Season Review / School Report 19/20 Part 4 - Defence

All advertisments are hidden for logged in members, why not log in/register?

Deadbat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2009
Messages
4,679
Reaction score
20,120


2019/20 SUFC SEASON REVIEW / SCHOOL REPORT




Rest of week will be posted as below



Friday – Part 5 Midfield

Saturday – Part 6 Attack

Sunday – Part 7 Final awards / Conclusions





Defenders





Jack O’Connell
Another outstanding season as he carries on his progression through the leagues with United. Big, strong, deceptively quick and good on the ball. He can head it, clear it and tackle but also reads the game well, is decent at passing and gets forward and overlaps/underlaps and puts superb crosses in. Like with many of the other players you worried whether it might be a step to far but it was far from that and he was totally comfortable. He is a better athlete than many give him credit for and is certainly not slow. People may look at his well-built frame and doubt his mobility but that is not the case at all. He maybe did not quite go as forward to begin the season but was involved in the first home goal, the winner v Palace. Gradually around Oct – Dec we saw much more of him and Bash as an attacking force but of course he defended really well too. No fuss, he just was solid, making tackles, blocks and reading the game. Has a knack for always being in the right spot and puts his head in where it hurts. I do think he has improved technically year on too.



Our defence for most of the season was excellent and he was a big part of that of course. Up to the lockdown he played every league game not sure he even came off in a game. You saw how much we missed him when he was out after the lockdown as we shipped in 6 goals in 2 games which we had not done at any other point in the season and we instantly improved when he came back in and was very good in the mini run we had in the middle but maybe he tired towards the end and dropped off a bit also right at the end. Robinson did ok but you saw how hard to come into this system and that is why him and Basham are so important. You need to learn how to play and the ability to defend but also get forward is so unique. These two lads are maybe the most important we have in that they define our blueprint for success.



He cannot be far from international recognition as there are players like Keane, Tarkoswski an latterly Mings who to me do not look anywhere near as consistent – the latter leading a bumbling backline that had been at the bottom. The knock on that is if he does get the call up, England maybe would have to play a 5 and he may not suit a flat back four. If this happened it would add to the worries in that he is one of the players other clubs may look at as he is a good age, only just 26, left footed, good in the air, decent on the deck and has everything you want in a defender. Maybe his lack of goals is something he needs to work on (not scored all season – with just one ruled out for the offside). He also plays most games – the rare injury was that just that – very rare and can be counted on week in, week out. You cannot remember many bad games he has had at all. Seems a quiet lad and not someone who wants a lot of fuss though and the fact he has remained living in Liverpool shows he is close to his roots and what is important to him- you don’t see him in the social media circles much and is not someone that shows much emotion in any way but that to me just marks him down as a real pro.



The facts are that him, Bash and Fleck are maybe the three (Billy too to some degree) have summed up our journey and the way they and the club have progressed is remarkable. Someone we have to hold onto as we continue to progress and build others around him and a few more.



Grade A- (Last season A-)



Chris Basham Embodies everything about the club at the moment and the rise and rise of the side. He was one of the few that was left from the Clough era when Wilder came in and is now our longest serving player by some way (if you discount Sharp being in different spells). One that every leap we make, people doubt whether this is too much. More than ever the top flight would be somewhere you worried players like him may get found out lacking the pace, athleticism and skill possibly and his all action style maybe a bit kamikaze. Any who thought that could not be further from the truth. He has been a revelation and right in the running for the player of the season (I won’t reveal whether he gets my award yet as that would spoil the surprise!). He was superb almost from start to finish and you could count the bad games on one hand. So consistent and full of energy. Some games he would be at the back making an interception and then he’d be overlapping down the right. He was phenomenal and his fitness levels are truly remarkable. For me though the biggest things (fitness is one thing) are his discipline/intelligence knowing when to go/not go and his continued improvement of his football skills – touch, control, passing and dribbling are now at a level I never thought I would see. He has worked on his technique so much and maybe makes me doubt that players say back end of 20’s cannot improve this side when clearly he has hugely. He has improved in every way and now it is a surprise if the ball bounces off him or his mis controls or overplays. He makes that lung bursting run down the line and so often is the one driving us forward.



So many moments like this that has led to us gaining territory. He is at times the most advanced player (the goal at Spurs summed it up when he nearly got on the end of the Baldock cross) which is remarkable. I loved the back flick to set up the goal v Villa at the Lane and he produced some incredible flicks and tricks over his head. Not sure he knows what he is doing at times but he is doing things like this often and comes out with the ball so must be things he is confident he can execute. I recall the dribbling run at City where he went past about 4 players for pace and skill. He has shown this a few times and is quite fast when he gets going with his long legs/stride. May not look a natural runner/dribbler but boy is he effective when he runs. That run where he strides forward, stops, checks back and then goes again seems to fox defenders every time. Some great combinations with Baldock, McGoldrick, Berge, Lundstram etc down that right side led to lots of possession and chances for us.



Like O’Connell will be disappointed not to score and the other knock is his final ball and end product sometimes is still a bit rushed or not always what you would want but that is again finding faults in an almost perfect season. He made odd mistakes (dived in a few times led to penalties for City and Arsenal (Cup) at the Lane but that is his game so you don’t want to take that away) and the pass v Vardy but for the most part he is 7-8/10 every week. Even after the lockdown others tailed off but for the most part, he was our best player in the majority of games and even the final games was the one who was still showing for the ball, running forward and trying to make things happen until even he ran out of steam.



A side story seems to be developing in that he only had a year left of his contract and Wilder had made comments about certain players (you’d guess him and Lundstram are those players) is concerning. Maybe his agent is saying at 33 he has to get the one big deal he can and is at the peak of his powers and maybe he is pricing himself out of a new deal here. Be a shame if this was the case. Seen Newcastle (home town club) and Burnley being linked but he is someone that is perfect for our club/team and vice versa.



For now, though it is time to reflect on a fantastic season. Love the guy. A modern-day Bobby Booker but better. He is at the heart beat of the team and have loved his ascension through the leagues and what he has done. Shows for a footballer who may have been around the middle leagues, to actually work at your craft, get super fit and show determination, you can make it at the top even if it is in the later years of your career.



Grade A (Last season A-)



John Egan
After a shaky start proved to be a rock in his first season and became a bit of a legend on and off (the song) the field. He showed he was great in the air, committed, would make good tackles, read the game and got better with the ball as the season went on. For 4 million pounds he was a snip. Began the season with the same questions as those posed at those above him if he could handle the step up and especially if we carried on with the system we had used, you felt him particularly could get badly exposed against world class strikers. Well, for the most part it never worked out that way. We did not know what to expect but he carried on his fantastic progress and had a very good season. Looks for the most part composed and unrushed. Brave, great in the air and won so many clearances/headers and blocks. He kept his shape as others went forward and often was able to just nick the ball away or come across and cover. Can move across the deck better than I thought and his passing and ability on the ball has improved. Just looks unflustered much of the time (although how he can defend against top level strikers and work his gum so effortlessly always surprises me!) Very brave player and one that as Wilder says is another captain type, who is always talking and a real leader at the back. Compliments the other two perfectly. Even when playing some top strikers, he held his own and won the battle more times that he lost them.



Unlike the other two centre backs he also got a few goals – a wonder strike at Burnley and then the last-minute bullet header to beat Wolves. He should get more goals as Wilder said but he will take confidence from those. He needs to just keep his headers down – as he and the other head things up in the air like defensive clearances when they go forward.



Not perfect season and some so-so games. I recall a misplaced header v Leicester at home led to a goal and also recall him getting done with the goal at home to Newcastle as came out to play offside and had a difficult night v Andy Carroll but he did not have many bad games and for a good portion of the season was really consistent. I would say he was one of the players that did not come back as sharp and had a few poor games and I felt after the lockdown his form was really bad to start as he got done for pace and even outmuscled a few times in some less than convincing performances but like the team was fantastic in the run of home games before he too dropped off again.



Overall though a great season. He has a few more years left contractually but another where we have wanted to tie down to longer but not happened yet. He must see some quite average centre backs go for 20-30 million and think I am as good as them and maybe want wages to reflect that. Therein lies the issue with United’s progression and will see a few contractual problems as these players rightly want to be paid like others at the level.



A friend of mine says Egan could be replaced and is someone if we keep progressing could be a weak link. I disagree as feel for where we are, he is as good as we are going to get without spending like Maguire/Van Dijk type money. He sometimes gets stretched and maybe the system causes that but he did not get exposed anywhere near as much as we thought and it was only after the lockdown some of his weaknesses showed up but his qualities far outweigh these.





Grade A- (Last season A-)





Enda Stevens
A player that had surprised and amazed many Blades. A lot have defended him (including myself). I recall him starting really well in the Championship in his first season and being excellent but then he dropped off, as did the team. I recall a lot saying we needed to replace him and upgrade which seemed very harsh. He kept his place, rightly, and had a superb season in the promotion season and finished the run in as our best player with goals in games against Forest, Hull and Stoke and even had a song!



The system we play meant he would be under more defensive pressure but for the truncated season, he had basically a great season up to the break. He defended well and kept some really good wingers quiet and also got forward. I felt he started the season a bit reserved but gradually United and he, grew into the league and became more adventurous. He showed his excellent skill and underrated turn of pace as he assisted quite a few goals (Chelsea away, Burnley/Bournemouth at home to name a few) and also had that knack of being able to nutmeg players and did this quite a bit in the early months. Had that little drag back where he comes back and then goes inside. Also, the bit of skill where he plays a one two and is off before it has left his feet – like a cricketer backing up at the non striking end almost! He also executes that throw in one-two better than anyone in the team. Him and Fleck (and Jack) continued to link well. I thought what pleased me the most was his defensive work also as this was sound most of the season. He got a few goals, a header at Norwich showing how advanced they get from the wing backs – Baldock crossed this too and a howitzer of a shot v Brighton – a contender for individual goal of the season.



When we came back, he looked a different player for much of it. He was abysmal in the opening 3 away games (as were most of the team) but he stood out. He could not pass, control or do the basics and his massive blooper v Newcastle summed him up. He slowly got better in that mid section of games and played really well in the wins (great assist v Chelsea) we had but then he, like the rest of the team, dropped off. Just looked like he had lost his sharpness and his basic things did not come off and mistakes started creeping in. My mate said it was like he has the yips and I know what he meant. That happens and his body of work over 3 seasons means I don’t worry he will get back to his best. However, with Osborn moving more into midfield we do need some real backup/competition in this area as not sure Robinson is a left wing back either (know he has played here).



Grade A- (Last season A)

 

Deadbat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2009
Messages
4,679
Reaction score
20,120


Phil Jagielka
I was a bit surprised when he came back as thought he would have just retired or gone into coaching. I was not sure he was mobile/quick enough anymore to play top flight and had struggled at times at Everton the last season the few times he played after being a magnificent servant and skipper there for a long time. Wilder obviously thought he would be a useful lad to have around with his Premier League know how coupled with his ability to come in and cover. As it panned out, he barely played. He had a few sub appearances v Palace and Everton early on but looked ‘old’ in the cup games and v Man Utd; he showed some of the class we remembered but we conceded three goals. Our defence up the lockdown was superb so it was always hard for him to get many minutes for positive reasons in the sense of how well we did. When he played he lacked the legs to play either of the wide centre back roles so ended up in the central role but he was never the dominating centre back in a partnership (Morgan, Lescott etc) so you worried that we would miss Egan when he did play and it proved. He was never awful but you saw a step down when he played.



After the rare start, he was always on the bench but did not even come on much and then when he came back to start, he struggled in another three goals conceded in the defeat at Old Trafford. Came on v Chelsea and lost his man a few times and you sensed things were probably coming to an end in terms of top-level football for him. However, a great lad to have around and sure the other defenders and teammates really benefitted from his know how and Premier League experience. Great that he wanted to end up back at the Lane and play a part, even if limited in his first true love establishing themselves at the top table. Not sure what will happen to him – depends if he wants to carry on playing – if he does then he maybe can have a season at Champ/League One but equally if he got offered a coaching role at the Lane you think he may stay around here but not sure he will be given anything playing wise (* - rumours he may be offered another year surfaced this week so we will wait and see)



Grade C (Last season NA)



George Baldock Another player that seems to get better and better. His first season he was good although Freeman was in at times and they seemed to alternate for a period before Freeman got an injury and Baldock made the place his own. He trailed off a bit but looked an excellent signing. Athletic, quick, got up and down and could defend and attack. Got even better in the promotion season and was one of the stand outs (of about 10-11 players though!) and a key part and really established as Freeman never got a look in really other than a few games Baldock was rested. He was not fully first choice and part of that defence that picked itself. The question would be could he carry it on again in the Premier League? The same question posed to many of these players whose ascent up the leagues had been rapid from people that had played mostly lower league or Championship at best.



Like many of the others, he took his chance and how and at times this season has been the one most consistent player (along with O’Connell and Basham). All the others have had dips for a few games but not sure he did? Yes, the odd off game but for the most part he was really at it. Defensively he was so improved, keeping his position when needed, making good tackles, remaining focused and composed. He won lots of one to ones with good opponents. Recall Zaha in the opening game getting really frustrated. Clearly had done a lot of work on his fitness over the summer and it paid off, as like Bash (and a few others) showed incredible fitness as he got up and down and was relentless. His will to win and almost angry like play was great to see as he clearly had such willingness to win. So often he would not back down, often from bigger players and looked like a player that had made the top level and had worked so hard and was not going to throw this chance away.



Maybe actually a bit fortunate to not get a red card in at least two games (Wolves and Palace) away as his aggression sometimes threatened to go too far. Going forward he was good in general play and always an outlet and often, maybe more than Stevens this year (possibly other way round last season/s) and we had more attacks down the right it seemed. The only criticism is his crossing really needs to improve as he still does not focus on delivery enough and panics too much – often hitting the first man or over playing instead of putting it into an area (near penalty spot) or finding a man. He does need to work on this side but he has improved so many other aspects of his game, so I have no reason to think this will not get better.



Got two goals, one great one at Norwich with a lovely bit of skill/turn and then a more fortunate ‘shank’ at Spurs. Love the way he keeps going forward and just will not stop trying to attack and a bundle of energy. Think he has improved massively season to season and whilst there are bits to work on, he has now become a solid and established Premier League player. At 27 entering his prime too. Shame that there is such good talent at right back for his country (Alexander Arnold, Tripper, Walker, Wan Bissaka etc) as if there was not, he may be mentioned as a possible contender for international recognition – yes, he has been that good. A great season and one of the players who mostly kept his standards after we came back from the lock down – with only a few off key games. The one big stat that shows how consistent/fit and reliable is that he has played every minute - 3,400 minutes. There were only player to do that – seven of the eleven were keepers. Baldock, Tarkowski, Coady and Ward Prowse were the only four outfield to do it also.





Grade A- (Last season B+)





Kieron Freeman After the League One title when he was fantastic and a contender for the player of the season with 10 goals and being such an attacking threat (almost like another striker rather than a full back or wing back). Baldock came in and Freeman got a few injuries and slowly Baldock took the role. However, when Freeman got fit there was real debate over the 18-19 season over who would start as it seemed like that it would be close due to both players’ exploits in individual seasons before that. However, Baldock played really well and Freeman seemed to lose his fitness and maybe appetite a bit. Still, he was part of things and played a few games in the run in. With another year on his contract he was kept around but must have known he was only going to play if Baldock got injured or had a massive loss of form. Neither happened. Baldock played every minute and Freeman was restricted to cup games where he did ok but nothing special (still looked a bit out of shape – recall Fylde game for instance) but then was kept around for the lock down and signed an extension to keep him till the end of the season.



He was back on the bench quite a bit and good to see him involved. I did not know he lost his Dad mid-season and it was a nice touch that Wilder put him on at Newcastle on Father Day. He has been a great servant for United and was a huge part of that League One season (one of our best players) and did ok for spells in the Championship too. Will surely get a club in the Championship you would think – be surprised if he goes any lower. 28 so still got a fair bit of time on his hands. Needs to get super fit and maybe work on his defending as would struggle in a back four but definitely be a useful signing in the right formation and if the manager can get the best out of him. We will probably move on and look for something different in this area – that is no criticism of him just some players natural shelf life at a club comes to an end but as I say been a big part of what we have done.



Grade C (Last season B-)





Richard Stearman
Brought in to do the job he did for the time he was at United. He was a steadying influence and gave us Championship experience. Of course, Egan came in as the big money centre back and he lost his place but not down to his awful form or lots of mistakes but we had been shipping too many goals and needed a more powerful, dominating man for the key central defender position. Stearman is a good club man, steady but like with others we needed to move on and keep improving. He played his part of course still in that 18-19 season with a vital goal v Boro and never ever let the team down. The scenes of him celebrating in the hotel will go down in folklore as he danced merrily, downed beer and seemed to have no idea where he was! The terms getting ‘Stearmaned’ or ‘On the Stears’ were coined and he trended on twitter nationally! He remained into the new season in the top flight but with Jags brought back you never thought he would be involved much although he played and scored in the League Cup game against Blackburn although he had looked a bit shaky in this and the game against Sunderland. He may have had the odd game on the bench but certainly never came on and for the most part was not really close to playing. As soon as we went out of the Cup you felt he would only be used in real emergencies.



It never came to that and you knew he would leave this summer but in the end a chance to go to Huddersfield came up and he signed an 18-month deal. He seems to have done well there bringing experience and leadership to a defence that had been shipping goals and the new management team thought he would improve them in this area and it proved. Odd they left after the season so will have a new manager coming in. A great lad and his tweet and the subsequent replies from fans when he left summed up the mutual appreciation for each other. Stearman – ‘Now the dust has settled…what an amazing journey it has been Blades. An incredible dressing room, a manager/staff I have the utmost respect for and a club/fans that I was honoured and privileged to represent...made memories that will live with me forever! Always a Blade..Stears’ Like a few others, his part and role and the way he connected with the fans will never be forgotten. Some players can play for united for a season or so, or a few months and have more if an impact and ‘get’ the fans and this club/city more than others who have been there years. Stearman was one such player.



Grade C (Last season B)





Jack Rodwell
Seemed an odd signing to me. He had completely lost his way after being seen as the next big thing at Everton and City spent a lot of money on him (15 million) and he only played 16 games for City and was let go but Sunderland still spent 10 million on him and he still was seen as a talent at this time back in 2014. In 3 and half year there; it was a disaster as he barely played, they nosedived down the leagues and his reputation took a hit simply for the fact they gave him a huge contract with no relegation clauses in it. There was some talk about if he was refusing to play and the documentary painted him a particularly poor light although it did not give him chance to put his side across. He then did ok at Blackburn last season and began to play but again with injuries still an issue; he ended up getting released. He was linked with a few clubs, including Roma but nothing happened and at 28 after such a promising career (played for England 3 times) his career at the top level seemed to be almost over. He ended up training at United but not sure anyone thought he would end up signing but Wilder was impressed and also probably saw someone who could cover a number of positions. He signed to the end of the season but probably knew his chances would be limited. He did go straight into the team for the FA Cup game v Flyde but you could see he was a bit hesitant although decent on the ball. My comments were as follows: ‘Rodwell 6/10 – He was steady without being spectacular but not really under much pressure aside from one or two long balls where he was a bit slow to get across. He did ok with the ball and kept it simple. Tried to come out a few times but was not found when he got in more advanced areas. Got a knock early in the second half and came on. Not a great sign for someone who had been so injury prone to hobble off on his debut.’ After this we did not see him at all until a surprise appearance v Burnley as a late sub when many neutrals were shocked he was still playing football, let alone still in the Premier League judging by the reactions on twitter. Out of contract but get a feeling he may come back as cover. I might be wrong but he will not be on silly wages and can play a few positions.



C- (Last season NA)
 

Deadbat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2009
Messages
4,679
Reaction score
20,120


Jack Robinson
Like Rodwell another surprise signing and you would think with our elevation up the leagues we would have looked for something a bit more in keeping with our new found quality. That is me being honest and how I felt about the signing. Wilder had chased him before when he was out of contract at QPR but he went to Forest and did quite well before falling out of favour a bit. Got a decent pedigree having began his career at Liverpool and made his debut as a 16 year old. Robinson can cover left centre back and left back – but I did think that 2 and a half year contract still was a bit much for someone who had not even nailed down a regular place in the Championship.



With O’Connell injured he ended up playing in the games after the break and did well at Villa but then struggled with the rest of the team as we shipped a fair few goals. Came back at Southampton and did ok. His style is not such that he can get forward like an O’Connell or Basham but he showed some really solid parts of his play and was a bit Cranie in how he played too with just a solid, no nonsense approach. Decent defensively but also got a long throw which he used quite a bit.



I think moving forward, Robinson will only be cover and cannot see him being considered to be a starter but Wilder likes these versatile defenders that can play the two positions and clearly was a fan of him when he chased him a few years ago and he did ok in some difficult performances but you did see the drop off when we missed key men but that is maybe harsh on someone who had to come in and do a job which he kind of did. Individually he was decent but collectively we looked worse when he played but that was maybe down to how good O’Connell was.



B (Last season NA)





Panagiotis Retsos Born in South Africa, Retsos is still only 21 but has an interesting background as this full Greek international (5 caps) began his career at Olympiakos and was captain at only 18. He only played 20 games and Bayer Leverkusen clearly saw something and paid 15 million pounds for his services. In two years, he has really struggled with injuries and has never been a first team regular but somehow, he had been attracted to the United scouting system who recognised his potential. His loan deal was to the end of the season but there was talk of something more permanent. He made his debut in the cup game against Reading; coming on in extra time as a midfielder – not his normal defensive role and ran around, got booked and looked a bit bewildered what was going on! Then of course we had the lockdown and he was involved in the training and seemed as if he would stay here and may be still thought of as a possible signing. Whether it was him, his club or Wilder, they decided to end it before the loan even expired and he went back. You would think that would be that and that Wilder had seen enough that he did not think he had a chance. The fact he had Freeman, Rodwell and Jagielka ahead of him for the opening games on the bench suggests he simply does not think he is up to the level we need to push on.



D- (Last season NA)



Kean Bryan I have to be honest and say I have never really seen Bryan play well for United. He did ok in a midfield role v Hallam in a friendly a year ago but in all the cup games he has played he has looked nervous, lacking in composure, unsure of what his role is and mistake ridden. I may get called for saying that but I have seen no improvement in him from when he joined to the last time he played. He was seen as a prospect at Man City and of course we beat Rangers to sign him but every time I see him, I just think, he is one to mark in the ‘he’s not going to make it with us’ category. That does seem harsh but I can only call it as I see it. He does always play when there has been lots of changes so maybe if he played in the team with other regulars but sadly, he is miles off getting to that level. I half expected him to move on last summer but he remained here and ended up playing in a few of the cup games again and struggled again. He went to Bolton and actually scored in a game for them and seemed to get mixed reviews from fans. He is 24 this year so is not a prospect really but he does have another year left with us. I would not be shocked this summer if an agreement is somehow made for him to move on if another club takes him. He does not have a future here and not sure he would even be in the 25-man squad if he remained. If he stays, he would have another loan spell somewhere to try and prove he is better than a League 2/1 player but that is where he is headed, I am afraid. Better known maybe for his famous wife, Brooke Vincent, of Coronation Street fame.



E- (Last season E)







The rest



Ben Heneghan
was a bit of a Wilder punt when he came in from Motherwell in the August transfer window of 2017. He only played in the cup game against Preston and looked like technically he would struggle in our system. He was a big lad but did not have the athleticism needed at this level. He joined Blackpool on loan and seemed to do ok and returned there this season. In affect he has spent two years at Bloomfield Road and despite some of the turmoil behind the scenes (seems more stable now) and changes in manager, has been a regular and of course is now joined by another former Blade (loanee), in Gary Madine. He is still officially a Blade until his contract expires (technically it already had but the season of course was extended). He will now move on and probably stay with Blackpool I would imagine.



Jake Wright was such an important part of the League One title team and also featured during that first Championship season. We never lost of course for a long time when he played. Like with others (Lafferty another) as we moved up the leagues, they almost became victims of their own success as we ended up needing to get better quality players in despite the great jobs they did. Wright always seemed a great pro although there were rumours, he was not that bothered about going out on loan a few years ago. He was in and around the promotion celebrations I recall after we went up last year but he had barely played for a long time. I recall seeing him in a u23 game against Wednesday and he looked shocking but it was a surprise no lower league clubs took him due to his experience, know how and ability to organise the defence. Eventually, at the start of this season in the final year of his contract, he went to Bolton but lost 6-1 on his debut in a team that was as good as down with the points deduction. At the end of January, he had his contract terminated with the Blades and at the time of writing he is without a club I believe? Surely, he will get a contract with a club in League Two/One for a year you would think. Important Blades don’t forget the role people like him played at the start of this journey.







Next season




The defence is without doubt the strongest part of the team. A lot will depend if we can get Henderson back or another player of his ilk/ability; as I have discussed when analysing the keepers but the actual defence remains very good regardless. The five players that have been regulars for two seasons will all most certainly come back and continue to be the key part of our side and the one that gives us a platform to go on and succeed. All of them had very good to excellent seasons. Sure a few dropped off a bit after lockdown but generally they were all superb. Both defensively and from an attacking point they thrived. O’Connell was solid as a rock, ditto for Egan and Basham continued to surprise and thrive. The two wing backs continued from the seasons they had at a lower level. The key now is to replicate this level or close to this level for next season and beyond. The last few seasons has proved they can do this – a few dodgy games apart and if they keep their focus, determination and hunger then they can go on and be solid. It will be hard to keep as many clean sheets and for us to concede as few but we have to aim to get close to that. It is nice to be going into the summer and know that unless something dramatic happens, these five will all start. We hope no one comes in for any of these players and that Bash can sort his contract out but don’t expect anything but this same line up next season.



The issue is back-ups. We don’t really have the depth or back-ups. Jags clearly is nearly done and showed that in the few games he started as much as he was great to have around. We don’t have a right side back up unless Rodwell stays. Robinson did ok and will remain as the O’Connell cover. The two wing backs I expect K. Freeman to move on as good a servant as he has become and Osborn has been more midfield but do think he will continue to do that cover job. It will be hard with budget restrictions to bring in 4/5 cover in this area but we definitely need a right wing back, right centre back cover (unless Rodwell stays) and a dominant big centre back. So, 3 is the minimum you would think. The trouble is you look at players that are cover at mid table sides that have come from Championship teams and they have cost like 8-10 million +. It is tough as we want good cover but also want to bring the age down of the side and look to develop players too. With no one coming through this exacerbates the issue. Maybe he might look at Norrington Davies but feel he needs another year on loan – ideally Championship level. I expect a couple of Champ-Lg 1 players to come in here to supplement what we have and maybe we may go abroad too (a surprise signing like Retsos). This area of the team is definitely the strongest but we do need cover as there may be injuries (been quite fortunate so far) or even a loss of form at some point. The players need to be kept on their toes.



Player / Position Years remaining (contract expires) Red this year Orange next year - Green longer contract –





Defenders




Ben Heneghan Out of contract (2020)

Kieron Freeman Out of contract (2020)

Jack Rodwell Out of contract (2020)


Phil Jagielka Out of contract (2020)

Kean Bryan 1 year (2021)

Chris Basham 1 year (2021)

Jack Robinson 2 years (2022)


George Baldock 2 years (2022)

John Egan 2 years (2022)

Jack O’Connell 2 years (2023)

Enda Stevens 3 years (2023)




Return to loan club:



Panos Retsos to Bayer Leverkusen
 

Deadbat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2009
Messages
4,679
Reaction score
20,120
Henegan been linked with Preston and Millwall today. Surprised as don't see him as Champ level
 

mr glossop

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2009
Messages
105
Reaction score
70
Thanks for taking the time really is a good read - it would suggest we need another defender along with resigning jags,keeping the current defence as Bryan etc aren't up to the job
 

Bladezz

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 13, 2016
Messages
2,584
Reaction score
2,817
Enjoyed reading that. Good at the bottom where goes into contracts etc. Maybe analyse who we should sign and go on the caution of being not saying Sergio Ramos etx
 

All advertisments are hidden for logged in members, why not log in/register?

Top Bottom