Eriksson has holes to fill

Sven-Goran Eriksson has asked Thaksin Shinawatra to
finance virtually an entire new team after overseeing his first training session
at Manchester City yesterday. The former England coach is alarmed by the parlous
state of the current squad and wants to bring in as many as 10 players before
the transfer window closes.
-Guardian.

Putting to one side any jokes about who was the one player who actually managed to impress Eriksson, if the reports (and virtually all of the press carried this story today) are indeed true it underlines quite just how much work needs to be done - with not a great deal of time for action.

Eriksson will undoubtedly have ideas of who he wants to add to the squad, in addition to reports of the current incumbents but where exactly needs strengthening, and which areas are the most crucial.

For me, the biggest problem is the lack of genuine starters (to borrow American terminology) and this is the area Eriksson needs to address immediately.

The goalkeeping area is generally set - despite Weaver's exit, with Isaksson the de-facto number 1 and Hart and Schmeichel benefitting from loan spells last season and ready to push one another for the back-up role.

Defensively, a line-up of Richards, Dunne, Onouha and Ball obviously lacks the qualities of Distin could bring but it would be a good signing to oust any of that quartet and realistically all that is needed is adequate cover for injuries and perhaps to spell Richards and Onouha from time to time to prevent burn out.

Midfield is perhaps the biggest concern of all, and perhaps some of last seasons goalscoring problems can be traced to a glaring lack of creativity in the midfield area. Among our current squad, there doesn't appear to be a genuine stand out player who has seemingly nailed down a guaranteed first-team spot. We have two (very good) prospects in Ireland and Johnson who I expect to play a large portion of the season but they are only really supplemented by 'depth' players (Jiha Sun) and players who are on the wrong end of the careers (Hamman, Dabo).

It is apparant that someone to replace Barton's energy is required, in addition to someone who can provide much needed creativity in the middle of the park and we also have yet to replace Shaun Wright-Phillips with a genuine wide player (on either side of the pitch).

The strike-force (hardly an apt description) is in a mess though and there is a strong case for none of last seasons forwards being retained in the current campaign, and this is the area that Eriksson is believed to have targeted more than most (with Yakubu again being strongly linked). I wouldn't be sorry to see either Dickov or Corradi ushered out of the door, but think Vassell's England connection could help him remain whilst Samaras is reported to be keen to stay and for all his struggles last season it would be perhaps foolish to cut our losses on him quite just yet.

Whilst Eriksson is likely to have players in mind, he has little over a month to actual get players in ahead of the start of the campaign and you have to wonder how much activity there will be. Whilst there are leftovers on the coaching staff from the Pearce regime, it may be that perhaps he will have more of an eye on the January window once he has had time to assess the squad for himself in competitive action.

Looking at the current squad though it does illustrate both how light we currently are and how much work is needed.

It may well be that the reported tranfer kitty of £50 million handed to Eriksson will ultimately not see too much spare change.

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