- Jim Hearson has already contributed a fine guest blog to this site, and we’re more than happy to have him back, this time looking (perhaps optimistically) at how the summer can bring pleasing changes to a side’s numbering
Ah, the summer – after nine months of toiling, now is the chance to take stock, and allow yourself to have hopes and dreams for the forthcoming season.
Obviously, I’m not talking about battling for on-pitch glory, star signings, and mundane stuff like that – I’m thinking more along the lines of righting the wrongs that have befallen your team’s squad numbers over the previous campaign.
It’s a subject that Denis looked at last summer, when he reminisced about Manchester United and Liverpool promoting players to first team numbers in 1996, and it’s still very relevant today, starting at the very top of the league and working its way down.
Just last season, Ruben Loftus-Cheek was promoted from 36 to 14 at Chelsea – not quite in the first team, but getting there – and there’s a shedload of reordering potential at the Bridge this summer, with 1, 2, 6, 8 and 9 all up for grabs – potentially 5, if Zouma goes out on a long-term loan.
If there are no further ins or outs (unlikely), you’d give Courtois 1, Azpilicueta 2, Cahill 5, Luiz 6, shift Kanté to 8, give 7 to Moses and stick Costa in 9. Unfortunately, player power will see to it that none of that actually happens (unless you’re playing Football Manager), so we’ll just have to hope new signings are given the right numbers – competition for Moses wearing 2, Bakayoko in 8, and a new centre-forward in 9 would be fine with me.
At my club, Nottingham Forest, we could do with a bit of a rejig of numbers too, and there’s every reason to think it could happen: new owners, new-ish manager, why not look to reward the youngsters who broke through last season with numbers well below 40?
As it stands, we’ve got 1, 3, 7 and 10 up for grabs, and the biggest vote of confidence in young keeper Jordan Smith would be to bump him up from 43 to the number for a starting keeper. If it’s not his time yet and we get in a senior keeper, 12 would keep him warm until he steps up.
Joe Worrall deserves a shirt after breaking through in the second half of last season and captaining England to Toulon Tournament success in the summer – trouble is, he’s a centre half, so him wearing 3 doesn’t really work for me. Still – bump left-back Armand Traore (currently 6) to the empty shirt (or preferably get a proper left-back) and stick Worrall in 6 – ideal.
The other two youngsters in contention could easily slot into the unused numbers – Matty Cash in 7 and Ben Brereton in 10 – although there’s an argument for Zach Clough taking the number he used to wear at Bolton and as Brereton is only just 18, there’s time for him to get a first XI number. He’s a big lad, so he’d probably suit 9 much better anyway.
So, that’s how I’d number Forest for the coming season, how about your team? Had a big clear-out of players after relegation? Keen to give kids a chance? Or have your numbers just got a bit screwy over the years? Let us know!
As an Arsenal fan, with some departures likely there’s room for a tidy up:
1) Cech (Szczesny has gone.)
2) Bellerin (Debuchy might as well be gone)
3) Monreal (Gibbs expected to leave)
5) Mustafi (sorry Gabriel, but you’re not 1st choice and 5 is a midfielder’s number in Brazil anyway.)
7) Sanchez (He is staying. Shhh. I can’t hear you. SHUT UP!)
10) Ozil (Assuming Wilshere goes. He can keep it if he stays.)
18) Xhaka (no, you can’t have a stupidly high number.)
20) Coquelin (Better than 34)
21) Elneny (Better than 35, and Chambers expected to leave)
22) Kolasniac (Better than 31.)
24) Martinez (or he can keep 26. I don’t really care what the 3rd choice goalkeeper has.)
25) Perez (if he stays, which looks unlikely, might as well at least let him have a number with some history from Kanu. Assuming Jenkinson will go.)
At Man United we’ve got some biggies, 2, 7, 9 and 10, all free.
I’d like to see Antonio Valencia get 2 to fully confirm his conversion to top class right back, but It’s more likely to go to Lindelof, meaning United’s centre back pairing next season could be wearing 2 and 3 (Bailly) which isn’t ideal.
Of course Pogba could do what he did at Juve and move from 6 to 10 which would free up the 6 for Lindelof, but I don’t like the idea of players moving from one first XI number to another and I’d prefer to see someone like Mkhy given the 10.
I’d imagine Lukaku has got 9 sown up, although part of me feels we should give him 10 and leave 9 open for Zlatan’s inevitable phoenix like return in January to fire us to all the trophies we entered, and even some we didn’t.
Which just leaves the number 7. Right now I don’t think anyone in the squad gets 7. It should be left open. The romantic in me says save it for Rashford but knowing that we’ll inevitably go and spend the GDP of a small nation next summer on a new player maybe they’ll be worthy of it.
Summer really is the best time of year.
I’m actually writing an article on United’s numbering for 2017/18, so keep your eyes peeled!
Am hoping Shelvey takes #8 at Newcastle this season as Anita has left…
As a fellow Forest fan and mild squad number nerd, I’m also looking forward to seeing the re-arrangement. I’d probably give Cash 14 (the reverse of his current number) as I don’t quite think he’s a starting 11 player yet. I like your suggestions for Traore and Worrall though. I also noticed that Jamie Ward has featured quite heavily in the kit launch photos, so I wonder if he is going to play a more prominent role this season and so might move to 7 or 10? Finally, I might move Ben Brereton to 15 to exorcise the ghost of Andrea Silenzi…
That all makes great sense, Phil – there’s even something quite fitting about Brereton wearing 15… maybe to do with him currently being 45?
If Ward is set to be in the starting XI more, having a lower number would be ideal, although I’d lean more to 7.
I see Forest released their squad numbers for the coming season this afternoon, and it’s nice to know that Matty Cash was at least paying attention!
2 – Eric Lichaj
4 – Michael Mancienne
5 – Matt Mills
6 – Armand Traore
8 – Chris Cohen
9 – Daryl Murphy
10 – Barrie McKay
11 – Ben Osborn
13 – Danny Fox
14 – Matty Cash
16 – Zach Clough
17 – Ben Brereton
18 – Mustapha Carayol
19 – Jamie Ward
24 – David Vaughan
25 – Jack Hobbs
26 – Dimitar Evtimov
27 – Tendayi Darikwa
28 – Thomas Lam
30 – Stephen Henderson
31 – Andreas Bouchalakis
34 – Tyler Walker
35 – Jason Cummings
39 – Apostolos Vellios
42 – Joe Worrall
43 – Jordan Smith
There are some disappointments in there too though, not least Worrall and Smith keeping 42 and 43. In Smith’s case this is especially annoying as both 1 and 12 are free and he is likely to start the season as first-choice keeper!
Another Forest fan here, a source at the club told me Worrall wanted the No 5 shirt, but since Mills still has it he’s happy to stick with his original number until it’s available.
I agree that it’s sad that natural squad number progression isn’t as common as it used to be. As with most things, I blame John Terry.
Bayern are quite bad for this – players like Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Alaba and Müller all kept the relatively high squad numbers they began with. Müller’s 25 isn’t particularly outlandish for a first team player, but his international number, 13 – which is perfect for him – came up a few years ago, and he didn’t take it, which still saddens me slightly.
I’m just glad they moved Xabi Alonso from 3 to 14 in his second season!