Rafa Benitez has told Roman Abramovich that his squad simply isn’t big enough, and with just 20 outfield players to his name, you can kind of see his point. Add to the mix that we’ve been involved in eight competitions this season, it certainly does all add up.
Two of them players are Ferreira and Malouda, so you could probably argue that the number is ever lower. Both Mikel and Moses are away on AFCON duty, and with Romeu and Luiz currently injured, it hardly takes Albert Einstein to work out where our problems lie.
Benitez said in his interview ‘I had a good conversation about this with the owner the other day. I gave my opinion, he listened to me. But I have to concentrate on the team.’ To me, that says, we appreciate your concern, but focus on picking the team. Unfortunately, sooner rather than later, that team will pick its self, as we may well be down to 16 players by next week.
That isn’t quite the whole story though, with Essien, De Bruyne, McEachran and Kakuta all out on loan, you have to wonder why at least one of these wasn’t recalled, or not let go, as we knew from Day 1 that we would be competing in a hell of a lot of games this season.
It makes it worse that we have failed in all of those competitions so far. Community Shield, Super Cup, and the Club World Cup were all finals, and had we won them, then the pressure may certainly have been a bit less around the Bridge in recent weeks. Add to that the extremely poor Carling Cup and Champions League performances, as well as the inconsistent Premier League campaign, and you can see why the frustration has set in this season. But where does the blame lie?
Its hard to argue that Abramovich should grab his cheque book again, but with the unavailable players, as well as Hazard now out for at least 3 games, it may be a ‘need to’ rather than ‘wanting to’. We face 7 games in 28 days now, and make that 8 should we dispose of Brentford tomorrow, and you begin to wonder what state the squad may be in come early March if we don’t bulk it out.
Most clubs would bring in the youth, but our youth, the likes of Piazon, McEachran, De Bruyne, are all on loan duty, and I’d put my money on there being no clause to bring them back. A spate of injuries could well be on the cards, especially with players playing whilst tired, the risk just increases 10-fold. Our reserves are having a decent season, but its truly only Bamford and Feruz (both forwards) who you’d even consider putting near the first-team, and even then, that is a huge risk, as we have had no platform close to the Premier League to view them on so far.
It’s been a struggle this season so far, and you’d bet on it getting a hell of a lot tougher if no players are brought in, or back from loan deals.
Do we need to sign anyone? Who should be on our radar? Or can we survive and put a decent cup run together without investment?
By Brad Smith