If things go on as they now look to be, I think we'll survive, just. It'll be fairly close though. However, I don't think we have that bad a squad; we can improve things, and at least we're starting from a position where we're not already in the smelly stuff. Going with our existing squad, these are the main things I think we need to do.
a) Play Weimann as a true forward. He's dangerous if he's in the penalty box, a damp squid outside it. He CAN score goals, which is what we need, and he's essentially a poacher. With Bent now far away he's the only player we've got like that. When he was played up front he and Benteke had the makings of a good partnership; they created for each other.
b) Play Bacuna as an attacking midfielder. He's got pace, last year he was forming a good understanding with Weimann, and last year he was our second highest scorer. You know, goals; those things we've forgotten about. With Benteke, Weimann and Bacuna the main scoring threats we should be much nearer finding the net.
c) We need to stick to a defensive 4; it's been solid, relatively, for us, and we need that solidity to survive. We've no problems picking a decent 4, no matter what injuries or suspensions there are, within reason.
d) That leaves 3 midfielders to find. From Westwood, Sanchez, Cleverley, Delph and Gabby (as an advanced midfielder). If Delph stayes. Any of those would do. I'm not one of those rubbishing Cleverley, he's a decent player and the only player with a good attempt on goal yesterday. Sort out the attack and the midfield will take care of itself. There are other players like Richardson and Grealish who can weigh in.
It's crunch time. We have a squad which can win matches and we have to put out one which does. Lambert has to do it, which means doing things differently; the present situation up front is a shambles. If he can't, he has to go. There aren't any obvious replacements, but if you look deeper in fact there may be. I'd back Laudrup for one, a good manager, puts out positive sides, and knows the PL; he's currently working in Quatar, but Laudrup always has a buy-out clause in his contracts. Trouble is, changing manager will cost money. But if it's needed then the alternative will be worse.
i really don't think we should be putting faith in Weimann and Bacuna. I would rather put faith in Cole (staying fit, and starting to create) and this lad Gill that is supposedly coming in today. I would also hope that Delph stays till the end of his contract, but if not, that we get Sinclair as well as Gil, and Januzaj on loan till the end of the season. Sinclair, Gil and Januzaj should surely create and score a few chances, with two of Sanchez, Westwood, Richardson and Cleverly offering protection behind them.
personally I think the biggest thing we're missing on the pitch is a leader, some one with a voice, some one to lead buy example, someone to drive the team on.
Laursen was the last true leader we had in our team.... there doesn't seem to be anyone of his nature in the team. It would make such a difference to the abject none-performances our team keeps putting on show.
We've changed our style, commendable, but we can't lose that fight and work rate, it doesn't mean we still can't attack with pace, it's just a different way of doing it.
Hopefully Gil can come in and in someway become a young Merson.... How we need someone like that... but I fear without that strong character in the team we could struggle.
we survived the last two seasons without that leader - though to be fair, Vlaar and Delph are able. Though if they are injured/ f off, then we may be lacking in that area, yes.
But they're not really in the ilk of Laursen, Gerrard, Terry.... People who set the bar in the team.... Forget the ability of thee players it was their example that helped them make a difference too.
Gil may be a good buy, but he's not an immediate answer. Show me a player from abroad who has come into the PL and been an instant success. We need to find solutions now before things get desperate.
I should have mentioned Cole; if he's fit he can definitely add something. But in the past both Weimann and Bacuna have shown something.
Bacuna was our second highest scorer last season, he has the pace we need, and he's good with assists; his main weakness is defence. To put it bluntly, overall he contributes considerably more than Gabby. I thought he was a cert for starting at the beginning of the season, not a bit-part player from the bench. We need him on the pitch.
Weimann is the one forward we have who will anticipate a cross and move in time to meet it; he poaches. He has the fastest reactions of any of our forwards. His goals have dried up largely because he's been played way out of position, largely to accommodate Gabby up front who has been ineffective. Not to put him where he can use his skills when we're desperately short of those skills, ie finding the net, is crazy.
Neither player is the finished article but they are both young, can improve further, and could have a very good future. I hope that future is at Villa because I'm fed up with seeing our gems pushed out through the door. What's more to the point is that they have something which can get us out of the huge problem we face.