Tommy wrote:In my opinion Roberts is worth persisting with based on recent performances, age and versatility. Given that he's being used in broadly the same way as Rodrigo, I'd argue that he's made roughly the same impact over the course of the season (though both had COVID, injuries and limited opportunities). It's probably been said on here at some point but at the same age borderline everyone thought Kalvin was shite, despite playing at a lower level. Roberts has looked busy, involved and far from out of his depth in the last three matches - from which we took seven points and in his last match provided the key pass for both of our goals. The fact that he will likely always be in or around the Wales team means he'll garner more experience along the way too. I'd prefer to have another midfielder in the position Roberts/Rodrigo are being played and I'm hoping that Bielsa agrees but doesn't have the right player yet. Once we get him, Roberts then becomes useful as a relatively dependable deputy again at no further expense (which given that we may well have taken a bath on Rodrigo, is probably a good thing).
I also think that Raphinha is as close as you're going to get to a 'new Pablo' without spending insane money. I'd quite like to see him as a No 10 if it wasn't for the fact that we'd miss him on the wing - though Pablo's best performances going back two seasons were often on the wing so he is likely still the best replacement we're going to get in that sense. Costa basically fine as a backup based on performances this season (with Poveda and Summerville waiting in the wings so to speak) and I suspect it'll be harder to replace Alioski than we might think (in the sense that it requires someone who is very fit, seldom injured and can play in several positions) but we should definitely try to do so in the summer.
The problem with this post is that you're saying that all our players are basically OK and you're right, they are. We're going to finish tenth in the league plus or minus one place which is great, for a newly promoted team. But it all feels complacent. The next question is what we do to try to finish in a higher position next season. I suggest the following possibilities:
1. Experience fewer injuries to key players. To be honest, I don't think we've had a bad season for injuries and given the way we play I doubt there's realistic scope for improvement.
2. Make fewer mistakes through player improvement. How many of our players can, at this point, be coached to improve? Rodrigo maybe and Struijk going forward.
3. Buy better players. In which case question is who do we replace first?
I'm not up for statements like Costa basically fine as a backup based on performances this season
. To do what - avoid relegation? Is that what we want?