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The (off-)season of renewal

  • 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!

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7 Comments

  1. July 8, 2017 at 21:21 — Reply

    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.

    • Jim
      July 10, 2017 at 10:18 — Reply

      I’m just glad they moved Xabi Alonso from 3 to 14 in his second season!

  2. Phil
    July 10, 2017 at 07:43 — Reply

    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…

    • Jim
      July 10, 2017 at 10:17 — Reply

      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.

  3. Nicholas Turnbull
    July 10, 2017 at 11:38 — Reply

    Am hoping Shelvey takes #8 at Newcastle this season as Anita has left…

  4. Tom
    July 10, 2017 at 12:40 — Reply

    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.

    • July 11, 2017 at 15:02 — Reply

      I’m actually writing an article on United’s numbering for 2017/18, so keep your eyes peeled!

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The (off-)season of renewal