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NEW ARTICLE: The 2017 Summer Squad Upgrade and the need for Mag-nificence

I suppose you have to have a wry chuckle and accept simply nothing with this mob will ever be straight forward.

On the face of it, the Summer turnover programme has looked broadly positive in terms of a quality upgrade and no key departures. But it’s left holes that haven’t been addressed (unless anything emerges in the coming days with out of contract players), and right at the death a wealth of experience has been released which may come back to bite us.

As a transfer window period it feels very much to me like a replication of the Summer 2015 turnover. We shifted a large number of ‘deadwood’ off our books and replaced them with a smaller number of arrivals, but a perceived upgrade in quality. Bauer and Kashi went on to supply that quality, but early promise of Ba, Ceballos and Makienok didn’t last, and that of Sarr, Bergditch never really showed in the first place. Equally, those promoted from the U21s (Charles-Cook and Lennon) never really went on to have an impact that season.

But at this equivalent point in time, things were looking positive. When the August window closed, we had won 4 of our opening first team fixtures, drawn 2 and lost only 1 (Wolves away). On 1st Sept, We were in the Championship Top 8. But things turned quickly wrong; by mid-October we had dropped to the relegation places and we never got out of it for the rest of the season.

I don’t project any similar monumental drop this season, largely because the quality around us in League One is considerably lower than it was in the 15/16 Championship and there is less impact of other factors escalating the problem (heavier weighting of overseas players, ill-placed management team etc).
But so many of the points I wrote on 1st Sept 2015 remain pertinent on 1st Sept 2017.

1. “When the squad is fully fit then it looks a relatively strong and balanced 1st team with the potential to do decent things in the Championship this season. This has been evidenced by the early form.” – Yep, ditto for the this season in League One. On paper we look good. Very good. And we have started well

2. “Makienok and Reza are injured, Vetokele is returning from a long injury and a long way since his 2014 form, and uncertainties surround Watt; our striking options are our other major risk. Ahearne-Grant is not quite there yet to be anything more than a back-up option. Our three main strikers could all potentially have fantastic seasons, but there are risks there at present that it may prove a major problem area".- We looked like we carried risks up front and so it proved to be risks that materialised. We seem to be carrying similar risks this season in the complete reliance of Magennis as the only player seemingly able to play a function in the preferred team style the manager wants to play. With Novak released and Hanlan sent on loan, there is no back up to that role. If Magennis is injured (which history shows us does happen fairly frequently), we will have to change our style to accommodate Dodoo, who there are justifiable question marks on whether he will be of the standard we need.

3. “With those risks, letting Ansah and Sho-Silva go on loan at this point indicates they are seen as a long way away from first team action.” – So its fair we make the same judgement on Hanlan and Umerah.

4. “Squad gaps are being plugged by U21 players (Lennon, Holmes-Dennis, Kennedy etc), but there are unknowns whether they are being filled out of necessity due to small squad, or they are good enough.” – This year’s crop of promoted U23s; Barnes, Djiksteel, Lapslie and Hackett-Fairchild will undoubtedly be required to step up at some stage and come under the same scutiny.

5. “Roland's approach is still as difficult to decipher as it was when he first arrived at the Club. Under RD we have now failed to get 'over the line' in transfer windows supposedly sizable bids for players (Max Gradel, Andy Dulort, James Henry), and in each case there was no other equivalent aquisition. What happens to the funding earmarked for those high value purchases?" – So the 2017 roll call for this appears to primarily be Grigg, but again it’s another window where supposedly a large level of money has been available for an acquisition that never occurred, and with no identified replacement.

6. “It is clear from the breakdown that the Club is operating very much on a strict budget, and despite the windfall from the Gomez departure, the approach remains more focused on maintaining rather than a noticeable attempt to push for a play-off place.” – We’ve gone through a clear budget reduction this summer and for the Gomez money we can say exactly the same of the Lookman / Fox money.

7. “A strong wind, a dollop of luck, and this proving the only real injury situation we have for the next six months does not mean that goal is not achievable, but the lack of additions to the squad over the last month will make that much more difficult.” - We haven’t got the injury situation yet, and we need that luck to ensure that doesn’t emerge. But any significant injuries over the next few months to Solly, Dasilva and particularly Magennis could have a major impact upon us.

In summary, I’m convinced that our best 11 is one that should be a prime contender for an automatic promotion place. Maintaining a lack of injuries in key positions is going to be vital, and Josh Magennis deserved that new contract because an enormous amount is expected of him this season.

Key risks are the lack of a replacement figurehead up front and the slight fear that the squad is lightweight and short. We look nice now, but while everyone is Game of Thrones mad at the moment, Winter is Coming.

Crofts and Novak are very experienced players at this level and yesterday we let two squad men with over 700 games experience at this level leave the club. They might not be fans favourites, but Crofts is proven to dig in on a cold Tuesday night in a physical game, and Novak is a presence who provides an outlet and is a replacement fit for the manager’s preferred style of formation.

We’ve lost that now, and with the later in particular, not replaced. Dodoo may well now give us a different option, but he has only player a full 90 minutes just 4 times in his career, and none of them a central striker. We’ve brought in a body, but it’s not obviously clear at this stage it’s what we needed.

If we maintain our strong start to the season, then that requested dollop of luck and a gentle injury situation will need to play a factor. Equally, Robinson, Jackson and Bowyer have a challenge to ensure that squad togetherness, spirit and attitude remains tight throughout the season. This is something we’ve consistently fallen short of during the Duchatelet / Meire reign.

On balance, we have our best chance for a number of years for a strong season. But not addressing the striker situation properly and letting a high level of experience leave without replacement at the end of the window has probably now made that a bit more of a challenge.

So frustrating. And I bet Robinson is also feeling that frustration as well.


Agree or Disagree? lets hear your summary thoughts


(link to the quoted 2015 article is HERE
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Comments

  • Good article.
    If we can stay relatively injury free we are a good team. If we have single injuries, and not a spate of them, we can introduce a player here or there and nurture them through a game, on that basis we could sustain a degree of competitiveness until January.
    However it is not difficult to imagine a red card three match suspension, and a significant injury, and some exhaustion in the squad, heavy pitches, long journey fatigue, other clubs sussing us out, a mistake, a player out of form and you have to worry about the general strength of the team.
    Now the transfer window is closed the sole focus ought to be maintaining players in good condition, and training on a game by game basis to win. We are in short term city until January and our concern is tomorrow at Oldham.
    Oldham is actually a good early example of how the squad is being tested, with no Josh and Jay, and inexperienced back up, and a vulnerable Jackson, and our still developing ability to cope with set plays, then avoiding defeat would be good, and a win would provide useful wadding.
    And a win is within our grasp if we do it right.
  • It's all very well fans saying Crofts and Novak are crap and no loss. If I was a player and saw two experienced guys go with the only replacement some inexperienced youngster in an area where it is obvious we are short, I would say it was a shambles and lacks ambition.I can see any positivity in the squad being drained.
  • It's all very well fans saying Crofts and Novak are crap and no loss. If I was a player and saw two experienced guys go with the only replacement some inexperienced youngster in an area where it is obvious we are short, I would say it was a shambles and lacks ambition.I can see any positivity in the squad being drained.

    agreed but don't think Crofts will offer much more than what we have, except experience. It's Novak which is mental as it leaves us ridiculously light.
  • Leopards don't change their spots
    Charlton's president of deceit won't be changing his either, surrounded as he is by toadies, lickspittles and brownnosers.
    A pox on them all.
  • Well said Stig yes a reasonably decent squad but a big gap up front.
  • One of the (probably intended) effects of RD & KM has been to lower our expectations. It's easy to feel a bit more comfortable in League One than we did two years ago. The threat of relegation to League Two appears to be minimal this year unless we have a lot of injuries/suspensions. As for going up from this division, there is some hope. I get the feeling that if we reach the play offs, the season might be considered a sort of success. However, getting up via the play offs is an exciting route if you succeed, but littered with casualties when one off night or a red card can ruin a season.

    I suspect the plan is to see where we are at Christmas and invest more if we look strong candidates to go up. If we are on the periphery or worse, perhaps having suffered from injury, one or two will leave and poor replacements will come in on loan, so that we can try again next year.

    Fortunately, this division does not have 5 or 6 teams that look ready to go up. This might mean that we get away with a lightweight squad, but as an Oldham lump goes clattering into Magennis on Saturday, there will be many wondering whether our season is about to go off the rails.
  • "lower expectations" FFS this is Charlton we are talking about here under RD and the poodles my expectations couldn't get any lower or they would be subterranean
  • One of the (probably intended) effects of RD & KM has been to lower our expectations. It's easy to feel a bit more comfortable in League One than we did two years ago. The threat of relegation to League Two appears to be minimal this year unless we have a lot of injuries/suspensions. As for going up from this division, there is some hope. I get the feeling that if we reach the play offs, the season might be considered a sort of success. However, getting up via the play offs is an exciting route if you succeed, but littered with casualties when one off night or a red card can ruin a season.

    I suspect the plan is to see where we are at Christmas and invest more if we look strong candidates to go up. If we are on the periphery or worse, perhaps having suffered from injury, one or two will leave and poor replacements will come in on loan, so that we can try again next year.

    Fortunately, this division does not have 5 or 6 teams that look ready to go up. This might mean that we get away with a lightweight squad, but as a San Marino lump goes clattering into Magennis on Saturday, there will be many wondering whether our season is about to go off the rails.

    Corrected for you.

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  • clive said:

    One of the (probably intended) effects of RD & KM has been to lower our expectations. It's easy to feel a bit more comfortable in League One than we did two years ago. The threat of relegation to League Two appears to be minimal this year unless we have a lot of injuries/suspensions. As for going up from this division, there is some hope. I get the feeling that if we reach the play offs, the season might be considered a sort of success. However, getting up via the play offs is an exciting route if you succeed, but littered with casualties when one off night or a red card can ruin a season.

    I suspect the plan is to see where we are at Christmas and invest more if we look strong candidates to go up. If we are on the periphery or worse, perhaps having suffered from injury, one or two will leave and poor replacements will come in on loan, so that we can try again next year.

    Fortunately, this division does not have 5 or 6 teams that look ready to go up. This might mean that we get away with a lightweight squad, but as a San Marino lump goes clattering into Magennis on Saturday, there will be many wondering whether our season is about to go off the rails.

    Corrected for you.

    Thank you for correcting, @clive.
  • It makes you wonder how long KR had to sign Dodoo, being as to the fact that he was going to Forest, where Mark Warburton is manager, and who signed him for Rangers, but the deal fell through on deadline day, so KR could not have had him lined up before then, no wonder the deal was so late.
  • ross1 said:

    It makes you wonder how long KR had to sign Dodoo, being as to the fact that he was going to Forest, where Mark Warburton is manager, and who signed him for Rangers, but the deal fell through on deadline day, so KR could not have had him lined up before then, no wonder the deal was so late.

    I doubt the club intended to sign anyone yesterday. Became apparant Novak wanted to go, so we rushed round looking for a cheap option.
  • Agree,send your summary to RD,KM and KR.
  • Injuries to Holmes, Mag, Pearce and Kashi (and they were all out last season) and it all looks a bit flakey. Seems to me it's a touch of "you only need 11 players" philosophy.
  • Injuries to Holmes, Mag, Pearce and Kashi (and they were all out last season) and it all looks a bit flakey. Seems to me it's a touch of "you only need 11 players" philosophy.

    Could say that about any League 1 side. In our title winning season we'd have looked a lot weaker without say Yann, Hollands and Wiggins.
  • I'm a firm believer in the old adage that you are only as strong as your weakest link. In most areas we have good cover if any of the 1st 11 get injured but at left back and striker we do not. If they avoid any long term injury all season then we should be there or thereabouts for the top six but if we do lose them for any significant length of time I'm sure we will miss out.
  • My view is roland wants to do it his way.
    Seen 3 of the 4 league games we look mustard.
    This team will create a lot of chances.
    We needed another striker in, should go up with this squad.
    I hope I'm not back on here in May and we've finished a couple of points off automatic promotion.
    If we do go up with what we have rolys ways worked.
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  • clb74 said:

    My view is roland wants to do it his way.
    Seen 3 of the 4 league games we look mustard.
    This team will create a lot of chances.
    We needed another striker in, should go up with this squad.
    I hope I'm not back on here in May and we've finished a couple of points off automatic promotion.
    If we do go up with what we have rolys ways worked.

    Behave
  • Nug said:

    clb74 said:

    My view is roland wants to do it his way.
    Seen 3 of the 4 league games we look mustard.
    This team will create a lot of chances.
    We needed another striker in, should go up with this squad.
    I hope I'm not back on here in May and we've finished a couple of points off automatic promotion.
    If we do go up with what we have rolys ways worked.

    No it certainly hasn't. We are a league lower and he's lost millions.
    Not if we go up
  • clb74 said:

    My view is roland wants to do it his way.
    Seen 3 of the 4 league games we look mustard.
    This team will create a lot of chances.
    We needed another striker in, should go up with this squad.
    I hope I'm not back on here in May and we've finished a couple of points off automatic promotion.
    If we do go up with what we have rolys ways worked.

    Read that sort of thing before - it's not his way, we've just gone back to the way we did things before RD bought the club.
  • clb74 said:

    My view is roland wants to do it his way.
    Seen 3 of the 4 league games we look mustard.
    This team will create a lot of chances.
    We needed another striker in, should go up with this squad.
    I hope I'm not back on here in May and we've finished a couple of points off automatic promotion.
    If we do go up with what we have rolys ways worked.

    Scoham said:

    clb74 said:

    My view is roland wants to do it his way.
    Seen 3 of the 4 league games we look mustard.
    This team will create a lot of chances.
    We needed another striker in, should go up with this squad.
    I hope I'm not back on here in May and we've finished a couple of points off automatic promotion.
    If we do go up with what we have rolys ways worked.

    Read that sort of thing before - it's not his way, we've just gone back to the way we did things before RD bought the club.
    I'd say that most owners like nearly all of us on CL can see that get a million pound striker in this team and we are all but there.
    Not roland though
  • clb74 said:

    clb74 said:

    My view is roland wants to do it his way.
    Seen 3 of the 4 league games we look mustard.
    This team will create a lot of chances.
    We needed another striker in, should go up with this squad.
    I hope I'm not back on here in May and we've finished a couple of points off automatic promotion.
    If we do go up with what we have rolys ways worked.

    Scoham said:

    clb74 said:

    My view is roland wants to do it his way.
    Seen 3 of the 4 league games we look mustard.
    This team will create a lot of chances.
    We needed another striker in, should go up with this squad.
    I hope I'm not back on here in May and we've finished a couple of points off automatic promotion.
    If we do go up with what we have rolys ways worked.

    Read that sort of thing before - it's not his way, we've just gone back to the way we did things before RD bought the club.
    I'd say that most owners like nearly all of us on CL can see that get a million pound striker in this team and we are all but there.
    Not roland though
    That's my point.
  • It will be the same old claptrap about wait and see where we are when the January window comes round.
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Roland Out!