I talk numbers
Traditionally, in football, the numbers of the first team squad start from 1 and reach 11, the former often occupied by the team`s goalkeeper and the latter worn by a left winger.
Over the last few years our squad has changed so much that I feel that we really do lack a consistent 1-11. Let`s look at who wears those numbers now?
1: Adam Bogdan. 2: Kevin McNaughton. 3: Dean Moxey. 4: Matt Mills. 5: Tim Ream. 6: Jay Spearing. 7: Liam Feeney. 8: Keith Andrews. 9: Adam Le Fondre. 10: Jermaine Beckford. 11: Rob Hall.
I think that this speaks volumes. So, understandably Adam Bogdan is number 1 as a goalkeeper. However, his future at Bolton looks uncertain following a season which saw him spend much time on the sidelines. Kevin McNaughton was signed by Dougie Freedman who had intended for his Scottish friend to okay regularly. Once Lennon came in, that never happened. The same can be said about Dean Moxey, number 3. Matt Mills is the only one who really makes sense in this list, sporting the first choice centre back number: 4. However, he could be on his way out in the coming months. Tim Ream in number 5- another typical centre back number. Oh, wait- how many times has he operated in this role? Our num ber 6 doesn`t even play for us. Our number 7, Liam Feeney is certainly a workhorse, but does he really fit the bill of a number 7? For me he`s a Championship squad player and to wear that number he requires more flair- more Chris Eagles-ness. Number 8 hasn`t played for us since August 2013, and never will again. We don`t even own number 9. Number 10 probably won`t play for us again, and boy I hope number 11 won`t either. Both the last two are on loan at League 1 clubs Preston North End and MK Dons respectively.
You may be wondering whether I`ve gone mad, running through the numbers of players in our squad. Perhaps I have. However, I think it shows just how misguided the confidence shown by Neil Lennon`s predecessors are by handing them. We don`t own a number 9. Le Fondre inherited the shirt off Joe Mason as they went in opposite directions. We haven`t owned a number 9 since David N`Gog- yeah remember him?
Dougie Freedman inherited a squad from Owen Coyle consisting of Keith Andrews wearing the number 8 shirt. For me, he who occupies that number needs to be the type of player who will pick their team up when down and will grab the game by the scruff of its neck and drive his team onwards.
Tim Ream was signed by Coyle to replace Gary Cahill, so once our relegation season was over he was given the number 5 shirt. There are very few people in this world who regard Tim Ream as a solid centre back, I can tell you that.
We can`t blame Dougie for that, because when you take over you can`t just say ‘Oh, sorry Keith. You ain`t an 8`. However, we can blame him for this?
He allocated number 7, 10 and 11 to Liam Feeney, Jermaine Beckford and Rob Hall. I`ve already gone through why Feeney isn`t a 7. Beckford, firstly isn`t the right position because he`s a ‘poacher`, but the main problem is that he`s just notwhere near good enough to be a first choice striker at Championship level. The difference between the Championship and League 1 is great which is why we see so many teams who come up go straight back down. Teams in the Championship can dream of Premier League football next season, whereas teams in League 1 often find themselves praying that they don`t drop the bottom tier of the Football League. Rob Hall has been overhyped from much too young an age, and ultimately his career has suffered from it. He needs to rebuild himself in League 1, and I expect him to go out on loan for the entirety of next season.
Thankfully, many of the numbers from 1-11 look to be vacated in the summer, which means that Neil Lennon will be able to piece together a proper squad.
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