Seriously, who's flying this thing?
I'll be the first to say I had set expectations for this years mercato activity relatively low. I figured the club would, for the most part, continue the "buy cheap, buy young" policy implemented last year, possibly add an additional player with Serie A experience who would challenge for a spot the starting XI, kick the tires on players they could not afford and blame Italy's tax structure, and pull off something completely unforeseen as Fester usually does. I also figured that the Balotelli splurge in January would most likely rule out anything Ibrahimovichy. And to be honest, I had no problem with this scenario. I've bought into the rebuilding project for better or for worse, and would like to see it carried through. In my mind, it'd be nice to watch this team three or four years from now as serious contenders in Europe and at home knowing you've witnessed the maturation process. But as we approach the halfway point of the mercato, and transfer rumors slowing to a very Honda-saturated trickle, I'm becoming anxious. I know, I know, I.F.I.T. The man always plays his cards close to his chest and if anyone deserves eye-rolling title of "Transfer Guru", it's Fester. But there are a number of concerns regarding this transfer window and subsequently, this team, that are keeping me awake at night. No seriously, I'm losing actual sleep.
For starters, defense. I understand the bossman has a fetish that needs gratification which I've learned to accept. Fine, go nuts Berlu. It's your team. If you want to play a 2-1-7, go right ahead and build that. But at some point the more rational heads in the group (Fes and Max) need to be a little more asserive in addressing the team's actual needs. I'll be the first to admit that I tend to inflate the deficiencies that this team had on the defending side last year. We did, after all, concede the third fewest goals in Serie A behind the two clubs that finished ahead of us. And hell, we put on some pretty admirable performances in a few big games. But we also leaked and leaked badly a number of other big games. You can blame de Jong's injury for exposing the center of defense a little more than it would be otherwise or the adoption of the 4-3-3, but at the end of the day you really have to look at our central pairings and realize there isn't too much too feel secure about. We have world-class fullbacks and a mid-table central defense. It couldn't cut it domestically, and it sure as hell can't cut it in Europe. Even more, where's the depth? If one of those two goes down, how are we going to fare after throwing the keys to Bonera or an 18 year old? So like pretty much everyone else on these boards I'm growing increasingly worried that we haven't been intrusively pursuing some quality in the center of defense. We're barely even being seriously linked with any. Like it or not, defense has always won Serie A and that isn't changing unless the whole league goes Prandelli on us. If we're serious about a Scudetto, we should be serious about defense.
Second, Serie A has been unusually aggressive this summer inasfar as signings. Roma is building on an already formidable attack with Strootman and most-likely Gervinho. Fiorentina has really pushed all the chips in the middle of the table after cashing in on Jovetic (who in my opinion has already peaked) and reinvesting with the Gomez capture. And the Viola have promised the signings aren't over yet. Juventus got what they needed with Tevez and reinforced their defense with Italy's best young defender in Ogbonna. Inter.... well, at least we can feel good about that. And Napoli has done what you're supposed to do with €64m you made off a striker, and reinvest it. How much did we make off of Ibra and TS last summer again? I hate to be a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses type of guy, but while everyone around us is building up, we've pretty much been sitting on our hands. Yeah, Poli's a nice little pickup and Saponara has a huge upside but if we're serious about keeping pace with the top 6 or 7 clubs in the league, those two alone aren't going to cut it. If Champions League qualification is as important to this club's prestige and finances as B&G claim it is, I've got to see a little more initiative. Just because you keep saying this team is fine the way it is, doesn't make it true.
Which leads me to the nebulous transfer policy itself. Fester is a smoke and mirrors type of guy, for better or for worse. The bald-man is a master negotiator and I commend what he has done with the one hand Berlu has left after tying the other behind his back. But our spot in Europe is NOT guaranteed this year and the playoff is no cakewalk. We should be shoring up up the team sooner rather than later to avoid getting dropped and avoid the complications we faced at the beginning of last year. We hit that third spot by the the skin of our teeth last season and this was solely because we threw a bunch of diverse parts at the engine in a haphazard transfer window. We gotta gel, and we gotta gel within the next four weeks. And if we are switching back to a 4-3-1-2, we need a real trequarista. Not some faux-hawked "prince" with no field vision who pretentiously snagged up the #10 shirt. We need someone like Honda, and if that means we "waste" €4m now to ensure CL football, a quicker coalescing of the starting XI and tactics, and a legitimate shot at finishing top 3, then I say that is €4m well wasted. Nickeling and diming it is fine for some things. I nickel and dime it with stuff like groceries, gasoline, strippers, you know, every day stuff. It isn't such a great strategy when trying to finish in the top three of a football league. It's fine if we're pulling it when we're clearly in the driver's seat. But we're not. We're falling behind the rest of the pack and we really need to add a few signings in key positions.....and depth. Outside our 19 strikers, we have none.
So what have you say my comrades? Am I pushing the panic button too soon and too frequently? Is Fester playing poor now so he can pull the trigger on a bigger move in the final days of the window? Is this team fine the way it is? Can Zaps and Frenchie carry this team through another year? Should I be splurging a little more on strippers? Should I just shut up and buy into the I.F.I.T. program? I'd love to hear what you think.
Oh wait here's a transfer rumor (opens tab).....Benfica....Ola John...attacker. Of course.