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David Bentley, and others?


Butch

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I don't know what is going to happen the rest of the way this season. The ways have gone all bets are off. One minute we're stumbling along, all hope lost. The next, Man Utd decide they want to keep things interesting. What I do know (or feel) is that we're headed for a summer of change whatever happens. I know many of you have said this at various times this season. Here's my take:

MANAGER

I'm not going to go the "I want" route here with this post. I am going to go the "I think" route. There have been times when I've thought that we can't possibly keep on this path when many of the players purportedly do not seem to be happy. And with Kenyon and Buck being less than firm with their views in recent interviews, you have to wonder. Still, Roman has given Grant a 4-year contract, when he could easily have given him a much more temporary one, so that gesture (although it could be construed as trying to give the club a more "secured" outlook) would seem to suggest Grant will be given a fair chance at this. And if that is the case, apart from key players looking disenchanted, Grant has certainly given people (especially those that may be slightly biased towards him, i.e. Roman) something to think about. Many of us, for various reasons, might say we should replace him even if he wins the EPL and/or CL, but you've got to sit back and think about this a little more objectively - that would be a heck of a feat considering where he started. So, in conclusion, I am undecided how this will pan out. My guess is that we WILL consider this once the season is over. If Grant does not deliver either of those trophies, he would be fair game (I would imagine). If he does, I would not write him off. Meanwhile, I would also not doubt we've sounded out some potential replacements. Though unfair, this is business, and we have not been proven to be above it before.

POSSIBILITY: 50-50

PLAYERS

This is a bit of a fun part for me. I apologize to everyone who is offended by this trading players like sheep mentality. Rest assured, I totally appreciate the difficulties players face in playing in foreign lands, etc...

Regardless of who is manager next season, except maybe if Jose is reinstated, I do expect quite a bit of change. Grant wants his own players and also players who will fit his "style". Some of the current players, i.e. the disenchanted ones, will also want to be moving to pastures new. Even if a new manager comes in, this will still be the case.

How many? That's the million dollar question isn't it? Well, first let's see who will likely leave. Again, keep in mind I am taking the "I think" route rather than the "I want" route.

Drogba - I think the first player on the exit plane will be our Ivorian striker. He has looked the most unhappy since day one and has been open about leaving. I doubt even a change of managers would keep him here.

POSSIBILITY: 100%

Ben Haim - I guess he's given up all hope of playing for us again if he would decide to come out and be so critical of the manager. He doesn't offer us enough to take that sort of a risk, and is pretty much dispensable (sorry for choice of word) now that we have Ivanovic.

POSSIBILITY: 100%

Cudicini - I don't think any of us, in our heart of hearts, would stand in Carlo's way. He's been a brilliant servant to us, and we all know he'd walk into most other EPL sides without any problem. That he's stuck around with us is a tribute to his loyalty (I know he gets paid well and all), and injuries aside, he may have had a trophy or two to show for all his troubles. I really feel for him, but he is an awesome player and man. He really needs regular games.

POSSIBILITY: 85%

Ferreira/Belletti - I doubt we will keep them both this off-season, as I strongly feel we will be after a new right back. In terms of who I feel is better, it is Paulo by quite a distance. However, I'm not sure he has got quite the same confidence in him by Grant as he did from Jose. Still, Belletti just has looked rather shaky in his defending and I just can't imagine him fitting in to our long-term plans. So, one of these two to go, but I am undecided which.

POSSIBILITY: One to go 80%; 50-50 in terms of which.

Malouda - I wonder what our management think of him. Personally, he's been a disaster for me. I thought he would do much better and he started off so well. It is likely a combination of "first season syndrome" and "instability" caused by Jose's departure and Didier's impending departure. He simply has not offered us anything. He's been even less effective than SWP was last season. It's a waste, but he strikes me as not being a fighter and may just decide to call it quits. I doubt there would be a shortage of suitors, to be honest.

POSSIBILITY: 70%

Essien - Here is another who has looked "lost" and unhappy. We're seen a bit of an improvement, in terms of application (and goals) of late, if not form. However, this could well be because he knows what his future holds now (Real Madrid?) and he can concentrate on making the best exit possible, a la Drogba.

POSSIBILITY: 70%

Lampard - I don't doubt Lamps would prefer to stay here with us if at all possible. What I doubt is if Chelsea would be happy to offer him the deal he wants. Under normal circumstances, I think he'd probably take a lesser deal to stay where he is happy. Under current circumstances, I wonder if he'd think about a change of scenery. I hope (and always have) that this is all a bit of posturing and that he will sign a new contract to stay with us, but the longer this drags on, I wonder.

POSSIBILITY: 60%

Bridge - I can't imagine that Wayne is particularly happy at Chelsea these days. From that respect, I think he'd go if a good club came in with a decent offer. However, from Chelsea's point of view, we'd be hard pressed to find as good a back-up left back (from Grant's perspective) as he is. From that stand point, I find it hard to imagine us letting him go.

POSSIBILITY: 60%

SWP - Shawn had quite a bright start to the season, and although he's looked bright, relative to last season, he's shown a remarkable lack of composure in critical situations (crossing and shooting) that make me wonder if he has what it takes to become an important player for us. Keeping in mind that a creative player is almost a given to be brought in this off-season, Shawn's position is going to come under serious threat. And there won't be a lack of suitors for he's a proven EPL player and a big threat on his day.

POSSIBILITY: 60%

OTHERS - I know there has been a bit of criticism of Kalou, question marks on Makalele, and rumors about Carvalho, but I am of the opinion that they will all be retained. I think Kalou is promising, and I don't find him to be one that would be demanding a starting berth at this moment in time. He'd be at least a very viable sub to bring off the bench to change games. Maka simply is the best at what he does, and I feel we will keep him until he simply can't hack it anymore. He would still be useful to have for key matches, although those number of matches will likely be reduced next season. As for Carvalho, I believe he is the lynchpin of our defense. Terry may be the leader, but Carvalho makes Terry look better by covering his weaknesses. I simply cannot see us letting him go (and there would certainly be no shortage of suitors) no matter who was in charge.

So, in my estimation, that is no less 9 players possibly to leave. The key ones that MUST be replaced are, for me, based on their importance to the team, Drogba, Lampard, Essien and Cudicini. A creative player will be brought in who will essentially take up Malouda/SWP's squad place.

My thoughts are we should keep SWP and replace Malouda; keep Bridge; and keep Paulo and replace Belletti.

I will speculate based on squad position:

STRIKER - Anelka will of course have a more prominent role for us next season, but I don't for one minute doubt we will bring in someone. Probably the two names that make the most sense are Berbatov and Huntelaar. My bet, considering our Danish/Dutch connections, and the possibility of Hiddink/Rijkaard to come in, would be on Huntelaar. That would also be my personal choice, so it may be a case of wishful thinking.

MIDFIELD - An area of the field where we'd thought we were too well endowed could potentially become a weakness area when we lose Lampard, Essien and essentially Makalele in one fell swoop. Our management team have a heck of a task to curtail this "mass exodus". Mikel is a good player. I hear criticism of him that he only passes sideways and backwards, and I have to say I don't agree that that makes him any less effective. I believe we look better with him on the pitch because he helps us keep possession. I think he is the long-term replacement for Makalele, even if they play different styles. Ballack will also go some ways to replacing Lampard, I feel, so maybe the critical position is a dynamic box-to-box destroying midfielder (gasp, Gerrard?) to replace Essien. I hope we're able to convince Essien to stay, to be honest. We could also add more creativity to the center of the pitch (something I think we're crucially missing if we want to play a more creative style of football). See below.

KEEPER - Hilario has impressed me with his composure, and his ability it come in and do a job instantly when called upon. I can't decide if he'd be good enough to deputize for Cech for prolonged periods, and my worry is that we will need someone to do that considering the injury problems that have been plaguing our Czech goalkeeper the past two seasons. I hope it's just bad luck but we'll have to see. It'd be nice to have a young but accomplished English keeper as back-up (Joe Hart?) but I'm out of ideas here. The trick would be enticing someone like a Joe Hart to leave regular football behind. Cech isn't exactly over the hill so the prospects of playing much are not all THAT great.

RIGHT BACK - I think it may be time to bite the bullet and sign Daniel Alves now. That's just the feeling I'm getting. He'd be a fitter, stronger version of Belletti, and not too different from placing Essien at right back (from what I've seen of him). That's the route our manager seems to want to take any way. But in such a case, I'd definitely keep Paulo as the more defensive back. I'm a tad disappointed, as are my Scottish colleages on these forums, that we did'ne go for Hutton to continue Steve Clarke's legacy. He's already an accomplished player, and under Clarke I'd think he'd improve even further (by the way, the only other Scottish player I'd consider was Gordon as back up to Cech).

CREATIVE PLAYER(S) - The reason I have an "S" in parentheses is that I believe we have 2 slots for creative players (if Lamps leaves) - one in a wider role, and one from the center of the pitch. I will go ahead and say I hope we get Van der Vaart. He would be a very exciting player to have going through the middle (he actually is also left-inclined, or used to be). Failing that, Deco is another interesting player (from the perspective of his footballing quality - I know he has few fans). As for Kaka, I think it is all wishful thinking. The other player from a wider position - well Messi is going to be wishful thinking as well. Robinho, I don't think would be suited. I quite like Sneijder at Madrid, and did before he went there. But the one that would get most fans salivating, even though I know there are quite a few who don't think he (a) would do well in the EPL and/or (B) has the right mentality, is Ronaldinho. I was watching Man Utd play Blackburn last night and everytime Ronaldo got the ball and ran at Blackburn's defense, you felt a goal was coming. We won't have this same threat to our game that I feel we need in the EPL. When we had Duff and Robben, we cut teams open at will. Players with that sort of ability are not exactly easy to come by. One of the wild cards that I like personally, and thus the title of my post, is David Bentley. He had a great first half against United (and has been generally in excellent form the whole season), and though you couldn't yet compare him to the likes of Messi and Ronaldinho, I think he could yet do a job for us. My only concern is that he is right-inclined, and thus may positionally be in conflict with Joe Cole. I wonder if that is something that could be worked out.

In an ideal world, where things came together like a perfect puzzle, you could see Hiddink being brought in with Huntelaar, Van der Vaart and Sneijder (the last one pure speculation by me). Even if it were just the first three, along with one of Roman's favorites in Ronaldinho (or even Bentley), I think that would add so much dynamicism, energy, creativity and flair to our system, balanced by Hiddink's sound defensive strategies, that it would certainly bring about some sense of excitement and optimism for the new season (again, my opinion).

So, let me turn off my heart for a minute, and go with what I think will happen:

Again, Grant is up in the air. But players to leave are Drogba, Lampard, Cudicini, Malouda, Ben Haim, Essien(?), SWP, Belletti, and those to come in will be a keeper(who?), Van der Vaart, Alves, Huntelaar, and a wide player(who?). To be honest, I think Ronaldinho is on his way to Milan so it would be a surprise if it happened. But crazier things have happened, and may still happen if we get a bit of luck in the run in to the end of the season. Here's to crossed fingers!

PS> I did forget Sidwell and he will in all likelihood be one of the first names out the door as well.

Cheers,

Butch

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I do believe you are turning into a UK journalist Butch - you mention Bentley in your title and then only briefly once in they dying stages of the article icon_wink.gif

Specifically on the Bentley idea I have to say I am not keen. Not so much because of whether or not I think he does a good job for Blackburn (I think he does) but more because I don't think we need what he brings to the team. More than anything our squad lacks pace, and we counter attack at a speed that I have not seen since I left my bike chained up in Toxteth and had to carry the frame home without wheels. Bentley does not offer pace and so buying him to play on the right hand side would not, in any way, improve this situation.

My thoughts on the Grant 4 year contract are that he will be allowed to see it out but that it will be in an 'upstairs' role rather than as the manager. Whether he accepts that offer or just leaves will be a choice he is allowed to make rather than is forced to make.

I'm not convinced Carlo is going to leave. He has been getting quite a number of games (albeit due to a series of freak injuries to Cech) and may well think that this will happen again next season. I think if he was going to leave in pursuit of first team football he would have done it a season or two ago. However if he were to leave I very much doubt we would get Joe Hart (for the reason you say), it would be career suicide for a very promising young goalkeeper. We have been blessed and cursed on the goalkeeping front in the past few seasons. Blessed in that we have a back up keeper of a quality that most squads couldn't dream of but cursed in terms of the number of injuries they have picked up. I think we are going to have to get used to the idea that once Carlo goes our back up keeper is going to be more of the quality of a standard back up keeper. Another option could also be at City and that is Isaksson (I guarantee that is not spelled correctly!)

I seriously hope if we keep one from Paulo and Belletti then the choice is Paulo. Belletti has a chain of Australian bars in the UK named after him whereas Paulo actually understands the concept of defending. I don't think Grant has less confidence in him that Jose did. I think it is about the same level, Jose started mucking around with Paulo a long long time ago and grant has simply carried on with that approach.

Malouda was superb in the French league against full backs who have him time and space. the Premiership doesn't gift that kind of opportunity and he has taken to it like David Ginola to a wind tunnel. I am one who thinks players should generally be allowed a reasonable amount of time to settle into a new league however whilst doing that I like to see them at least look interested in applying themselves and Malouda fails miserably on this front. I would be delighted if we got shot of him. On that same subject of wingers I also think it is time for SWP to be moved on. His effort is not up for question however his technical ability certainly is!

However this does leave us a problem, let Malouda and SWP go and we are pretty much left with no wingers. Neither Joe or Kalou are orthodox wingers, and if we are, as rumours suggest, going to move to a two up front philosophy next season I pray it is one that uses width and not a diamond. So if Malouda and SWP are moved on then we need to be looking to replace them with wingers. Now quality wingers, for me, are not something that there is an abundance of right now. We had one of the finest in the business in Robben however injuries seem to be wrecking his career. There are no really stand out candidates out there that Roman can just throw silly money at and so our scouts are going to have to a bit of work and maybe identify someone not so much in the media eye.

Drogba leaving appears to be inevitable and probably Pizarro as well unless he wants to just sit around picking up his pay cheque. That leaves Anelka and Sheva (if he stays) and thus there is a need for two more strikers. I would like to see one of those be simply a case of promoting Santos into the first team squad. Yes he is still young but not so young that he can't start to make first team appearances. There is also Sinclair and Sahar to consider. That is three young strikers that we are going to have to start blooding more or make a decision to let them move on (except Santos obviously as we have only just bought him). Given this I would actually say let Sheva go as well, bring in one new striker so we have two recognised first team strikers and take a gamble on giving Sinclair, Santos and Sahar more playing time. Just as long as we do go with two up front. If I see Anelka playing up front in a 4-5-1 one more time I may well shoot G4.

Finally if Lampard was to leave it may just make a difficult decision easier for a new manager. If we do go for two up front then something has to give elsewhere and that is likely to be one of our many central midfielders. Taken Maka out of the equation due to age still leaves us with four quality players battling for two positions in the centre. Keeping Essien is a must and also Mikel due to having age on his side. So a new manager would be looking to decide between Ballack and Lampard with Ballack probably being the one that would get the chop.

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Pizarro and Sheva are also goners, I feel. I guess that is why I overlooked them (are they still here?!) icon_eek.gif

Sheva has a ready-made destination that should make things relatively easy in terms of a decision. As for Pizarro, MAYBE he will remain, but I think being cut from the CL roster and playing in the reserves would not go well with him. He certainly looks surplus to requirements (much like Sidwell). He supposedly has the backing of his team mates though, so we'll see.

Once again, totally wishful thinking on my part, but once again I look towards City of Manchester Stadium for a possibly interesting option as a left winger - Martin Petrov. He's faded away a bit, what with the lack of help from fellow team mates. In a better side where he could concentrate on his own thing, I think he would be a huge threat. Maybe a wee bit one-dimensional, but I would say one of the top five wingers in the EPL this season (maybe even top three).

As for Di Santo, I think he merits at least a 4th place striker place, and numerous chances from the bench. So, Anelka, Huntelaar, Kalou and Di Santo. It is certainly a youngish strike force, but with plenty of help coming from the middle as well.

Did I mention David Bentley? Thought I better do that at least once more. icon_wink.gif

Cheers,

Butch

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Yes we need pacy wingers, and unlike SWP tose who could keep the ball, beat the opponent once in a while and make a decent cross.

Abdonlahor,Young (Aston Villa), Alves (Sevilla, he's more of a winger than fullback, anyway) and a few others are worth taking a look at.

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Abdonlahor

I wouldn't mind us having a look at him either, I think he is the future of the National side along side Rooney. Maybe too higher praise at the moment, but the potential is there.

Bad news: He's English (add £6/8m onto the value), we're Chelsea (add £9/10 onto the value), O'Niel would be reluctant to sell him and would he even want to him? Young English talent? Parker, Jonno, SWP, Sidwell... Not exactly a great advert is it?

So we're looking at about maybe... £18/19m for his servies, maybe more.

That said, Malouda cost £15m, so getting Gabby for just a notch above would be good business. Or was Malouda bad business?

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Agbonlahor

I wouldn't mind us having a look at him either, I think he is the future of the National side along side Rooney. Maybe too higher praise at the moment, but the potential is there.

Bad news: He's English (add £6/8m onto the value), we're Chelsea (add £9/10 onto the value), O'Niel would be reluctant to sell him and would he even want to him? Young English talent? Parker, Jonno, SWP, Sidwell... Not exactly a great advert is it?

So we're looking at about maybe... £18/19m for his servies, maybe more.

That said, Malouda cost £15m, so getting Gabby for just a notch above would be good business. Or was Malouda bad business?

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I have always felt that if we are to replace Malouda, the replacement lies in either David Silva(can play out wide on left as well as right) or Ashley Young(like Kalou, he is a winger-cum-forward).

Both of them are exciting players by my reckoning.

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will stay not sure will go

1 Petr Cech

3 Ashley Cole

4 Claude Makelele

5 Michael Essien

6 Ricardo Carvalho

7 Andriy Shevchenko

8 Frank Lampard

9 Steve Sidwell

10 Joe Cole

11 Didier Drogba

12 John Mikel Obi

13 Michael Ballack

14 Claudio Pizarro

15 Florent Malouda

18 Wayne Bridge

20 Paulo Ferreira

21 Salomon Kalou

22 Tal Ben-Haim

23 Carlo Cudicini

24 Shaun Wright-Phillips

26 John Terry

27 Ben Sahar

33 Alex

35 Juliano Belletti

39 Nicolas Anelka

40 Henrique Hilario

Branislav Ivanovic

I made this just to point out that a healthy team would have lot more blue colored players. These are just "I think's" based on all the rumors and posts in this forum.

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Much as I rate Bentley, I don't think he's the right fit for us. As others have pointed out, we need PACE on the flanks and that is the one main thing he definitely doesn't have and can't learn.

Who would I prefer....good question, to which I don't have the answer.

It is too much to ask for some unknown, South American wonderkid, who we get for a couple of mill?

317.gif

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Im a big bently fan to be honest.

I like the way he makes time for himself on the ball, probably a better crosser of the ball than any one we have, pretty decent at a set peice and is comfortable coming in center and pushing out wide, in addition has a few tricks to him as well. He's not slow but by no means rapid in speed though as loz points out. but with regards to lack of pace argumnet. swp is about as quick as any one out there as was jesper back in the day but what is the point in speed if you cant do anything with the ball, sometimes leaving it behind. id rather have bently who can move the ball a lot better and intelegently than SWP.

all that said im not sure we really need him

In all honesty the player we should have got when we got SWP was quresma, jose was probably the right manager to get the best out of him.

now, instead of seeing us splash millions on "tallent" id love to see us push our youth, sinclare is ready and id take him over swp and malouda any day of the week. And i believe we have a few more players in the youth set up who are ready to start nocking on the door?

to spend millions on players would send out the wrong message and IMO discourage the youth players.

if drogba leaves we are going to need one striker, as i presume sheva and pizzaro are off. but really thats all i see as we need to bring in.

we are coverd in deffence, paulo is still a very good right back alex has prooven a success and left back is coverd, bridge will stay.

i dont see lampard leaving to be honest, so IMO we will still be overpopulated in midfeild espesialy if we move to a 4-4-2.

malouda will hopefully leave but as ive mention sinclare can come in and do that job, swp will probably hang around so he is adequate BACKUP! what about that stoch kid in the reserves eaning rave reviews week in week out?

As far as droba goes im ready to move on from him, i have to admit he's one of the best strikers in the world at the moment but i think he's almost an excuess for grant (who will be here next season IMO) to play one up frount. i think we can get 30 mill for him and use it to bring in huntelar or aguero with some change on the side. with the boy's franco and shaha getting some time on the bench. ANELKA NEEDS A STRIKE PARTNER!!

the only other thing i would like to see is mikel used properly, when we brought him in he was an attacking midfieleder!! and had a good african nations for nigeria playing there, IMO he is wasted playing so deep. so a team next season looking like this would suit me

...........chec......

paolo...RC....JT.....bridge

Cole...Essien..Lamps..Sincalre

........Anelka...Huntela/aguero

Subs: Carlo, A.cole, alex, Di santos, mikel, SWP

obvusly there's room for slight changes, ballak in for lampard ect, and we need to be flexibal in formation but thats the nucleas i would like to see

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Let me start by saying excellent post, Butch, even though there is a fair bit that I’m not in agreement with. Also, the timing for such in depth analysis is spot on because it would be very easy to overreact in the wake of the Premiership and Champions League outcomes when, in effect, neither competition should alter what should be plans already in place. I like the idea of taking a route to the root of the matter, but, rather than go with ‘I think’ or ‘I want’, I’m going to base my thoughts on what [we all believe] ‘Roman thinks and wants’. In short, everything below is based on our moving towards the Dutch style of Total Football and should that prove to be the wrong summation, I’ll risk being that countryman's uncle.

Where does Total Football leave Avram? Answer:- struggling conceptually I would guess - and for that reason alone I agree with Loz that the more likely role is an upstairs one or not one at all. Win or lose over the next few weeks, I see results making no difference to his situation and, cold hearted though it may turn out to be, that approach would be the right route under my route - Blue is the colour, Total Football will be the game and Hiddink [possibly Rijkaard] would be perfect advocates of the art.

Where does that leave the players? I find myself agreeing with Butch on all of the odds regarding departures (except Essien and Carlo), but few of the proposed arrivals. Going along with Alves is easy to do and my only worry is cost, as other areas of the pitch will require a greater share of the proceeds from major sales going on them and we are, supposedly, far more cost conscious these days. Paulo and Belletti, with Ivanovic as cover, will do but, if we splash out on Alves, caution suggests Paulo stays whereas the new attacking Chelsea system might suggest otherwise. Elsewhere in defence we are fine, unless Bridgey goes, but somehow I doubt he will despite all the talk to the contrary.

Midfield changes are dependent on Frank’s situation and I cant help thinking he is on his way and all the speculation is true. The leading contenders to replace him on my route map are Modric and Van der Vaart and a difficult choice might need to be made between them - VDV is likely to be the cultural and goal-scoring preference, but I’d like the momentum and eye for a pass that Modric would bring to our table and he is also the younger of the two. Whether you place Bentley in the creative midfield or wide man category, he doesn’t match up in terms of controlling the momentum of a game with these two or in terms of pace when measured against those I’ve selected below. Assuming Essien stays, no other changes need be considered in this area and I’d quell all the talk about having a hard man in there somewhere by persevering with Sidwell.

Satisfying the desire for a TF style up front is going to be a more difficult trick to pull off and you only have to look at the Gunners inability to put the ball in the back of the net to see what I’m on about. What is needed is a quality finisher, and, even if we’re lucky, we wont find more than one, paired with someone who can be both provider and chance taker when required. Without wishing to bang on quite so long as I did over Tevez, the catalyst in this area for me is, and always has been, Dimitar Berbatov. Citing his partnership with Robbie Keane as typical of [berbatov’s] assist play, this player also fit’s the bill when it comes to entertainment and my only doubt would not be over him, but over who to pair him with and whether they could end up scoring as many goals as Keane did last year.

That other striker could be Huntelaar whose record is first class, albeit in an inferior league, and he does have all the credentials in terms of cultural background, age and the single-mindedness of a goal poacher. For what it's worth, I’d put forward Kenwynne Jones as an alternative option, perhaps even back-up if Kalou is regarded as a wide player, and that leads nicely on to the wingers, of whom only Joe is a definite survivor from the current crop. My other three would be Sinclair, Kalou and Dos Santos, leaving Joe as the senior player by some years in this particular department and, before anybody suggests that three strikers with these four would not be enough, let me point out that I always had in mind promoting Franco di Santo to the first team squad - so should the new manager - whoever he turns out to be.

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Of all the players listed, that you think will elave, I really hope you are wrong about Essien and Carvalho. they are two players I rate really highly, and I also feel that Terry won't be as good without Percy alongside him.

I think Malouda will go, as you said because he is totally lost and is not a fighter. It is a shame as I had high hopes.

I also think bentley would be a good signing. As would VDV, Huntelaar, Villa and Alves. Think that would cover us quite nicely

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I think Drogs is gone, and I think a lot of the others (particularly Lamps) will be biding their time and waiting for the managerial situation to sort itself out one way or another.

I think if the club does the right thing and replaces Grant with a quality manager, then we won't see too many wholesale changes.

The number one thing we do need though if creativity in attack. During our Premiership years, this came from Duff, Robben, Joe Cole, Guddy and Lampard. This season it has come from Joe Cole on his own. If we are going to spend big money on any area of our squad, then this is the area.

The name that noone seems to be talking about in all this talk of Van der Vaart and Modric is Frank Ribery. Every time I have seen him play for Marseille, France or Bayern he has looked absolute top quality.

In my opinion, he is a class above both of these guys, as he has already performed at the highest level. And he is at a club that would be willing to sell if we offer the right money. He would fit into our squad as either a winger or as an attacking central midfielder.

Would be an absolute bargain at 20 million (which is the price that Wenger supposedly baulked at last summer).

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Ribery certainly should be a consideration, but I have not seen him as much as a central midfielder, as more of a winger; therefore, it would be tough for to to say if he would be better than VDV in the middle. However, he cartainly would be a great choice to possibly replace Malouda?

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Surely we missed our chance for Ribery though, as he would now cost a fortune from Bayern and it would be very unlikely that they would let him go?

I would imagine we had our chance last summer and were not interested, so very much doubt he is on our shopping list now.

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Guest thebigdog
now, instead of seeing us splash millions on "tallent" id love to see us push our youth, sinclare is ready and id take him over swp and malouda any day of the week. And i believe we have a few more players in the youth set up who are ready to start nocking on the door?

to spend millions on players would send out the wrong message and IMO discourage the youth players.

My first post so hello all.

I would love to see it but I think we have messed it all up. I don't think we are steady enough to start giving the youth a chance at the moment. You need a nice tight dressing room and a good spirit in the first team.

I think we had that platform 12 months ago but too much needs sorting now.

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Welcome. I agree with your sentiment. Although to be fair, we are victims of our own success. We simply can;t afford the experiment of including the youth at this point. If we were Arsenal where there seems little pressure to win anything then maybe. But we are in a similar position as Man United. After all, can anyone name any Man U player of recent seasons who has come through their youth system?

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fletcher fairly recent?

good posts all.

it's true that you need to know what formation we will play next season (or want us to play) to do this game properly... I'm not sure. it's important to say that formation and style of play are not the same thing though.

I think we can expect sheva, drogba, pizzarro, ben haim, sidwell, swp all to leave for sure... and maybe more. I'd lose malouda without a doubt. I think lamps will leave the closer we get to the end of the season. what a legend though.

okay, steve sidwell should go and resume a good career with a premiership side in need of a little bite... erm, I didn't expect to say this at the start of this sentence, but he's a perfect fit for reading, isn't he? I'd replace him with michael woods, maintaining our ginger quotient, but this would be a move I think everyone would benefit from.

regardless of who we sign, scott sinclair must stay. I don't think he'll quite make it, rather falling short gillespie style (but with a far better career after he leaves), but he deserves a chance and next season he'll be eligible as a home grown player in the CL. this is important.

rightback is a puzzling situation, belletti has had some shockers, but also has shown what we missed terribly with the diamond. he's getting older, and letting him go maybe a tad harsh because for a wide with a more defensive right sided midfielder he could a big asset. we've not seen ivanovic, but I'll be positive and hope he'll be a good option. thought I'd mention how genuinely pleased I am to see johnno look just about the best rightback in the country this season (well after sagna).

the main area we will looks extremely weak in the summer is in the are of attacking players. anelka and joe cole will be the only two players who you could feel confident in at the top level. I'd keep kalou (in the hope a side with more fluidity and movement will aid his development), and bring scott sinclair in for malouda- if he does nothing all season we will not be weaker for it.

we need a wide player who is faster than joe (i.e that can exploit a high defensive line and/or push it back). ribery was suggested. previously I was a little cold on the idea, but a great season at a big club in bayern where he has been hugeley instrumental in their revival has softened my stance. my first choice will be unpopular, but only because youse are all fecking eejits. ronaldinho. it's a risk. funny how we want a side who takes more risks, but a trasfer policy where we sign, no disrespect intended to those who made the suggestion, david bloody bentley. merely a good player at a mid table side. remember bellamy at blackburn? and his move to liverpool? and swp? etc... AIM HIGHER! ronaldinho would be a great risk for us to take because if he finds even half his best form, he'd be very very close to joe cole, and if he finds his top form we have the best player in the world. for those that say "laughing stock etc", to you I predictably say "bah". do you really care what others think? we're going to be spending this summer anyway, and ronaldinho at the touted (though I doubt it's correct) fee of £500k LESS than what we payed for malouda would be something not to miss.

so, yeah-ronaldinho (or ribery or even young and his novelty feature of being actually able to cross a ball) would be my choice to join scott sinclair. giovanni dos santos is more hype than what we need. he's raw anyway, and If we were to go after him it would have to be in addition to ronaldinho / ribery. (maybe young fits in here too)

we also need, and have needed a creative midfielder. I'd love the new manager (or grant if he's still about next season) to use mikel further forward, but it seems less and less likely to ever happen. just like the potential of an eidur / crespo strike partnership. modric I know little about. have seen him play against england and he looked good, iniesta is great, carlos valderrama sadly has retired, samir nasri? a little raw maybe, and playing wider is he not? vdv I think is ready... the right age, the kind of form demanding a move, and I think for some players they can't step up to a club like ours is now at a young age- some need to go steadily until they are mentally ready. it's time for him to make his move.

up front we have anelka and di santo, I'dd add excellent and versatile all round saint eidur gudjohnson, offering depth, cover up front and for vdv. then I'dd go for benzema, who has so many strings to his bow you could be forgiven for thinking he wields a harp.

also ashley cole would go, and we can pretend the whole sorry mess never happened. bring in bertrand if you're particularly brave, or someone else... kaladze on loan? a year from now ashley will have finished rebuilding the death star; if it comes complete with google earth I may be in trouble.

and now for the inevitable formation:

one thing I want to say is- I know we've established essien as DM doesn't "work", but having seen yaya toure (a similar, but worse, kind of player, give an excellent interpretation on how to play the role without either compromising his own style or stifling the players ahead of him, I am convinced it can be done. on the other hand a 4231 removes that debate. but I do think with the right coaching / training it is possible.

.......................................cech

paulo................carvalho..................terry................bridge

..........................essien................ballack

.......joe cole................van der vaart...........ronaldinho

...................................benzema

thank me later.

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I to am an admirer of Bentley and he woud be a good acquisition but imho in preference

1 Villa/Huntelaar

2 Ribery/Petrov

3 Vdv / Xavi (Barca)

4 D Alves.

A new striker(s)is a must,ribery or petrov exciting/pacy wingers,Xavi who is the best playmaker in europe,would add hugely),and Danny alves like Cafu with more skill, Don't really need to touch CBs hopefully the Ivanovic will prove as good as vidic says he is.an the 2 best left backs look after themselves.

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