Writer: J P Fear
Date:Tuesday April 17 2007
O'Neill won't be standing in JPA's way it seems should he wish to leave, how many more will he allow to go, more importantly can he allow more to go, without stretching Lerner's coffers.
The lack of both players and quality players has been our major problem for 3 seasons now. As soon as an injury hits a major player the weekly struggle begins.
Fair do's to the kids who have stepped up, their efforts albeit not always of the highest quality have built a base for survival and of course next season they are a season older. In addition Petrov may be up to steam and Young and Carew will hopefully be in a similar situation, but then what.
Despite his recent whoopsie Sorensen remains a decent enough keeper, I can't see the sense in spending big to get better, maybe a replacement for Taylor though, he didn't impress when the chance came.
At Fullback I don't think O'Neill is totally happy with Bouma and Samuel could be gone. Hughes doesn't look to be featuring and Bardsley isn't good enough for me, so 2 in 2 out ?
Central defence is a huge conundrum.
Team with Laursen = good, team without, not so good.
Mellberg with Laursen = good, without, not so good.
Cahill is ok as cover and could get better.
Ridgewell maybe going too.
I have no clue as to Laursen's longer term fitness, but past history suggests there's a question, here's where I'd invest heavily, my priority one.
Midfield, can't see anyone but Hendrie going. OK I accept McCann is struggling but as cover he'll more than do. Petrov, well doesn't matter what I think, he's one of the few quality members along with Mellberg and Laursen, and O'Neill picks him regardless.
Barry, man of the season for 2 seasons or more now, again quality.
Berger, OK as cover and as an option on the bench he'll stay.
Of the youngsters Gardener seems in the O'Neill mould, Davis does not, can't see him departing this season though, big mistake if he does.
So second big investment, but how. A minimum of one quality players needed, midfield hardman, a must, I'd even look to bringing in 2 more too experienced Premiership players too.
Up front we have a surfeit of riches some say, but like most sides in Europe we don't have a 20 goal a season man. Carew isn't, Young isn't, Agbonlahor might be but next season on the wing ? Moore similarly, Maloney ditto. Lots of youth, tonnes of inexperience, I'd say lots of quality too but not for now, not yet.
So here's priority 3 and as an interested fan, another conundrum based around what tactics O'Neill wishes to employ.
We do need an experienced striker though, I hope its not someone like Zamora, Harewood, someone like Defoe, Keane, perhaps, or 40 mill for Berbatov :)
So backbone replacements a must. One central defender, one hard man midfield, one experienced striker, a minimum requirement 10-12 mill, 14-20 mill and your guess is as good as mine. 35-40 million too much?
When you consider that would, if only Angel, Samuel and Hendrie go, keep the squad below sensible size when you consider the age and experience of the majority of the players, will it be enough for another long Premiership season.
So ideally for me 2 fullbacks, 1 or 2 extra midfield players and another striker is needed 7 new players, never ???
I accept, O'Neill will hopefully find a few from the out of contract pool and even a gem from the lower divisions, but whatever happens I hope for the first time in nearly a decade I can look at the bench come December 07 and still see genuine options on the bench, not make do oldsters and inexperienced kids.
Going to be an expensive and busy few weeks for Lerners bank I hope this summer, do the Browns need many players anyone know?
Date:Tuesday April 17 2007
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