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Squad depth; Lingering questions

Squad depth;  Lingering questions

Following our match against everton earlier today Jose had the following to say amongst other things;

'Regarding Oscar, today he was saying he could cope with the pain, it's not a dangerous one, just a painful one. He said he could cope with the situation, clearly he couldn't.
'We have three days so let's see. With Mikel and David Luiz, I don't know if they can recover. It's important we have at least one of them because we don't have Matic for the Champions League.
'Ramires had a similar situation to Oscar, I tried to protect him and not play him but the game demanded I play him. Clearly, though, he could cope with the situation.'

I don`t know about others but these comments give me serious cause for concern.

It was apparent to anyone and everyone that Oscar was not right today. He was easily the worst player out there on the pitch today and that was why after the first half Jose pulled him out post hence. The serious question that needs to be asked is that with a crucial away champion`s league tie against Galatasaray in Istanbul just 3 days away is our squad so thin that we had to start Oscar despite the fact he was injured and in pain pre game? Are our options so limited and poor in the area he plays to warrant such a gamble and risk?

We are all very happy now that we managed to escape with a 1-0 victory but we all know we just escaped with the skin of our teeth and none of our rivals at the top failed to win this week..we just barely pulled it of..good fortune can only carry one so far.

It is also telling that one of the subs called in by Jose was Ramires. As it turned out that was an inspired call as Ramires seemed back to his usual energetic self after having several poor games recently. However the question again needs to be asked. Jose revealed that his (Ramires's) situation is similar to Oscar meaning he has been injured for some time and dealing with ongoing pain. Jose even indicated that this was the reason he didn't start. This begs the question that are our options so limited and poor that with our performance clearly flat jose had to lean on an injured Ramires who was at the time still dealing with ongoing pain rather than anyone else in the squad? For example we had Salah who is definitely not playing mid week available and as far as we have been informed fully fit and uninjured. Is he so poor that he could not offer anything of note to the attacking third in the final 20-30 minutes of the game?

In essence Jose`s starting picks and subs suggest that he feels a ~ 50% Oscar and maybe 70% Ramires offer more value to the team than 100% fit Salah and Schurrle. This is a very telling proposition.

The same line of reasoning could be applied to our strikers. I don`t even remember how Ba looks. It has been that long since I last saw him play for us. Eto O had good movements in the match but has clearly lost a step. The predator's instincts, hunger and desire are still there but the body can no longer do what he did so well with Mallorca, Real, Barca and Inter. As the saying goes for Eto O it is a case of the mind being willing but the flesh being weak. When he was subbed of, Jose preferred El nino who is just coming of recovery from injury and was essentially anonymous in a similar role at the Etihad last week. As far as we have been informed Ba is 100% fit and not nursing or recovering from any injuries and yet Jose elected to put on a just recuperating Torres who was again essentially anonymous. This again suggests that Jose rates a rather tepid, just recovering Torres more than a 100% fit Ba even for a short 20-30 minute stretch.

The implications of these observations are concerning. Forget all the names we have listed on our squad roster. Jose`s starting picks and subs for the last few games tell us that effectively our squad in his eyes is about 14-15 strong. There are several players on the list we have submitted to UEFA and the FA who he rates so low that he would rather play injured, out of form and underperforming players from his band of 15 than even risk any of these guys for even limited minutes.

This can only have negative effects on those outside the inner circle; the outsiders will feel progressively less relevant to our cause and will likely get more and more rusty, more and more disenchanted and less and less effective on those few occasions when serious injury and or suspensions force Jose to have to call one or more of them up. It is a very different mind set to be called up to play because the manager feels you can contribute something unique to the collective in a particular game or setting as opposed to being picked to play simply because there are absolutely no other options left.

The other implication of this is that if these other players are rated so poorly (and/or are in fact so poor) then come summer we should not be looking at just the much mentioned 2 new faces as signings. We are going to need much more than that (we will need to get a set of back ups in critical positions that Jose can trust) because if the declaration that next season we will be close to the finished product ready to challenge on multiple fronts is true we will need real squad depth to make it a reality.

Right now whatever the total number of names, Jose`s choices speak eloquently that we have a thin squad and this will need to be fixed at season`s end while in the meantime we must hope and pray that this real or perceived lack of depth does not end up costing us the chance of stealing the BPL title this season and advancing far in the champions league. KTBFFH.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Saturday February 22 2014
Time: 10:35PM


The 'magical' two new signings will still suffice GabeU, if Jose keeps the faith; and MvG returns to full fitness, and the likes of Romeu, Zouma, Piazon, Traore, Thorgan, Omeruo, PVA, Atsu, Lukaku, Ake, Baker, Wallace, Chalobah, Josh, Feruz, Bamford, Marin, Moses, Cuevas or Courtois all return for preseason! Keep faith you too bro, don't trip or freak out just yet; just two new signings - a marquee striker and a ******** very technical regista, and everything else where appear all rosy cozy to you. Emenalo and Mourinho busy at work here, we couldn't be in safer hands. Carefree.
HGH Magic
23/02/2014 00:51:00
What can i say HGH i am a worrier by nature!!! It is nice though to have that counterbalanced by those among us who are truly carefree!!!
23/02/2014 01:30:00
who is responsible for the squad depth....if you know that you will be playing in cl pl fa cup then why sell mata and kdb...or if you sell them why not bring a proper replacement who could play in cl also....matic is a fine buy we needed that a long time ago...because he goes directly in starting 11...what about salah...why not bring a top class player who could go directly in starting 11....the problem is mou dont trust either schrulle andu salah but we have bought both of them and both are jose signing...its jose fault for squad problem and not anyone else...he is not giving enough oppurtunity to the other players...he cant complain about squad depth now...
23/02/2014 05:01:00
mou should stop the blame game and favouratism,where is squad rotation?oscar ,ramirez showed they needed to tire out is hazard,willian and matic,and mou will say we need win mentality and experience.who is fooling who mou..?
23/02/2014 07:37:00
I think willian or haz can also play jm should utilise the team he has optimally.why not leave oscar out and play haz,willian,shurrle behind the striker?
23/02/2014 08:44:00
Soon almost all of our starting frontline guys will run out of steam. There was no point in getting Salah in a January transfer window if he wasn't going to be playing.
23/02/2014 09:23:00
Sshhh shlok27 and mzee69. Quiet! Shut up you two! Try reading an article before going a-spouting! Why the unwarranted and irrational foul-mouthing? Whoever said Mourinho is complaining about squad depth huh? Blimey, you got any quotes or links for us?? Isn't it obvious this is just GabeU, the author's personal heartfelt complaint? With The Special One choosing to 'weaken' his CL squad in January(by selling Mata and KDB) but strengthen his PL squad(by getting Matic and Salah), you'll have to be absolutely clueless and out-of-touch not to realize that he thinks he can't win the CL but on the contrary can give a good fight for the PL this term. Get a grip already you too annoying twits, or try articulating your irrelevant and ill-timed moanings into an article! STOP dumbing out someone else's fine work!
HGH Magic
23/02/2014 09:35:00
Agree with HGH totally. People need to read the article notjust the top banner then moan about jose. Top of the league and still moans and growns lol only on VC.
23/02/2014 14:38:00
I am not impressed with Willian…Even though Oscar is also struggling, I know what he can do…I haven't really seen anything out of Willian other than the good energy he had in the Man City game. So, I don't want him as the #10. He doesn't have good decision making skills…I would rather see Hazard in the #10 and give Schurrle some more game time..The problem is that neither Schurrle nor Willan are showing anything…which is a huge problem…The opposition just double teams Hazard and with Oscar/Willian/Schurrle not doing anything and with Mikel and Ramires on the pitch there is really no worry…Ramires will just shoot the ball from 40 yards high and wide…like he always does…Pretty poor team depth when you have to bring on Ramires as a substitute. in a tied game...
23/02/2014 14:59:00
just off topic quickly...where are those who wrote off Danny Sturridge..saying he wont be anything when he leaves??? Please lecture me with more of your football wisdom...
23/02/2014 15:13:00
lama from the times Willian played number 10 honestly i felt he was more consistent than Oscar, same energy and work rate running up and down the field but the big difference is that Willian does not forget he is a CAM with a big emphasize on the A part. I could be wrong though but that is what I remember of Willian the few times he played number 10. To me Oscar has honestly been a let down this season when you couple in the fact he has been getting a big push and bias from Mou. Mou started subbing him out and leaving him out of some line ups like against City, that should tell you something when you see how Mou treated Oscar in the beginning of season.
Pavel Permiachkin
23/02/2014 15:50:00
Ess...Bison,stop hijacking the threads...
23/02/2014 15:53:00
Let's recall how long it took mou to finally find his first eleven. These eleven players are ones that mou believes can produce with consistency. And at this stage or rather situation of the league where other contenders do not want to drop points, I can forgive mou if he's finding it hard to drop the players he has more trust in. But I totally understand your point gab, let's hope our players can put up with this demanding closing stage of the season. #Ktbffh
23/02/2014 16:32:00
Pavel oscar was dropped in those matches as reason of change in formation rather than lack of faith/confidence from the coach.
23/02/2014 16:44:00
I share the concerns of @gabeu. Certain players seemed to have fallen out of Jose's list. Schurrle and Ba especially need to make a few more appearances.
23/02/2014 16:52:00
oscar was playin very well at d beginnin of d season & i tink he has been overused. dats y he droppef totally. giv him som gud rest & he wil pick up where he left. hazard also need dat rest but we cant afford ut now bcos he is at d helm of whatever gud things d team can produce. mou shld put more trust in oda players as well.
23/02/2014 18:21:00
oscar was playin very well at d beginnin of d season & i tink he has been overused. dats y he droppef totally. giv him som gud rest & he wil pick up where he left. hazard also need dat rest but we cant afford ut now bcos he is at d helm of whatever gud things d team can produce. mou shld put more trust in oda players as well.
23/02/2014 18:21:00
I agree with Pavel Willian is a better #10 than Oscar, his speed of thought, pace and swift transitional play makes him better. Oscar will improve but tbf he loses the ball way too much and needs to work on his passing, vision and creativity. To be fair, Oscar is still young he will only get better especially with Jose by his side, the good the about Oscar is he knows how to put the ball in the net unlike Willian. I say rest him until our game against Spurs, he will come back fresh like Rami and tear defences apart.
23/02/2014 19:17:00
Jose can play Cech Iva Cahill Terry Azpi Luiz Rami Schurlle Willian Hazard Torres vs Gala and give Ba some minutes. I smile whenever i think of what Hazard will do to Ebuoe on Wednesday. lol
23/02/2014 19:24:00
Jose can go with Cech Azpi Cahill Terry Cole Rami Matic Salah Hazard Schurlle Torres vs Fulham.
23/02/2014 19:30:00
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