As you’ll be aware, Barry Bannan has joined Leeds on loan for the rest of the season with the option of an extension should they make the play-offs. Who knows, maybe he’ll end up repeating the trip he made to Wembley with Blackpool last year. There’s probably a quiz question in that if he does.
As ever, not everyone is thrilled by this move and it provides another convenient stick to whack the manager over the head with. Personally, I think Bannan’s an excellent young player, but he’s not quite there yet and the extra playing time he could get at Leeds at this stage of the season can’t hurt at all.
Besides that, I also think his best position is where Ashley Young is currently playing and he struggles to give a decent account of himself in a deeper position where he would have to compete with Petrov, Reo-Coker, Makoun, Bradley and Delph for time on the pitch anyway.
It’s what they call a no-brainer.
So, with Bannan now out on the loan list, and Brad Guzan also going back to Hull, I make it
24 23 players left for Houllier to call on in the final games excluding Stephen Warnock and Habib Beye. Edit: Nathan Delfouneso has now joined Burnley on loan until the end of the season.
There won’t be universal agreement on who should be in each of the first three columns below, it’s more for demonstration purposes than anything else, but when you look at it like this it’s not difficult to see how little value there would be in Bannan hanging around for the rest of the season.
|Team||Bench||Rotation||Out on loan|
|1 Friedel||12 Marshall||19 Parish||27 Guzan|
|2 Walker||13 Cuellar||20 L Young||28 Lichaj|
|3 Collins||14 Petrov||21 Baker||29 Lowry|
|4 Dunne||15 Bradley||22 Herd||30 Hogg|
|5 Clark||16 Pires||23 Salifou||31 Osbourne|
|6 Reo-Coker||17 Agbonlahor||32 Bannan|
|7 Makoun||18 Heskey||33 Ireland|
|8 Albrighton||Out of favour||34 Carew|
|9 A Young||25 Beye||35 Weimann|
|10 Downing||26 Warnock||24 Delfouneso|
Houllier thinks we need 43 points for safety and I wouldn’t argue. That’s 10 points from nine games, or it might be wiser to target it in seven since Liverpool and Arsenal await in the final two matches of the season.
So, that’s Wolves (H), Everton (A), Newcastle (H), West Ham (A), Stoke (H), West Brom (H) and Wigan (H) and the
24 23 players above to get it done.