The unexpected mini break isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it might benefit the team, and it also affords us the first opportunity to properly take stock of the campaign’s first phase, assess how equipped we look for the long haul, maybe begin to make predictions.
Things are going swimmingly well for the Champions despite defeat last time out. It’s not often a defeated team earns plaudits, but we’ve managed to emerge from a three goal beating with a lot of credit and enhanced reputations.
Automatic qualification for the Champions League afforded the opportunity to fully budget with zero guesswork involved, and having a popular manager with an eye for a player, the club duly pushed the boat out for his targets and delivered our best window ever.
Our leader is supported, wanted, and adored.
Brighton, no disrespect, but you never had a chance.
Our squad is the strongest I’ve ever known, with no clear gap in ability amongst the group. There’s no first choice eleven, rather two good but slightly different players for each position. The bar has been set extremely high, and already players have been benched as Ange looked for more fluidity than the early performances offered.
The team didn’t start the campaign firing on all cylinders, but within a month had found their mojo, and were blowing away opponents with scintillating football. We hit great form around Christmas last season, to find it earlier this time around is a good sign.
In great form despite being a team in transition, others would love to state that.
Our new central defensive partnership has just met, the boss approved two defensive midfielders which tells me the middle of the park shall be tinkered with, Haksa looks like he will force someone onto the bench, and Boy Wonder has stepped it up a notch and is now winning games by himself.
I’ve read Ange gets the best out of his teams during the second season but I’m starting to think next year will see the best of this group, his third year shall be his best on this occasion.
Domestically we look unstoppable. Our closest rivals have already been spanked, we score for fun and very rarely concede, it’s once again a case of ‘how many’ rather than will we win. That’s the sign of a good side. Given our strength in depth and style of play, its hard to imagine anything but a procession to the league title and another automatic qualification to the top table of club football.
Continentally, giving the best team a genuine fright speaks volumes, and gives confidence we can qualify from the group.
We certainly aren’t a walkover, I would be very surprised if we finished in fourth place, which is a sign of our growing strength and confidence.
Given the age of the squad and general level of ability, and with group stage entry looking like a given long term bringing experience of that level, there exists a fantastic opportunity to make a genuine impact on Europe short, medium, and even long-term.
A manager’s dream I imagine.
Yes it’s going swimmingly well, but it’s never perfect and I do have certain fears in the background.
For starters the entire operation seems to rest on one pair of broad shoulders, which has gone wrong before. He should be happy, might be long term, but shall need replaced one day and shell shocked players without their leader shall need picked up when that happens as will the support.
It’s never too early to start assembling dossiers on potential hires, and it’s best to have your ducks in a row to smooth the transition.
The club could consider setting up a scouting network under his watchful eye with the aim of continuing the talent conveyor belt, not seeing it dry up when the main spotter walks out the door.
Our one man operation is turning out very well just like Man Utd, but look what happened there when he finally departed.
I hope we are taking steps to mitigate damage when Ange leaves, and don’t scramble, that’s all I’m saying.
My second worry is an injury to one key player in the team. This isn’t a team of key players, all are interchangeable.
But in these eyes Carter Vickers is the one player who is indispensable.
His absence would really hurt the team, he’s the one injury I fear.
If he was good with his feet he would be playing for Bayern, I also suspect more than a few EPL clubs might fancy him to boost their defense come January, but don’t fear him leaving us in the lurch.
I fear him getting his ankle crunched.
My final worry is the finances.
There’s been a lot of expense added and the squad itself has stepped up a gear in quality which usually costs more.
In usual times we might expect half the squad on upper tier wages with half on middle tier or below.
This was accepted because there was a visible drop off in quality from first choice to second choice player.
Now that gap has been eliminated and we have an entire squad of first team ready footballers the wages shall surely increase.
We have a new CEO, soon a new Chairman to match our new approach to the transfer market, but our board and majority shareholder remain in situ and will have their own opinions on how big the wage bill should be allowed to grow.
Historically, after a big spend/period of recruitment the spigot is turned off, that’s it.
And many clubs boards have sanctioned the sale of the team’s star player to balance the books in a way they find more comforting once the figures make unpleasant viewing in their eyes.
It could rightfully be pointed out that we have mega bucks on the bench every week, why add to that?
Last weekend witnessed Mooy, McCarthy, Turnbull, Abildgaard, Ideoguchi, and Haksabanovic not included in the starting midfield,,that’s just one department,,most teams would be delighted fielding our backups every minute they could.
Just as I’m not used to seeing the squad this strong, our suits won’t be used to seeing the wages this high.
Then again they aren’t dealing with the usual Irishman in the dugout but the man who delivers trophies and spends wisely.
He’s a different kettle of fish and a valuable asset.
He doesn’t need the club.
Yet our suits simply don’t assemble this much quality under one roof without halting the party,,such as placing Martin in the slow lane.
The wage bill has the potential to become an issue, that issue then has the potential to become a big problem.
Overall, as a club we are overachieving again at long last. Ange is ahead of schedule with squad building and in implementing his style of play, and through a quirk of fate has delivered us Champions League football very early.
This in turn helps the finances and the club are once again expected to break the one hundred million turnover mark.
Having quite a number of high quality players helps make games themselves more interesting and exciting, the rotating of different talents is much more preferable to the same eleven weekly, especially if they don’t play attractive football.
We clearly won Round One, knocked down our rival, and are looking in good shape.
It’s a great time to be a Tim, savour it and remember it.