Trying to predict the result of this game is like trying to predict the weather in the UK.
We simply haven't seen enough of the players we have to make a judgement.We haven't had a remotely settled team because of injuries,but more importantly a clueless manager.
I accept I'm beginning to sound like a cracked record but god only knows what the result will be with this guy in charge.
We were 8th before the January window opened with a record of 7 wins, 3 draws, and 5 losses for a total of 24 points. Scoring 19 goals and having conceded 17 in the process. Granted it was better than the second half of the season by a country mile where we'd have finished 17th, it's not as if things were rosy prior.
Of our January signings only five really had first team roles - Enzo, Badiashile, Mudryk, Madueke and the loan of Joao Felix.
Enzo had 18 appearances and essentially replaced Jorginho in the team.
Badiashile made 11 appearances and was in and out of the team, including only featuring in 3 of the last 11 games.
Mudryk featured 15 times after joining, primarily off the bench and only amassed just over 650 minutes.
Madueke had 12 appearances, with virtually the bulk of his 650ish minutes coming in the final 6 matches of the season. Had barely played up until that point through either selection and injury.
Joao Felix featured 16 times for nearly 1000 minutes.
Saying our January killed off our season is a little misconstrued, of those that did sign only Enzo and Joao Felix really had regular roles within the team. The rest were sporadic players that barely had influence one way or another. More responsibility lays at the feet of those who were already at the club prior, particularly with some of those who'd been here for years like Kova, Mount, etc and looked downright disinterested.
He had a £35m release clause, which was absolutely under his market value. That's all Liverpool had to pay to entertain into immediate negotiations, it takes the haggling back and forth and milking for more money completely out of the argument. Sure, there may be add-on's, clauses, bonuses or whatever, but it's not guaranteed money.
Neither were "odd".
Lukaku had zero desire to play for Chelsea again, not hard to read the room there.
Kepa's situation was merely born out of Courtios's injury, and he expressed his desire to move once interest was firm. Can't really blame him for taking up the opportunity to play for a far more prestigious club - one he nearly joined before joining us originally, and to return home to Spain. We're also unlikely to extend his contract unless he cuts his massive wages, so the chance to save money on a player many here religiously shat on can't be now looked upon unfavourably.
I don't think we've intentionally set out to be bad, but it's not something that would've been unexpected either. There will have no doubt been the understanding that we'd likely go backwards first, with it's going to take some time to see proper progression forward. We've heard countless players talk about the project, Enzo and Caicedo more recently in an interview they did together, so it's obviously been discussed internally and accepted by the players that this going to just turn around overnight.
There is of course a limit to how long this can go on for without seeing sustained movement forward, but personally I'm ore than willing to give it 2-3 years providing there's signs of development.
I've been critical when it's required, and I've certainly not agreed with every decision or move they've made, but I'm also entirely aware that this is a project and it is going to take a bit of time before we get a proper reading of things. The Caicedo situation was a complex on in fairness. His extension made things worse, then it wasn't helped by Arsenal paying what they did for Rice. Brighton played the situation well and held own until that hotly tipped Rice deal happened, that allowed them to set the benchmark and we were forced into paying what we did if we wanted our main target. Let's not forget, Caicedo may not have even happened had PSG not come in and offered Ugarte the ridiculous money they did at the start of the window.
Thinking we're good enough for a set level and actually being good enough are two entirely different things. On paper I do think we're a better team then we're showing, and in a perfect could see us finishing 4th. But realistically, that was always unlikely to occur due to acknowledging the components of the team and where it's at.
I think it's harsh to claim injuries are a poor excuse, they've certainly had a telling impact in key areas and have still prevented us from fielding our best eleven. While some have returned, someone like James for example is going to take a bit of time and is quite clearly being eased back having still yet to play a full 90 minutes. What I would say is that we can't use injuries as an excuse for every poor performance. We've still had matches were we've fielded a good side, played relatively well, and walked away with dropped points.
Agree to disagree then. I feel we would've signed a better striker had their been a viable option, and if we had more time in the transfer window remaining. I think the fact we had so many deals being worked on trying to get players out, then getting certain players in, it was always going to stretch us to a degree. Specifically with respects to Lukaku, Mount, Havertz, Ziyech and Caicedo's transfers.