With pre-season upon us we can hopefully start to get answers to some burning questions that have been asked throughout the close season.
For a change, a nice change actually, they aren’t questions about money or transfers or ambition. Instead they are answers to bread and butter questions, football questions no less, such as: How will our new signings integrate? What formation will we play? How will the fitness of some of our players holding up? And, most importantly, does it look like we’ve improved?
These are all interesting questions, which will hopefully be answered to our satisfaction over the coming weeks. Of course the real questions start being asked when the Premier League season kicks off in August, but for now we at least get more of a clue than what we have at the moment. I’ve highlighted a few key questions that I’ve been pondering over our football in the forthcoming season.
Who will get the nod in central defence?
This question is answered pretty easily in my opinion. As Zoe highlighted earlier, Steven Taylor enjoyed a purple patch at the back end of last season and was arguably our best performer. He had a chance to stake a claim for a first-team place, and in my opinion he took it with both hands. I reckon it will be him who partners Colo as we head into the later games of the pre-season campaign.
Of course Mike Williamson will not take it lightly and will want to compete for his place. After all, he has played a lot of football for us over the last season and a half and will not want to be displaced. Taylor has the shirt at the moment though, and it’s up to Williamson to try a wrestle it back from him.
How will our midfield operate?
This is a question which pretty much everyone has a different answer to. Midfield is clearly our strongest position at the moment so it will be interesting to see how they all fit in or whether we see a change in formation to assist in accommodating them all.
Will we see Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye being the two who sit that bit deeper and shield the back four whilst having licence to move forward? Will that then mean that we see a more advanced midfield three of say, Jonas Gutierrez, Sylvain Marveaux, and Hatem Ben Arfa operating behind the front man? Don’t forget we also have Joey Barton to fit in, plus a few highly coveted young lads who will no doubt want to feature at some stage. Hopefully we’ll start to see some answers to these questions.
Who will be number one?
Steve Harper? Tim Krul? Or as an outside bet, Fraser Forster? My own personal opinion is that it will be Krul, but it’s far from decided and it’s been said time and time again that all three of them will get the chance to stake their claim to be our main goalkeeper for the new season. An interesting battle awaits.
We’ve got a few players who have come back from a long time on the sidelines. Hatem Ben Arfa is the main one I’m talking about, but we also have Dan Gosling in that same category. Are their problems behind them? Or are they going to suffer and repercussions after being out for so long? I’d like to hope not but I guess you just never know.
Then there are the players who have question marks about their fitness, like Demba Ba and Sylvain Marveaux. Ba was described as a “ticking time bomb” by Tony Pulis who refused to sign the striker for Stoke due to his well documented knee problem. Incidentally Pulis signd Jonathan Woodgate the other day….
Sylvain Marveaux is the other one who has doubts surrounding him. He’s not played since November but was fit to feature towards the back end of last season. It’s not his fault that his club, Rennes, didn’t play him as he’d already told them he was leaving. Marveaux has passed two medicals over the summer so I’m hopeful that he is alright, but the news that he is being left out of the Darlington friendly will do little to soothe any concerns.
Those are just a few of my own personal questions that I’m waiting to see the answers to. Realistically we can only debate the answers at the moment, but soon we won’t have to and we’ll hopefully have proper answers to all of those questions supplied via the medium of actually watching football and not Twitter, rumour sites, accounts etc etc.
Strange concept I know!
Do you guys and gals have any burning football questions that you are waiting to see that answers to?