Well, after 4 weeks of doing not much in the sun, it’s probably about time I sat down and took stock for the season that was.
What an end it was…that game at Watford had me remove just about all of the nails from my fingers. However, much like the rest of the second half of our season, it ultimately ended in disappointment. We simply weren’t clinical enough when it mattered, and that’s tough to admit (although I suspect it’s even tougher for Mowbray. I’m sure he firmly believed we’d be in the playoffs, and that’s why he cut an increasingly frustrated figure on the touchline during the last 5 or 6 games).
As for strengthening the team, Mowbray seems to think there is plenty of work to do. Now, this is all pure conjecture, but were this my Football Manager team, I would have three major priorities…
1) Replace Barry Robson
Y’know, I very nearly cried when I read Robbo was off to Canadia. What a bugger! That man might have single handedly prevented our season from becoming mired in the mid table after Nicky Bailey was injured. It’s important to have players who can change games, and though it would appear we’re on our way to replacing him, here are one or two players who I would be making a run at:
> Adam Clayton, Leeds United: 46 appearances this season. 46! I think every Leeds fan I’ve spoken to thinks highly of him, but, apparently, Colin W***** can’t work with him, so he’s been transfer listed. He might well be available at a knock-down price, so he’s surely worth a punt.
>James McFadden, Free Agent: Ok, so I suspect McFadden is too good for the Champo, but having been released twice by Prem clus, I’m wondering if he migh consider a step down with the opportunity for promotion. He’s a very accomplished attacking midfielder, more than capable of filling that Robbo-shaped hole. Signing him would show we mean business, although his wages might prove prohibitive.
2) Replace Matty Bates
I hate myself. I do. For even suggesting that we should replace such a dedicated model professional, I should have my toenails removed with pliers. But lets face facts; Batesy is not going to be back until at least this time next season. He’s suffering from his fifth cruciate ligament injury. Fifth! That’s one for each ligament in both legs and another to spare! Most players would have given up long ago, but the chances of him recovering successfully, and of him being the same calibre of player he was are probably pretty slim. With that in mind, here’s a couple of defenders I’ve earmarked to partner Hines and McManus:
> Darren O’Dea, Celtic (Loan): He was dominant for Leeds last season. I’d say we should have a go at signing him permanently, but I doubt we’d have the money Celtic would be looking for. A season-long loan would do me, though.
> David Mirfin, Watford: Seemingly out-in-the-cold at Watford, and not keen on a loan move back to League One Scunny, he’s a stopper we could make use of. Very consistent, he could prove useful for depth.
3) For the love of God, give me an effective winger!
I know, I know. Every season. It’s still an issue though! I have just two words for you:
> Liam Lawrence, Pompey: Please, Mogga. I know you don’t read this blog, so I’m sending these thoughts telepathically. Sign Liam Lawrence! Okay, he’s 29, but is capable of winning games by himself! He’s definitely in the upper echelons of Championship players, and I doubt he’ll be keen to go down to League One with Pompey.
> Danny Rose, Tottenham (Loan): Provided that Spurs would be prepared to loan him, he could potentially be a real coup. If we could get him for the season, even more so. The boy can play just about anywhere, but is most effective on the left (where we currently have Julio Arca…just so you don’t forget). I’d be extatic should we land him, although I think it’s unlikely, to say the least!
An extra striker wouldn’t hurt either. So, y’know…Didier Drogba’s available. Just saying…