Winning football is about making the best use of available resources. We actually have a fine squad. Here is how to use it successfully.
After much deep thinking it seems to me that grit, determination and a willingness to get muddy are what’s missing. There is no room in our team for people who don’t care, or who are pansies. We didn’t need a new Dutch coach: we need to get less Dutch, not more. In retrospect it is a shame Tony Pulis was so quick to sign for Palace. We could have used his knowledge of old wars and I’m sure the players would have found Napoleonic anecdotes just the trick in turning this ship around. Never mind. We can still make this work.
What is our all gritty team?
Goal: Stekelenberg doesn’t really need to be gritty. BUT from a purist’s perspective he probably spent too long getting over what only appeared from the tv to be a mild knock to the shoulder. AND, being from up North, David Stockdale is arguably quite a lot grittier. It’s a tough call but Stockdale plays.
Right back: we lack real grit here but fans warm to Sascha Riether’s bombing up and down the line. He just looks really busy. That’s enough for our purposes: he’s in.
Centre-back: Amorebieta obviously, for that punch on Dejan Lovren’s arse. That’s the sort of grit we need. Partnering him… we have a problem. Aaron Hughes gets the nod because there might come a time when a cool head is needed out there, but he will be made aware of his responsibilities to the team and should at least try to be muddier.
Left back is also a problem area. If we had grittier centre-backs we could slide Amorebieta across. Matthew Briggs for a time put a few strange pictures up on Twitter where he was attempting to look hard but it was never an attitude that he wore well.
Kieran Richardson did Sir Alex Ferguson a painting, FFS! God it’s no wonder we can’t win.
I don’t know here, I really don’t. Riise? No, exactly. It’ll have to be Briggs won’t it? At least he’s home grown. There’s something to that.
Midfield: Scott Parker is the grittiest player there’s ever been so he’s in (it must be frustrating for Scott playing with such an ungritty squad).
Sidwell charges around a hell of a lot. So does Karagounis. Derek Boateng gets stuck in. We’re spoilt for choices here, we really are. Perm three of the above four. I would say rotate them but gritty players don’t get tired.
Then Pajtim Kasami plays ahead of them. Nobody runs around more than Kasami. And he has that wonder goal in his locker now so is basically set.
Forward: Ach, what now? Geoff Horsfield is too old. Hugo Rodallega is injured and mainly anonymous but he gets bonus points for not having played much during this season’s debacle. Ashkan Dejagah doesn’t always do anything but his stock rose considerably during his injury spell and does tend to run fast, too. He’s a lot like Riether in this regard: there may not be much quality but he looks busy! He looks slightly frightening too, which is not nothing.
Maybe the answer is to have Dejagah wide and Kasami in the middle, eschewing traditional forward play like Barcelona do. Then in the window we can sign Kevin Davies.
Stockdale – Riether, Hughes, Amorebieta, Briggs – Parker, Boateng, Sidwell, Karagounis – Dejagah – Kasami.
How will we do?