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The Need To Replace After Creating Space


Dorset

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Human nature, I know, but that inbuilt ‘grass is greener’ philosophy in everyone ensures that, where transfers are concerned, we always prefer to speculate on who is arriving, rather than on those being shipped out. Unless, of course, those heading for the exit have acquired legendary status, when praise pours out of us at the time of leaving and forevermore. This post is all about our reining in a bit on those expectations, whilst appreciating the need for us to maintain our present position in the great scheme of things on both domestic and European fronts.

A player exodus will occur, of that there is no doubt, but the Alves/Bosingwa situation tells me that we are no longer an easy touch when it comes to inflated transfer fees and the Portugeezer turned out to be the more prudent of two possible deals, bearing in mind the fact that the Alves price [reportedly] never wavered from the extortionate. Admittedly, we are in a much better bargaining position than most of the other big clubs abroad and the Bosingwa buy merely confirmed that, when you can provide the reddies up front, even ManU can be blown out of the water along with the rest.

However, this situation in itself can also be a hindrance and I hope it doesn’t blind Kenyon to the fact that, unlike Chelsea [who will be selling by choice], clubs such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich are now essentially selling clubs by need - a need brought about by poor performance - and if we are targeting players at these or other clubs in a similar boat, let’s not go overboard, especially when there may well be some hard, beneficial bargaining to be done. There is, in effect, no time like the present to consider whether there is a REAL need to replace, with the ‘reining in’ argument having a strong moral as well as financial foundation under current market conditions.

If Bosingwa over Alves is a foretaste of what’s to come, and dealing individually with the three areas of defence, midfield and attack, here’s my take on who we‘ll say farewell to, who will be arriving and, most importantly, who will be given the vote of confidence from within our own ranks…

The Defence:- Belletti and Ben Haim to go and, with Bosingwa’s arrival plus Ivanovic coming into the first team squad, I contend there is no further need to replace in this area. If either Riccy and Paulo decide to leave [surely not both], revision may be necessary, but in those circumstances I would promote Mancienne, thereby making a profit on defensive dealings overall, unless those sold go on the cheap.

The Midfield and Wide Players:- Sidwell may go, due to mounting interest and pressure to prove himself, while on the flanks SWP and Malouda are also likely to move on. Three replacements aren’t really required [sinclair should get promoted] leaving some Barca bargaining to be done for Dos Santos in order to complete the wide picture. In my opinion, Quaresma and Joaquin talk is just that and it’s not cheap by any means. Ribery is a different matter in terms of quality and it’s tempting to argue that the Barca bargaining argument also applies to Bayern [so let’s go for him], but he is their leading light and negotiations would be deliberately dragged out until the Euros - we don’t need that, especially when it jeopardizes our bargaining position. With Mikel gifted the holding role next season, a mix of young and old [Maka and Woods] covers a Sidwell departure, but the big worry is that Frank will follow in Jose’s footsteps and should he do so he’d go with the blessing of everyone and legend status secured. No question that [with Modric out of the running] Van de Vaart is a clear first choice replacement and he may be heavily backed to arrive even if Frank opts to stay. Once again I cant see that we’ll end up overspending in this area, unless we are screwed over the Dutchman.

The Attack:- the certainty, along with death and taxes, is that Didier is leaving, but his legend status hinges on his performance in Moscow. Pizarro and Sheva are off too and, assuming that we will have the sense to promote Franco di Santo from the reserves, two strikers will be required. This is where the debate rages and cash should be splashed - on Berbatov primarily and, to add to the controversy, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that it would be interesting to offer to take Eto’o off Barca’s hands, initially proposing a knock down price, just to see how they and their player react. Granted, many will throw their hands up in horror at the prospect of Eto’s arrival, never mind a potentially temperamental pairing with Berba, but we’d have guaranteed creativity and goals aplenty and, with Anelka and di Santo, more than enough back-up to scare the life out of any opposition on the planet!

Those who wouldn’t touch either player with a barge pole have few comparable and available big fish to fry or try, although Villa, Huntelaar and Gomez will have their supporters and their own inflated prices. Going down that route seems to me to be going against the current Abramovich grain, but, if I’ve got the mood wrong and money is once again no object, it would surely better manifest itself in another wheelbarrow full of notes for Aulas and a full blown coronation of Benzema at the Bridge. However, that isn’t going to happen…is it?

To summarize, in a worst case scenario, we lose three defenders that are covered by the Bosingwa signing and a player promotion. In midfield and out wide, three look like going [sWP might need to be pushed] and Lamps [heaven forbid] might leave too. Two buys for me as replacements, plus Sinclair given his chance. Finally, three forwards definitely to leave, two big names to arrive together with a di Santo promotion. Sorted, without taking too much flak in a buying-the-league sort of way - can you do any better?

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Human nature, I know, but that inbuilt ‘grass is greener’ philosophy in everyone ensures that, where transfers are concerned, we always prefer to speculate on who is arriving, rather than on those being shipped out. Unless, of course, those heading for the exit have acquired legendary status, when praise pours out of us at the time of leaving and forevermore. This post is all about our reining in a bit on those expectations, whilst appreciating the need for us to maintain our present position in the great scheme of things on both domestic and European fronts.

A player exodus will occur, of that there is no doubt, but the Alves/Bosingwa situation tells me that we are no longer an easy touch when it comes to inflated transfer fees and the Portugeezer turned out to be the more prudent of two possible deals, bearing in mind the fact that the Alves price [reportedly] never wavered from the extortionate. Admittedly, we are in a much better bargaining position than most of the other big clubs abroad and the Bosingwa buy merely confirmed that, when you can provide the reddies up front, even ManU can be blown out of the water along with the rest.

However, this situation in itself can also be a hindrance and I hope it doesn’t blind Kenyon to the fact that, unlike Chelsea [who will be selling by choice], clubs such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich are now essentially selling clubs by need - a need brought about by poor performance - and if we are targeting players at these or other clubs in a similar boat, let’s not go overboard, especially when there may well be some hard, beneficial bargaining to be done. There is, in effect, no time like the present to consider whether there is a REAL need to replace, with the ‘reining in’ argument having a strong moral as well as financial foundation under current market conditions.

If Bosingwa over Alves is a foretaste of what’s to come, and dealing individually with the three areas of defence, midfield and attack, here’s my take on who we‘ll say farewell to, who will be arriving and, most importantly, who will be given the vote of confidence from within our own ranks…

The Defence:- Belletti and Ben Haim to go and, with Bosingwa’s arrival plus Ivanovic coming into the first team squad, I contend there is no further need to replace in this area. If either Riccy and Paulo decide to leave [surely not both], revision may be necessary, but in those circumstances I would promote Mancienne, thereby making a profit on defensive dealings overall, unless those sold go on the cheap.

The Midfield and Wide Players:- Sidwell may go, due to mounting interest and pressure to prove himself, while on the flanks SWP and Malouda are also likely to move on. Three replacements aren’t really required [sinclair should get promoted] leaving some Barca bargaining to be done for Dos Santos in order to complete the wide picture. In my opinion, Quaresma and Joaquin talk is just that and it’s not cheap by any means. Ribery is a different matter in terms of quality and it’s tempting to argue that the Barca bargaining argument also applies to Bayern [so let’s go for him], but he is their leading light and negotiations would be deliberately dragged out until the Euros - we don’t need that, especially when it jeopardizes our bargaining position. With Mikel gifted the holding role next season, a mix of young and old [Maka and Woods] covers a Sidwell departure, but the big worry is that Frank will follow in Jose’s footsteps and should he do so he’d go with the blessing of everyone and legend status secured. No question that [with Modric out of the running] Van de Vaart is a clear first choice replacement and he may be heavily backed to arrive even if Frank opts to stay. Once again I cant see that we’ll end up overspending in this area, unless we are screwed over the Dutchman.

The Attack:- the certainty, along with death and taxes, is that Didier is leaving, but his legend status hinges on his performance in Moscow. Pizarro and Sheva are off too and, assuming that we will have the sense to promote Franco di Santo from the reserves, two strikers will be required. This is where the debate rages and cash should be splashed - on Berbatov primarily and, to add to the controversy, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that it would be interesting to offer to take Eto’o off Barca’s hands, initially proposing a knock down price, just to see how they and their player react. Granted, many will throw their hands up in horror at the prospect of Eto’s arrival, never mind a potentially temperamental pairing with Berba, but we’d have guaranteed creativity and goals aplenty and, with Anelka and di Santo, more than enough back-up to scare the life out of any opposition on the planet!

Those who wouldn’t touch either player with a barge pole have few comparable and available big fish to fry or try, although Villa, Huntelaar and Gomez will have their supporters and their own inflated prices. Going down that route seems to me to be going against the current Abramovich grain, but, if I’ve got the mood wrong and money is once again no object, it would surely better manifest itself in another wheelbarrow full of notes for Aulas and a full blown coronation of Benzema at the Bridge. However, that isn’t going to happen…is it?

To summarize, in a worst case scenario, we lose three defenders that are covered by the Bosingwa signing and a player promotion. In midfield and out wide, three look like going [sWP might need to be pushed] and Lamps [heaven forbid] might leave too. Two buys for me as replacements, plus Sinclair given his chance. Finally, three forwards definitely to leave, two big names to arrive together with a di Santo promotion. Sorted, without taking too much flak in a buying-the-league sort of way - can you do any better?

good long post! clap2.gif

also i think Cuducini will be leaving to get first-team football and we should get a fresher younger goal-keeper to replace him.(Ochoa or Ustari)

we don't have much problems in Defence if Ben-Haim leaves, Ivanovic will take over,The other area's are covered

Malouda's future isn't certain so if his buddy (drogba) leaves he will definitely leave[we could even promote Kakuta to the first-team.We aren't really sure if Lampard stays,so IF he leaves we have two options:

a)to replace him with Mikel

b)to get a new mid-field

I don't think Sheva will leave,i hope we will get Benzema or Aguero or even both.

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Dorset whilst your still here, can i have your opinion on bringing in Gael Kakuta to the first team squad ?

I think it would be a year too early if we did bring him in, coco, although it is a big temptation. Remarkable talent that he is, the best he might hope for next season is a Carling Cup outing [off the bench] and, even if he tore the opposition apart, I'd still wait before full first team squad inclusion - after all, he is well worth waiting for!

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Good point about the "before" and "after" European Championship prices on certain players.

I'm sure that was a big part of the reason for securing Bosingwa before his price goes up by 10 million after a storming Euro 2008 campaign.

I say that we should do exactly the same thing for Ribery and Van der Vaart - if we are serious about securing then, we should put in a serious 20 million take-it-or-leave-it offer now - because if either of these guys play to their full potential during the Euros, I can see their price tags moving a lot closer to the 30 mil mark.

Hopefully, clubs like Hamburg or Bayern would have paid attention to what happened with the Alves transfer last year, and will realise that a bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush. Worth 20 million pounds more.

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Dorset, not a bad assessment.

I would love to see Kakuta and Di Santo come in to the first team.

By the way, have you thought about the consequences of Berbatov and Eto'o playing together up-front?! Talk about battle of the ego's!? icon_lol.gif

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Don’t get me wrong on a Kakuta promotion, Elliott, as I’d love to see him in there too, but he doesn’t quite have the physical presence yet [di Santo has] and I fear for his safety if he’s rushed into the side.

Good point about Berbatov, Eto’o and egos - I’d pay money to see it though, wouldn’t you?! I wont bore you with yet another heartfelt eulogy on Berbatov (my head tells me Huntelaar’s the likely first choice by the way), but as far as Eto’s is concerned there were a few reasons why I think a bid would be worthwhile, which I didn’t elaborate on, so I will…

Firstly, any sort of tentative interest shown by us rattles his cage and if he responds favourably, as I think he would, Barca are not really in a great bargaining position - unsettled player, Ronnie going, Dos Santos unhappy etc, etc. Secondly, there were reports [i think, someone will probably confirm or deny] that Ten Cate can handle him and they got on well. If true, it’s got to be a love/hate relationship, but what a bonus that would be! Fans might even pay money to see the training ground tiffs, let alone Eto’o trying to make his point week after week in search of Drogba’s goalscoring record of last season.

Finally, as you rightly say, pairing him with someone like Berbatov would be like, excuse the pun, lighting the Blue touch paper - I predict a riot [of colourful play] as they attempt to outdo each other. Might work, might not, but definitely got to be fun watching!

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Yea if we move on Belletti and Ben-Haim then i will be more than happy with our Defense for next season. Plus agree with Mancienne, he looks a really good propect from what i have seen when he has played for England under 21's.

SWP has already said he is staying and i dnt think Chelsea will bother risking a rift with him by trying to sell him, plus he isn't a bad option for the wing.

Malouda.....i would MUCH prefer sinclair on the wing unless he returns to the form he showed for Lyon and to be honest i think Chelsea will give him time unless he personally states he wants to leave.

Whether or not Lampard leaves we need another creative mid, VDV get mentioned alot and rightly so, the boy has alot of ability. Great passing, skill, can score goals and wont cost anywhere near as much as some of the players we have been linked with e.g. ribery.

I think Huntelaar would be a great addtion upfront athough he can be a bit lightweight so it would mean completely changing the way we attack atm (the smash the ball upfield to drogba) but to be honest i don't think that would be a bad thing as we want to start playing more attractive football.

Too soon for Kakuta but deffo give him a run in the league cup and some pre season friendlies, boys got talent.

Adriano, only if chelsea could be 100% his personal problems were behind him and if we could get him on the cheap. This guy was immense 2 seasons ago but don't want to take a chance just because he has had a good season in the brazilian league.

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ola dorset!

there are 3 main questions we have with doing this, this time.

the first is what manager will be here, which I will disregard from my reasoning.

the second, is whether drogba will stay or go, and will lamps be off too? I think drogba is close to a certainty, and though in truth I now think lamps may well stay (my opinion on this one see-saws a bit), I'm going to assume he'll leave.

the final question is what formation will we use. I don't think we'll see anything other than a flat back four (although right now the personnel actually suits a 352 with wingbacks, given bosingwa's arrival, the fact we only have one reliable wide player, anelka, ivanovic etc)... so it's probably either a flat 442 or some sort of 433.

so the easiest part to start with is defense. if carlo leaves perhaps we could promote rhys... taylor... I get confused with rhys evans who we used to have. or is it the other way round? or we could get a keeper with european experience. toldo perhaps.

there are rumours bridge wants to go, and liverpool would be ready to buy. I'd hate to see it, but the solution, in terms of squad builiding is simple- sign a left back (or my preference, recall rajkovic and see what the once time world record fee for an under 18 year old was all about- in fact I'm quite anxious to see him play in any case). terry and alex seem settled and assured of their respective places in the squad. riccy leaving would be horrible, and furthermore would make some sense of ivanovic, who at the moment looks like he will be a £9m fourth choice central defender- ben haim and one of our current right backs will leave with bosingwa arriving... so unless there is anymore activity, that's what it looks like- ivanovic, fourth choice. I wold have preferred not to have signed bosingwa, to let belletti go and promote mancienne, a player who would be surely more content given his age and background to be a fourth choice center back (and a third choice rightback).

essentially though, with ben haim and probably belletti going, we don't need to buy anyone here.

cech, carlo, hilario

jt, riccy

alex, ivanovic

paulo, bosingwa

a.cole, bridge

this leads us to the question of 442 or 433. I'd like to know what side you would have as our hypothetical first choice dorset- to me it seems almost like you want to field a 452! I'll say we'll be going 442.

at this point, I must say I believe that kalou, of our current wide options cannot (at least at the moment) play wide in a 442. the home games against villa and fulham possibly are examples- his positioning is poor, and so is his protection of the fullback. playing kalou wide makes it almost a 424, and that generally leaves us open and exposed. in picking a 442, I have as a result disqualified ronaldinho from the running, at least as a wide player. likewise messi, likewise kaka (if we were to be so foolishly rigid that we play kaka wide). lets be quick with the outs for the wingers, goodbye and good luck swp and malouda. no explanation necessary, really.

with lamps going, followed by sidwell who will resume his career- he's too good a player to start 6 league games at this stage in his career, and he's not quite good enough to justify more starts at a club where mikel sometimes fails to make the bench. no central midfielders come in, in a 442, I cannot justify it. having said kalou can't yet play wide in a 442, I think it has to be said that at times we will have a 433, and at times a diamond. scott sinclair promoted, and franck ribery to join. woods to go on short loans so we can bring him back if needed.

ballack, essien

maka, mikel

ribery, j. cole

kalou, sinclair

up front we will say bye to drogba, sheva and pizarro. this leaves 4 spots, one taken by anelka, and one by di santo (though expect kalou in and a 433 to be preferred to using franco in away games / bigger matches if we have absentees).

if we talk 433, or 442 (and I've gone the 442 route), my first in is constant- welcome benzema. it's a risk, but one we should take. sometimes when young players who are extra special come along you have to just go all out, like united did with rooney. we have anelka so even if he took his time adapting there is quality in the squad.

now dorset, the next one you should like. whenever you close your eyes and think of tevez, you're actually seeing aguero. in many ways similar, but faster and with a better touch- you'd love him. ribery, benzema and aguero would all cost huge amounts, but if we are to reshape our squad/ style, then it's not the time for cutting corners. aguero is brilliant, and in comparison with the likes of messi, attainable. both are young and both would be risks, but I feel long term we'd have a strikeforce comparable to anything in europe for the next ten years.

benzema, aguero

anelka, di santo

it's a side that might not win the same amount of points, it might come up short, but we'd have a lot of fun finding out, and in a years time we can fine tune. I guess the options for the starting 11 would be:

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

bosingwa............carvalho..................terry...........a.cole

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

....j.cole....................................................ribery

...............................................aguero

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

or

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

bosingwa............carvalho..................terry...........a.cole

.......................................maka

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

.....................................ribery

.....................benzema..................aguero

or

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

bosingwa............carvalho..................terry...........a.cole

.......................................maka

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

........j.cole..............................................ribery

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

woods and mancienne etc on shorter loans with recall options.

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ola dorset!

there are 3 main questions we have with doing this, this time.

the first is what manager will be here, which I will disregard from my reasoning.

the second, is whether drogba will stay or go, and will lamps be off too? I think drogba is close to a certainty, and though in truth I now think lamps may well stay (my opinion on this one see-saws a bit), I'm going to assume he'll leave.

the final question is what formation will we use. I don't think we'll see anything other than a flat back four (although right now the personnel actually suits a 352 with wingbacks, given bosingwa's arrival, the fact we only have one reliable wide player, anelka, ivanovic etc)... so it's probably either a flat 442 or some sort of 433.

so the easiest part to start with is defense. if carlo leaves perhaps we could promote rhys... taylor... I get confused with rhys evans who we used to have. or is it the other way round? or we could get a keeper with european experience. toldo perhaps.

there are rumours bridge wants to go, and liverpool would be ready to buy. I'd hate to see it, but the solution, in terms of squad builiding is simple- sign a left back (or my preference, recall rajkovic and see what the once time world record fee for an under 18 year old was all about- in fact I'm quite anxious to see him play in any case). terry and alex seem settled and assured of their respective places in the squad. riccy leaving would be horrible, and furthermore would make some sense of ivanovic, who at the moment looks like he will be a £9m fourth choice central defender- ben haim and one of our current right backs will leave with bosingwa arriving... so unless there is anymore activity, that's what it looks like- ivanovic, fourth choice. I wold have preferred not to have signed bosingwa, to let belletti go and promote mancienne, a player who would be surely more content given his age and background to be a fourth choice center back (and a third choice rightback).

essentially though, with ben haim and probably belletti going, we don't need to buy anyone here.

cech, carlo, hilario

jt, riccy

alex, ivanovic

paulo, bosingwa

a.cole, bridge

this leads us to the question of 442 or 433. I'd like to know what side you would have as our hypothetical first choice dorset- to me it seems almost like you want to field a 452! I'll say we'll be going 442.

at this point, I must say I believe that kalou, of our current wide options cannot (at least at the moment) play wide in a 442. the home games against villa and fulham possibly are examples- his positioning is poor, and so is his protection of the fullback. playing kalou wide makes it almost a 424, and that generally leaves us open and exposed. in picking a 442, I have as a result disqualified ronaldinho from the running, at least as a wide player. likewise messi, likewise kaka (if we were to be so foolishly rigid that we play kaka wide). lets be quick with the outs for the wingers, goodbye and good luck swp and malouda. no explanation necessary, really.

with lamps going, followed by sidwell who will resume his career- he's too good a player to start 6 league games at this stage in his career, and he's not quite good enough to justify more starts at a club where mikel sometimes fails to make the bench. no central midfielders come in, in a 442, I cannot justify it. having said kalou can't yet play wide in a 442, I think it has to be said that at times we will have a 433, and at times a diamond. scott sinclair promoted, and franck ribery to join. woods to go on short loans so we can bring him back if needed.

ballack, essien

maka, mikel

ribery, j. cole

kalou, sinclair

up front we will say bye to drogba, sheva and pizarro. this leaves 4 spots, one taken by anelka, and one by di santo (though expect kalou in and a 433 to be preferred to using franco in away games / bigger matches if we have absentees).

if we talk 433, or 442 (and I've gone the 442 route), my first in is constant- welcome benzema. it's a risk, but one we should take. sometimes when young players who are extra special come along you have to just go all out, like united did with rooney. we have anelka so even if he took his time adapting there is quality in the squad.

now dorset, the next one you should like. whenever you close your eyes and think of tevez, you're actually seeing aguero. in many ways similar, but faster and with a better touch- you'd love him. ribery, benzema and aguero would all cost huge amounts, but if we are to reshape our squad/ style, then it's not the time for cutting corners. aguero is brilliant, and in comparison with the likes of messi, attainable. both are young and both would be risks, but I feel long term we'd have a strikeforce comparable to anything in europe for the next ten years.

benzema, aguero

anelka, di santo

it's a side that might not win the same amount of points, it might come up short, but we'd have a lot of fun finding out, and in a years time we can fine tune. I guess the options for the starting 11 would be:

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

bosingwa............carvalho..................terry...........a.cole

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

....j.cole....................................................ribery

...............................................aguero

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

or

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

bosingwa............carvalho..................terry...........a.cole

.......................................maka

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

.....................................ribery

.....................benzema..................aguero

or

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

bosingwa............carvalho..................terry...........a.cole

.......................................maka

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

........j.cole..............................................ribery

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

woods and mancienne etc on shorter loans with recall options.

Now that is a real good Set of points to discuss,Got to keep cech and cuds,really cannot afford to let Riccy go at all.

Dying to see Ivanovic at least play in the first team,even Roman aint going to waste £9mill for no return??,the new RB is a fine Buy ,Ash will really come good hopefully (Circa Arsenal Days).

Midfield now there is the cunundrum does lamps offer the creativity our new style requires Sometimes Yes/no,really would hate to see him go,But Ballack has started bossing the middle,as we knew he wood,Ribery or Iniesta would def be the answer,if malouda can Recapture his dynamic form,and Joey on other flank ok.

If Drogs goes ,we will Definitely need a new front 2,aint to struck on Nelks and Kalou,but As said Before Aguero wow,and Fabiano wow wow then watch us go,don't want the sulky spud nor Et'o ball.gif

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I don't think we'll see anything other than a flat back four (although right now the personnel actually suits a 352 with wingbacks, given bosingwa's arrival, the fact we only have one reliable wide player, anelka, ivanovic etc)...

Personally, I would love to see us play a 3-5-2.

In my opinion, when played properly, it is one of the most fluid, balanced systems you can play. It would mean we had room for two strikers, room for 3 central midfielders, and extra cover in defence, and

And, as G4 stated, we have the squad to do it - as the main sacrifice is that you can't use conventional wingers (use wingbacks to cover the enitre flank) - and we don't have much quality there anyway.

Not too many top teams I can think of play that system anymore, but remembering back to the Gullit days, I would love to see us give it a go. It would obviously be a major change of system though, and be a big step away from the Mourinho style.

Ok - assuming that we loose Drogba & Lamps:

..........................Cech..............................

........................Carvalho...........................

..................Alex...........JT.........................

Bosingwa...........................................A Cole

.................Ballack.......Essien.....................

.....................Van der Vaart........................

..............Anelka..........Aguerro.....................

That type of a setup - or you could really experiment and play someone like Mikel or Essien as the sweeper, with the licence to push forward in attack, like we did when Gullit was around. I believe Ballack played a bit in that position for Bayern at one stage as well.

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I don't think we'll see anything other than a flat back four (although right now the personnel actually suits a 352 with wingbacks, given bosingwa's arrival, the fact we only have one reliable wide player, anelka, ivanovic etc)...

Personally, I would love to see us play a 3-5-2.

In my opinion, when played properly, it is one of the most fluid, balanced systems you can play. It would mean we had room for two strikers, room for 3 central midfielders, and extra cover in defence, and the ability for players to attack and defend as they see fit (not as rigid as a 4 at the back system).

And, as G4 stated, we have the squad to do it - as the main sacrifice is that you can't use conventional wingers (use wingbacks to cover the enitre flank) - and we don't have much quality there anyway.

Not too many top teams I can think of play that system anymore, but remembering back to the Gullit days, I would love to see us give it a go. It would obviously be a major change of system though, and be a big step away from the Mourinho style.

Ok - assuming that we loose Drogba & Lamps:

..........................Cech..............................

........................Carvalho...........................

..................Alex...........JT.........................

Bosingwa...........................................A Cole

.................Ballack.......Essien.....................

.....................Van der Vaart........................

..............Anelka..........Aguerro.....................

That type of a setup - or you could really experiment and play someone like Mikel or Essien as the sweeper, with the licence to push forward in attack, like we did when Gullit was around. I believe Ballack played a bit in that position for Bayern at one stage as well.

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Like your thinking G4.

Aguero is the real deal, and has been keeping Tevez out of the Argentina side for some time. Ribery has been the player of the season in Germany and would be fantastic in the Premiership (maybe not from an advertising perspective), and Benzema seems to be France’s next big cheese, unless you are going to mention Nasri, who (of course) Wenger seems to be looking at. Who’d of thought that?..

Needless to say, these three players would probably cost an estimated £80-100m in total, and all negotiations would be about as straight forward as bringing peace to the Middle East, whilst using Jean-Michel Aulas as your chief negotiator.

Sod the ‘break even’ farce that Kenyon keeps mentioning. I’m in.

Oh, and I’ll say it again; I really would like to see Di Santo play next season.

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That’s more like it - a philanthropic G4 is a happy and satiated G4! Never mind that it’s Roman’s much maligned money bags funding the spree! Forget the breakeven figures, it’s time for a splurge! Seriously though, G4, we do seem to be thinking along the same lines over the departures and I’m grateful to you for the Aguero info - much needed, as he is a player I know little about [trust you to spot it] and therefore excluded from candidature. From what you say he must come into contention [has he already played with di Santo at any Argentinean level of football?], although my pragmatism tells me that he and Benzema together is no more than a pipedream and my dreaming days ended when Tevez walked out at Old Trafford in a red shirt. I’ll still cling to my romanticism in the lanky form of Berbatov for now, but will admit to throwing Eto’o into the striker mix purely to generate some debate on the need to have a natural goal scorer in our midst sooner rather than later.

With this in mind, I suppose I must answer your formational slur - would love to play 4-5-2, but believe it to have been outlawed some time ago - although some say it did reappear fleetingly in the form of red counters on a display board at halftime in the AC Milan/Liverpool CL final, when a certain Rafa Benitez completely lost the plot. Be that as it may, my chosen formation for next season would be 4-4-2, as the days of a lone striker of Didier’s power and presence are now numbered. You have already pointed out that this need not consign 4-3-3 to the bin [i agree with your assessment of Kalou in a 4-4-2 and he is worth persevering with] or the diamond, which gives the likes of Joe Cole a greater chance to show his versatility behind the strikers. Taking everything into consideration, there is a fair amount we are agreement on in this whole debate - excepting, of course, the funding situation. I’m guessing Roman will not want to push the boat out too far…even with your help. icon_wink.gif

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Great posts guys, and some of the players mentioned have me drooling.

I do, however, wonder whether some of them are achievable, for any money, particularly Ribery and Aguero.

The former has only just arrived at Bayern and has hit the ground running. With the team back in the CL and intent on building a new world class squad, do we honestly think they will sell him to us, for any money?

Aguero is perhaps more achievable, but having recently sold Torres, surely they will be determined to hang on to their new wonderkid for a few seasons, a la Torres, before they cash in? Selling him now would presumably be hugely unpopular and so I think it would take silly money to convince them otherwise. Granted, we have that, but splashing upwards of 30 million on him or Ribery would make me very nervous.

On the other hand, we spent nearly that on SWP, so maybe I should just shut up and drool away at your hypothetical line-ups for next season.

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To add on Ribery. There is no way you will get him. We bought him for 24 million Euros and his price certainly went up this year. If he plays well this summer you are looking at 50 million Euros minimum if you want to get him from us.

Even then, he said that he is very happy here and wants to achieve CL success with us.

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Aguero would be amazing, the kid is only 20 and is already looking sublime. However i don't see Atletico selling him even for a lot of money. They lost Torres last summer, plus they have made it to CL spot this year.

Berbatov would be a good gamble. He reminds of Bergkamp, brilliant vision and passing and top class finisher. He may not score a whole lot but he'll create as much, if not more. His age and attitude are not ideal and Spuds will want an arm and a leg for him but he's the kind of striker that we don't have right now.

I don't see Ribery leaving Bayern so soon either. They spent a lot of money on him a year ago and he's been their best player this season.

Benzema would be fantastic signing and will be a definite success in the prem. He is a french version of Rooney only with better tecnique. But he seems to be settled at Lyon for now and we'll have to spend crazy money to make Aulas sell.

Villa is more realistic target since he's definitely leaving Valencia. Not my first choice but a top quality player and could fit in nicely. Worth a try.

Eto'o is apparently on his way out Barca. I know he's still hated here by many but from the pure footballing view he's still one of the best strikers in the world and it's not often players of that caliber become available. I'm not too crazy about his attitude but if i could live with Drogba's mood swings and big mouth, i could learn to live with Eto'o as long as he delivers on the pitch.

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Abram, not really seen much of Eto lately, but what I have seen, he looked quite lazy?

Maybe he needs a new challenge. The whole Barca team looked disinterested recently. With Real heading for another title it was obvious that Rijkaard is on the way out and the team will be rebuilt in the summer.

As they say, form is temporary, class is permanent.

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I've heard rumblings that Eto'o has lost his ertxa gear of pace that sets him apart from nearly all other strikers. Is this true? I have no idea, but I'd be just a little more then apprehensive if we shell out big money on a striker who may be losing his legs.

Kun Aguero please, thogh the BBC very recently did a bit on him where he declared he is definitely staying with Atleti for at least another season or two.

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it's a side that might not win the same amount of points, it might come up short, but we'd have a lot of fun finding out, and in a years time we can fine tune. I guess the options for the starting 11 would be:

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

bosingwa............carvalho..................terry...........a.cole

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

....j.cole....................................................ribery

...............................................aguero

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

or

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

bosingwa............carvalho..................terry...........a.cole

.......................................maka

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

.....................................ribery

.....................benzema..................aguero

or

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

bosingwa............carvalho..................terry...........a.cole

.......................................maka

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

........j.cole..............................................ribery

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

woods and mancienne etc on shorter loans with recall options.

To be honest, I liked the look of your 4-2-3-1 formation better.

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I've heard rumblings that Eto'o has lost his ertxa gear of pace that sets him apart from nearly all other strikers. Is this true? I have no idea, but I'd be just a little more then apprehensive if we shell out big money on a striker who may be losing his legs.

Wouldn't be the first time we've done that.

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