As you will see, this WAS going to be the article to be finished and released yesterday.
Okay, it’s the Borussia Monchengladbach, Champions League game tonight; a game where a win for us and a defeat of Juventus by Seville in Spain would see us finish top of our group table. I hope all that happens…and that we also gain some playing pride after two truly AWFUL displays against Liverpool and, later, Stoke City.
But rather than a usual pre-match ‘predicted line-up, subs & outcome’-type piece and BECAUSE of our ailing form of late; I thought, instead, I’d have a look at our squad and do a more-general, “What if they were all fit / best 11 & subs”.
…but, once again, family illness issues prevented me from releasing this posting in time. Apologies.
So very glad we pulled it around after a somewhat dodgy first half display, particularly in defence; SO very glad Sevilla beat Juventus, meaning we finish top of our group table…and Manyoo crashing into the Europa Cup following a 3-2 defeat at Wolfsburg added an extra cherry on the top, I have to say.
So, I continue as planned…
‘All fit’ best 11, formation & subs
4-2-3-1 come 4-2-2-1-1 come 4-4-1-1:
Notable players not selected:
Starting at the back, Joe is a no-brainer…so let’s move on.
Moving from left to right and back to front…
…and people who know me, together with regular readers, might be surprised, nay, shocked at my starting-inclusion of Aleks Kolarov, when Gael Clichy was available in my ‘no injuries world’. It’s simply because in this formation; further up the pitch we don’t necessarily have ‘line-touching wingers’ but rather players who will ‘drift’, ‘swap’ and ‘tuck in’. In other words, this formation relies on full-backs who are decent at bombing forward with occasional, overlapping runs.
Seeing as this is a ‘imagine if fit’ exercise; well that’s all we can do with alarmingly regularity in the last few months and seasons with our Captain, Vinny. He certainly gets ‘in there’ when fit though, of course; recent stats alone show how much we miss him so very badly.
Next to him, for me, has to be Nicolas Otamendi; a player who I think could strike-up a really good partnership…should ‘our skip’ keep himself on the pitch long enough.
Poor ol’ Bacary. He has done nothing whatsoever wrong to deserve being dropped to the bench in my starting 11 - now I know, just a little bit, how managers might feel when they’re making their decisions. But similar to the ‘Kolarov theory’ in this world of mine, I believe that Pablo is the better of the two in a supporting, attacking role…and if he can gain some traction following a series of injuries and regain some form; he’s one HELL of a defender too [unlike his colleague on the other flank]!
In the middle of ‘a two’ I’ll start with a player who, when fit himself, is really starting to look like a bargain over & ABOVE the mere £8M we paid Aston Villa for the England man. With bags of running energy; we appear to have a Milner-type player on our books but, of course, a much younger version. I actually see Fabian being our long-term defensive midfielder and in this formation, would complement my chosen partner very well indeed.
Fernandinho too, in this formation / starting 11, would help out in the defensive midfield duties and, therefore, would add a little more security to our defence and then, of course, allow our full-backs to ‘bomb forward’ on occasions with a little more peace of mind. But Fernandinho can, in this formation also, allow himself to support the attacking players on occasions; with Fabian ‘staying put’ to cover. It’s all very fluid…
That brings me onto the ‘string pullers’ and main creative part of the team. Simply put, it almost gives Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva ‘free roles’ to add a devastating, creative spark and cause the ‘oppo’ all SORTS of trouble. And who might be the beneficiaries of that creativity? Two, yes, TWO forwards!
Not that I agree with him entirely; but Manuel Pellegrini has been quoted on more than one occasion that he sees Kelechi Iheanacho as a ‘just off’ striker. I believe he can be, sure; but I also see a very intelligent forward who can ‘run / push the opposition line’ VERY well indeed…not to mention he’s also a flippin’ good finisher! So, Manuel, why not play him ‘just off’…just off Aguero, who I need-not go into any detail about.
What a devastating ‘starting 11’ that is, in my humble opinion - a strong defensive unit with great counter-attacking abilities; creativity-a-plenty and goals!
With ‘everyone fit’ comes some big-guns on the bench…as well as some players being left out altogether who would get into most Premier League teams I’m sure.
Willy gets the back-up keeper job of course…and for the moment at least.
With an ‘all fit’ scenario we have to have cover on both defensive flanks in my opinion and, in Bacary & Gael, we have two good’ns.
Gotta have a central defensive replacement if necessary and Eliaquim gets that job.
Wow! Yaya & Sterling on the bench – not sure how happy they’d be with that week in / week out. But when you’re in a big squad of top, top players AND everyone is fit & available; this is what some have to put up with. And, of course, we can’t play the VERY same 11 all of the time, as much as continuity can be a good thing along with how highly I would rate this starting 11.
Wilfried, with our limited striking options, gets the ‘bench job’ for his department.
The BIG losers in this are an aging central defender in Martin Demichelis, Fernando wouldn’t be too happy with me after a largely improved period of time; Samir Nasri (if he was fit of course) would go into sulking overdrive and finally often-manager-favourite, Jesus Navas, might look to follow Pellegrini out of the door if I was to take over at the helm.
That team, in my opinion, would come out on top most weeks in the Premier League…and wouldn’t do too bad in Europe either (we need to get Kelechi into the knock-out stages squad if possible).
Where does ‘my selection’ suggest we need to strengthen?
Not necessarily in January; I’m thinking more summer really…
Starting at the back, I think we’d all like to see goalkeeping cover / competition for Joe of better quality than Willy Caballero, unless we have someone ready to step up from the EDS.
It still screams a new left-back for me; possibly an attacking wing-back type-player but I’d take a bloody good, left-sided defender!
Get Jason Denayer back in the New Year - or next season at least - and if the ‘other 3’ (minus Martin Demichelis) can settle down both in ‘form’ and ‘injury-wise’ then we SHOULDN’T need a new central defender at all. If not, we might need one of these too…
I think Samir might be on his way out…possibly anyway. And with us-better using Yaya periodically from now on in my opinion; then a move for Paul Pogba or similar creative / attacking, central midfielder is a must for us in order to keep ahead of the Jones’.
Indulgence? Possibly a classy right-winger?
And a definite is at least one, new TOP striker.
Hope you enjoyed my little indulgence – feel free to comment as always and thanks, as always, for ‘taking the time’…