildly successful. I base this assessment on 3 metrics, like any good engineer, offering a measure of redundancy in my analysis!
- Net Flow or Team Quality (TQ) – where the goal of the TW is to raise your average quality, admittedly while keeping enough players to make a side. Thus, when an Oiler buys their third national side, the team quality doesn’t go up much, was it worth it? Equally, for Everton, Fellaini out of a strong(er) midfield and Lukaku in is likely a big improvement for them for this year. I fear them more not less now.
- Risk (R) – will said player achieve vs what is paid, in terms of when you need that achievement at that position. Thus, coverage is included here as well. Suarez was always high quality but the risk of him being out and not delivering was also high. Equally, Fellaini offers little risk to ManU, but little return, leading to…
- Quality of Return (QR) – what can the players and modified team (potentially) achieve in terms of improving the team’s outcome in placing, cups etc. No sense to pay 100M for no change in cups or outcomes, which makes the risk of say RMs Bale investment somewhat high if they don’t win any more than last year.
So, I think this summer we did great, and here’s why.
Total Quality of TQ: We got rid of all but the world’s greatest striker from our deadwood and both mixed opinions. We added a potentially very good youngster who will play in League Cup perchance (Sanogo), a very good GK with option to buy who will provide the necessary competition for Scez that (somehow!) Fabianski does not, a solid DM with Adamsesque bite and mongrel (for free no less), and possibly the world’s best creator if we let our Cesc blinders slip a bit.
For me, the deadwood out is critical, it frees us now and long term. There was no way Squillaci or Santos was going to play, even if we had only 1 defender left on the squad. You’d have seen JW playing LB first! Thus, why have them?
Finally, we have seen glimpses that OG will become more clinical this year. In fairness, last year he was not so good but with ball to feet he has been very good in front of goal so far. Well may it continue.
I think there is little argument that our TQ is now far, far higher than it was a week or two ago.
Risk or R: There are two aspects, achievement (or player failure) and coverage. First, achievement: I think that the positions with least risk are defenders and creators. Defenders can always fall back on their own physicality, fitness and Presence!, and fit into most systems easily enough. Thus, low risk. Creators, all across the park at any position are equally lower risk, as they rely primarily on ball holding skills that they always have, vision and passing accuracy. Thus, as long as the supporting cast is good their skills transfer anywhere pretty easily, although putting Ozil into Stoke would be a waste! J
Hence, we got one of the world’s best creators in a scheme that favors them, a very good defensive DM, and Sanogo is the long term bet for no money. The GK should also be fine.
Hence, I think there is virtually no risk in our TW activity from an achievement standpoint.
Next, is coverage. The complaint on the various e- and bloggo-spheres is that we didn’t get a defender. In that regard we have:
- Central defender: Per, Koz, TV (when healthy), Sagna, Flamini
- Outside defender: Jenks, Gibbs, Monreal, Sagna, Flamini
There are some youngsters too for the League Cup. Equally, some loan deals also have a mid-year return built in if one has nuclear war type injuries and loses far too many players. I would be surprised if we didn’t have that with Coquelin for example, at a cost of course.
Similarly, we are now relatively well stocked in the more defensive midfield portion as well, and can really offer some teams different “looks”. I am particularly excited about our ability to look very offensive with Ram-Teta, and equally more aggressive with Flam-Sey or Flam-Zorro (warning: I have copyrighted all nicknames! J ). There is also Flam-Shere which would be like Flam-Zorro but with more aggressiveness. Overall, with Zorro, JW, Ramsey and Flamini we are well placed.
It will also allow a full year for Diaby to recover and we may thus have him signed for the third or fourth time next year! One can only hope his outlook improves finally.
Out wide, injuries to Poldi and Ox don’t help but will be recovered. Meanwhile, we have Santi, Theo and JW, as well as Gibbs with Monreal back deeper to help out.
Equally, the Ozil signing frees JW to play both offensively and defensively in various combinations, or even out wide where Poldi, Ox, Theo, Santi, and others roam. We should be able to offer so many different looks of quality that others will fear our overall Presence! in midfield, no matter that they park the bus or play us straight up.
Finally, the ST. I want to point out we still have the world’s best and that he will never play for us. I think not even in League Cup, perhaps. OG is more clinical and I think Ozil will give him great service. Equally, Ozil with Santi and Theo wide should remove 1-2 defenders from clinging to OG and swarming him. Ozil is the one magic player that will make OG even better.
Hence, I think there is very little risk in our TW activity from a coverage standpoint, especially with January and ~40M or more on hand coming soon enough. Injuries, we already have a lot of, but if they get worse, well that’s life. But, I think we are more than well placed to be very confident about two things:
1. Our ability to really stick it to any team we play
2. Our ability to stack up against the best in Europe (1st up is BD in group stages!)
Thus, I think we were actually very low risk
Quality of Return or QR: Finally, I think I’ve said it all, but to repeat shortly:
- Ozil will make Theo, Santi and OG better. He will allow JW to develop. I think he will score ~8-10 goals but have 20+ assists and we will score at least 10-15 more league goals because of him. Given last year’s defense that would allow for something like 3-4 more wins easily and a few more draws (i.e. far less losses), and we would have been at or near ManU.
- Flamini: will add bite and defense within a system and culture he knows well. He offers now so many looks with Ramsey and JW and Arteta that we should be far more organised and full of Presence! down the middle. His experience will also improve Ramsey and JW I think
Sanogo and the GK are the future and competition.
So, our quality for just two players, IMO, the exact right two players by position and choice, are going to make a huge impact on our ability to compete for the EPL, cups and Europe. Injuries always are a risk, but January is soon
Hence, I think we got a very high QR this TW, better than anyone in Europe and far better than some think, both for direct contribution and how those players will impact those around them.
In future, I hope for Diaby to come right, or for January or next summer to see us get a more proper long term solution at DM. I’d like a little depth at the backs, but think we are solid now, and can afford to wait on the youngsters to develop.
A SQ striker, … Well, there were actually very few STs moving this year if you look at it. They have the greatest risk of not fitting into a new system and scoring immediately, as we know from history, and with the WC coming, I think many would not move unless they were highly confident of their national team position (eg Bale who’s not really a ST)… From the standpoint of Jovetic, you have to wonder what he’s thinking now… In my opinion we can wait on it and there is always Theo or Poldi when better, as anyone should do well in front of Ozil et al. And if not, there is January or the dreaded Dane.. J
Cheers, I am optimist at heart I guess!
Written by: jgc.