Last season was unfortunate to say the very least. After dismantling Norwich at the Cottage we travelled to Old Trafford where we again played admirably – forcing Robin Van Persie to prove his worth in his first fixture for The Reds. The transfer window was also days away from slamming shut, and for once, it appeared we had survived it relatively unscathed.
Our great season wasn’t to be however. Want-away goal scorer Clint Dempsey, and midfield playmaker Moussa Dembele made last minute moves to Tottenham Hotspur, and suddenly our positive stance was forced to alter as a consequence.
Our season didn’t exactly deteriorate, but I feel that it was from this point, looking back in hindsight, that we were forced to consolidate our status and bide our time until we could once again rebuild our first team.
That time is now upon us, and with the season starting tomorrow, are we suitably prepared? Like all things, time will tell. We have patched some areas – arguably filling a void left by the creative mind of Dembele, in the loan signing of Adel Taarabt.
Our attacking options have also been strengthened in the signing of premier league veteran Darren Bent. Having previously played alongside Dimitar Berbatov at Tottenham, Bent will hopefully help bridge the gap between midfield and attack, that at times last year, saw the lone Berbatov stranded and frustrated.
That said however, are these loan signings good for the club? Yes we have signed Dutch shot-stopper Maarten Stekelenburg, midfield powerhouse Derek Boateng, and Venezuelan centre back Fernando Amorebieta on permanent deals, but are our recent loan deals particularly shrewd?
Of course they are. We get Adel Taarabt, a player who produces footballing magic in random bouts. If Martin Jol can utilise his talent and turn him into something special then we have the option to permanently sign a great player. If he doesn’t then we send him back to Queens Park Rangers. As with Darren Bent, the same arguably applies. We potentially save money in what would be an expensive transfer and try-before-we-buy.
Are we building a team or providing a platform for individuals to put themselves in the shop window? Last season our team felt transitional because of the amount of loan signings we had. Yes the likes of Sascha Riether and Giorgos Karagounis, (who signed a temporary contract), won over the hearts of the faithful, but I still feel the first team should be a permanent part of the club.
As part of the ‘Trust Jol’ camp, I’m happy to see how this season pans out. There are a few areas I’d still like to see strengthened in the next few weeks - notably the left back position – but that said I’m positively optimistic. Come on you Whites.