It’s a stigma in the footballing world that smaller clubs with a talented player will not properly replace said player once they leave. It happened with Spurs when Bale left, it happened with Liverpool when Suarez left, and now that Lukaku is gone, it’s time to reverse the trend. Granted, Spurs seem to be in a much better state right now.
If anything, the absence of Lukaku should spread general play around to other players. Yes he could score in bunches, but many times they weren’t decisive. They were to put the nail in the coffin and from inside the box. This preseason already we’ve been slinging goals in from outside the box—a place where we struggled mightily last season. Rooney blasted one in Tanzania as did Dowell. Against Twente, Mirallas and Dowell each had a strike of their own outside the area. Last season we thrusted so much effort into banging the ball in the box because of Rom’s limitations. That all looks to change.
Sandro Ramirez, who looks to be a starter this season, absolutely took advantage of efforts from outside the box. He took 52% of his shots from outside the box and scored 8 of them. If Koeman is looking for inspiration in different ways, it can come from him. Rooney can help out massively here as well, as we all have seen what he’s capable of.
So far the club still has negative net spend nearing into August. If Gylfi Sigurdsson joins, our play can advance so much more. He is lethal from outside the box, and is a threat from free kicks. Testing the keeper from range can open up runs into the box and so on. Our transfers yet don’t make us top tier in this sense whatsoever, but opening up the attack has limitless dividends.
Dowell has had the longest range ability in his locker for quite some time, but whether or not Koeman is prepared to gamble on giving the youngster first team availability is the question. Maybe some of our answers are in the squad already, with Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin vying for first team time this preseason. With Giroud looking murkier and murkier, will another option even join?
With all this being said, we would’ve finished 7th without Rom’s goals last season. The whole point of reversing the trend is responding as a team and producing results. Nothing is decided until match day, but our depth will be tested. Europa League qualifying starts on Tuesday, and the league not far from then. To truly continue the optimism that Moshiri has promised us, we need a trophy… and soon. Breaking into the top 6 never looks easy, but there’s nothing to say that we cannot do it. We can have a repeat of our last European run—falling miserably in the round of 16 and finishing an embarrassing 11th.
There’s many ways this window can pan out with the future of Ross Barkley being uncertain. The back pairing is shaky, and perhaps a partner for Keane is needed. We learned from some sources that we might go in for Matuidi, for maybe we go in for an experienced first choice striker. Whatever the case may be, we just have to sit back and watch it all unravel. The season is picking up very soon.