In all this transfer speculation, however, it pays to think about why we crashed last season. It wasn’t necessarily a matter of lack of quality. We have a team that can beat Barcelona. Our first eleven (when fit) is comparable with any other team in England. A midfield of Wilshere, Song, Nasri, Arshavin and Fabregas amongst the best in the league, and van Persie’s form in the second half of the season was as good as Ronaldo’s or Messi’s form.
So it’s not the quality that’s the problem. It’s the application.
I’m not sure what bringing in a couple of monsters like Samba and Cahill will do to our defence. We’re still not going to drill the defence, and we’re still not going to practicing set-pieces. Ergo, we’re still going to concede sloppy goals and we’re still going to be shaky at 4-0 up with 20 minutes to go.
We could do with another centre-forward, since van Persie’s mostly injured and Chamakh’s form has petered out. I think a player like Benzema would be a great addition to the team, but it’ll be a struggle to see how we’d fit both him and van Persie in the same team when they’re both fit. Maybe the best option is to find another semi-permenant invalid to share van Persie’s physio table. Roque Santa Cruz, anyone?
But honestly, I’d rather see a change in our backroom than any radical changes in the squad. We really need to get the defensive side sorted out. I’d love it, juts love it, if one day I could turn off the computer when we’re 1-0 up in the 80th minute. I can’t do that now, because we all know that we’re going to concede in those situations. Hell, we’re not even safe when we’re 1-0 in injury-time.
And yeah, I know we need athletic, mobile defenders with good technique because we play a high-line, with fluid interchanging positions, and we need good distribution from the centre-backs because they’re often the only ones with time on the ball to start an attacking move.... but surely the primary aim of the defence is to not concede easy goals? Koscielny was magnificent against Barcelona when he harried their players all across the park, but we also conceded a LOT of goals because we were too exposed at the back, because of mis-understanding between the players, because of bad organisation.
I’m not saying no to bring in Cahill and Samba and whoever else is on the radar... I’m just saying that if we don’t change our approach to defending as well, it’s pretty pointless.