All will change swiftly, and my hope is that the cynicism that underlies much of what will follow, will be proven so terribly misguided over the coming weeks, that I will be in line at the tattoo parlour in September to get Cherubini’s troll mug inked on one arm, and the smouldering, strident Arrivabene painted on the other! Anything is possible, nothing is certain…
Will aim for brevity, likely fail, but the fluidity of the situation demands at least an attempt.
Setting out my stall early doors…I was too hopeful that the club, aiming to return swiftly to the top, would do what most elite clubs do; employ a proven expert in the SD role. This didn’t happen. Instead we got another Agnelli favourite, Cherubini, along with Elkan’s brooding hatchetman, Arrivabene. Neither had any experience in their new roles. Yes, the Cherub has long been part of our set-up, and gained more authority once Beppe was kicked out. So what? That is not the same as working as the top dog for shaping the squad.
Regardless of who came IN last Summer, to oversee what we all hoped would be a new dawn, I surmised they needed 2-3 seasons, with more going right than wrong, to return us to the top domestically and challenging beyond. We are only 1 season into that estimation.
There were and remain players in the squad on far too high wages, offering poor value. They are hard to move on. Yet this is also part of the job for our SD team. It is not leaning 100% to one side of ‘too hard to move’ or ‘expectation to get rid’. Somewhere in between.
Whilst persuading anyone to take Ramsey on any wages he could agree to was always futile, I expected better for Arthur. I also expected the management to be well aware that Rabiot, who surely could find another decent club, will leave for $0 next Summer, hence he simply had to be moved on this Summer. A constant disappointment when playing, taking up space in the squad and will leave us for not a damn penny. Yet no dice. Why not?
Now is not the time for an inquest. This can wait…
Pogba seemed a luxury signing. His injury record is clear, regardless of how his latest setback could have happened to anyone, of any injury history. His decision, apparently against the advice of specialists, to avoid surgery in order to hope to get fit and sharp for the WC is unsurprising. He is at Juve not for his love of the club, but for the love of the club and fanbase for him. It is not a trait I admire, and yet…still, even with this injury, to focus on the best possible scenario, we will have a world class talent in the middle of the park, for 2/3 of the season. At worst, he will do more damage when he returns, be out for longer. So the middle ground seems in line with his recent seasons at United, maybe we can conservatively believe he can be available for 50% of the games.
This bothers me. As it comes amid no surprise to find plenty of rumours of the club management still now discussing strategy, direction, system, tactics. Which still smacks of a damn shambles. This late in the Summer, we still do not have a clear system or direction????
Bremer is a strong signing. Yet close to a like for like replacement for departed De Ligt.
Di Maria remains a superb offensive talent of world class talent, yet is 34, with us for one season. Seems a vague replacement for the departed Dybala (our best final third player last season).
We need more than 1 decent player out, 1 decent player in, as our strategy. For our squad the last two seasons, has consolidated 4th spot in a fairly weak Serie A, with our CL outings far from impressive. Are we to accept, adjust our expectations, for we are aimed at ensuring 4th, hoping for anything above this? Perhaps so…
Cambiaso was signed, who some say is a superb talent. Yet if true, why the devil is he not in our squad, instead loaned out? Was he deemed less ready than Pellegrini or Sandro? Or are both of them too hard to move on?
LB is a critical position for our side. To my thinking it is the most glaringly weak aspect of any starting XI we could deploy. My concerns would be slightly assuaged IF I believed that Max was to deploy Luca as the starter. He is no classy option, yet has hugely more energy than Sandro, whose legs were lost 2-3 years back. However, I fear that Max still finds Sandro perfectly serviceable. And the preferred starter.
Grasping likely forlorn, but I am sincerely aiming to escape my heavily anchored, long nourished cynicism and heart shorn of all but flickering echoes of what was once such daily inspiring devotion to the shared cause in black and white stripes…it is possible that both Sandro and Pellegrini were playing handicapped last term. By which I mean, they had Rabiot as their main pivot in the midfield. Who has often appeared to me a human shaped windmill masquerading as a footballer. He rarely offers anything useful in the final third, often makes hideous mistakes in the rearguard, with mainly his physicality offering any value when he is simply stronger, bigger than opponents.
Given Rabiot’s generally awful technical prowess, maybe, even Sandro/Pellegrini could improve with a more skillful LCM as their nearby pivot when moving forward and backwards?
Which brings me onto the Paredes rumours…The Argentine is a capable DM, hardly a Pirlo (yet nobody is Pirlo but…Pirlo), capable on the ball, reads the game intelligently, finds runners nearby swiftly, hard in the tackle, strong mental fortitude. At best, a Deschamps…Assuming we can sign a proper LB, decent LWF (more on that shortly)…Paredes incoming could be interesting. For he would liberate Locatelli from the shoe-horned DM role.
Loca played in a double pivot as Sassuolo, often got forward potently. For La Nazionale, he is more often utilised as a mezzala. Yet we have played him mainly as a sole DM/Regista. Where he can do a job, yet we need to move to placing our best players in their strongest roles.
A middle three of Locatelli- Paredes – Pogba could be splendid! No certain idea of Zakaria, other than he showed 2 decent games in close to half a season. We have the Rovella/Fagioli/Miretti conundrum to consider…with solely the latter, to my mind, suggesting classy god given talent, yet both Rovella (seems destined to leave, on loan) and Fagioli, look close to, and if given the chance, perhaps more valuable than Ramsey/Arthur/Rabiot…
Other ongoing rumours of a vice Vlahovic? Yet surely that is Kean, who we seem to have been unable to rehome? I still believe in the youngster. He has pace, power, an eye for goal…Suspect he needs a run of games, which he may not find…
Kostic appears the only ongoing potential transfer which vastly improves a position where we have nobody. Yes, Di Maria can play LWF, though he is more natural at RWF. Chiesa, whenever he is back is similar. Morata??? Is more shoe-horned into the LWF role in a 433, and will cost 25-35m. Surely to pay 15-20m for Kostic is a 100% MUST DO????
I was reading earlier of some bizarre report that a meeting of the management resulted in a ‘change of direction’ from ‘buying for the sake of buying’ to ‘recruiting the players we actually need’…This must be, I hope, just tabloid nonsense. For if the management require a meeting to focus on the latter, not the former, my often rather wild casting of aspersions of the absence of competence in key management positions, not at all, pulling in the right and same directions…is confirmed.
Assuming that ‘news’ was disposable drooling for clicks drivel.. I then find more of the same ilk – various rumours of the management undecided on the system, the players we need, the tactics.
We should have had a plan in place many months back, when it was clear we were to finish likely at best 4th. The obvious weaknesses in the squad earmarked for definite priority improvement. If Max has any meaningful sway, then he should have offered his report and demands for what is needed to fit his system.
Will return to my original setting of this rambling…
Arrivabence and Cherubini are complete novices in their key roles. Yet doing the best they can.
Their job is hard, for there remain a few weak players hideously overpaid who are very hard to move on, and if they cannot be moved on, both the funds and the space for replacements cannot be found. Yet this is very much part of the job of the SD team. Selling is often as important a skill as buying.
We have for two years consolidated our position as a 4th placed side in a weak Serie A.
Max is a company man. He will never say anything critical of his overseers. Perhaps he has some say in the mercato, though I continue to assume, it is a small voice, with Arrivabene/Cherubini calling the shots. The club has been run like this for a fair few years now. With only Conte I suspect making any fierce demands of the SD.
I concluded a year back, we would need 2-3 seasons, with more going right than wrong, to get back to the top domestically and at best become a force beyond. I feel we are behind that hoped for schedule.
Still, if we sign a LB, LWF in Kostic, who seems too perfect, at the right price, and somehow bring in a strong CB, I will be instantly moved to admit my cynicism was too wretched and wrong, and happily flow with the boyish excitement of a new dawn of hope and glory and excitement, finally appearing on the horizon…
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