So how did we get on in the end? We’ve arguably had one of the best windows in the division with regards to the quality of player brought in. However... and only time will tell, you can’t help but think are they the right players?
Don’t get me wrong, Davies looks a Rolls-Royce, I’m really excited about MGW, hopefully we’ve got the Villa fans How-ra-han not the Swansea one and Olsen feels a ridiculously good signing for a championship team. In my opinion our squad and starting 11 is better than last year.
I say better starting 11, but this is the puzzle for me. It’s potentially a better starting 11 for 5-3-2 but for Slavs supposed, preferred 4-3-3? not so much.
If we'd added a winger or two I’d genuinely have put this down as one of our best (on paper) transfer windows, but we didn’t.
Which makes me ask the question? Planned and change of heart? or just a total failing of the recruitment process?
…on one hand I think there is a very real possibility that the squad has now been assessed and the conclusion has been reached that it would need a full scale squad revolution to enable an 11 to play SlavisaBall and have a squad to sustain it.
The make up of the squad just doesn’t work for 4-3-3, Central Defenders better as a 3, midfielders don’t have the physical attributes or ability needed, far too many central strikers and obviously zero wingers (you’re not playing a Championship season with 2 wingers the need would be 4).
I can argue the above pretty easily in my head if it wasn’t for the fact that I can’t get to a realistic reason why would we put off starting a move to a squad that supports 4-3-3 if it is really the way we now want to play?
I therefore think its clear (unless it was due to finance - e.g. We don’t get an international keeper come from Rome and only contribute 20k p/w to wages) we missed out on bringing in wingers and there was an obvious desire to do so and start the transition.
That squarely sits at the recruitment teams door. Now I understand clubs, players and representatives want the best deal available and is why a lot of deals happen deadline day. I also understand we’ve been one step behind due to our (lack of) preseason and ability to assess the squad.
That does not excuse the fact that there are huge issues with our recruitment that although individual issues, compound and magnify the problems.
As ‘He who shall not be named’ and the current incumbent have alluded to the recruitment process is flawed. My view is there seems to be far to many people involved and most worrying, It does not identify realistic targets. It may identify players we’d like but ultimately we can’t afford them or they don’t want to come here (they might be the right players with the right attributes for what we need, but Messi and Ronaldo would also be ‘right’ doesn’t mean they’re realistic) prime example is the Collado deal, I know the media sound bite is ‘Representative’s unrealistic financial demands’ but I just don’t think he really wanted to come.
The fact our facilities are not great cannot be overlooked, our infrastructure NEEDS improvement, and is an additional cross in a players ‘cons’ column when we’re thinking about signing players from some of the biggest clubs in Europe.
There is also a strong possibility we end up overpaying to get players here because our desirability as a place to play football is unrealistic. We’re not London based, we’re not a huge club we’ve got a very limited reputation and it rains, a lot. (Iook, I love Sheffield I’ve lived here all my life, but I’m unsure a kid growing up in Barcelona going through La Masia will feel quite the same).
There has also blatantly been a reluctance to spend until we sold which although I’m comfortable with as a principal it’s ultimately taken far to long to sort out and has bitten us badly.
Another huge issue is our recent recruitment record. Now ‘if’ you stay in the premier league transfers will not be so closely scrutinised - Whatever your thoughts are regarding some of the signings made in the summer of 19’ we finished in a good position that season therefore they contributed to all the riches another season in the Prem guaranteed… so you can (and I did) argue that actually at the time it was money well spent. The problem comes once you’re relegated.
I believe the biggest issue fans (and at board level) have is struggling to see where the (conservative) 100mill additional value is in our current squad from the 18/19 team? Granted there will always be a devaluation on some players upon relegation but I think we’d be lucky to see a 40% return on the biggest period of spending investment in our history. That’s not good business.
We need to sit down over the next few months and decide what our desired formation and style of play is going forward, what our transfer strategy is, and implement and stick to it. Otherwise we’ll have truly wasted the opportunities that we've worked so hard for and have been given to us.