Mark Brophy

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Special 29/08/2015

Churn Churn Churn

I find the signing of Florian Thauvin mildly disturbing, not because there’s anything wrong with him that I know about, but because the deal included Remy Cabella going in the opposite direction. Now Cabella didn’t set the world alight last season and based on his performances then I doubt we’ll miss him.

The problem is that we paid a lot of money for him only 12 months ago. Now we’re prepared to let him go as a makeweight in a deal for a very similar player in terms of style. Many people, myself included, have thought of Graham Carr’s scouting as one of the few things about the club set up we could genuinely be enthusiastic about.

This however, smacks of player churn. Keep replacing one physically fragile tricky French winger with another and hopefully one will eventually be a success. If we were so sure Cabella was worth all that money last summer we should be sure now that he will still come good. Ditching him now means Carr failed in his initial assessment and recommendation. We’ve all heard a lot about Thauvin in the ages we’ve been tracking him. I hope he lives up to the rave reviews but I can’t help thinking he is no more or less likely to succeed than his predecessor, nor for that matter whoever comes after him. We should be building our squad for the long term, not gambling on people we’re not sure about.

How Soon is Now?

The signing of Thauvin brings our summer spend to somewhere in the region of um, well, I’m not sure exactly but it’s a lot. It’s our biggest-spending transfer window in some time, and certainly during Mike Ashley’s time in charge. Does that mean he’s fulfilled his promise to punch above our weight in spending this summer? Has he done what he said and provided the players who can win something for the club? Should those of us who previously have been convinced of the need for change at the top, simply start paying our money again, sit down and shut up?

I remain more optimistic about our prospects this year than I have been for a long time. We seem to be taking the shocking course of trying to make good decisions. However on the subject of punching above our weight, look at what other clubs have been doing recently with their TV money bonanza. Stoke signed Xherdan Shakiri and before that Bojan Krkic. Did I see Leicester signing Gokhan Inler from Serie A? Everyone is splashing out, not just us. I remain unconvinced our squad is good enough to win something, though our summer has been a decent start and AS Roma weren’t built in a day.

The bottom line is our club remains subject to the whims of a rich man. Maybe he’ll again decide he doesn’t want us to win something by the time this season has ended. We should also remember none of this comes as a personal gift from Ashley. All spending is of cash generated by the club itself. We have nothing to thank him for.

5 is Alive

The TV wolves are sniffing around Channel 5’s new Football League highlights show. There’s been a lot of criticism that there’s too much talk and not enough action, wooden interviews and pointless special guests.

With the exception of yourself obviously, football fans do like to savage TV football shows unnecessarily. I like Adrian Chiles for instance. I feel like a freak to admit it though, such is the stick he receives.
It feels like there’s another similar upswell of public opinion against this show.

The clincher for me that outweighs all other concerns on this one is that they see fit to put the show on at 930 on a Saturday night, as opposed to midnight when the Beeb did it. I’ve watched more already this season than I did the whole of last and that has to be a good thing.

Stiffs or Stars?

We had an encouraging night in the League Cup on Tuesday. A good performance and result against lower-league opposition. So far so good in our new-found determination to prioritise cup competitions more than we have in the past. Though McClaren made 9 changes from the side that started at Old Trafford at the weekend, there were still starts for Janmaat, Haidara, Tiote, de Jong, Aarons, Thauvin, Perez (and Gouffran and Williamson). That’s the bulk of our first choice side last season. Perhaps we’ve cottoned on to the secret of success with weakened sides: improve the squad to the point where your reserves are more than capable of stepping into the firing line when required.

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