Run-down of 'first team' squad
Lloris - Could see a similar situation to David de Gea as he settles into life in the Prem, which I hope we don't, mainly because we don't quite handle the fragility of some our goalkeepers very well. Massive signing though. Sweeper-keeper, a vital ingredient in VB's plans.
Friedel - Knows his role, understands he's long in the tooth but aside from not attacking the ball more often he remains reliable. Aside from when staying on his line and not attacking the ball.
Cudicini - Back up.
Gomes - Forgotten about.
Vertonghen - Not just a class in defence but brings the ball out of it and into midfield and forward positions, with an eye for goal. Will lead by example from the back, can see him being very inspirational as the season drags on.
Caulker - Sparky form for Swansea, if King was The Legend, Caulker is The Future.
Kaboul - Out for 4 months.
Gallas - Question marks on fitness, age, experience not in doubt but perhaps desire is.
Dawson - Not considered a fit in Villas-Boas model (too slow, immobile) but with Kaboul out, he might be called upon to do a job.
Assou-Ekotto - Positional concentration important and rotation paramount to retaining form.
Walker - Improvements on defending as he has no trouble going forward.
Naughton - Lack of experience in Prem, signed new contract, has to step up and make the grade.
Smith - As above with making the grade..
Lennon - Big season for the little man with the new contract. That fiery pulsating Aaron running at opposing back fours with speed, cutting in and out, is a sight to behold. Needs to impact games and pressure full-backs (especially at home) and needs to do it consistently. No cover here. We wanted something extra here, to aid VB and his 433.
Bale - Massive season after last season's erratic one. Was allowed to roam under Redknapp. Has to be controlled this time round. From the left, has to deliver the type of crosses he's capable of and hopefully our forward(s) and midfielders attack the box with intent to get on the end of them.
Sandro - Should be key this season marshalling the midfield.
Parker - Post-injury recovery, will be interesting to see if he gets in the side ahead of Sandro. Older legs so doubt we'll see the burn out Redknapp was responsible for last season. Rotation.
Livermore - Has proven he can do a job for us. Young, hungry to impress and promoted from within. We've got the DM position covered well.
Dembele - Box to box beasting. Can work the ball around, keep things ticking over and get involved with the less glamourous work. Dynamic. Will link up well with Dempsey.
Dempsey - Goals from midfield, from out wide or deputising up front. If he can replicate the form he had for Fulham last season then he'll be the one to grab those vital points in tight situations.
Sigurdsson - Another high up the pitch attacking midfielder with an eye for goal. His development and influence under Villas-Boas is something I'm waiting to see play out. We're not short of goals in midfield, with Rafa gone. Not short on strength and agility either. It's craft and guile that we need to be comforted with. 433 is dependent on that playmaker. Dembele might just cover that.
(You tell me)
Jenas - Almost went to Sunderland on loan.
Huddlestone - Needs to regain fitness, possibly doesn't fit into Villas-Boas model due to lack of pace.
Townsend - Could provide cover on flanks if given the chance.
Carroll - Too light-weight?
Bentley - Not a clue.
Defoe - Impact sub. Can't lead the line in one-man attacking formation.
Adebayor - Links up play with midfield, drops to channels/wings. Not an out and out striker but can lead the line. Harry Kane is on loan to Norwich. One injury away from a breakdown. Bare bones anyone?
Midfield looks great, really does. Even the 'benched' players could do a job in covering in early cup matches. They have to be involved more often than not but considering the 'first team' options available, (who will have first dibs in that rotation pool) they might be surplus to requirements after all.
Attacking midfield can cover flanks in 443 formation. So versatility is there. Bale and Dempsey can play in forward positions if required. Dembele is the key for the time being to keep the ball moving forward with lack of a more obvious playmaker. You feel VB won't be able to fulfil his ambitions until we sign one. Can't ignore how much this will potentially impact our fluidity and movement in midfield. He'll have to adjust our evolution here.
Full-backs? Injuries aside, pressure on Walker and Benny again to perform across the season but we'll need to rest them so that means we might have to call upon the young lads to cover.
Centre-backs are fine. Would be perfect if Kaboul wasn't recovering from surgery. Have to hope this won't be a reoccurring theme. Dawson stays for now but get the feeling he's behind Gallas in pecking order.
Brad to retain his number one jersey, but Lloris to own it in time. Brad already well aware (due to age) that he might have take a step back. As for Hugo, not expecting him to be boss from the off. All dependent on how quickly VB wants to push him into first team action.