I suppose the time has come to give up on thoughts of last season’s end of term review (with apologies to Charles N’Zogbia, Maynor Figueroa, James McCarthy and the teams that beat Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool). It might only seem like a week or so since the World Cup final, but with the season breathing down our neck it’s probably about time that we started to pay Latics some attention, after all they spent most of yesterday jumping up and down trying to catch our eye.
I was asked in the morning to give quote on Latics’ chances for 2010/11, basically I said that the keys to success were learning from last year and keeping our best players, then I find out that Bramble was bring linked to Sunderland in a rumour that only got louder as the day went on. Thanks to his occasional (all centre halves have them) rickets, opinion will always be split on Bramble but by my reckoning, he’s one of those players that we don’t want to be losing. I could sit here a write a list of about ten reasons why we should want him to stay with the only entry in the ‘get rid’ column the fact that we might mode him for nothing at the end of his contract. Did the club learn nothing from the hole that Heskey left in the side; at least we were pretty much safe when that happened.
The loss of Bramble, tied with the much expected departure of Figueroa leaves an already weak looking defence looking pretty decimated. Bobby’s brave face did little to mask the shaky prospects of Alcarez ever turning up but even if he does then there’s still a decidedly inexperienced look to the prospective back line. The defence in last night’s first (proper) friendly ran Boyce, Almaya, Golobart, Mustoe I don’t know how confident that makes you feel, but my jokes about Blackpool having a front line of Rob Hulse and Franny Jeffers next season are starting to look like a rotten egg aimed right at my face.
If TallKenny made it safely back from Oldham last night (he travelled with Mr Bogroll so who knows) then we may get a match report but I understand it was more of a jog out than run out for everyone bar Paul Dickov. Pretty much everyone apart from Daniel ‘please release me’ de Ridder got a go, Oldham scored a good goal and Jordi ‘needs an extra yard of pace’ Gomez grabbed a penalty equalizer for the proper Latics.
The bigger news on the night was the debut of the new kit. It always takes me a while to get used to these things and, Umbro aside, recent efforts usually lead to indifference it a yearning for Ellgren’s efforts of years gone by. So, basically my first opinion is probably worthless, then again if I cut out all the worthless opinion around here then I’d have a pretty empty site so you get it anyway.
My first thought is that the material looks cheap, I know football kits are generally made out of cheap material but at least your top manufacturers are making efforts to hide that, as a rule of thumb shiny = bad. There’s a fair bit been said on the loss of the stripes, I ‘campaigned’ for them and I would again, but a change is as good as a rest, maybe. I would however say that the design is too modern, you know, ‘throw a few twists in to stand out’ modern, ‘ooh, let’s have one sleeve a different colour to the other one modern’, ‘no we don’t want simple shoulders and plain neckline’ modern.
If they’d toned things down a bit then I reckon that the kit would have a nice 60s feel to it, instead, it looks like it can’t quite make its mind up. Which is probably quite apt, for a Latics team going into another season looking a little uncertain whether it should balance the books first or speculate to accumulate.
What do I mean? Well, the £6m signing of Mauro Boselli could be seen as s sign of intent, (although Bobby did predict that he would be allowed a large-ish signing if he kept us up) whereas the general feeling is one of hesitancy. It could genuinely be that we’re waiting for the right opportunities to open up, but it’s too easy to suspect that the remainder of the summer’s transfer policy depends on the futures of N’Zogbia, Rodallega and Figueroa. My gut reaction would be to keep them and, if need be, don’t spend any money on other transfers, but signing players isn’t just about the fee, there’s the wages too and the (potentially) £30m we could get for those three is still a lot for a club like Latics and we can only dine out on Palacios and Valencia for so long.
And on that note I’ll leave you alone for a bit, hopefully not coming back tomorrow for the announcement that James McCarthy and Mohamed Diame are off to Blackpool for the princely sum of a fish supper and a day pass for the Pleasure Beach (each of course, we’re not for letting players go on the cheap around here).
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