Aiming at the Top 8
It seems to be the buzz word(s), not just with our club but I notice with other ‘similar’ clubs, such as West Ham, Southampton and even god forbid, Crystal Palace.
Why the Top 8?
There is nothing magical about the ‘Top 8’, no Europe certainly (probably part of the attraction). The few million quid a league placing earns is pocket money in this age of plenty.
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I guess the main reason is that the so called Top 6 (which includes Spurs, although I reckon they are pretty flaky at the moment) are untouchable.
The Man City owners control half the world’s money and just fling cash about like confetti (£49 million for that horrible squirt with average talent from Liverpool, I would be embarrassed if we did that even if we had the money), Chelsea are the same – whilst Man United pile it onto a debt, as do Liverpool. God I hope these two clubs implode.
Arsenal at least are better run and have a proper manager that I can admire, whilst I am assuming that Spurs, new ground and all, may be heading for some choppy waters.
At the foot of the table this year will be the normal culprits; the 3 promoted teams, Leicester, Mackems and somebody else who will have a crap year. Last year it was us, next year I do not expect it to be. It could be Villa.
So Top 8 it is. Not Top 7 you note, because Top 8 gives us two chances of success (although I kind of think Everton will take one place, they usually do). I am sure this Top 8 is a deliberate conspiracy to create some excitement in the middle ranks.
So can we become the best of the rest? Of course we can.
Whether we will, clearly depends hugely on the remaining days in the transfer window. For what it’s worth I think we will sign a centre-forward and a centre-back, going the other way will be Sissoko but sadly none of the dead wood we have in the club. We have paid them too much and given them too long a contract.
Cisse will stay or go depending if we get a second centre-forward, I think we will not try too hard on that front. Assuming we get a £13 million forward, £10 million defender and recoup £8 million for Sissoko that will give a net summer outlay of between £25 and £30 million – job done according to Ashley/Charnley.
The real question is whether our new coaching team can improve what is there and integrate what we will have, into a team that simply performs better than last season.
I like what they have said so far, I like the plan to play football not hoofball, I like his continental experience, but I am concerned that for the past five years McClaren’s record has been, frankly, a bit shite.
What is undoubtedly true is that last year some decent players seriously underperformed, or were semi permanently injured (it does did not help that our only goal scorer took to spitting). However, that does not mean that they are not decent players.
Mc Claren and the coaching team will improve playing performance, at least for a while, if only on the basis that they cannot be as bad as the last ‘coaches’ we had.
Injuries are less easy to judge as we have deliberately signed injury prone players (being cheap), so we are always going to have a worse track record than normal teams.
However, looking at the squad and the additions that I think will happen (incl Sissoko to be sold), then we have this many decent players:
Janmaat/Dummett/New Centre Back/Lascalles/Coloccini/Haidara
I accept this includes 2 unknowns from Forest but my fanatical Forest mate assures me they are ok.
Moving away from these 18 and there is a real drop in standards, I won’t name them but we know who they are.
Is it going to be enough to get us up to the magical Top 8?
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