|Gylfi Not Irreplaceable- But Not Trying To Directly Replace Him Is Smart|
Written by BarneyLW on Thursday, 17th Aug 2017 20:17
So the dust has finally settled. In what seemed like the most painstaking saga in living memory, Gylfi Sigurdsson is an Everton player. A man the club were silently resigned to eventually losing has moved on and like so often in the past, the club must plan for life without their star player.
The manner of the Iceman's departure was a constant sticking point since his decision to stay behind during the club's pre-season tour of the United States. Which at the time may have panned out with the deal being completed over that weekend, however with 20:20 hindsight now looks a blunder from the former hero, with a bitter aftertaste left with those fans who are not simply relieved so see some form of resolution.
Clement in his press conference before the clash against Manchester United was refreshing in his usual frank honesty; always aware the midfielder would eventually depart and notably frustrated of late at the cumbersome pace of the move. Yet now he and the board can use their experience of past seasons to strengthen- Clement had said his former go-to man is not irreplaceable, yet a mix of inflation, lack of time and realistic available targets in the position mean the best bet is to strengthen with multiple moves, rather than a big money risk.
Were you to think back to when Lee Trundle left as a vaguely similar situation: While since then Swansea City and indeed football has changed dramatically, one factor remains consistent; rather than going for a direct replacement, the money was reinvested to key areas in the squad. Sigurdsson has been involved in 53 goals since August 2014, the pragmatic attitude of the club would make sense to not look for someone who can match that level, but to bulk up a thin squad with players that could collectively get to that number, if all goes well.
So to examine the players that are strongly linked to becoming new additions before the window slams shut: Two possible returns have been met with mixed reviews; Joe Allen would possibly go from being the one that got away to the one that was brought back at an exorbitant fee to a mixed reaction. Indeed this is a move that more than likely will be a character forming lesson for Huw Jenkins et al, the opportunity knocked last season while he was an essential target.yet the club dithered and scrimped and their loss was Stoke City's gain, highlighted by their desire to keep hold of the 'Welsh Pirlo'- With many feeling he is less needed now to fill the void.
The other prospect looks to be a reunion with Wilfried Bony. A move so wonderfully ironic as fans have often questioned where the money from his transfer fee to Manchester City was reinvested, his lack of success at Pep Guardiola's side looks increasingly promising that they can bring back the Ivorian at a cut price deal. Like Sigurdsson after his first spell (and possibly in this next spell) away from the club, Bony found the grass is not always greener and looks set to return to the place that saw him play arguably the best football of his career. Much of the summer the move has looked upcoming, yet this was largely dependent on Fernando Llorente's departure. Now this does not look as if one does not equal the other as the man nicknamed Daddy Cool could once again play at the ground he described as his garden, battling Llorente and loan signing Tammy Abraham for a place in a two-man attack. The amount of goals he bagged in his first term means while an abundance of midfield creativity has gone to Goodison, a multitude of goals could return.
As an enquiry has been made into Hull City midfielder Sam Clucas, it is worth remembering that once again this is not designed to be like-for-like as a budget replacement for Sigurdsson. Yet while Clucas looked promising in a struggling Hull side last season, his price tag may be a turn off considering his similarities to other players in the squad already.
Another consistent link is Belgian midfielder Nacer Chadli. Securing the winger's services looks somewhere more likely than Joe Allen, but less-so than Bony. His up and down time in the Premier League adds to mixed fan reactions, yet he has had an eye for goal, as a scorer and an assist provider. His time at Spurs was lukewarm, though the caveat to that would be he arrived at White Hart Lane in a transitional period. His time at West Brom has been similarly inconsistent, though Tony Pulis' indifference to him may mean he eventually becomes the Baggies' loss and Clement's gain, as his versatility in various midfield positions could equal an encouraging match between player and team-see also Jordan Ayew, who is clearly liked by the boss.
There is a misconception that the transfer kitty must be poured out in the remaining fortnight if the club is to have any hope of survival again. But now everyone can hit the reset button following Sigurdsson's departure. The funds must be reinvested, but rather than a madcap blowout, 2 or 3 smart, if some inflated purchases could re-distribute the goal burden and the accusations of over-reliance on one or two could instead mean addressing the much-needed areas of the squad which have been lacking serious depth.
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Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
Letters from Wiltshire #43 by wessex_exile
Well, that has been a lively week for Colchester United in the press, and not least for Robbie Cowling, with not one, or two, but kind of three club announcements in rapid succession to try and put the record straight. First, we had Tribunalgate, which certainly looked very poor according to the initial press reports, but which on closer inspection when some of the ‘fact gaps’ were filled in wasn’t anywhere near the story that some would have us believe. Then of course we had the ‘leak’ that the U’s were about to go into administration, despite all the reassurances we’d been given in previous statements from Robbie. Not so said Robbie again, and particularly angry at what he believed to be the source of the story. Hence statement #3, repeating his assurances, but this time after passing through the lawyer filter to remove his thoughts on the source. To paraphrase Robbie’s conclusion to that statement, let’s hope we can all have a day off from this sort of media shenanigans and enjoy our game at Oldham tonight!