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Calibre of the Squad


loz
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For me one of the problems we have is inflated expectations purely because of the last 15 years or so. Some are already questioning Tuchel despite his record since taking over being comparable with Guardiola who has had seasons to build a squad with more money than the makers of the Pfizer vaccine.

If we are expecting to win the league or at least compete for it  then let's be honest about the calibre of players Tuchel has at his disposal to compete with City (who are going to win it by at least 12 points).

Which of our current squad are players you'd categorise as title winning potential, top four competitors, perennial top 6 and 'really, maybe let them go now'. Of course we will not agree on who falls in which category but we can surely all agree that not enough fall in the title winning potential category. By that I don't mean they are necessarily world class. More that they are either top drawer or of a sufficient quality to deliver at a level you need regularly whilst supported by other quality players. Think of the likes of Gary and Phil Neville at United. Never world class but they won regular titles by being reliable and consistent.

For me

Title Winning Potential

Kante, Silva, Rudiger, Lukaku, Mendy

Top Four

James,  Mount, Kepa, Azpilicueta, Chilwell

Perennial top 6
Jorginho, Kovacic, Havertz, Werner, Christensen, Chalobah

Let Them Go
Odoi, Pulisic, Alonso, Ziyech, Barkley, Cheek

This doesn't mean we should be looking to ship 10 or 11 players in one go as that isn't viable. It just illustrates, for me, how far we are from being a genuine threat to City at the moment and also how daft it is to think Tuchel should be on a sticky wicket.

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Only read one read paragraph. Before I read the rest, I just want to say, let's stop making excuses about the money Pep has spent. Yeah our net spend is very good, but most of it are from players we no longer wanted anyway. 

We've spent a ton of money to improve the squad and should be at least the level of Liverpool when challenging City. 

Only ourselves to blame.

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6 minutes ago, loz said:

For me one of the problems we have is inflated expectations purely because of the last 15 years or so. Some are already questioning Tuchel despite his record since taking over being comparable with Guardiola who has had seasons to build a squad with more money than the makers of the Pfizer vaccine.

If we are expecting to win the league or at least compete for it  then let's be honest about the calibre of players Tuchel has at his disposal to compete with City (who are going to win it by at least 12 points).

Which of our current squad are players you'd categorise as title winning potential, top four competitors, perennial top 6 and 'really, maybe let them go now'. Of course we will not agree on who falls in which category but we can surely all agree that not enough fall in the title winning potential category. By that I don't mean they are necessarily world class. More that they are either top drawer or of a sufficient quality to deliver at a level you need regularly whilst supported by other quality players. Think of the likes of Gary and Phil Neville at United. Never world class but they won regular titles by being reliable and consistent.

For me

Title Winning Potential

Kante, Silva, Rudiger, Lukaku, Mendy

Top Four

James,  Mount, Kepa, Azpilicueta, Chilwell

Perennial top 6
Jorginho, Kovacic, Havertz, Werner, Christensen, Chalobah

Let Them Go
Odoi, Pulisic, Alonso, Ziyech, Barkley, Cheek

This doesn't mean we should be looking to ship 10 or 11 players in one go as that isn't viable. It just illustrates, for me, how far we are from being a genuine threat to City at the moment and also how daft it is to think Tuchel should be on a sticky wicket.

We can probably debate which category some of the players belong to, but overall I agree with the premise that we just don't have enough quality in the squad to win the title. We have a very decent first 11 when all are fit, as seen in some of our matches earlier in the season. But we don't have enough quality to fill the gaps when players get injured and this season has been particularly brutal in that respect. Worryingly several players in your top 2 categories are end of contract this summer too. So we either need to invest heavily or risk falling further behind the competition.

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So basically we need a couple of new centre backs, a new back up left back, couple of new midfielders, two new wingers and a quality back up (or second) striker ?

Something along the lines of Kounde, Szalai, Digne, Tchouameni, Gallagher, Hazard, Chiesa, Martinez would work for me !

The difficulty is in moving out all those considered dead wood to free up some space for signings, bearing in mind the dead wood pool that we are struggling to sell/loan is pretty large already !

 

 

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We never seem to recruit well enough. We bring in players who end up underperforming. Ziyech was a disappointment. Barkley, god knows how he is still in the squad. Loftus-Cheek just isn't good enough. Hudson-Odoi is poor. Alonso should never be at Chelsea. Azpilicueta is still playing for us despite his best years being behind him. Saul was brought in to be a plan B, but he's been atrocious. We really need to scout better for the system, because apart from Lukaku, our recruitment has been underwhelming again. None of Ziyech, Werner, Havertz or Pulisic have been the real game changers and threats we hoped they would be. 

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Title Winning Potential:
On paper Lukaku, Thiago Silva and Kante. That's while blatantly ignoring the fact that we can't count on Thiago Silva nor Kante to play the majority of games due to their injuries and even Lukaku has been injured this season.

The rest isn't relevant as we have managed to be a top 4 team in the last 3/4 seasons:
17/18 - 5th
18/19 - 3rd
19/20 - 4th
20/21 - 4th
So basically whoever played most of the time (about 25 PL games) has proven to be a top 4 player:

Kepa, Mendy, Azpilicueta, James, Chilwell, Christensen, Rudiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Kovacic, Mount, Pulisic, Werner, Havertz.

Of course that right now when several players are being overplayed and jaded adding that some other key players are injured it might look like we're just an avearge squad... We're not.

It looks like it's too easy for Man City though but it's not just us that can't compete with them, nobody seems to be able to challenge them at all. The two teams that won multiple PL titles in the last 10 years have been Man City (5) and us (2). So you could argue that despite all the difficulties that we're trying to compete.

Edited by Gol15
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The one positive of this almost perfect City team is that at least it’s highlighting our requirement failures even more so. They’ve set the highest standards, remove them and we’d be the great pretenders with this team and Marina would be churning out more Drinkwaters and Zapacosta’s, thinking we’re good enough.

I know we’ve had some great Europeans nights, which I wouldn’t trade for the world but City’s dominance over this league is something I wish we had for as long as they’ve managed now. 

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1 minute ago, Term_X said:

The one positive of this almost perfect City team is that at least it’s highlighting our requirement failures even more so. They’ve set the highest standards, remove them and we’d be the great pretenders with this team and Marina would be churning out more Drinkwaters and Zapacosta’s, thinking we’re good enough.

I know we’ve had some great Europeans nights, which I wouldn’t trade for the world but City’s dominance over this league is something I wish we had for as long as they’ve managed now. 

They've been a top 4 team ever since the Shieks came in. Not dropped out once and have always been a major force in attack throughout. Yes they've spent bucket loads but credit to them. They've churned out 2 or 3 great sides in that time. No huge mistakes that have set them back a few years like we have done.

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City don't attempt to run as a business. They funnel money through shell sponsors to make their accounts look good.

Roman tries to run us as a business and therefore we don't compete with them in wages most of the time, and our recruitment has been really poor compared to theirs. They are just better at shaping a title winning squad and rejuvenating it than we are.

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It's about how you use the players. Every single player listed there is capable of winning a title. The only player I doubted was Jorginho but Tuchel has shown what he can do.

Remember Alonso and Moses were title winning players, they weren't being carried either, they were crucial to the system. Right now the issue is fatigue and injuries, not about the quality of the players.

Also we were challenging just fine at the start of the season, probably not at full tilt but you felt like we were only a player or 2 away from being "complete".

Edited by sonic90
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45 minutes ago, sonic90 said:

It's about how you use the players. Every single player listed there is capable of winning a title. The only player I doubted was Jorginho but Tuchel has shown what he can do.

Remember Alonso and Moses were title winning players, they weren't being carried either, they were crucial to the system. Right now the issue is fatigue and injuries, not about the quality of the players.

Also we were challenging just fine at the start of the season, probably not at full tilt but you felt like we were only a player or 2 away from being "complete".

Think that was more Conte being an insanely good manager than anything else, Victor Moses wouldn't have got near any other team in the top 4

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Squad is fine in my view. All a question of expectations. We won in Europe last year after Tuchel set us up well,  our mistake after signing Lukaku was to translate that into "We'll walk the League". 

I think we're still a chance if we beat City and Liverpool in January, and we should finish solidly in the top 4. I'm okay with that.

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I'm going the world clas (wc) route since there appears to be a general consensus anyway on what league position calibre players we have. 

Kanté, Silva, Mendy, Jorginho, Kovacic and Lukaku are for me all world class players. Besides Mendy their trophies speak for themselves and tbf even with Ed he's won an individual award and big ears not to mention the super cup. 

Rudiger in 2021 has been world class under Tuchel however, I'm unsure as to whether this is Tuchels individual instructions, the system, the player's ability or a combination of all of the above.

James and Chillwell are for me as close as you can get to being world class but not just there yet. I think they're top players and arguably the best wbs in world football atm since they won the UCL in those positions and score and create freely. I would give them another season or two before I labeled them wc. 

Mount has been a top performer under Tuchel and Lampard showing glimpses of that level when carrying the team. No doubt in my mind he will be world class for us, and by the way he is projected it could be sooner rather than later. 

Pulisic was world class in the project restart and vs Real Madrid in the semis, needs time to hone his craft I believe he will get there one day. 

Werner and Havertz signed because they are believed to be just below world class with the potential to reach that level. In both cases with the hope sooner rather than later. Big expectations for both and they have repaid some of the faith stored in them but, still need to do more. 

Azpilicueta top player on the decline sadly not at that level anymore. 

Everyone else I'll put under an umbrella to save this being a suuuper long post. A mix of various players who vary from excellent technical ability, high potential and underachievers. 

I think with the right front 3 Jorginho, Kova and Kante would be the best midfield trio in the world. Since they're already the best pivot in the world and that imo is any variation. So that's also why they're all in that bracket for me.

Lukaku proven at international level and has won a league title he's come on leaps from when we last had him.

Silva is like a fine wine 🍷  

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Time for the board to rid this squad of dead wood and support Tuchel in the market in Jan. If the club seriously wants to challenge, then got to be serious in the market too. January might not be as good as summer to get players in, but there will be talent out there available to get. We must do it. 

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I think the squad is generally fine and I’ve got no doubt that if we’d had most of our players fit this season we’d still be in the title race. That being said there is some dead wood that I think need to be upgraded on.
 

The main difference between us and the other 2 title contenders is how clinical they are. If Salah, Mane, Jota, Mahrez, Foden or Sterling are in the same position  as CHO found himself in last night it would have been in the back of the net 90% of the time but I have no confidence in any of our players doing that barring Lukaku.


I also think one big problem we have is Kante, he’s so good but we can’t rely on him anymore when he can’t play 3 games in a row without getting injured.

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I think I mentioned before, but while our attackers' lack of cutting edge in front of goal is well documented and has been discussed here at length, this current squad also severely lacking attacking threat from central midfield. Kante can score on occasion, but that isn't really his best attribute, as for Kovacic and Jorginho (not counting penaties) they are neither creators nor scorers. Loftus-Cheek for all CFC fans' gushing about his elegant touch contributes next to nothing in that department, and Saul is a bust. I long for the days of Lamps or Cesc when we at least had somebody in that position who could create or score consistently.

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With everyone fit we have a very strong XI. This team and Tuchel proved them last season when they outplayed Europe's best and won the Champions League.

Think we've mostly suffered due to the perfect storm of injuries, Covid and fatigue due to our schedule. This has very much highlighted how this we are in certain areas. Jorginho have had to keep the midfield together on his own for most of the season and is now completely spent as everyone could see yesterday.
We had no adequate back-ups for Chilwell and James going into the season and now are in the sh*t at wingback.
We have also played the entire season with multiple injuries in attack so it's been impossible to find a settled front three and it's still impossible with Werner and Havertz still out.

We've always been completely screwed over by the FA. How in the world we were forced to play with 7(!) Covid cases while teams like Liverpool, Tottenham and United got their games postponed for less cases is impossible for me to understand. A two week break would probably have saved this league season for us but we were not afforded that break.

 

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Letting Gallagher, Gilmour and Broja go on loan and alsi selling Abraham were massive mistakes going into a season where it was obvious fitness and injuries would have a big impact. We were left with one striker in the entire squad, no cover for Kante's energy and effort and totally reliant on one way of playing. That way has been found out, even before covid fixture build up and fatigue kicked in. Our attack Is non existent, it's basically been reliant on Mount doing something. 

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30 minutes ago, dkw said:

That way has been found out, even before covid fixture build up and fatigue kicked in.

We were league leaders with a gap to second place before injuries and Covid kicked in to an extreme extent. We've managed injuries the entire season but it's just getting worse and worse now.

Gallagher and Broja should probably have stayed though. I agree with that but both of them have been better than most expected so the loans is great for their development at least.

 

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13 hours ago, loz said:

For me one of the problems we have is inflated expectations purely because of the last 15 years or so. Some are already questioning Tuchel despite his record since taking over being comparable with Guardiola who has had seasons to build a squad with more money than the makers of the Pfizer vaccine.

If we are expecting to win the league or at least compete for it  then let's be honest about the calibre of players Tuchel has at his disposal to compete with City (who are going to win it by at least 12 points).

Which of our current squad are players you'd categorise as title winning potential, top four competitors, perennial top 6 and 'really, maybe let them go now'. Of course we will not agree on who falls in which category but we can surely all agree that not enough fall in the title winning potential category. By that I don't mean they are necessarily world class. More that they are either top drawer or of a sufficient quality to deliver at a level you need regularly whilst supported by other quality players. Think of the likes of Gary and Phil Neville at United. Never world class but they won regular titles by being reliable and consistent.

For me

Title Winning Potential

Kante, Silva, Rudiger, Lukaku, Mendy

Top Four

James,  Mount, Kepa, Azpilicueta, Chilwell

Perennial top 6
Jorginho, Kovacic, Havertz, Werner, Christensen, Chalobah

Let Them Go
Odoi, Pulisic, Alonso, Ziyech, Barkley, Cheek

This doesn't mean we should be looking to ship 10 or 11 players in one go as that isn't viable. It just illustrates, for me, how far we are from being a genuine threat to City at the moment and also how daft it is to think Tuchel should be on a sticky wicket.

Pep does have one of the smallest squads in the league, he doesn’t seem to get any credit for that though. The whole £50m defenders on the bench is a short term fix, and he came out a few seasons ago & said players don’t want to be sat on the bench. They had a huge squad turnover when that was still a thing, but he has had to work with a much smaller squad. 
Ferran Torres has been injured for most of the season, and has been sold to Barca. Pep has said Cole Palmer a youth player will replace him. They never replaced Aguero, Mendy has been locked up for most of the season, and Fernandinho is 36.

They have 4 CB’s in Laporte, Diaz, Stones & Ake ( We have 5)

3 FBs in Cancelo, Walker & Zincheko ( we have 4)

5 Midfielders in De Bruyne, Gundogan, Silva, Rodri & Fernandinho ( we have 6)

5 FWs in Foden, Grealish, Jesus, Mahrez & Sterling. ( we have 7)
 

That is 17 outfield player against our 22, he has been filling his bench with 18yr old kids; Palmer, Kayky & Mbetu. The key to his success is his ability to play 8 of his mid/FW interchangeably in his forward line.

Personally feel we need to recruit better using data, and stop chasing after the next big thing or big signings in the market. City are renowned for that and Liverpool to an extent, though you could argue Liverpool stole City’s data. Most of the signings Pep has made are not your standout big names in the market. He is just better than everyone else in developing them. 

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6 minutes ago, ducavis said:

Pep does have one of the smallest squads in the league, he doesn’t seem to get any credit for that though. The whole £50m defenders on the bench is a short term fix, and he came out a few seasons ago & said players don’t want to be sat on the bench. They had a huge squad turnover when that was still a thing, but he has had to work with a much smaller squad. 
Ferran Torres has been injured for most of the season, and has been sold to Barca. Pep has said Cole Palmer a youth player will replace him. They never replaced Aguero, Mendy has been locked up for most of the season, and Fernandinho is 36.

They have 4 CB’s in Laporte, Diaz, Stones & Ake ( We have 5)

3 FBs in Cancelo, Walker & Zincheko ( we have 4)

5 Midfielders in De Bruyne, Gundogan, Silva, Rodri & Fernandinho ( we have 6)

5 FWs in Foden, Grealish, Jesus, Mahrez & Sterling. ( we have 7)
 

That is 17 outfield player against our 22, he has been filling his bench with 18yr old kids; Palmer, Kayky & Mbetu. The key to his success is his ability to play 8 of his mid/FW interchangeably in his forward line.

Personally feel we need to recruit better using data, and stop chasing after the next big thing or big signings in the market. City are renowned for that and Liverpool to an extent, though you could argue Liverpool stole City’s data. Most of the signings Pep has made are not your standout big names in the market. He is just better than everyone else in developing them. 

Imagine if they had Laporte, Diaz, Stones, Cancelo, Walker, DeBruyne, Gundogan, Silva, Foden, Grealish  and Sterling all unable to play in 60% of their league fixtures to date though ?

They'd be up as big a sh*t creek as we are ... as would Liverpool if they had a similar situation (as we saw last year when with about half the absences we've had to cope with, they managed to get beaten at home 6 PL games in a row!).

 

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39 minutes ago, Sexyfootball said:

Imagine if they had Laporte, Diaz, Stones, Cancelo, Walker, DeBruyne, Gundogan, Silva, Foden, Grealish  and Sterling all unable to play in 60% of their league fixtures to date though ?

They'd be up as big a sh*t creek as we are ... as would Liverpool if they had a similar situation (as we saw last year when with about half the absences we've had to cope with, they managed to get beaten at home 6 PL games in a row!).

 

Not disputing that, just the whole idea he buys a team of world class players. Most of them he developed & made them who they are. Laporte was from Bilbao, Diaz from Benfica, Cancelo a Juve reject, Silva from Monaco, & Gundogan from Dortmund.

The idea that if you handed 99% of managers the same resources, they would be able to replicate his result is one I am not buying. Sure they might be win a CL or 2, but you need an element of luck in cup games. In a long season the variables are different, and you need to be adaptable & creative.

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26 minutes ago, ducavis said:

Not disputing that, just the whole idea he buys a team of world class players. Most of them he developed & made them who they are. Laporte was from Bilbao, Diaz from Benfica, Cancelo a Juve reject, Silva from Monaco, & Gundogan from Dortmund.

The idea that if you handed 99% of managers the same resources, they would be able to replicate his result is one I am not buying. Sure they might be win a CL or 2, but you need an element of luck in cup games. In a long season the variables are different, and you need to be adaptable & creative.

Pep is a great manager, no doubt about it. He has his own vision and in terms of consistency his City side has been brilliant domestically over the years, which is no small feat, given how tough and competitive the EPL is.

Having said that, the criticism will always be there. Even at City he inherited a core of top talent (David Silva, Yaya Toure, Kompany, Aguero, KDB, Sterling, Fernandinho) and then proceded to spend a fortune on top of it. He's never been in a situation where he either didn't have the best (by far) team in the league (Barca, Bayern) or the richest (City). Most managers never have that luxury. but that doesn't change the fact that he's very good at his job.

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