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86 Schmokes & a Pancake

Recrutiment Needed or Not?

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Not entirely sure what system Cocu wants to play as yet. He seems a very pragmatic kind of guy and we've seen him experiment a little with different formations which I take to be him and his team working out how the players available mesh together best. I guess it's been quite tricky for them with the shortened pre-season and the niggling injuries / lack of match fitness with some key personnel.

When Cocu was first announced, the accepted wisdom was that he'd have out and out wingers and I think that probably remains true. I think we were kind of late to the table and maybe missed opportunities to sign players we'd hoped to bring in. Paterson seems like something of an afterthought really and seems more of a filler than a nailed-on starter so my first guess as to the recruitment side would be that we'll be working hard to identify wide men for possible moves to the club come the January window. Tricky though, as it's a window where it's notoriously hard to get any real value so patience is required. There seems nothing knee-jerk about the current management set-up however, so I'd be confident that the madness of previous years won't be repeated.

My early season observations are then:

Defence: I don't think there's too much to work on here. Assuming all are fit, I'd like to see us start with Jayden, Keogh, Clarke and Lowe. I know Bielik has been playing alongside the skipper but Clarke is a decent player and some of the defence's recent mishaps have been caused by our midfield and front line not really holding onto the ball the way they ought to be. It creates unnecessary pressure on the defence when we turn the ball over cheaply, too often and in the wrong areas.

Midfield: We're still not quite there. I really would like to see Bielik sitting in front of the back four. He seems wasted to me at CH and I think he needs a run of games to see what he can do in the middle of the park. He's not quite matched the hype yet but he should be getting sharper with playing time and I still think he's a potential game-changer in this league.

The balance of midfield remains more of a conundrum though as Dowell seems to have gone backwards having looked a real player early on. Evans has looked good to me but I'm not sure he's a really creative player as such, more of a tidy one. Huddz has been hit and miss but I think he's not helped by a mis-firing front line so I think the return of Duwayne the pocket rocket is very much needed if we are to see more fluidity in our attacking play. In recruitment terms, I think we do still need a top attacking midfielder but they don't come cheap and therein lies the problem. Hurry up Wazza!

Young Jason Knight looks a proper player to me and not just because of his technical ability. He doesn't shirk a tackle, that's for sure and he has bags of ability on the ball. I think he's kind of leapfrogged Sibley who I thought might be the one to step up but Louis has time on his side and remains a huge prospect if he can curb his wild side!

Attack: Not really firing as yet but can do better! We've missed Jack but like Bielik, his fitness levels must be close to optimum now and he's worked hard off the ball, especially against West Brom where he ran himself stupid without reward. Despite the forward line not really hitting their straps just yet, I don't think we need more strikers. A front paring of Jack and Waggers with Lawrence sat in-behind can do some serious damage at this level so I'd not be wanting to change anything there unless Mel pulls another rabbit from the hat. Rooney might be the ace in the pack in terms of linking up our play but January still seems a way off yet.

Summary: I'd still like to see us play with a bit more width but I'm not sure we really have the players to do so as yet. Even without, I think there's massive improvement to come but, in all honesty, it'd be very disappointing were that not the case. Lowe and Bogle as a FB pairing can certainly assist in this regard so the main focus for me, if any, should be midfield. 

What are your thoughts chaps and chapettes?

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We definitely need a new winger, Shinnie hasn't been given a chance yet,  Rooney will probably play in midfield, and we have Holmes coming back so we will probably just look at bringing a top quality winger in January, we have enough bang average ones so if we sign one they would have to be good or there would be no point. 

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You say Dowell looked good early on when it is still early on. At the end of 46 games the games we are in now merge into one.

Don’t know about any body else, but I think of the season in terms of:

1. First bit up to the first international break. We play in hazy heat that makes it look like normal football but with an instagram filter. Everyone,  including the players, wear short sleeve shirts. Points somehow don’t count at this point in the season.

2. Early Autumn. Points start counting more now, but still not as much as later on. You get 3 points but the points are made of cheap plastic. No one’s sure if you’re supposed to be excited by the Carabao Cup yet if you’re still in it. This is also where we normally get a player out injured for a long time who will be like “a new signing” when we get them back.

3. Okay, ignore 1 and 2, this is where the season starts. It’s deep winter and you play 12 games in 3 days. It’s dark at 1pm and the pitches turn into mud. You need to have points coming out of every orifice otherwise the season’s over.

4. January transfer window. There’s always one position that needs filling but instead we sign a 27 year old in a position where we have 45 other players. Our best player is linked with a move to Bournemouth and/or Burnley.

5. Spring. Sunshine appears for the first time in months and everyone panics and brings their shades to Pride Park despite the fact it’s 9 degrees. This is called the “business end of the season” by some, although others reserve that title for the final three games. Players who have been awful all season can play well in this section and that’s what they’re remembered for. Conversely, players who have done a job all season will be consigned to being “bang average” if they don’t help us collect points when the points are at their pointiest.

6. ????? What?? Chaos. You cry at Wembley or you laugh at Leeds or you get hammered by a team finishing 20th with nothing to play for. You’re sad about no football apart from if there’s an international tournament.

No need to thank me @86 Schmokes & a Pancake for this intelligent contribution.

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Needed. Definitely could do with better options on the wing for me, I think we're okay in midfield with Holmes back, and when Rooney comes in, the only position we're really light in is the wing, which we could do with 2 signings in I think.

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It's true though @Duracell

Pre season always means a big deal to a lot of fans at the time but it barely gets a mention after the first game. Look at the Rangers game and how people were predicting our season off that

It's the same now. These games will be "they had a slow start/they started well" games once the cold nights come in. The real meat of the season is in there and if you dare mention that you beat promotion chasing Fulham 3-0 in August then everyone laughs at you. "That was before they clicked, you dhead!" 

Pre Season and early season for some teams just seem to be a bit of a honeymoon and when the hope fades and the slog comes in then out goes the Barcelona plan and in comes the ugly average. 

Some teams like Leeds "will run away with it". But they'll find a muddy patch where they won't feel like a legendary Brazil side. It will come and test them. They didn't cope with it well before so let's not promote them yet. 

Derby have had a meh start. And while now it's a time of frustration and envy we will just look back on it as those plastic points. The warm up session. We only lost to Bristol because we hadn't clicked. We only beat Huddersfield because they hadn't clicked. They will be meh games in blah blah part of the season. 

Obviously 3 points count as real points whether they come in August or May. But I think the beginning and the end of the season show you a fresh faced novice and a tired old lady of a team. It's that ugly middle that tells the truth. 

Leeds have showed the fresh faced eagerness to pick up where they left off. I think their ugly middle will still be strong because they're simply a good team that work hard for each other. And I reckon this season the tired side of them will be pushing a little harder than before. Maybe with some January strengthening. But that could be entirely wrong in a league that's so close in ability and demanding of squads that aren't all so deep. 

Derby do look in the early stages like they're pretty but that's about it. But we had a late and disruptive season that had us looking unprepared when we played Rangers and Girona. 

The question is, do you think Cocu will improve as we go into the grind? 

I think the team has more to give. Like the team we already have. There's more fight and skill in the squad that haven't featured so much. We will find a better balance imo before January even comes. 

Not saying names but there's a few players that will probably play themselves out the team soon. And their replacements are good players. Certainly not worse. 

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10 minutes ago, Andicis said:

Needed. Definitely could do with better options on the wing for me, I think we're okay in midfield with Holmes back, and when Rooney comes in, the only position we're really light in is the wing, which we could do with 2 signings in I think.

Can't work out yet whether the wingers are tucking in because that's the game-plan or whether they just don't feel comfortable out wide. 

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Remember when Benitez said “I asked for a sofa and they bought me a lamp?”

Feels like Cocu would initially be happy with just a lamp and instead got a sofa in Rooney. Everything about that deal smacks as being outside the norm. Great player - still have reservations about whether that deal was somewhat thrust upon Cocu.

Outside of that, I believe that recruitment will look very different from now on. I’ve never seen a new manager be so uninterested in bringing in his own players before. Cocu seems determined to give the current lot a good go and keep the path to the first team free for our own youngsters. 

We’ve plugged the gaps we’ve needed to with cheap loans. Elsewhere, we seem to have a list of players that we seem ready to pounce on if the opportunity arises.

That explains Bielik. We don’t need him, but the opportunity arose to sign a player we’ve scouted who is likely to significantly increase in value. I would guess there’s a filing cabinet’s worth of such players at Moor Farm.

I’m not expecting anything big in January. 

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24 minutes ago, 86 Schmokes & a Pancake said:

Can't work out yet whether the wingers are tucking in because that's the game-plan or whether they just don't feel comfortable out wide. 

My main concern I think, is the reliance we have on Waggy and Marriott to score the goals, I'd like our wingers, even if they're tucking in, to provide a few goals, because at present we seem to be lacking a bit.

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Too early to judge properly. Gut feeling is we are a midfielder and a winger short. But there is a few things worth keeping in mind: 

1) I think most would agree we haven't seen the best 11 we have put out there yet. Bielik and Mariott are still finding there feet, Holmes is coming back from injury and Bogle is injured. And I think most would have all 4 in the first team.

2) Young players coming through. I think this is the real wildcard this season because we have 5 players pushing for a place in Knight, Sibley, Buchanan, Whitaker and Bird. How many break through and to what extent ? Really hard to say. But if say a couple break through similarly to Bogle last year then it could well change what we need. 

Field a team approximating this:

                  Roos

Bogle Keogh Clarke Lowe 

                Bielik 

       Holmes     Knight 

Waghorn  Mariott  Lawrence 

Looks like it would be a step up from the teams we've seen so far and personally I don't think we've been too bad so far. 

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12 minutes ago, brady1993 said:

Too early to judge properly. Gut feeling is we are a midfielder and a winger short. But there is a few things worth keeping in mind: 

1) I think most would agree we haven't seen the best 11 we have put out there yet. Bielik and Mariott are still finding there feet, Holmes is coming back from injury and Bogle is injured. And I think most would have all 4 in the first team.

2) Young players coming through. I think this is the real wildcard this season because we have 5 players pushing for a place in Knight, Sibley, Buchanan, Whitaker and Bird. How many break through and to what extent ? Really hard to say. But if say a couple break through similarly to Bogle last year then it could well change what we need. 

Field a team approximating this:

                  Roos

Bogle Keogh Clarke Lowe 

                Bielik 

       Holmes     Knight 

Waghorn  Mariott  Lawrence 

Looks like it would be a step up from the teams we've seen so far and personally I don't think we've been too bad so far. 

I kind of like this set up but I wonder whether Lawrence might drop in behind Waghorn and Marriott. Cocu seems to want them to interchange anyway which I could also see giving the oppo a few problems.

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Hard to say yet. Of course, depending who is available, will have a huge effect what will happen (case Rooney).

But even more important is going to be how the current crop of players adjusts what our manager wants from them. Even more so, do the younger ones show development and if they do, is it enough? I'm also not expecting much from this January, but come next summer and the latter question should be answered already.

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Think long term it’s fairly clear that cocu is looking at a 433 in the main with a couple of other options in our locker (like a 4321), when we consider the long term. He’s only playing 4231 at the moment due to what personnel we have fit imo. So I think we need to assess the squad relative to a 433 set up, which is exactly what I’ll do.

I think first of all I’ll make the point that I think we need a signing Before January. We really messed up on deadline day not getting another CM in, and that’s contributed to us having to switch formations. So I think we need to use the free agent market to sign that CM we missed out on. The midfield quality is desperately poor, and it’s too much of a problem to leave until January to sort imo. It’s nowhere near top end championship standard and needs sorting now before we drop away. I’m not sure who, but we need that quality CM if there’s one available. So in my theoretical world in this write up, I’m gonna assume the club listens to me and signs a CM before January.

Think the other thing we need to consider is it’s quite hard to do anything like this at this point. Some players are gonna leave in January, and it’ll be which players leave that’ll determine in the main what players we look to bring in. We can hazard a reasonable guess at who may leave, but at this point it’s only really just that- a guess. Too early to have any real knowledge of who may leave, which will naturally effect what transfers in we make. You also have the possibility of loan recalls/ Long term injuries effecting things as well. So we can have a go at working things out from where we stand at the moment, but things chnage quickly in football so this thread will probably date quick! Anyway imo.....

Defence 

First choice lineup for me is:

Roos

Bogle Keogh Clarke Lowe

I think that’s an excellent backline capable of taking us where we need to go. I’ve no concerns here particulary in terms of quality, other than perhaps Roos who’s sometimes error prone. I’d look to get someone more reliable if possible, particulary in terms of commanding the box. Other concern is whether Lowe can keep up his decent form and has truly improved from his loan spell, or whether this is just a purple patch and he’ll return to being dodgy at the back. I’ll assume in hope mode thna knowledge that it’s the former and he’s good to become first choice now. In terms of numbers we’ve got:

GK- Roos, Hamer, Mitchell, Ravas- One too many here, I’d look to give Ravas a loan at whatever level he’s currently at.

Rb- Bogle, Wisdom. No problems here, but there’s always the fear we may lose Bogle to the top flight. If that happens in January, naturally a new first choice is needed here.

CB- Keogh, Bielik, Clarke, Davies. No problems here.

LB- Lowe, Malone, Forsyth. One too many imo, and I’d look at selling Forsyth in January when fit. That is unless we lose Lowe which is still possible, in which case depending on his fitness he could return to the squad.

Buchanan I rate highly but there’s a lot of depth here, so I’d potentially look at loaning him out as he’s still very young. May be best for him to get his mistakes out the way on a loan and come back here more experienced rather than being thrown in the deep end, but he’s handling it well so far so I may have changed my mind on this in a couple of months.

Midfield

I’ll start here by saying I don’t think dowell fits well into a proper 433. He’s too much of a luxury player and doesn’t impact a game enough across 90 minutes to play anywhere other than a free role in a 4231. He’ll be too much of a passenger in a 433. This is similar to what I said when he joined having seen him play a fair amount, and nothing’s changed my view yet. Imo he was another classic poor bit of recruitment by our muppet scouts who don’t seem to ever find round pegs for round holes. That’s not to mention that he’s just a bit poo anyway. He may change my mind yet don’t get me wrong, but as it stands, based on what I’ve seen so far, harsh as it sounds, I’d terminate his loan and get someone better and more suited in. So I won’t include him in my write up here, but I will include the aforementioned CM I said I’d bring in now. This leaves us imo with this first choice:

Huddlestone

NEW Knight

Now this I’m a bit iffy with. Huddlestone I think will find form eventually in a properly suited team to a 433 (Cocu rates him highly it seems so I think he’ll be staying in the side), but the two in front I’m more concerned about. Knight looks good so far but is still an unknown quantity who’s just come up from the academy (and so is of course his partner, quite literally!). So we could need to see further improvement here, but it does depend on how knight develops into the first team squad, and who else eventually settles into the role next to him. It could all end up working out fine yet and we’ll stumble across a good midfield from our existing players, it’s hard to tell yet. In terms of numbers we have:

CDM- Huddlestone, Evans, Bird, Thorne. Thorne obviously will return in January, but you have to expect he’ll leave on a Perm to league one, hence why he’s in italics. We’re still heavy imo even with his departure, and I’d look to get bird a loan somewhere.

CM- NEW, Knight, Shinnie, Sibley. Well still be one short here, and I’d obviously be looking to bring someone in here to replace dowell, preferably someone from the prem on loan with some real quality for a short term boost till the end of the season. Could even bring in a second as well and loan out Sibley who seems to be a little way off the first team squad yet.

Attack:

First choice for me:

Josefzoon Rooney Lawrence 

Again, a bit iffy for me. Obviously delighted with Rooney. We have to carry Lawrence at times, so if we could get someone more reliable that’d be great, but I think he has the quality to be worth persisting with. However, Josefzoon doesn’t impact upon games enough for me across the full 90. He has his moments, but we can’t carry both him and Lawrence. Lawrence is better, so I’d get someone with a bit more quality in there if possible. In terms of depth we’ve got:

WING- Josefzoon, Lawrence, Holmes, Paterson, Bennett, Anya, Whittaker. That’s obviously too many players. I think we’ll lose Josefzoon abroad somewhere so that’s one down. I’d then look to get shot of Anya permanently and loan out Whittaker. May even sell Bennett too as he doesn’t seem to fit too well.

ST- Rooney, Waghorn, Marriott, Martin. I think we’ll sell Martin to another champ club which I think will be the right move on Rooneys arrival. Delighted with the options here, think it’s our strongest area and one of the strongest in the league.

Summary: Defence is pretty decent, midfield is a mess that needs sorting desperately and quickly, and we need more quality wide up front- but centrally we are strong. As a disclaimer, obviously certain players here can play multiple roles, I’ve just put them where they’ve played most/ where I think Cocu will use them.

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Problem is the midfield balance... we have too many talented players.. who are just slow and have no pace. We cant play more than one of beilik, huddlestone or evans in midfield or we will get overrun and not be able to retain many second balls.

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Bogle's return should have a massive impact on the wingers discussion. Last season he had more assists than anyone and with our personnel I believe that his return will make a huge difference on the right wing and also allow a similar player, Lowe, to contribute from the left wing.

This will allow our 'wingers' to come in more on to their correct foot and open up more opportunities. 

Atm, Bogle's injury is affecting the whole make up of the team, if only we hadn't swapped Christie and £2M for Wisdom.

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3 minutes ago, Premier ram said:

Was told we were in for Jeff Hendrick before window shut , if true , maybe worth another attempt in January , would bring pace and goals to midfield

Is he not getting gametime at Burnley? Not really followed his progress there to be honest.

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30 minutes ago, ram59 said:

Bogle's return should have a massive impact on the wingers discussion. Last season he had more assists than anyone and with our personnel I believe that his return will make a huge difference on the right wing and also allow a similar player, Lowe, to contribute from the left wing.

This will allow our 'wingers' to come in more on to their correct foot and open up more opportunities. 

Atm, Bogle's injury is affecting the whole make up of the team, if only we hadn't swapped Christie and £2M for Wisdom.

Could not agree more but  we neeed to look at other solutions, our season should not be relying so much on a teenager into his second season. That is probably PC's thinking when switching to 3 at the back.

 

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4 hours ago, 86 Schmokes & a Pancake said:

What are your thoughts chaps and chapettes?

More signings please

I don't really think we need any - I just like signings

A very serious goalscoring winger/wide forward to help lighten the load on Lawrence and Waggers would be good

40 minutes ago, Premier ram said:

Was told we were in for Jeff Hendrick before window shut , if true , maybe worth another attempt in January , would bring pace and goals to midfield

He wasn't exactly prolific was he?

He's a generic box-to-box midfield runner and ball carrier for me - And I'd rather play Holmes or Knight (after the game against WBA where I thought he was excellent) - They both run hard, move well with the ball, link up play nicely and provide options plus get in good goal scoring situations

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One impression I get from Cocu, especially from those comments about Shinnie as well as recent line-ups, he seems pretty brutal/ ruthless about leaving players out (see Shinnie or Clarke) but he made clear with Shinnie that the coaching staff still work very closely with them to work on what he needs for them to fit in his team. 

Hopefully the same is going on with the likes of Clarke, FloJo/ Bennett/ Paterson ect. Maybe Dowell as well even though he's still in the team 

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