Out with the Old and In with the New
When our new manager put the onus on the players to improve the relationship between the team and the fans he was only reflecting what most of us have been saying for some time. For a squad packed full of internationals and high-earners to perform so badly and to make so little effort is an indictment of their lack of professionalism, loyalty and commitment. They owe us big time!
Even to the fans the toxic atmosphere that pervaded the club was easily discernible. KJ`s statement suggests that he is aware of the problem and, hopefully, the names of the malcontents. They undermined the unity of the squad, openly criticized the coaching staff and stubbornly refused to consider innovative patterns of play. There`s no place for them at WWFC.
At least, one of them wants to leave. For poor old JOH the last few seasons have been embarrassing and, with the club heading in the wrong direction, he can't wait to go. But whose fault is that, Jamie? If, as you claim, you still possess the ability to play in the PL, why were you so awful in the Championship? Others, too, have damaged their reputation, incidentally making it harder for us to move them on to another club, at least for the Moxey-assessed price tags on their head.
If we can`t offload them until the transfer window opens, I would like to think that informal negotiations with agents and potential purchasers are already underway. Apparently not, for KJ has stated that no-one will leave before pre-season. Fair enough, but, as he adds, he wants to talk to each individual and to assess them before coming to a decision. This sounds suspiciously like he is offering everyone a clean sheet ... yet another one! Even so, I am somewhat reassured to learn that he has already formulated his own opinions and that he is 'not going into it blindly`.
Relevant to the outcome is KJ`s emphasis on bringing on the youngsters, promising to field a 'young, fresh and vibrant side` when the new season opens in August. Yesterday, he highlighted the wealth of talented young strikers we have at the club, who, between them, could fill the gaps left by players like SEB and Doyle. And, he is right, that is, if Griffiths performs up to his Hibs level, if McAlinden isn`t poached by Moyse at MU, if Siggy is not tempted away and if Cassidy does not bear a grudge against the club on account of his lack of opportunity at WW last season.
The key players are Griffiths and Sigurdarson. We need Griffiths`s experience and goals and Siggy`s pace and power going forward. At Brighton we only achieved any real penetration when Siggy came on. In KJ I feel we have a manager, who has the interpersonal skills to bring out the best in his players and to instil in them a sense of pride in the club. Already McAlinden has responded to the manager`s good opinion of him by publicly dedicating himself to the cause. I hope it will encourage others, notably Batth, to follow suit. Indeed, I have just read that KJ has singled out Batth from a group of other promising youngsters for special mention.
That`s not say that we won`t need reinforcements, notably older players with experience of playing in this division. In defence, we are well-served with goalies but need someone at left back and in central defence. Dan Seabourne of Southampton, who could cover either position, would fit the bill. KJ is reputedly interested, though I do not know much about him. Perhaps my sister-in-law, a Southampton supporter, will enlighten me when we see her and my brother this evening.
We would also benefit from a midfield general, a job ostensibly filled by the misfiring JOH, to tide us over until we can pair Evans with Davis. Perhaps, it will happen anyway. Edwards and Doumbia (if he stays and improves his fitness) can run box to box, while out wide we ought to look for cover for Sako, who will leave, to add to Forde, Ismael and Boukari (when fit).
I would like Hunt to stay, given his attitude, commitment and work-rate. I hope KJ feels the same way, once he has spoken to him and watched him train. I know we have to get the big earners off our books but thankfully most of them will have left by the opening of the season and it`s worth holding on to a positive, dynamic player like SH.