There’s no doubt that Garry Monk has got a massive task on his hands to improve a squad that was expensively assembled last summer.
The problem for the manager is that he’ll likely have to wheel and deal to a greater or lesser degree due to the constraints of Financial Fair Play. Selling before buying is almost certainly going to be the order of the day.
With that mind, he may have to focus on specific areas of the squad that require major improvements:
Playmaker – Attacking Midfielder
Craig Gardner, Maikel Kieftenbeld, Cheikh N’Doye, David Davis and Jason Lowe pretty much offer the team the same attributes. Grafters who work hard in the middle of the pitch, but offer far less in the attacking third of the pitch.
I’m sure this will be Monk’s top priority in the summer to find a playmaker who can provide support to both Jota and Maghoma on the wings. If he does persist with 4-4-2 though, he’ll have to carefully consider who he goes after as a number ten may not be suitable in a two-man midfield.
Striker – No.9 poacher
With Sam Gallagher returning to Southampton, we will have three strikers in Lukas Jutkiewicz, Che Adams and Isaac Vassell to fill two positions. A fourth striker will be necessary, and with no recognised poacher in our ranks, the manager is surely on the lookout for a number nine.
He will have to cast his net far and wide though in order to sign a player with sufficient quality without breaking the bank.
Left Back – Cover
Maxime Colin has done a decent job covering at left back in Jonathan Grounds’ absence. However, he will likely be returning to the right-hand side for next season, giving Wes Harding competition for a first-team place.
Cohen Bramall failed to establish himself during his loan spell from Arsenal, and a reliable, solid player will be needed to compete with our no.3, or at least, provide cover.
Centre Back – Competition
Harlee Dean looks impressive alongside a revitalised Michael Morrison in the heart of our defence. However, other than that, we don’t have enough quality at centre back. Marc Roberts has failed to live up to expectations and we need better options.
We conceded 68 times this season, and that has to improve if we are to move up the table next campaign.