Monday, March 16, 2009

A 55 Million Pound Reserve Team?

The reserves beat up on the Chelsea reserves last night, by the score of 4-0. That's good for Clive Allen and the club as a whole, but there has to be a question asked, do we have enough talent that we are sending out 55 million pounds for a reserve match, or has the club invested poorly in the transfer market?

Unfortunately I'm inclined to say that the latter is probably the case. We have a lot of talent in the team, and having certain players play in a reserve game will keep them sharp. Gareth Bale needs some time on the field to be able to improve his form, and by all accounts he did well tonight.

We also have the youngsters that need these games to be able to prepare them to break into the first-team over time, Ben Alnwick, John Obika, Danny Rose, and Andros Townsend are the perfect examples of this. Their all starting to dominate the youth matches they play, and need the time in the reserves to sharpen them up. I like the reserve system for this reason, it helps us nurture our youngsters so we don't have to go and spend large amounts of money in the transfer market.

But here's what worries me, established first-team players who are in the reserves. Bale, Ricardo Rocha, (not a first-team player anymore, but where else does he go), Gilberto, (same boat as Rocha), David Bentley, Tom Huddlestone and Roman Pavlyuchenko are all good players, but they were all bought by former managers.

These players account for 50 million pounds that the club has paid out, and how many of them are going to be with the club in the long-term? Rocha and Gilberto were rush buys in the January window, Rocha for cover in the middle, Gilberto for God knows why. Huddlestone, Bentley and Bale were all bought with the hopes that they would be cornerstones of the team, but haven't done the job this season. Pavy is still getting adjusted to the English game, but it must be a blow to the ego to be playing in the reserves.

What is the future of the those in the reserves tonight? Well, the future is bright for lots of the youngsters, Obika, Rose, Townsend and even Alnwick have futures at the club. Bale could still have a future with the club, but I don't see Huddlestone, or Bentley around for too much longer.

How should the reserve system go forward? We need to make sure the youngsters continue to get a run-out, and having the fringe first-team players getting some time on the field. But it seems very strange that Bentley, Huddlestone and Pavlyuchenko would be fringe first team players, at around 35 million pounds for just the three of them.

The transfer policy at the club has been flawed for some time, and it is really starting to show it's cracks now. The club cannot have wholesale changes, that will only make next season the same as this, struggling for results as players try to get used to playing with each other. But the club has to be careful as the season ends and the transfer window opens again. We're already being rumored to be buying Kenwye Jones again, McGeady the Celtic winger, and a host of other players. Harry should spend wisely this summer, he's of course going to buy players, but he shouldn't be buying a whole new squad. Given some time, some of these players in the reserves might even come good, we just need to give them some time.

Tell me what you think of our transfer policy. There will be an article later this week where I examine the transfers in the club over the past couple of seasons, and the staggering amount of money we've spent on players that haven't exactly panned out, and those that have as well.

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