Making a Squad with a Big Club Mentality

Author: . Published: at 9:43pm

Written by @Samizgould

Ever since Manuel Pellegrini’s arrival in East London he has touted his mantra of “Being a Big Club” to his players. In essence this is about going into every game believing that you will win. Holding onto the ball, refusing to give it away and making good use of it by attacking the opposition with skill using technical players to create chances and make the winning difference in a game. Built into this belief is a constant expectation to achieve the highest possible position and not set limits on how high that can be. Pellegrini openly talked to the board, players and fans about Europe being possible. Fans knew this was going to be a huge task for Pellegrini is his first season at a club that has struggled to believe in itself consistently despite its potential. 10th position was the best we could manage along with early exit in both cups and it while it may not have been what the Manager was ultimately hoping for it was improvement in the league and has given us all hope of further progression towards becoming a big club and even believing in our way of playing.

We may not yet be the big club we hope to be, we definitely have a big squad and the focus of the last couple of weeks for Husillos has been trying to move on players to make room in the squad for new arrivals, slow as this progress has been so far. The debate of who goes and who will remain has been fascinating. We have a couple of certain leavers in Javier Hernandez and Pedro Obiang as both have publicly indicated they wish to move on. The players returning from loan are also very likely to leave when buyers can be found. The only exceptions here could be Josh Cullen and Marcus Browne who are possible home-grown players and will be assessed in per-season to see if they have a place in the squad. However, it’s the players who aren’t certain starters from last season that much of the debate has been rightly focused on. You could name 10 or more players that fit this category with others also returning from injury. There is absolutely no way we’ll sell that many players and nor should we or we risk destabilising the club. But it’s clear in order to play like a big club we’ll need quality and depth in every position and we are at least a few quality players away in the first 11 and some depth players away from a balanced squad.

When Pablo Fornals arrived, much was made by both Mario Husillos and Manuel Pellegrini about his “strong mentality”. It’s clear that the right mentality is a key focus when recruiting players this window. The same will no doubt be applied to players in the current squad and it’s been clear to fans that there are too many players who don’t have either the mentality or ability to compete for a first team place or a combination of both week in week out. So how ruthless do we need to be with our squad if we are to take the big club mentality to heart? This could mean losing players who we love or a great people and who are well liked in the dressing room. So, finding a balance between hungry players and the right chemistry on the training pitch is a fine line to walk. Thankfully we have a manager who knows what he’s looking for to achieve the highest possible finish.

As fans there are some basics characteristics that we should perhaps use to run the rule over players in question. We know that avoiding signing injury prone players is now a priority so along with a winning mentality is a good place to start. Of course, any player needs to want to be here no matter their role in the squad and even depth players need to be quality and play the style of football required by the club and manager. Consistent within reason across a season and are they the technical player Pellegrini needs? When you apply these characteristics and the big club point of view to our squad there are sizeable changes possible. I’m not suggesting that we are automatically a big club yet because we want to be or that we can go and spend freely to get the best players from any league to qualify for Europe. But we certainly can afford to assess carefully who is really up for the fight higher up the ladder.

Making the most of our budget will be a challenge this season but moving on players who’s attributes no longer meet the expectations of the club and the new approach will be vital to seeing the progress we hope for. We look forward to seeing what the big club mentality could bring for us this season. COYI

Written by @Samizgould