Uncle Ken insists we must get promoted this year and points out we have one of the largest and most expensive squads in the division (and even by Premiership standards). He’s put pressure on our manager and our players with disastrous effect since he made that ill advised statement.
Having looked at our squad, I beg to differ. In our squad we have exactly 26 senior professionals of which 4 are goalkeepers, 9 defenders, 8 midfielders and 5 are strikers. If Uncle Ken wishes to add Lewis Turner and Zac Thompson to get to his magical 28 number then that’s OK but I doubt that either player is making a truly enormous dent on our wage structure. The fact we have 28 players only tells half a story though. Let’s break it down a little by player position.
Of the 4 goalkeepers we have one decent keeper, an experienced reserve keeper, a keeper out on loan and a young professional. Not too dissimilar from other clubs in the division and I would think when/if Rachubka returns from Tranmere then Maik Taylor will be on his way.
In defence we have the ridiculous situation of Ben Parker unable to play because he’s always injured, O’Brien won’t play but for some reason we have to pay him, then there’s Connelly, Bruce and Bromby that the manager and most of the fans have lost confidence in, Kisnorbo with plenty of guts and determination but no legs, White and Lees with plenty of desire/potential but lacking experience and O’Dea on loan.
I struggle to pick a good quartet from this selection let alone a promotion chasing one. Even with Lees, Kisnorbo, O’Dea and White it all falls to pieces as soon as one gets injured and unfortunately at the moment it seems that five of the nine have injuries
Ken’s magic formula of two players for every position seems to work in midfield where I could pick any four from Snodgrass, Howson, Clayton, Pugh, Townsend and Sam and have a fairly decent midfield without having to call on Vayrynen or Brown. Unfortunately that is all it is – a decent midfield – not exceptional, remarkable or even very good – just decent with a few players that can win a game when they turn in their best performances which unfortunately isn’t every week.
Up front we have been unfortunate this season with Somma out injured and Becchio still not looking match fit after his injury. McCormack has stepped up to the mark and has a good goals to games ratio midway through the season even after a recent barren patch. Keogh worked his socks off for the cause but didn’t score enough (reminiscent of Alan Smith but not as good) but has now gone back to Wolves. I have been disappointed with Forssell since he arrived, Nunez is a decent squad player but seems only capable of playing in the hole behind the strikers and the less said about Paynter the better.
All in all Ken, I have to say I don’t agree that we have to, or should, get promoted this season. In fact I would say that the squad of players at Grayson’s disposal is over achieving and we are at best a team capable of getting to a play-off place and at worst a mid-table team.
In a perfect world where contracts meant nothing I would rip up most of them and retain only Lonergan, Cairns, Lees, White, Sam, Howson, Clayton, Snodgrass, Pugh, Nunez, Thompson, Becchio, Somma and McCormack.
I would gratefully keep Keogh, Townsend and O’Dea on loan and then try to find other clubs for the remainder of the players before searching the continent and League One for hungry young players with pace, power, determination and grit trusting our coaching staff to improve them technically.
Unfortunately it is not a perfect world and we have a squad littered with aged players on long good contracts and young promising players on short and expiring contracts. This is a worrying situation which I for one can only see getting worse at the end of the season when players like White and Howson don’t sign contract extensions and head off for pastures new.
Written by Sean Wood