Last weekend’s 1-0 home victory over Aston Villa was pleasing for all sorts of reasons and whilst Roy Hodgson was quite rightly walking with a spring in his step when the final whistle blew, his comments to the press left no one in any doubt about the limitations we’ll face up to as the campaign progresses.
It’s no secret that the club struggled to do the business they would have liked to in the transfer window just gone and with no replacement coming in for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, no back up arriving to give Patrick van Aanholt competition for his place at left-back and no new striker arriving despite Alexander Sørloth moving to Turkey on a two-year loan, the playing squad is rather thin on the ground in certain areas.
For a man as pragmatic and considered as Roy Hodgson, that lack of depth will always be nagging at the back of his mind, even after a win as good as the one we secured against Aston Villa last Saturday; speaking about the matter to the press, he said:
“The most significant thing is that we are improving as a team, we have firepower in the wings, not so much up front, unfortunately.
What we have in terms of front players is what you see. But Mamadou Sakho playing 15-20 minutes today, Tomkins back in training, Gary Cahill settling in so well. These are real quality players, these are Premier League players and it’s good to have them around.
I am still grateful to Ward coming in today having not training all week, being doubtful with his groin strain over whether he could play, and of course we have Van Aanholt playing every game.
He will have to because we don’t have too much competition for his place. He can sit there thinking, ‘they’re not going to leave me out the team.’ That may not be the case but that’s what he thinks.
We looked dangerous and though we didn’t get the centre forward we were hoping to get in the transfer window, we still have good firepower up front and we still have our powder dry and maybe a player will come up in January.”
Thankfully for Roy, as Steve Parish revealed when speaking to me last Friday on the HLTCO Interviews… podcast, it’s not a case of those above him at boardroom level not wanting to invest further in the squad; with the hurdle simply the identification of players who suit what we’re looking for, at a price which isn’t deemed extortionate. You could argue, quite rightly, that January is the worst time possible to go shopping with value for money in mind but you can be sure that it won’t stop us from looking.
I for one am hugely grateful that a manager like Hodgson has managed to get six points from our last two games, playing a system that prior to our trip to Old Trafford, didn’t inspire any confidence at all amongst supporters. That’s why he’s paid to call the shots and I’m sat here writing about it on a Thursday morning before heading off to work.