I think most fans are now coming to the conclusion that the current squad probably won’t make the play-offs. A third defeat in four, our third league game with no goal, and these are meant to be the bankers with the toughest month of the season just around the corner. However, a month we normally don’t take advantage of is here, and we have time to give this squad a huge boost.
It was tough for Thomas Christiansen today. No Vieira isn’t great, but add to that no Ayling, Ekuban, Saiz, Borthwick-Jackson and De Bock and you start to wonder what choice he has in some areas. Well now you can top that list up with Eunan O’Kane who saw red and now faces a three-game-ban and Pawel Cibicki who went off injured. We were in control of the game and on top before O’Kane was sent off in the 37th minute. Even after that we had chances but couldn’t find the net and of course we were hit with the sucker punch, so it’s not that it was a bad performance but some things are blatant and need addressing. We need players in the forward line who will get us goals. If Kemar Roofe doesn’t score, we don’t look like scoring and that’s worrying for a player who has only scored just over a handful of league goals so far. Creativity. No Saiz is an issue, but when Alioski, Cibicki and Sacko are all struggling to create chances or even play well then that issue is highlighted tenfold. We learned the hard way last season that despite moments of magic, Pablo Hernandez won’t do it every game, or anywhere near that.
We have money, the owner released a statement via the clubs website when Chris Wood was sold that “fans can rest assured” the money made from the Chris Wood sale will be re-invested the squad. Since then we have only signed a few first-team players, and it doesn’t make for good reading at all. Pierre-Michel Lasogga, five goals, on a loan. Jay-Roy Grot, no goals, £1.2m. Pawel Cibicki, no goals, £1.2m. Laurens De Bock, £1.2m. s\o the questions can now be asked, where is the rest of the £15 million? And quite simply, the person recruiting these players needs to take responsibility for some very, very poor replacements overall. Laurens De Bock should be taken out of that situation because he’s a left-back and hasn’t even kicked a ball yet. Saying that, we replaced Charlie Taylor (£8 million) with the loan of Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, another case of very poor recruitment given that Thomas Christiansen doesn’t see fit to even have the player on the bench most weeks, and that we have replaced an £8 million sale with a loan.
January is make or break this season. It was crucial last season but we had a better squad last season. Apart from Samu Saiz we haven’t signed anyone who is much better than what we actually had last season. Kyle Bartley, Chris Wood, Rob Green and Charlie Taylor have all left the club, three of whom were up there with Pontus Jansson for player of the year and one which had to go but was still and extremely good footballer. We can’t reach the minimum target of play-offs with this squad if you ask me, and the proof is in the performances if not the results. The last time you can look at the team and say we outplayed the opposition was Middlesbrough, many games ago. The 1-0 wins over Hull and Norwich were lucky to an extent and the defence bailed us out and the wins at Burton and Queens park Rangers were a case of just about being in the game after poor first-halves before improving in the second. It’s time we used this month like other clubs do, spend a bit more and increase the chances of success at the end of the season.