- 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!