The January window approaches, and Mr Sullivan is always keen to point out there is little value to be had here. Although how we can ever talk about value after buying Danny Ings for £15m and paying him silly money a week, I don’t know.
We could also talk about previous seasons, where there were real opportunities to push on by investing in the squad in January but stuck with what we had – which inevitably meant we didn’t push on. I genuinely think we need some new faces in January, and those of you who follow my Twitter/X account will know that I’d put a new manager at the top of that list.
The usual sources are also muttering about FFP, and ‘beware Everton’. I’m not the best at Maths, nor accounting, but I believe we banked a profit of around £17million in the summer, and there is wriggle room to buy players. Reading between the lines, the board is trying to keep some money back, and Sullivan has said sell to buy.
What do we need? A striker is a pretty obvious priority. We’ve needed one that fits Moyesball for what seems like forever. I find it incredibly frustrating that apparently there is no striker in the world, apart from the converted winger Antonio, who can play up front for David Moyes.
Like, bang my head against the wall, frustrating. It was always a matter of time before Antonio pulled up lame, and even before that, he hasn’t been looking too good this season. Age is catching up with him, and he got that contract extension anyway. He often seems more bothered by that ridiculous podcast of his anyway.
The silver lining is that Divin Mubama should see more minutes, but Moyes appeared loathed to play him, and prefers to see Ings get three touches in a game as the ball bounces of his shoulder as he lumbers around the box, looking like a shit extra from a Guy Ritchie film. Where else? Coufal has been a decent servant, but I do think we need an upgrade here – a younger, more skilled right back would be a boon to the squad.
You could also argue Emerson could do with some competition now Cresswell has gone to seed, but full back is not an area we have ever spent much coin on. I would also love to see more pace in the squad, we still look so one-paced. So, who could we sell to raise funds for a couple of new players? Aaron Cresswell, Danny Ings, Ben Johnson, Pablo Fornals, and Thilo Kehrer are all possible departures.
But Ings is on a tidy contract, and no one will match his wages. Cresswell is worth a fiver, and Johnson not much more. Fornals and Kehrer could raise around £20 million but will there be any takers? Cornet would have been a possible, as Moyes does not seem at all keen, but he will be off to the African Cup of Nations.
I don’t think we’ll see any significant signings, and when you throw in the African Cup of Nations, we will lose Nayef Aguerd, Maxwel Cornet, Mohammed Kudus, and Said Benrahma for up to five weeks. Kudus is going to be a real loss. This leaves considerable gaps in what is an unbalanced squad, that Moyes struggles to manage outside his favourite starters.
Part of the issue for me is that Moyes struggles with an option B – he has first XI and barely deviates from this. Players like Fornals, Cornet, and Kehrer could arguably be involved more. And if we do buy players, how soon will they be ready? Moyes loves to ease a player in, even if they are a regular starter at another Premier League club.
I am hoping that Tim Steidten will pull a couple of rabbits out of the hat, and re-energise what can look like a very tired looking squad. Hopefully he can get in Sullivan’s ear, and convince him to dig his arms into his pockets. Who these signings may be, I don’t know, that’s not my job.
I will admit that it can be hard to extricate players from their clubs in January – but we are still an attractive proposition to players of a certain level. You wonder if someone like Dominic Solanke would like a crack at Europe, and to play in front of more than 500 people.
And if all else fails, there is always the Sully South American Special. Time will tell.