Thank goodness for that. Pre-Season is over and the shooting war starts in earnest next week.
We always hear from the coaching staff, the media and any Tom, Dick and Harry on social media that the friendly games are not about the result, more the tactics, new players getting used to each other and getting miles in their legs.
I can remember pre-seasons in the past when we’ve lost more of the games then we’ve won and vice versa and there is seemingly little correlation between that and what sort of season we have going forwards.
So where are we now?
I’d like to think that we’re ready but the reality is that none of us have a clue until our boys cross the white line at St. Andrews next weekend. Remember the 5-0 drubbing at Craven Cottage a few years ago on opening day? Fulham were better prepared that day than us and yet we ended up finishing 11th in the Premier League, go figure.
It’s clear that Daniel Farke is going to be playing the same style of football that he did last season and that the tactics aren’t going to vary too much. The 4-1-4-1 has been the system of choice often used throughout the summer’s friendly games and that’s what was mostly used at Charlton on Saturday.
Tom Trybull was the sole deep lying defensive cover and he struggled with Charlton’s high press. Much as I like Super Tom, I think either Louis Thompson or when fit again, Alex Tettey are better suited to that job in front of the defence.
There have been lots of changes of personnel in recent games and everybody has had a chance to a greater or lesser extent. If you asked me to pick the starting XI for next week with any certainty, I’d struggle. I could give you an XI but with so many options and new players available to him, the side is not currently picking itself, which it did for most of last season.
We all knew who were the best players for each position then but it’s a bit different this summer, which is a very good thing.
Other than Tim Krul in goal, Hanley as Captain (so I assume he’ll start) and Jordan Rhodes, if he’s fit, I couldn’t call it with any real certainty, especially if you told me I needed to place money on it.
Mo Leitner is a probable starter, as are Timm Klose and Teemu Pukki but at right back who starts? Is it going to be Felix Passlack or Ben Marshall? Either can play at right back or right midfield, so take your pick. The same goes for left back. I don’t think Jamal Lewis is fit enough to start as he’s missed a big chunk of the summer with both injury and then illness. So if Jamal isn’t fit, it’ll be either Husband or Stiepermann. Who is your money on there?
Kenny McLean, Onel Hernandez, Emi Buendia, Tom Trybull, Louis Thompson, who makes up the rest of the midfield? And what about Ben Godfrey? Is he a solution for the holding midfielder role or even partnering Grant Hanley?
The questions and answers are numerous in the extreme but you would assume that, injuries allowing, Farke now knows who his starting XI is going to be.
This is all a good thing for the squad and our prospects for the campaign ahead. Let’s just hope that someone can put the ball in the net though…