So it would have been a good time to play them after all….. The Liverpool game has been rearranged for next Wednesday, where with injuries they might still be forced to turn out at less than full strength. Playing sooner rather than later will help us maintain our momentum and also enable us to not fall adrift in the race for the CL places just because we are without a fixture. The biggest boost of all will be victory against Hull on Saturday, so one game at a time.
There’s a bit of real activity in the window too, rather than the equivalent of one of Harry’s twitches. The forthcoming purchase of Sandro is no real surprise as it has been heavily touted for some time, the deal allegedly having been done a few months ago.
I can safely say, without fear of contradiction, that I know next to nothing about him. I’ve not seen him play so I’m not going to comment. One cap for Brazil at 20 years of age indicates that he has something going for him, although let’s not read too much into that because they play a large number of internationals in the course of an average season, many of them friendlies and where they might be short of some of their Europe-based players.
I don’t expect him to be an automatic starter when he arrives, or make that if he arrives as the work permit has still to be granted. He’s touted as a hard working central midfielder but even so it will take time for the young man to adjust to the English game. I look forward to seeing him play but we should not ask too much too soon.
Harry’s interesting comments this week about needing four central midfielders provide an insight into his plans for the squad. It is the absolutely crucial position in Premier League football, and men who can run, pass, tackle, attack and defend are precious commodities. Such a portfolio of qualities looks absurdly unattainable but that’s what we not only expect but also what we see in other successful teams. No other position requires so many varied attributes.
Discounting the rubbish from websites writing splash sensationalist headlines to improve their traffic and the ego-manic attention-seeking so-called ITKs, our interest in Scott Parker appears genuine, which makes five central mids. A fine player, he will organise well, cover and enable us to build from the back, but he’s not going to cover every blade of grass and he’s suffering from injuries. He may come if the price is right – a few million and a reasonable salary will not necessarily make a huge dent in our resources. The salary could be a problem as West Ham agreed silly money to a few players signed under their last regime in order to get them to sign. Desperate is the word, and now how they are suffering…
The same might be said for Matthew Upson’s value to the squad. Another decent player, experience is invaluable but I would prefer someone quicker to play alongside Dawson, and certainly not to replace him. And only Harry knows how bad Woody and Led are, so if a quality centre half is available at the right price, then H will be in there like a Jack Russell after a rabbit.
And so to the dearly, nearly departed. Hutton, Bentley and Pavlyuchenko will generate some funds but in the case of the latter pair will represent a financial loss. More about them if and when they go, but in terms of the squad it is very dangerous to weaken it in any way as the fight for the fourth CL place develops. Bentley is superfluous because Luka and Niko can play wide ride right, a different wide right but highly effective nonetheless. If we need four central midfielders, then surely we need four quality strikers too. The suggested £10m from Zenit is as good as we will get (he should not be sold to an English team) but it would be foolish to sell Pav without a replacement.
And now the good news. Whisper it, but nothing around about clubs sniffing round our stars. Shhhhh……