By Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.
Part 1 – Goalkeepers and Defence
It’s a TTT tradition that each summer we evaluate our squad player by player, and give subscribers the chance to vote whether we keep or offload them (although unlike the X-Factor, the voting has no direct influence on what happens).
Unfortunately Andrew (TTT Subscriber Arisesirrafa) cannot undertake the role of survey-master this summer, but we hope he’s back in the chair next year. Until then, you’ll have to make do with us.
As ever, we start with goalkeepers and defenders. Part 2 will look at midfield and Part 3 attack (that’ll be a short article this time then… ).
We’ve restricted it to players that have made at least five competitive ‘starts’ (see below for what we mean by ‘start’) for the first team in 2014/15. We’ll deal with loanees (i.e. our players who have been loaned out) and those who have started fewer than five times at the end of each article.
For the purposes of these articles, a start is deemed to be when a player has featured for more than 45 minutes, and a sub appearance is when a player has featured for less than 45 minutes. This means, for example, that a player who is subbed off in the first half is deemed to have made a sub appearance, while his replacement (assuming he plays the remaining minutes) is deemed to have started.
Brad Jones and Glen Johnson’s contracts have expired and they are gone. At the time of writing, Sebastian Coates looks set for a permanent transfer to Sunderland for £2m. And we would hope there’s no need to vote on whether Adam Bogdan stays or goes. The 27-year-old Hungarian international keeper arrived on a free transfer from Bolton Wanderers in June. He was not their first-choice keeper, and is likely to remain a No.2. He represents an upgrade on Brad Jones, but as an understudy rather than as a genuine challenger for Mignolet’s spot.
At the time of writing right-back Nathaniel Clyne was having a medical ahead of a £12.5m transfer from Southampton. If the deal goes through, we assume he’ll stay too!
Emre Can will be considered under ‘Midfield’ in Part 2, despite most of his playing time last season having been as a defender, as we mostly agree that’s what he probably is. In the light of the Britannia Stadium, he will definitely NOT be assessed as a right-back! 😉
Simon Mignolet /Age on 1 September 2015: 27 / Contract expires: 2018
Reasons to keep: Basically, the Mignolet who returned after being dropped in December – apart from his return at Burnley following injury to Brad Jones who had replaced him. That moment when he allowed the ball to run out for a corner because he didn’t seem to know what else to do continues to haunt. But thereafter he seemed to become a new man, as if he’s cast off the outer skin that had been holding him back and revealed the unrecognisable keeper inside – assertive, positive, even dominant. For the rest of the season he made many great saves, came for crosses and either caught them or punched them clear with confidence. There was talk that his fiancee had advised him to stop over-thinking things – ideally you’d like the coaching staff to be the ones who identified it, but hey, if it works, it works.
27 is not particularly old for anyone, and certainly not for a goalkeeper. If he’s not at his peak this coming season, you wonder when he will be, especially following such a strong end to the season. You might blame him for one or two of the goals in that meaningless end-of-season farce at Stoke, but that wouldn’t characterise his entire Jekyll and Hyde season.
Where once last season he was ‘must replace’ material, many now feel he’s a legitimate No.1, albeit one without a realistic challenge for his starting place. Mignolet remains a very accomplished shot stopper, and if that asset doesn’t rank top in the pantheon of goalkeeping assets we’d like to know what does.
Reasons to offload: The Mignolet who preceded the reincarnated Superman who appeared in the New Year. Nervy, edgy, confidence shot to pieces, an unsettling influence on the entire defensive unit. His distribution, either throwing or especially kicking, has never been a particular strength, and he can still look distinctly uncomfortable receiving a back pass. You wouldn’t want to keep a keeper who reverted to the August-December Mignolet of last season.
- Keep (96%, 490 Votes)
- Sell (4%, 20 Votes)
- Loan (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 510
- 7 (58%, 271 Votes)
- 6 (24%, 110 Votes)
- 8 (14%, 64 Votes)
- 5 (3%, 14 Votes)
- 4 (1%, 5 Votes)
- 3 (0%, 1 Votes)
- 1 (0%, 0 Votes)
- 2 (0%, 0 Votes)
- 9 (0%, 0 Votes)
- 10 (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 465
The No 1 No 1
The rest of this article is for Subscribers only.