A while back, before I started sharing my thoughts on MFW, I used to periodically do a squad review via Twitter posts.
It was a combination of a light-hearted look at our squad and a serious analysis of each player.
It always proved quite popular. People didn’t always agree, but that’s one of the great things about football, we all have different opinions and it gets us talking.
So without further ado, as we wish farewell to an underwhelming 2016, here’s my pre-January transfer window look at our squad:
1 John Ruddy:
Still our best keeper by a country mile for me, but looks like he’s bulked up which may be the root cause of some of the issues in his more recent city history. Keep.
2 Steven Whittaker:
Kept as a spare left back due to uncertainty on Robbie Brady’s future according to Alex Neil. I think I’d rather see youth given the 3rd choice bearth. Move on, but probably at the end of the season now.
3 Martin Olsson:
A strange one this. He’s a serial relegation candidate, but probably the best left back in the Championship on his day. Has had virtually zero support from team mates all season, but also wanted to leave. If we look like going up I’d keep. If not I’d let him move on, which may be what the contract extension was about.
4 Graham Dorrans:
Another strange one is Mr Dorrans. When things are going well he can run the show at this level, when they’re not he all too often goes missing. Keep, but have a word!
5 Russell Martin:
I love Russ, but his time at City is over. I’ve nothing but respect for how he handles himself or how he has over-achieved and taken the chance afforded him by Paul Lambert, but it’s tough to keep that up. Move on with gratitude and thanks.
6 Sebastien Bassong:
I’ve always been one of Big Seb’s biggest critics, mainly as he thinks he’s Pele and more often than not he thinks this at critical defensive moments and gets found out. That being said, we’ve kept more clean sheets with him in the team than Klose this season. It’s time to move on though.
7 Steven Naismith:
One of the most frustrating transfers we’ve ever had – so much talent, but it’s just not worked here. I always rated him at Everton and was thrilled when he signed, however, I think it’s time to sell and move on for the benefit of all concerned.
8 Jonny Howson:
There are not enough words in the English language to describe how much I love Jonny; first name on the team sheet (in central midfield) and build the team around him. Keep.
9 Nelson Oliveira:
Big Nelson seems to finally found his feet after needing some time to settle in. He looks a decent option, as long as we get pace in and around him. Keep.
10 Cameron Jerome:
Started the season well, but was over-worked in my opinion and injury resulted. He can score at this level, but does need a few chances; we should be capable of creating them and he’s a decent option at this level. If we stay down, keep- if we go up, sell.
11 Matt Jarvis:
I’d love to see Matt play again play to his full potential, however, I fear what will happen is he’ll come back and be injured again. He’s handy to have around for the younger players to learn from, so I’d keep for now and evaluate in the summer depending on fitness.
12 Robbie Brady:
Slapping a £20m price tag on Robbie was mental. We should have accepted the £15m reported to have been offered and spent it on players that want to be here. He has undoubted talent, but we need to move him on.
13 Paul Jones:
14 Wes Hoolahan:
Started the season well, but drifted away I guess like most 35 year olds would. He still has the ability to spark that bit of magic that most do not, but this increasingly comes at a cost defensively. One more season, probably his last, is worth a shout, even if it’s as a bit part and to pass on to the younger generation.
15 Timm Klose:
Despite being our best centre back on paper he’s found the transition to the Championship tough. We probably should have sold in the summer while his stock was high. Would love to keep him, but suspect the further we are from the top, the more he wants to leave.
17 Sergi Canos:
Who? Oh yes, I remember him, him played near the beginning of the season and looked a real handful and full of energy. That got him demoted to obscurity. Still very young, definitely one to keep, and use!
18 Youssouf Mulumbu:
Recent displays have shown a glimpse of his former self, but is at the wrong end of his career and I’d prefer players like Thomson to get a shout. Feels like some fresh legs are needed in this department for me.
19 Kyle Lafferty:
Oh dear. The River End’s hero! I do feel he’s not been given much of a chance this season, but the failure to move him on if not wanted speaks volumes. Just go already for everybody’s sake.
21 Alex Pritchard:
I think we’ve finally found a long term Wes replacement here, should be playing ‘number 10’ every week for me. Also get him spending as much time with Wes as possible to learn. He’s a great prospect’ Keep.
22 Jacob Murphy:
The boy’s done good! He does however, like all young players need a rest now and again. 100% keep.
24 Ryan Bennett:
OK as a back-up centre back, not the answer in the first-team though. Keep on that basis.
25 Daniel Ivo Pinto:
Legend in the making! Great attacking full-back at this level, makes me wonder what we’d look like with him and Olsson as wing backs in a 3-5-2. Keep him for sure.
26 Michael Turner:
I expect he was kept as back-up due to uncertainty on Klose’s future and confidence in finding a replacement. This speaks volumes on the state on the club. It’s time to move on.
27 Alex Tettey:
I think age and the injuries are starting to catch up with Alex as it’s not been his best season. I mean he’s never been able to pass to a team mate beyond five yards, but has always swept up well and been full of energy. He’s not been this season, maybe time to move on.
30 Carlton Morris:
This boy seems more promising each time I see him. I’d love to see him given a few chances in the first team, and he’s hungry for it, unlike many of the first-team squad. Keep.
31 Josh Murphy:
Seems to have been the victim of his brother’s success, which has been the other way round in the past, but he’s essential to keep for sure. I look forward to the day the first-team has both Murphy boys in it. They can play in the same team you know Alex!
33 Michael McGovern:
Okay, kind of, as a back-up keeper, but should not be first choice. I’d keep him, but only as a number two keeper.
34 Louis Thompson:
This boy looks really promising and his injury was really unfortunate timing for him and the club. I’m looking forward to seeing him alongside Howson once fit again. Keep.
Started well on loan in Scotland but seems to have fallen off a little; that being said, I’d love to see him start to play for the first-team competing with Pritchard. While we have Pritchard, Naismith, Wes and Howson ahead of him in that role though, a loan may be the best place for him although if Naismith moves on I’d recall him. Keep.
Felt a bit sorry for Harry, he had a tough game early season and got loaned out almost immediately after. Not seen enough of him to have an opinion, but I’d rather he got a chance over older players when Olsson inured.
Seems like a better backup to me, so I’d bring him back and tell him to beef it up a bit, maybe he could borrow some from Ruddy.
Too early for a real opinion so loan the best place for him currently. Keep.
Weirdest signing ever, time to move on!
Seems to have been converted to a centre back from midfield. Promising youngster with lots to learn as yet.
So there we go, I think that shows that we maybe need better back-up options at fullback, better options all round at centre-back, better options in defensive midfield and perhaps a better striker. We also need some more power and pace. That aside we’re looking good 😉
Very interesting piece, got to say I agree with all of those choices. I also agree that so many of those who need moving on dominate our first team.
At this point in proceedings I’d rather see wholesale changes, blood some of those who need game time, accept this season is now gone (it is) and start to prepare already for next. We have a good number of young players with potential, let’s see them get game time and start really looking for decent players who compliment them and strengthen our team. Come the summer we then make signings early with intent to do a damn sight better next year.
But change the manger right now.
Gary Field says
Don’t disagree with any of these. The age profile of the squad is shockingly high and too many fringe squad players are way past their “best before dates.” Hence why I think we’ll struggle to move many of them on!
martin penney says
I enjoyed reading that.
I have to say I can’t disagree with a single verdict, and with a such a subjective piece that’s really quite incredible.
Dropping late on low shots has long been a problem with Ruddy, who does look a “tad” too heavy. Not quite a latter-day Neville Southall, but he looks a stone over to me. I’m right behind the goal, so I’ve got a good viewpoint:-)
#1: Ncfcpaul: Good comments and I thoroughly agree with you too. This season’s horse has bolted and the manager surely has to go.
Michael D says
Yes, let’s see players like Pritchard, Thompson, 1 Murphy, Pinto, Olivieria start much more regularly, and yes keep Howson at centre of midfield, but blood also Canos, Maddison, Ben Godfrey, bring back Toffolo, Declan Rudd, and for heaven’s sake find at least one new young promising CB from the lower leagues, assuming that AN has so burned his bridges now with Klose that he won’t stay…
Just do something different now AN, CHANGE THINGS AROUND !!!!!!!
Agree with most, but didn’t look good from the off as you failed miserably at no.1. Keep Ruddy? Even the club don’t want to do renew his contract and they are the first to reward failure, which shows how bad your decision was! Ruddy (useless) and Martin are the epitome of getting comfortable (or fat in one case) and not being good enough for many seasons, throwing away points on their own at crucial times. No thanks required, just a contractual meat cleaver and a thankful smile. We need a cutthroat team back in place.
Amidst all the criticism of Alex Neil, a squad of players who the majority of which are simply not fit to wear the shirt have been allowed to get away with murder. Their so called ability & talent is irrelevant, they lack the character to apply themselves for the fitness & mental strength they require.
It’s notable that there are a lot more ‘leaves’ than ‘stays’ – we now have a squad that needs taking apart and putting back together, with a couple of old heads to exert a positive influence (which is why I’d keep Russ) on a potentially exciting crop of young players. But let’s be honest, it’s now a 2 year project, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
Stewart Lewis says
Good assessment, Craig. And a remarkable degree of assent from commenters (except, predictably, Jeff’s farrago).
I’d agree with most but not quite all. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, I’ll take it you either missed Barnsley or penned your comment on Josh M before that game. The two Murphys + Pritchard looked a recipe for disaster, and that’s what it proved to be.
I’d particularly endorse your thoughts on Carlton Morris and Harry Toffolo, though. Both have really impressed me and I’d love to see them get a crack at a higher level.
Happy New Year to everyone. Let’s hope it starts with a few points – I’m not one who could ever wish our team to lose. OTBC
Craig Bailey says
#7 Stewart, Barnsley was the day my son was born so I did miss it. I wouldn’t dismiss that combination completely though, this run makes it tough for the younger players in particular to do well. Should be mixed with experience for a while yet though and pick select games.
Craig Bailey says
Also happy new year, everyone. Let’s hope it’s more prosperous for NCFC!
Craig Bailey says
#6 good point on the leader aspect kobe. Not solved that since Holt left. Howson best option from available options.
Craig Bailey says
#1 #2 #3 #4 thanks Paul, Gary, Martin and Michael.
#5 Jeff, I’ll take only getting two wrong 😉 But one can be ruthless in the right way without the need for cleavers:D
Craig Bailey says
And remember all. In Ricky we trust!
Jim Davies says
I’ve seen comments on other MFW blogs about bringing Declan Rudd back, but no can do till the end of the season. He’s on a season long loan, which means he can’t be recalled.
However, I agree we need a total rebuild, but we also need to avoid that drop into League 1 – it won’t be so easy to get out next time round.
Dave H says
I always do this at the end of the season but I can certainly see why it’s done now. I agree with your reasoning and outcomes for most if not all. Still debating what I’d do with Russell Martin though.
Great article which as per some of the comments, usually arrives at seasons end…Amazing that no one has pointed out the seemingly abject failure of almost ALL of Mr. Neil’s signings under his coaching team.
Pritchard was outstanding at Brentford two years ago, as was Canos last season, but cannot get into our current team.
Naismith really excited me, but other than 60 minutes against Liverpool….
It seems that Klose is not as good as Bassong/Bennett/Martin
Brady always gives the appearance that NCFC is not good enough for him BUT gets the nod ahead of Olsson.
Maddison on loan and getting some good reports but will he be fit enough on his return?
And just who is Tony Andreu??
I absolve Oliveira from the above, as every time I’ve seen him, he seems very committed to the cause – and consequently gets substituted – go figure!
Lets face it, surely 2017 can’t be as bad as this year, can it??
Interesting ideas Craig. In broad agreement with most of the reviews, taking issue with a few.
No way would I keep John Ruddy, surely the poorest first choice keeper in the Championship. On that issue your dismissal of Jones was harsh. Always looks competent when I see him and streets ahead of the one whose name I forget that Neil brought in as number three last year.
The Murphys together? Like at Barnsley? No, no never.
As we all know, moving on some of the deadest wood will prove hard and we should be thankful that a number of duds are out of contract in the summer.
Let’s just hope Neil doesn’t give them another year!
Stewart Lewis says
Craig (8): What a poor excuse for missing a game….
Dave B says
I think after today we can safely say that Jerome should be off.
Not a terrible result today, if looked at in a vacuum, but nothing to change too many people’s minds on Neil I’d expect.
Andrew Brewer says
I find this sort of analysis a bit worrying. It’s easy and enjoyable but you can’t get rid of a third of your squad and it would be disastrous if you did.
I also find this analysis in which most of the senior squad are rubbish and should be replaced by largely untried youngsters sits uneasily with the criticism of the manager.
The whole rationale for getting rid of Neil is that he is underachieving with a squad that should be performing better. Are we now saying that it’s not Neil but the players are not good enough?
Are the likes of Jerome and Naismith rubbish or do they need to be managed and used differently to get their better perfirmances? Perhaps it’s a debate we need to have before just condemning the “clueless” manager?
Craig Bailey says
#19 I don’t think I said anyone was rubbish, nor did I suggest filling the team with youngsters. It was also supposed fun and light hearted, not worrying. To set your mind at rest it will have zero influence at Carrow road. Interesting debate players v manager though. Ultimately managers responsibility.