September 7, 2011
With the transfer window over and the squad reasonably settled until at least January, a few of us here at The Tilehurst End had a round table chat looking back at the window, our start to the season and debating what it meant for the rest of the campaign.
Present were Wimbles, urz1871, jw351, tommyrfc, Mark Lawrence and chartley1983
Join us after the jump for more and feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section.
How would you grade our summer transfer activity?
uzzz1871: Sensible - strengthening where we need it, but not pushing the boat out on unsuitable or over-priced players. I think ALF could be great business!
Chartley: I would give it a C. I like the signing of Gorkss, solid centre half..Le Fondre is a wait and see for me, scored goals at League Two but will need service.
Tommyrfc: Two ways of looking at it. Financially we've done brilliantly, bringing in over £10m for two players. Mills especially was a great bit of business. We've also done well to keep hold of Kebe, McAnuff and Karacan.
Mark: It was as good as the budget allowed.
Tommyrfc: It remains to be seen how the new guys do but Gorkss should be a solid signing and Le Fondre and Mills Jnr could be improvements on what we've got currently.
Jonny: C also. Losing 3 centre-backs (including the 2 that started the "£80 million match") seems huge, especially when you consider how quickly we moved for Gorkss after Barnsley. Long was always going to go, so I'm really hoping that Alfie makes the step up - there's a long way between League Two and the Championship.
Wimbles: Like I said in the transfer window roundup, it's hard to say we've gotten better, but securing Leigertwood, Gorkss, ALF and Mills was good business and the financial returns on Mills and Long were good. Keeping hold of Kebe and tying down youngsters like Cummings was also important and I'm happy with where we are. So yeah, I give it a B.
Tommyrfc: Good point on Leigertwood. He already feels like part of the furniture and its easily forgotten we signed him as well. Must have been around £1m I'd have thought. The focus in the transfers will inevitably be on Long leaving and Le Fondre coming in but probably more important will be how Gorkss and Khumalo go.
Jonny: My one disappointment is not bringing anyone in in the midfield. Yes, we don't NEED anyone, but there's not much pressure on any of them at the moment (everyone will pick different strikers/defenders/even the keeper, but the midfield is always going to be McAnuff-Ledge-Kara-Kebe) and by all accounts that's been one of the most disappointing areas so far this season (McAnuff in particular). Yes Leigertwood was a good signing, and as good as Karacan was at the end of last season I think we need a new, more creative CM... maybe Mellis, who was rumoured?
Chartley: Keeping Hold of Hal Robson Kanu was key too..improved massively at the end of last season.
Jonny: Yes, Hal is a big big signing. Really underrated player IMO. He's been decent up top but his best position is definitely on the wing - personally I think we should drop Jobi (even though he's captain) and stick Hal out there - could be good for both of them.
Tommy mentions Khumalo, how do you rate his impact so far? is he destined to be the next Darren O'Dea or more Khizanishvili....
uzzz1871: It'll take a while for the centre-backs to gel - I hope the East Stand give them that time before writing them off.
Tommyrfc: He looks very inexperienced which is presumably why 'arry let him join us. He's shown signs of improving but I would imagine he'll rotate with Pearce for the rest of the season. Not been overly impressed thus far but as urzz1871 says, it takes time to settle in
Jonny: @uzzz1871 & Wimbles - Khumalo looked okay first couple of games but it now seems Pearce-Gorkss will take us through. Did anyone catch Morrison in pre-season? I'm wondering how close he is to the first team too. Hopefully those 4 can take us through the season. Considering also that we'll probably lose Khumalo in Jan to the Cup of Nations.
Chartley: For me Khumalo will take time to settle in, I have liked what I have seen thus far, like urz1871 said defences take time to gel and him and Pearce are still young for centre backs. Give it time.
Tommyrfc: From the little I've seen of Morrison in pre-season and at Charlton I've been thoroughly underwhelmed. Big and lumbering. At this stage I can't see him worrying the first team overly. More likely he'll go off on loan
uzzz1871: @Jonny - unless Jobi gets moved to centre-mid. It seems BMc is determined to put him there one day.
Wimbles: Brings us onto a good point Jonny, what do you guys think is our best XI at the moment?
Chartley: Federici - Cummings - Mills - Gorkss - Pearce. Kebe- Karacan - Ledge - Robson Kanu - Hunt and ALF.
Tommyrfc: Hard to say with some many new players. My instincts say:-
But I've not seen Gorkss or Le Fondre and Mills only briefly so it perhaps a bit unfair to judge them.
uzzz1871: I'll decline to answer until a few more matches in - I can't even decide if we still ought to be playing 4-4-2 or if young and fit full-backs allows us to go 4-3-3/4-5-1. All depends on how ALF would be as a lone striker. I'm also not sure about Leigertwood - seems to be really off the boil.
Jonny: I think we are strongly undermined by our wing-backs. I am almost certain that their lack of pace necessitates us using two holding midfielders. If Cummings and Mills can step up I think we could stick a more creative CM in there instead of (probably) Karacan, but also their pace gives us the option of the overlap with the wingers, who really need it once the opposition figure out our one track mind of "give it to Kebe".
so I'd like to see
Cummings - Pearce - Gorkss - Mills
Kebe - McAnuff - Leigertwood - HRK
Manset - Le Fondre
Wimbles: I'll have to make gut calls as well but I'd like to think Hunt and Le Fondre can play together, while the young full backs deserve a go
Chartley: Manset is still an impact player for me..
Jonny: Problem is, I don't think Hunt and ALF would work well together up top - both poacher-like players.
Wimbles: I think Hunt works a bit more than people give him credit for, he's not a lot different to Martin Butler and him and Jamie Cureton worked well together so why can't Hunt and Le Fondre?
Tommyrfc: Hunt's a tricky one because he works harder than almost anyone else but at the end of the day I just don't think he's that good. HRK gives a totally different option up front. He's strong and quick and wants to run at defenders. I've gone for Le Fondre because by all accounts he's a natural finisher, something we really lack
Chartley: Another issue with Hunt and Le Frondre Playing up front is the lack of height between the pair of them.
Wimbles: A lack of height might encourage us to play the ball on the deck a bit more though... not a bad thing!
Chartley: So nobody would start Church then?
Jonny: Church needs confidence, to do that he needs to start games and score goals which he won't do without confidence... vicious circle. He's never kicked on. Long was the same at the start of last season but he was closer to the team - Churchy now has to push past ALF, Manny, Hunt and even HRK.
uzzz1871: To be honest I think Chuch has never receovery from when Glyfi - his best mate for years - left. Strange, but true, and a reminder that players are still people with feelings and vulnerabilities, not just icons on a game of CM.
Chartley: He's really has not kicked on from his first season in the first team. I think he scored 12 goals that season and honestly looked a better prospect then Long at that point.
uzzz1871: Also interesting that everyone goes for Federici in-goal. If it was down to me I'd be playing McCarthy - without a millisecond's hesitation.
Tommyrfc: Urzz1871 - Fedders still gets the nod for me. McCarthy looks an excellent prospect but I don't think we can mess about too much with the defence. It's already undergone massive reshaping and it seems silly to me to tinker unnecessarily. I also think that at the moment he's a better player. McCarthy flaps a lot and doesn't really install me with confidence. I know Fedders has his moments but right now he's my number one
Jonny: @1871 - I think there's no doubting McCarthy will be number 1 next season. McCarthy was good when he came in last season but I'm afraid Fedders is by rights the number 1, he has more experience at this level. It says a lot that we have a Championship-level, England U21 on the bench and that's even before Andersen!
Wimbles: The season is very young and there's obviously been a lot of changes. Without jumping to conclusions what area of the team worries you the most and what players concern you.
Jonny: weaknesses - if Karacan/Leigertwood get injured/drastically lose form, that could be disastrous, judging by Tabb and Howard's performances away at Charlton. THe eternal Kebe dilemma too - if he's in the mood he is devastating but that's about 1 game in 3 now. Unfortunately we can't afford to not play him, such is his potential to destroy the oppo'.
Chartley: The fullbacks still worry me, Harte and Griffin have no pace and we are allowing way to many crosses into the box. Millwall scored two easy goals from two crosses. At least Cummings and Mills have some pace and should be able to keep up with a quick winger
Tommyrfc: Where to start. As mentioned before the total lack of pace at the back concerns me, especially with the full backs. Cummings and Mills might rectify that but there's still no pace in the middle. There's also a lack of quality outside the regular starters in midfield. It'll be interesting how Obita develops and if Mills is used as a winger but we can't be reliant of Gunnarsson and Tabb again to fill gaps
Jonny: To be honest, anyone outside the first XI worries me. Nobody is proven/good enough to step in straight away aside from McCarthy.
Wimbles: I'm worried that some of our more experienced players might struggle for motivation this year. Leigertwood, Kebe and McAnuff have all been sub-par and it could be tricky for Brian to motivate them again. McAnuff has seemed particularly disappointing considering he's captain
Tommyrfc: Kebe isn't a problem per se. Yes he's temperamental and you don't know what you're gona get but a much bigger problem is our over reliance on him for any kind of creativity in open play. If he's playing poorly then we may as well pack up and go home at the moment
uzzz1871: @Tommy - agreed - but I think it'd be useful to lose Kebe in some ways. It's too easy to just give it to him always, and a spell without him would force us to develop some alternative options. As in the play-off semi at Cardiff.
Chartley: Kebe is an outlet ball for us at present. Can take us 50 yards up the pitch. Tabb is a good back up central midfielder, yes he had a bad game against Charlton but he was not the only one. McAnuff should never have been made captain, personally I would have given the armband to Karacan.
Tommyrfc: I don't really understand the fuss that is being made about the captaincy. Matt Mills was by and large a fairly unpopular player and very erratic yet he never seemed to get castigated for being the captain. Now for some reason when it's passed to Jobi he gets nothing but stick for it!
Wimbles: On the other hand, what's our biggest strength right now?
Tommyrfc: Our biggest strength is probably our biggest weakness as well. Jimmy Kebe. On his day he's one of the best players in the league and I'd back him to beat pretty much any defender in the world. The flip side to that is that even in games he lurches from that extreme to the other where he can't manage to put a simple cross in! Given how low his morale was under Rodgers I think McDermott has done wonders with him but as urzz1871 says, time will tell is he's got the motivation to do it again this year
Chartley: Good question..what are our strengths. Everything is settling down at present. Individuals have played well but expect for Leicester away we have not played as a team at all. That was our strength last season Yes we had Long who scored most of our goals but the team worked as one.
uzzz1871: Nope, sorry - after pondering the question I can't really come up with any clear strengths. I suppose the spirit is still there, and we've not been decimated by losing players this window. I suppose it'd have to be squad size and variety of options - but I'm clutching at straws!
Wimbles: I think we've got three good goalkeepers, all of which could or may play in the Premier League one day! on paper our starting midfield 4 is also up there amongst the best in the division but right now we're a mess at the back and up front
Jonny: Tactically let everyone else answer first :p... I also can't find a strength aside from our lack of "billy big b*llock" attitude that left when Millsy packed his bag for Leicester. Everyone seems to get along - although I'm not sure if this could lead us to be a bit too relaxed, a bit like a group of mates turning up at the park.
Wimbles: Finally then, based on our transfer activity and the general state of the squad, how do you think we'll get on this season?
Jonny: 10th-12th, never really in for a shout. as with last season, until the incredible run.
uzzz1871: Somewhere between 6th and 10th
Chartley: I am not expecting much this season. we have a good squad still but other teams have caught up with us. we should be a mid table team this season.
Tommyrfc: Mid table. If we have a bad run of injuries/results we might have a nervous few months but we won't go down. Equally, if we find some of the form from last season we could make a late run for the playoffs ala Blackpool
Wimbles: I'll go for 8th but it only takes one 'Leigertwood' signing and someone like Manset to step up and we'd be right up there. I think the back 5 will sort itself out it's just how quickly they do so.
Chartley: as the saying goes time will tell.
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