How the hell did we finish 12th?! How were there 8 teams who couldn't manage to get more points than us?! The mind boggles.
Was it a good season? Well, technically yes. I'm sure most fans would have been happy with 12th, but it's the 'manner' of 'how we got there' isn't it? We are 2 years into Steve Bruce's rein and i don't yet feel like we are a settled team.
Lets face it, Steve Bruce aint going anywhere so we will need to 'roll our sleeves up' and 'box clever' as Steve taps gently on Mike's cast iron door whispering for some pennies to spend. I think it's a real toss up as to whether the club is worse at buying or selling players never mind contact negotiations (which may be easier if the club had any kind of medium-term plan)
With that in mind, let's have a look at what I think we need to do (in line with a Mike Ashley type window). DISCLAIMER - I would sell 80% of the squad so even if I haven't mentioned players here that you think of, don't take it personally 😉
Karl Darlow deserves to be a no.1 somewhere. Woodman for me needs a chance to fight, he is the future. Dubravka will always be my no.1 and we missed him this season.
Jamal Lascelles - Possibly an asset we could get money for. He has been so inconsistent for the last 2 yrs. that I think he needs a new challenge. He isn't the voice he once was and his mobility for pushing up leaves us exposed. In more general terms, our defensive set up feels like a weekly experiment - Bruce sticking Shelvey into a back 3 and hoping he channels his inner Lothar Matthäus brings me out in a cold sweat.
Jeff Hendrick - It just hasn't worked and if there was a club willing to buy or loan him then it needs to happen. He looks lost in our team; sometimes perceived versatility can be a burden. Shoutout to his drunken tweet on Saturday. Gold. Have a great weekentjke@!!!!
FREE MATTY !! Let the boy go out on loan and play some bloody football man! Freddie Woodman is the blueprint, stop holding these young players back and let's see what they are made of (same goes for Kelland Watts and Eliott Anderson - this isn't a Phil Foden situation, these boys actually need to play regularly to get better!) Do not @ me about Ivan Toney - I’ve muted the words.
Muto - Where even is he? I hope someone wants him because that was just a disaster transfer, he is on massive wages with 12months left and more importantly, I had almost forgotten he existed! He has great hair though so... theres that for next season if he is back.
Release Carroll and Gayle. Please just let them go, they offer us nothing and it's all just a bit awkward now so just do the right thing. Those 2minutes off the bench and squad place aren't worth it.
Fond farewells to Christian Atsu and the lesser spotted Henri Saivet who may be wandering off to see if he can actually still play professional football again!
Steve Bruce wants 2 or 3 quality signings. With a £12m budget I assume that 2 of those will be due to begging and borrowing again. For me there are a couple of standout options but again, who really knows what is being discussed!
Joe Willock - COME ON YOU MAGGIES. No brainer, get him back in whatever way we can. I don't care if we are 'developing' other club's players, if they do a job for us like Joe has then I will be delighted to see him pull on the black and white stripes again.
Ozan Kabak - If Liverpool don't want him then do we have a chance? The rumours were that we were interested in January. He had a baptism of fire and finished the season injured but we are crying out for a young, strong, quick defender. Would Schalke give us a loan to buy option? I hope so.
Adam Armstrong - Local lad, sport direct discount on the price, 2nd highest scorer in the Championship in a bottom half team, 24 years old, pace to burn. I would be DELIGHTED if he came back because for me, he is the right fit for what we can afford.
Notable mentions to Elmohamady - I wouldn't mind him coming in if we sold Krafth or Manquillo, Michy Batshuayi who has struggled in recent seasons but is head and shoulders above Carroll and Gayle. Tranquillo Barnetta or Bas Doost anyone?
The curious case of NUFC will again be at forefront of our minds this summer, can we make some quick and decisive moves to energise the squad or will it be another long and laborious window like last season? (looking at you Ryan Fraser!). For the 3rd year in a row I still believe it is as important for us to clear out deadwood as it is to sign new players.
If we go into the season with Wilson, Gayle and Carroll again you will find me a gin-soaked mess, muttering to myself on a park bench. Don't let that happen Mike!!
PS Still love you Maxi.
PPS Thanks for reading to the bottom if you managed to!