Date: 15th June 2009 at 6:51pm
Written by:

Vital Manchester City member Wswilly3 sent us the following…

City seem to get linked with anybody and everyone that could possibly be on the transfer market, whether it be due to over eager agents or tired hacks who just haven’t got a story to file. However the one thing that we do know is that Mark Hughes has proved both at Blackburn and at City that he is a shrewd man in the transfer market and is unlikely to buy without having given the situation a great deal of thought

That at least allows us to get more of an insight into transfer targets by hopefully just applying a bit of cold, clear logic to the situation. Money is clearly not a problem and we can outbid most but our failure to get Champions League football or any other European football, for that matter, does create a limitation on whom we might attract. So we have to ask ourselves the crucial questions – where does the squad need strengthening by Top 4 level players and who could we feasibly attract into those positions?

Let’s imagine we want a squad of say 26-28 first players supplemented by a few players coming through the ranks like McGivern and Weiss. Currently we have 34 first teamers excluding young players from the reserves, so again we have to determine who should go to make room, because they are not top 4 level performers. So let’s look at each type of position starting with goalkeeper

For goalkeeper in many ways we have an abundance of talent with Shay Given, surely the best or certainly one of the best in the Premiership, backed up by two excellent young goalkeepers with outstanding potential. The trouble is that the ‘potential’ will perhaps understandably want first team football and a one year loan move to Birmingham for Joe Hart (provided there is a recall clause) makes sense but leaves us short of back up, particularly as Kasper will also probably want out – most likely to a Championship team. So my first assumption is that we need to recruit an experienced goalkeeper, who is prepared to be paid well but can live without regular first team football – rather like Cudicini did for Chelsea.

In defence we currently have eleven on the books but of these I would advocate that six definitely do not meet the top 4 criteria and must go (some are out of contract anyway) – these are Ball, Ben Haim, Berti, Mills, Logan and Garrido. This leaves Zabaleta, Richards, Onuoha, Dunne and Bridge and we also have Kompany as a possible centre half. Reasonable strength but certainly not top 4 Level and the analysis has to be that we need to strengthen by at least two and probably three top class defenders, particularly as it could be argued that the jury has to still be out on Dunne and Richards as consistent top level performers at the required higher level.

After saying this it would seem folly to consider transferring them until we had acquired proven performers, who were doing it in the sky blue shirt. The problem as ever comes in who is available and who we could get with the only obvious candidates being Upson, Toure, Johnson or Lescott, the latter being particularly attractive as he could also cover left back. So my conclusion would be three needed to join five already there with Kompany and McGivern also in the equation.

Now to midfield where we have eleven on the books of which I would argue that three should definitely go – these being Hamaan, Fernandes and Etuhu. This leaves de Jong and Kompany for the holding role – Johnson (if fit), Ireland , Elano and Barry for central midfield with Wright-Phillips and Petrov being the only flank players, although depending on the way we set up they could be supplemented by Robinho and Bellamy.

I would argue we need at least two new recruits here – one as a creative midfielder (particularly if Elano has an in-out season again) and one to provide more competition on the flanks. I have to admit I do not know anything of some of the Portuguese and Spaniards talked about for these positions and we are not going to get Ribery but I do believe we need strengthening here to make a complement of ten.

Finally we have to look at the strikers where we currently have nine but this will be reduced by Vassell going, Sturridge decamping and I would argue to this we should transfer Benjani, Jo and Evans (if we can). This would leave us with Robinho and Bellamy who could be regarded as top 4 level and Bojinov and Caicedo who have yet to prove this.

We are clearly devoid of a strong tall forward who can hold the ball up, head goals and get us say 20 plus a season. My argument is that we need two such players but who is realistically available – maybe Roque Santa Cruz and Forlan because we are not going to get Eto’o or Villa and I hope we don’t go for some unproven continental for next season ? we have been there too many times.

In addition a strong argument could be made for Carlos Tevez as a support striker, although I still have difficulties of how the team would shape up with both him and Robinho in it. So I would advocate a total of seven for these key roles which always seem to need maximum back-up and of these three would need to be new signings.

So in summary I believe logic points to sixteen players leaving, either permanently or on loan, and the remaining eighteen current players could be argued as top 4 level or certainly the nearest we have to this. To these we need to recruit a back up goalkeeper(?), three defenders (Lescott, Toure and?), two midfielders (?,?) and three strikers/support strikers (Santa Cruz, Forlan and Tevez).

Put this way, nine new players sounds a great many to get into the club in a relatively short time but does anyone see any other alternatives? Surely we have to make sure we get into the top 4 next year, so we can then recruit at an even higher level next close season. I would be interested in people’s views based on what we realistically can achieve in the transfer market this close season, as pipe dreams have to wait – at least for another season!