With or Without Roo

 

 

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The previous post made right after Ferguson announced his retirement did not really get any attention or bring forth any discussion at all. I guess people didn’t like the quality, what was written or were too fed up with the amount of blogs and newspapers sharing their opinion, to care about a rreddevils-post. Fair enough.  Following is an attempt on a better one.

 

It has been a couple of very hectic days for us Man United fans. Ferguson is retiring, Gill is leaving and Scholesy has kicked his final ball at Old Trafford. A lot of rumors about players coming in and players leaving followed the hiring of David Moyes, and the rumor with the most momentum has been that Wayne Rooney wants out. This was confirmed by Sir Alex Ferguson a couple days ago, and the latest news tell us that Giggs, Moyes and Ferguson met with Rooney in a hotel to discuss his future. Seeing as Giggs was brought in by the managers, it seems pretty obvious that Ferguson and Moyes have set out on a mission to convince Wayne to stay. This post is going to look at the concequences of Rooney staying  at United or leaving for another club. Who is getting the short end of the stick here?

 

The signal effect

Rooney wants out? How dare he! Many different opinions have been voiced out when it comes to Rooney leaving or staying. The fact that he comes in with a transfer request for the second time in three years has made me and most of the other United fans I’ve talked with, furious. He can stay or he can go, but either way, the transfer request can have a bigger impact on the future of the club than one first might think.

First of all, if he changes his mind (is convinced by Giggs, Ferguson and Moyes), we come off as weak. Is Manchester United a club where a player can dick around like that, TWICE, and still be wanted? Shouldn’t a player like that be thrown out? After thinking about it for a while, I realised that even if we might come off weak, it also shows strength. Being able to keep a player that we wanted to keep, shows some strength. Rooney also probably has the highest maximum level of performance of any player in the squad. A Rooney in top form is a top 5 player in the world. Other players would love to partner up with that, and having a player like Rooney in the club could be the deciding factor if another star player is debating whether to join United or say Arsenal.

Secondly, the way we are treating Rooney is very unlike Manchester Uniteds’ tradition. Having a look at previous players going against the way of the club, be that by whining about not getting enough play time, wanting higher wages, losing focus on the game or screwing with the team spirit, Ferguson has always offloaded them quickly. Jaap Stam, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Carlos Tevez, David Beckham. Players that in some way betrayed what the club stood for,  justified or not, have always been thrown out as fast as possible. Yet, we are, for the second time in two years, doing everything we can to keep Rooney.

Third, what does this show the other players at the club? You can whine your way to a better contract, the club still wants you. A couple of seasons later, you can be unhappy because you didn’t get to play full games (because you played sub-par), and then whine again. What happens? We still want you. That said, I realise it isn’t as black and white as I am writing it, but I figured this is how it could come off to some players. I also realise Rooney is a very special player, with the potential of leading Man United to five or ten new titles, and keeping him would have great benefits.

 

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So Rooney leaves, what then?

The most important point for me is selling him to a club outside of the Premier League. A Rooney at Chelsea or City wouldn’t just improve the team he joins by a lot. It also fucks with the team morale, the morale of the fans and ultimately can lead to a very weakened Man United.

The positives would be that Kagawa would finally get to play in his best role, behind Van Persie, and next to Rooneys replacement signing. With Rooney in the club, and on the pitch, Kagawa is very often pushed out to the left attacking midfield position. He is good at it, but he is A LOT better when he gets to play centrally. When Shinji is given the ball, faced forward and with team members moving, he is in my opinion just as good at orchestrating attacks as Cazorla, Mata and David Silva. He just has not been given the chance too many times. With Rooney in the club, Kagawa tends to get the short end of the stick when we put our starting XI, and Wayne is given the central position. And don’t get me wrong, Wayne is a fantastic CAM/SS, but it has kind of been crippling Shinji in many ways. They tend to run into eachothers’ space, and what happens is that we lose a valuable passing option by both of them having the tendency to drift into the middle of the pitch.

A replacement would also have to be made. Not necessarily because we don’t have players to fill the gaps ability-wise, but because with a world star leaving, you need a boost. You need a signing that shows that United means business. We mean to win it again in 2013/2014. If Rooney leaves, I see Kagawa claming the role Rooney has had this season, with a top class LAM/CAM coming in to take the wide left position. That would be the ideal way to utilize both Kagawa, Van Persie and the new guy.

 

Victor+Wanyama

 

 

Rooney is convinced to stay, how do we solve this?

First off, an apology way bigger than last time. This is going to take a lot of time to heal. He will never be our captain or vice-captain now. He is going to have to find a way to make it up to his team mates and the fans, and find his way into the top form Wayne Rooney that we all know is world class.
In the formation department, Moyes will have to figure out if he wants Rooney as a midfielder, as a support striker, as a part of a three man attack behind Van Persie. Best case scenario for me, would be to have a fully motivated Wayne Rooney being part of a United attacking force next season, that has worked out a way for Kagawa and Rooney to play together. Having watched Steven Pienaar talk about how Moyes works on specific movement details in the attacking part of the game, I am pretty sure that the offensive movement patterns and team play between Rooney and Kagawa is only going to get better, and eventually flourish into something fantastic. We have seen glimpses this season, and there is no reason to think that it is not going to get even better.

If Rooney stays, the only position we have to strengthen, is the midfield position. Someone to play next to Carrick, or replace him long term. Perhaps Moyes brings Fellaini with him, or looks to Scotland where he has bought many players from during his time as Everton manager. A lot of fans want Victor Wanyama, and he could be the machine we need to control the midfield. With such an attacking line-up as we usually send out on the pitch, and seeing how Carrick has become more directly involved with the offensive play, a midfielder that can box-to-box it up, or be our anchor would be great. If Rooney stays, we can focus on that. Because our offensive 5-6 players are more than good enough with Rooney, Kagawa, RvP, Welbeck, Nani, Young, Cleverley, Valencia and the young players like Januzaj and Powell coming through.

 

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With or Without Roo

Whether Rooney stays or leaves, he most definately deserves appreciation for his time here. Since he joined us in 2004, he has been our talisman. Our star player. Our warrior, our winner.  He started out as an immature kid who just loved the game. He was sent off for an ironic applause in the Champions League, he got booked constantly by referees for his big mouth. He has matured with us. He has won countless awards, including PFA player of the year, PFA young player of the year, PFA fans player of the year. He has been on team of the season, he has won 5 league titles, 2 league cups, 3 community shields and of course the Champions League in 2007/2008.

Most importantly, he was always an instrumental part of us the team winning the titles. He worked his ass off for them, and we should be thankful for that. No matter how betrayed we feel, we should thank him for what he did for us.

 

 

 

 

 

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Potential big summer transfers

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Up until now, all of the posts written on the blog has been about Manchester United. Our present, our past and the future. This one is going to be a bit different, and a more general post. I wanted to write about the big transfers that are going to happen in the summer, much like the Hazard and Kagawa deals in 2012. I wanted to take a look at which players that are looking likely to move on, and why. This is relevant for us in the sense that if we and/or our rivals buy new players, we will be affected by the summer signings. Seeing as there is probably at least 25 signings that can make a huge impact in the summer, I thought I’d narrow it down to ten. I’ll do at least 3 from the Premier League and then a couple other players from different leagues. The idea is, as mentioned, to take a look at the transfers that I think has the potential to really put their mark on the standings in the league. I find this interesting because it effects us in an indirect way if an opponent gets the player, and directly if we do. Here goes.

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Gareth Bale, Tottenham

The twenty-three year old welshman and former Southampton left-back and freekick specialist turned into a free role on the left attacking side for Tottenham in the 2011/2012 season by Harry Redknapp. Having struggled to impress much as a LB, going something like 25 games without winning with Bale in the side, the refreshing experience with a fast, technical winger that could shoot hard as a bull kicks, and that already had the crossing part down from being an offensive left back, Villas-Boas has given him an even more offensive role and he is now the focal point of the Tottenham attack. After the sale of Van Der Vaart, and lacking quality strikers, Bale has really stepped his game up and taken responsibility for the goal scoring part for Spurs. Having an amazing season so far, scoring 19 goals and having 4 assists in thirty games, while Spurs is fighting for the champions league spot, he might be off in the summer if they don’t make it. Being a rare player, as a some kind of a mix between the old, classic winger and the more modern type that can both shoot, cross and beat players, he is probably wanted by the whole footballing world. The price? It is going to depend a lot on whether Tottenham qualifies for the champions league or not, but you would probably have to blow the 40-number if not more. If we were to get him, we would be set in the LM/LAM/LF/LW role for ten years, and how suitable wouldn’t a young welsh winger be whenever Giggs retires?

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Stevan Jovetic, Fiorentina

Is also 23, and has been rumored to join both Arsenal, Chelsea as well as the big Spanish clubs for a while now. A tall, quick striker which reminds me a bit about Valeri Bojinov before Bojinov got injured and ended up as a player desperate to get his career back on track. The similarity lays in the way the players both move, having a great touch on the ball and an eye for smart passes and a good timing for when to play it simple and when to go crazy with some trickery is something most top clubs would love. Seeing as the financial situation in Italy is rather shitty these days, a good offer would probably force the i Violas to sell. He has not impressed too much with his goal scoring statistics yet, but it is decent. 35 in 111 for Fiorentina playing behind a striker is not bad at all for a 23 year old. Very unlikely signing for Man United seeing as we are already stacked up front, but can make a big impact if he is to come into Arsenal or another premier league team. He is a fun player to watch, and we always welcome artistic, elegant players to the league, right?

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Christian Eriksen, Ajax

The Danish 21-year old has been a hot transfer target for two or three seasons already, but has stayed put in Amsterdam where playing time and development has been ensured. He seems like a very down to earth guy, and has been getting praise left and right from media all over the world, as well as the managers he has had for Denmark and Ajax. The article linked is a couple years old, but if you take a look at who he was praised by, Martin Jol, Morten Olsen and Frank De Boer, it is pretty clear that people who know what they are talking about have great expectations for Christian.  Interest from both AC Milan, Barcelona and Man City has been expressed throughout the season, and the Dane has already said no to Liverpool and City. He likes the way Barcelona plays and is likely going there.

As for how he plays, he is a very classical number 10, that is brilliant in the space between midfield and attack. Giving Eriksen space is scary, because goals come of that. With 9 goals and 15 assists in 31 games for Ajax this season, he is their key player at the age of 21, which is very impressive. He could be a great signing for Man United, even though many people say we don’t need him. I am thinking that Anderson might be off, and the rumors of Nani leaving us as well would make space for Christian. He is very similar to Andrea Pirlo in his early days, where he was a more attacking midfielder, not very tall, but very technically gifted. Killer free-kicks, and amazing in tight spaces, he could do the defensive Pirlo role as a long term replacement for Carrick (provided we get a beefy midfielder alongside him) or play in an attacking trio up front if we opt to go for the 4-2-3-1 formation.  Having turned down a contract extension at Ajax makes his price drop a bit, and he should be very affordable unless it becomes a bidding war with one of the oil-clubs like City or PSG. I am not sure whether we NEED him or not, but I am pretty sure we will be in the picture when Eriksen decides where he wants to go.

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Sofiane Feghouli, Valencia

I thought I’d bring an (in my opinion) underrated player to the list as well.

The french-algerian is 23 and an attacking midfielder for Valencia. Having impressed with his offensive play in the champions league this season (scoring 3 in 8 apps), his hard work and good vision for offensive plays, he should be a hot prospect for the summer. His key strengths are his pace on the ball, his ability to set up goals for the team and the flair he brings to the attack. His season reminds me much like the season David Silva had for Valencia in 2008/2009, where he looked very promising and was always an attacking threat.

Playing for a “selling club” such as Valencia, he should be affordable for many teams. He looks like a classic Tottenham signing (buy a player for a decent price, sell him for quite a bit more in a season or two). We could be interested as we were last summer when he was linked to us.

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Christian Benteke, Aston Villa

The Belgium international has followed in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Vermaelen, Verthongen, Hazard, Dembele, Fellaini, Kompany and Lukaku this season. He had somewhat of a slow start, but has been absolutely deadly in front of goal since January. Currently Behind Bale, Suarez and Van Persie on the top scorer table in the league with his 18 goals in 32 games for Aston Villa. The congolese-belgian power striker has impressed me and many others with his ability to create chances with his physical presence and good finishing ability since the 8 mill transfer from Genk in the summer. Darren Bent is benched, and Benteke has almost single handedly kept a weak Aston Villa from relegation this season. The newspapers talk about a tripled value (25 mill) in less than a year in the Premier League, and he seems like the perfect solution to Tottenhams striker problems. My personal opinion is that he should’ve been very close to winning the young player of the year award this season, as Bale won the player of the season one, but that didn’t happen.

He might not be a transfer we need in Man United, but he will surely make an impact if he ends up going to the Spurs. It is going to be exciting following Christian next season to see if he can keep up the good statistics, or if this season was just a wonder-season for him. Either way, it is going to be pretty much impossible for Aston Villa to keep  him the way he has played.

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Luke Shaw, Southampton

The 17 (!!!) year old left-back has been praised as the long-term replacement for Ashley Cole for the English international team after having a fantastic debut season for Southampton in the premier league. “The new Gareth Bale, the new Ashley Cole – he can go either way. He is very technically gifted” are the words of a friend of mine who is a huge Southampton supporter. I personally see him as a very modern sideback, and he is both tall, has great technique and is extremely quick. The age might be in Southamptons’ favor in terms of keeping the player for a few more seasons, but many clubs should (including Man United) be drooling over this player already. Getting your hands on a left-back like Shaw would solve the LB position for fifteen years if his development continues. I am not so sure he is going to be sold in the summer, having several years left on his contract with Southampton. However, he has been a huge surprise and a very exciting player to follow in the premier league this season. A transfer might happen, and I thought he was worth having on the list.

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Julian Draxler, Schalke 04

A German 19-year old wonderkid has been mentioned earlier on this blog, and here he is again. Draxler is a tall, attacking midfielder with flair, great passing ability, a great dribbling repertoire and a very vicious strike on the ball. One of the most controversial transfers we are going to see this summer is the replacement for Götze in Dortmund, and both Draxler and Kevin De Bruyne has been mentioned as potential players to take over. I personally think both of them would be way too expencive, and it would be a very inconsistent thing of Dortmund to do, to suddenly go form barely spending cash on players to pay up 20-25 mill for a replacement. I have earlier expressed my optimism about Draxler coming to Man United, but the fact is that Bundesliga clubs have money, they have sold out stadiums every day and german players tend to like it in their home country. I am not sure if we’ll see Julian leave this summer, but if he does, I am almost certain Man United will join in with an offer. As mentioned earlier, Nani is rumored out, and Draxler can play as both a classic winger, a modern attacking midfielder in the 4-2-3-1 or as the player behind the striker. We could possibly see Draxler go to another top club for a decent amount of money, considering his talents. If he wants to follow in the footsteps of similar and ex-Schalke player Mesut Özil, he’ll probably stay another season to dominate in the Bundesliga before leaving.

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Nemanja Matic, Benfica

Nemanja is the oldest player on this list. The 24-year old Serbian midfield warrior is a tall (6’4 / 1.94 m) defensive midfielder with the ability to dominate both in the air and on the ground. Being part of the deal when Chelsea bought David Luiz from Benfica, he only got two games for Chelsea, but after the transfer to Benfica, he has claimed the CDM spot at the club after they sold off Javi Garcia to Man City.

Impressive performances against Barcelona in the group stages of the champions league tournament, as well as being good in games against Porto and Sporting in the league, has shown european top clubs that he has what it takes to make it in a bigger league. He should be eager to get back to England and prove his worth, and could be part of the plans when Ferguson starts acquiring new players during the summer. Being a serbian international, namesake Vidic should have plenty of knowledge about his attitude and ability. Having two serbian players should mean more blood and more broken teeth at Manchester United, which us fans have always appreciated.

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Kevin Strootman, PSV

Dutch international Strootman has been named as one of the signings Man United are likely to do when the summer transfer window opens up again. Ex-Man United legendary goalkeeper Van Der Sar backed Strootman to follow the proud history of Dutch players in Manchester United about a month ago, and many fans (including myself) were happy to see  Edwin backing up a player that we all would like in our club. Kevin has climbed the stages from the Dutch U-18s and Sparta Rotterdam up until being a regular for the international team while playing for his current club, PSV.

Being a tall and physical player, with great vision and an impressive passing range as his main attributes, he is suited to play either in a trio in the midfield, or as part of a two-man midfield as a box-to-box player. PSVs’ purchase of swedish Oscar Hiljemark earlier this season makes way for Strootman to leave. I, alongside a lot of other Unitedfans, expect us to sign a midfielder this summer. Strootman seems quite likely to join, and I do not think he is going to disappoint us.

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Robert Lewandowski, Dortmund

You know who this is. You know what he is good at, and that he is looking like a complete forward in many ways. Being rumored out Dortmund in the summer, Lewandowski is probably wanted by every single one of the top 10-15 clubs in the world, and is very likely to join one of them. Do we need him at United? Not really. Do we want him? Eff yeah! Ferguson answered the question “I always have room for world class players”. He looks likely to go Real Madrid or Chelsea, who both are having somewhat of a striker crysis. Higuain and Benzema has been crappy all season, and Torres hasn’t been convincing in three or four seasons. Ba is very good, but nowhere near the Lewandowski standard.

The effect of buying Lewandowski is going to be huge for any team able to acquire him. Kind of like the effect the Götze transfer is going to have on Bayern. Players want to play with the best possible team around them, and with Guardiola and Götze coming in, more top class players are likely to prefer Bayern over other top clubs when given the option. As for what would happen if we bought Lewandowski, I think we’d either see Rooney in a midfield trio, and the team playing a 4-2-2-2, with Lewandowski and RvP up front, Rooney and Kagawa behind, with Carrick and Cleverley as the final 2 before the defense. As much as I’d like the transfer, I personally would prefer a midfielder and/or a winger. It is going to be exciting to see where he ends up. If he goes to Chelsea, with Mourinho coming in, they are going to be our main challangers for the title next season.

Questions:

1. Which transfers are you the most excited about in the summer?

2. Any predictions on where the ten players might end up? Or will they stay at their current club?

3. If you had to pick one or two players from this list to join United in the summer, who would you pick and why?

 

 

End note: I know there are still lots of players that I havent mentioned. Is Neymar making the move in the summer? Ganso? Alex Sandro? Is Tom Ince going back to Liverpool? Gundogan to Real Madrid? So many to choose from. I just picked the ones I find to be the most interesting ones.

I’d like to know if you guys like these kinds of long, speculative posts or if you prefer the light reads that we sometimes post. It takes way too much time to write this, so putting the effort in if there isn’t a demand would be silly! Tell us what you want from the blog.

Rdzzl

The perfect purchases nobody talks about

So, listen up guys. I’ve been thinking. I know I am one to point out the obvious transfers that would benefit us, and I did this as recently as in the previous post I put up. Now, however, I have been thinking, and I want to discuss a couple other players that I have not seen talked much about, or that rarely gets a mention when we talk about players that would fit in at United.

First off, there has been a lot of discussions about our wingers, or lack of wingers. We all know Wilfred Zaha is coming in during the summer, and I am certain that is going to be a massive boost for the team. Such a technically gifted, hard working, young English talent that wants to play for us. He has qualities similar of Nani, but seems to be way more collected when it comes to the mental part. Especially if you compare the two at the same age. Crystal Palace LB, Norwegian Jonathan Parr called Zaha “The best dribbler I have seen”, followed by telling us that he is a calm and down to earth type of guy, that can dribble both ways and is quick. Very promising.

The discussion online has been about shipping off either Young, Nani or Valencia. Some people even want more than one of them gone. Crazy, I say. But let’s imagine one of them packs his bags and leaves during the summer. We’ll need more than just Wilfred Zaha in. Let’s imagine Januzaj, Dæhlie and the other potential young, offensive midfielders are sent on loan next season. We will most definately need another winger in. But who? The best wingers are already playing in the best teams. Well, most of them are.

Whether we’ll play a more diamond oriented formation or with wingers, I hereby announce the next Mezut Özil,

 

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Julian Draxler 

Quite tall, very technically sound. Good with both legs, decent pace. Great vision. He’ll work fantastically well as a wandering midfielder. Playing at a decent club in Germany, but by no means near the Man United, Dortmund or Real Madrid standard. He would fit perfectly in the role Rooney has taken when Kagawa plays centrally, or in the CF/CAM role. I am sure he could also play on the right hand side. He’ll be costy, but not anywhere near the price of let’s say James Rodriguez.

 

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Iker Munain

With a picture even Phil Jones would be jealous of. On a more serious note, this guy dominated us in the Europa League. He’s quick, able to use both legs, smart, has vision, has a decent cross, a great dribbling repertoire. He’s 21 and in a club without very impressive finances. We could probably snatch him for somewhere between 12-20 before Real Madrid and Barcelona comes knocking. I don’t know much about his personality, but I know that the spanish media refer to him as the “spanish messi”, and that should tell us something. I know he was linked with us about a year ago, but it has been all quiet since then. This guy is on the verge of exploding into something fantastic, and I’d love him to do that for us. My only concern is that spanish players tend to want to go back to Spain as soon as the opportunity is given.

For the defensive midfield role, I mentioned several players that would make us more complete and give us another edge to our game. I did not mention the most obvious purchase though.

 

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Sandro Raniere

The spurs midfield general. He has been fantastic for about two seasons now, but is rarely mentioned when people talk about Tottenham or signings for United. He is strong, fantastic at breaking up the game, good at starting attacks and is relatively young. I hear a lot of talk about Bale. Sure, I’d love Gareth to pick up on Giggs’ legacy and continue for us. But I would just as much love it for Sandro to wear the red shirt and bring us some midfield dominance for the next ten seasons. He has been vital in the counter-attacking play we often see from Spurs. If you watch them play, pay attention to who breaks up the play and starts the attack. More often than not, you’ll see Sandro winning the ball and quickly playing it forward.

He’ll be quite costly though. Coming to Spurs for about 10 mill if I remember correctly, we’ll have to pay atleast the double. If we don’t get him, I promise you that you will see him in Real Madrid soon.

 

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Andrea Poli

A temperamental Italian? What are you thinking, Rdzzl?

First off, his technical ability is top notch. The way he just plays around with people in midfield is amazing. He does so well in tight spaces, around several opponent players and has great vision and understanding of the game. He has a temper, which I personally love in midfielders. He is glowing of winner mentality. Poli is quite tall (1.81 m) for a technical midfielder, and only 23 years old. Playing at Sampdoria makes him very affordable, even though he is co-owned by Juventus. I am guessing the old lady has no use for him with Vidal, Pogba, Marchisio and Pirlo filling the midfield spots. We almost never buy players from the Serie-A, let alone Italian players, but I think this one has what it takes. He could easily take Carricks’ role when Michael retires, or play alongside Carrick and Cleverley in the squad we have got going for us today.

A couple questions at the end, for the sake of creating some decent discussion

1. Do you have any hidden gems, or players that people have forgotten about that you would like to see at United? Why?

2. How do you think our team is going to look next season? Can Zaha claim the RW spot from the get-go?

3. Are we going to see a new midfielder in, maybe two? Are we fed up with Andersons’ inconsistency?

4. What would you like the next blog post to be about?

Rdzzl