I decided to put these thoughts down in writing after reading plenty of comments on our forum about tactics, creating chances and passion following on from yesterday’s dreadful showing at Stoke.
Hughton is still in his first season and while it hasn’t been pretty a lot of the time, the remit is/was to keep us in the league, which I still reckon he will do.
A good way to judge a manager, in my opinion, is to look at A) his signings, B) his tactics, and C) team performances, and to compare those to his predecessor.
Now this is by no means meant to be a full blown account, and there are many other (albeit smaller) factors to consider, but hear me out.
Looking at our website we have just 24 players in the squad, of which 22 I would consider to be active. Given we name 18 on a match day, that’s pretty slim pickings for starters (this includes Leon but excludes the rest of the loan boys by the way).
Of this 22, 10 are Hughton signings. Here is my verdict on them, and I’ll give each a mark out of 10.
Nobody expected to see Bunn as much as we have done this season.
When he came in, I was concerned about his experience, as he’d only played 6 times for Blackburn since the 08/09 season, and I have to admit that when big John got injured I feared the worst. I find Bunn nowhere near as imposing as Ruddy. He’s just not as big, has less of a reach, and I’ve found myself saying on more than one occasion when we’ve conceded “Ruddy would have saved that”. McCleary’s goal for Reading last week one recent example.
I won’t be overly harsh, as he’s had his moments such as the penalty save against QPR which was vital, but a top keeper is just as important as a top striker in this league.
Casting my memory back, how many points did Ruddy ‘win’ us last season? I’m going to say at least ten. He’s been a big miss.
Won’t go too much into Campy, as he’s not had much to do. In fairness it’s a signing that had to be made as Rudd needed games of he’s ever going to become something here, and what he’s done he’s done it to the best of his limited ability.
I like what I’ve seen of Whittaker. If it wasn’t for his many injury niggles I think we’d have seen him more than we would have seen Russ Martin this season.
His versatility is very useful, and could help is greatly in an injury crisis, assuming of course he’s not one of those in the treatment room at the time. This keeps my mark low, although if it was based on game time, arguably it would be higher.
With Whitts being favoured for the last couple of games when available, I expect him to be a key first team member next term.
Solid, no nonsense and arguably one of our best performers this season. I do think, however, that of late his concentration has lapsed at some crucial times.
Regardless of this I think few would fail to put him as the first name on the team sheet. His ability to weigh in with goals is crucial too, given our reliance on set pieces.
For the next two years at least, we can expect the defence to be built around the Cameroonian. He can hold his head high after a largely excellent season – we look a much worse team when he’s not there. In the three games this season where he wasn’t available or was injured in, we conceded 11 goals.
Michael Turner had what could only be described as a horrific first month at the club. Error after error meant most of us were fed up with him by then, but the way he picked himself up and stuck to his task impressed me greatly.
Turner has grown stronger and stronger, and we now have a centre back paring that are settled, tight and who both chip in with goals.
Would be an 8 if it wasn’t for the first month or so.
Still on loan, one of the things I look forward to seeing this summer is if we will look to sign Javier permanently or if we look elsewhere. One thing for certain is that Tierney hasn’t had a look in all season, and that’s largely down to the early form of Garrido.
I was a massive fan pre-Christmas, however I must admit this has been tempered somewhat by his performances since. I always love to see full backs pushing up and whipping in balls, overlapping the wingers an providing support so the forwards can concentrate on being in the box.
Take Garrido’s assist for Pilks goal against United. However, that was one of only two assists this season (Russ has managed the same), and given that he’s been dropped to the bench in preference for Whittaker of late, I wonder if Garrido’s last game for City has already been played against Reading last week. Only time will tell.
Quietly unspectacular in his work, we all thought we would have seen a few more goals from Tettey after his powerful strike against Arsenal led to Holt’s winner.
That remains Tettey’s only assist all season, as he’s remained the hard-working midfield anchor more akin to mopping up danger and breaking the play rather than breaking forward. What he’s done he’s done well but without excelling.
I want a kind of Tettey/Fox mash-up if something like that exists…
We have the highest amount of set piece goals in the division, and it’s largely down to this guy. Not blessed with electric pace, he does – well, most of the time – have good delivery. He’s either scored or assisted 1/3 of our 33 league goals this season (5 scored, 6 assists), and there is likely more that he has been involved in.
In short, I’d worry where we would be now if it wasn’t for Snoddy’s efforts. He still frustrates me at times – especially if corners don’t clear the first man – but largely his signing has been a success and what we have I a young player who will peak in a few years time
A sound investment and someone we would make a profit on if we were ever to sell.
Kei joined us at the end of January and, whilst he brings a wonderful vibrancy and a wonderful story, he hasn’t bought us much else. What you have to question is what Kei was brought in as – a wide player.
We’ve played him up top 90% of the time, so I have to judge him as a striker. And if I’m judging him as a striker, he’s less prolific this season than Holt or Jackson.
His 638 minutes have brought us a goal and an assist, which is the same as Jacko has done in his 404 mins this season (and I’m talking league only, not cup).
On a footballing level, I see them as similar players performance-wise with the only difference being one is better in the air and one better on the ground.
Whilst you could argue the service to him has been poor, in my opinion Kei hasn’t improved what we already have, and I would hope we’d be able to improve that area of the team in a better way next season.
I’d love to be able to comment, but he’s hardly been on the pitch has he? 163 minutes to be precise. Now this is what rankles me – he’s our player. He’s not some loanee. Why he hasn’t been given more of a chance I don’t know. Is he performing poor in training? It honestly mystifies me.
He scored, what, 16 goals in 26 Championship games this season. In the last 8 games – in which we have scored 6 times (half of them by centre backs) – we have seen Luciano play 18 minutes.
Heck, at least he is proven to know where the goal is. And he’s 29 – why give a whopping three and a half year deal to a 29 year old that you’re not going to put on the pitch when your side is desperately lacking goals?
I can’t give Becchio higher than a 1, because I’ve barely seen him strike a ball in anger.
I’ll give Harry Kane a mention, but haven’t included him in the above given that he played about five minutes and injury prevented him from us seeing more. Jacob Butterfield too, but as he’s not played a minute of Premier League football it’s hard to say. He does, however, have many years in front of him.
It’s also worth noting Ricky van Wolfswinkel too. A hell of a coup for a club our size and our record signing. We’ll let next season’s verdict decide on him.
Incidentally, we have to remember that most of the team that came up played last season. Of those that Lambert brought in, it’s not as if we have yet to see the best of Vaughan, Ayala, Ryan Bennett and to an extent Howson. You could say that Johnson, Naughton, Pilkington and Elliott Bennett have been successful to varying levels.
One thing I will point out is that Steve Morison scored 9 league goals and contributed 4 assists last season, something that would comfortably make him top scorer this season had he repeated it. He scored 1 goal in three starts this campaign… a better ratio than Kamara who has finished the season up top for us (1 in 7 starts).
I guess we’ll never know…
So who has made the better Premier League signings? It’s hard to tell. But this is the start of Hughton’s team, something which he’s only had 1/3 of the time Lambert had to mould and add to.
Tactically speaking is another matter altogether, and that’s an account that I’ll leave to someone else (submissions welcome). But in my honest opinion, comparing Lambert and Hughton’s Premier League signings, I would say it is the latter that has the edge.
He’s certainly spent his money more wisely.