Burnley? Surely not
Now I know what most of you are thinking, “we’re bigger than that”, “we should be aiming for top ten”, “they play boring football you muppet”, and these are all very valid points. However, I’m not talking about adopting their playing style, but more their fighting spirit and wise spending in the transfer markets. We are in need of healthy stability and keeping the spine of the team together for our first season back is essential.
It’s no secret we need a new squad. I look to the likes of Darlow, Dummett, Gouffran and Murphy and know these are all departments we need strengthening. But we are talking about spending roughly £80 million plus on new players and replacing deadwood and flops. I refer to Rivière, Saivet and Lazaar to name a few who just haven’t cut the mustard.
It’s easy to say we should go after this and that player to replace them, and I am very happy to see so many optimistic fans (before this HMRC crisis) ahead of next season. But my message is; keep your head on. This isn’t FIFA. I’ve seen various comments in forums talk about how we need to sell half of our squad and replace them. This is quite frankly, a ludicrous idea.
Even though we DO need 8 to 10 new players, it is a two season transition to get it right so that we can challenge for top ten again. Players with Premier League experience or not need time to gel and fit in. If you ship in and out a mass, it can only spell disaster. Just look at Aston Villa this current campaign and last.
What Burnley do right
This is where I point the finger towards Burnley. I’m a huge admirer of Sean Dyche and when people hear the word Burnley, they automatically associate it with boring, rough football. Much like that of Tony Pulis’s old Stoke City side. To an extent, it is. But this is a side who really grind out points and do it well. They go to Old Trafford and stand firm at a 0-0 draw when they have 5 million Hendrick face off against 90 million Pogba. It’s also a side full of internationals such as England’s Tom Heaton and Michael Keane. Again, I’m not suggesting we play like
Again, I’m not suggesting we play like Burnley because we are fortunate to have the luxury of a more counter-attacking style of football. My point is that every player performs 110% under Dyche whereas, at times, our stars have gone missing in previous seasons.
Now that they look like they’ve survived relegation again, Burnley are in a strong position to buy better players. Even more so when they are likely to get at least £30 million for Keane. But it’s also their transfer policy that works. They recruit a lot from lower leagues much like Bournemouth and integrate these players immediately.
My Transfer List
Tommy Smith, Harry Maguire, Tom Cairney and Alassane Pléa from Nice (go on, give him a google) would be my shouts. You look at available forwards in the Premier League and I wouldn’t look at many without realism. I’d personally chase Defoe but realistically, he will go to West Ham.
Buying from the Championship might just make a good bargain. Players like Cairney, Smith, Jansson and Helder Costa all look like they could make the step up. When you look at those players mentioned, the money spent on them is the equivalent of one Michael Keane or Ben Gibson in today’s market. Crazy.
In terms of my targets, the first position I’d look to is the back four. It needs to be solidified more. Tommy Smith has eleven clean sheets, but it is his assists that stand out with ten, the most in that league for a defender. He is 25 and English. He reminds me a lot of Aaron Cresswell who is a similar player who was bought from the second tier.
Harry Maguire is indeed in a relegation battle. But much like Lascelles last season, he didn’t play much until the second half of the campaign. It’s no fault of his own that Hull could go down; he certainly looks worthy of challenging Lascelles and Clark for their places.
Tom Cairney is a creative midfielder who I don’t need to talk much about as our fans know the name by now. If we don’t buy him, we NEED another creative midfielder to help Shelvey. People wonder why our form has dropped and personally, I think it’s down to our team’s reliance on Shelvey’s creativity. The opposition mark him tight, making it hard for him to have time on the ball. Unfortunately, if Fulham win the play-offs, we have zero chance of getting Cairney.
Alassane Pléa is the forward I’d buy. Although technically taken out of the Burnley blueprint, this would be labelled a “marquee” signing at around £10 – £15 million. Now yes, he’s French and we’ve been down the road before of buying flops from there. However, he’s a player unlike Thauvin, who I feel can replicate his form in England. Why? He is very much like Loic Remy, one of my favourite recent forwards.
He has scored eleven goals this season which may seem not much for a prolific forward, however, Pléa has been out for the majority of the second half of the season nursing an injury. I believe he could have taken his tally to twenty. Now he’s under the transfer radar, with much of the limelight on Mbappé, I believe it would be a realistic buy and the pull of Rafa could get him.
The fans’ argument
“Another foreign player? No, we need English!” Cabaye, Debuchy and Wijnaldum – the list is endless of good foreign ex-Newcastle players. It is the player and not the league that they come from that determines how good they are. Equally so, there is a list of not so good players, but this was under the old regime of penny-pinching. Enter Rafa, where to present, he has done mostly right in the market.
Yes, we need a prolific forward. But who do you buy? I saw the link to Daniel Sturridge and when fit, he is on par with Kane. The key part is WHEN FIT, which seems to be never over the past two seasons. It’s an expensive risk not worth taking. In Gayle, we have a recognised Premier League forward.
Now fans may argue that Pléa is the same as Gayle in terms of playing style? They’d be correct and that’s what we need. When Gayle has been out injured we’ve had no replacement of his mould. Instead, we play long balls to target men in Murphy/Mitro which isn’t too pretty against most opposition.
I’d sell Sels, Lazaar and Mitrović and keep the rest for this season. I can hear the Mitro fanboys crying now. But he’s a player Rafa doesn’t have time to nurture. Sell him whilst he’s young and there’s still value so that we can invest. He says the right things, but it’s the performances on the pitch I care more about, which for me, a return of four goals in the second tier doesn’t bode well enough.
Our fans NEED to keep their feet on the ground when it comes to next season’s expectations. We will, with no doubt, be a relegation candidate as newly promoted teams are. But that’s not a bad thing. It is its own blessing in disguise to be an underdog in the Premier League. Just look at Leicester last season. We could win the title (I joke). It’ll be a hard ride through to June but it’s the season after I believe we can relax and enjoy.