As the team was announced on Thursday at 6pm you could be forgiven for thinking it was a mixture of back-up, youngsters to fill in and one or two who are on the brink. Mateusz Klich, Laurens De Bock and Ronaldo Vieira were the senior players, along with Lewis Baker, the situation not clear on any.
Marcelo Bielsa has central midfielders coming out of his ears at Thorp Arch. Kalvin Phillips and Adam Forshaw the pairing at Forest Green on Tuesday night and both playing in the opposite position they did last season. Phillips was the anchor in midfield, Forshaw the link forwards to Saiz and Hernandez. It’s safe to say the pair are in the plans.
You need a minimum of four players for central midfield, and four players who all bring something different. We have had defensive minded players for some time, all doing similar jobs. Liam Bridcutt, Luke Murphy, Toumani Diagouraga, Ronaldo Vieira, Kalvin Phillips, Eunan O’Kane and Adam Forshaw. Not one of them is an attacking midfielder or a natural goalscorer, Phillips’ return of seven last season as good as it gets.
Four is just my opinion, competing for two spots and then one in the background, a youngster or someone who can fill in there if we are very short. Luke Murphy and Eunan O’Kane are out of the picture, neither wanted by Marcelo Bielsa. Yosuke Ideguchi played in a strange role on Thursday, I can’t see him getting much game time however, he could be that fifth option, someone who clearly needs time to adapt.
That leaves you with Kalvin Phillips, Ronaldo Vieira, Adam Forshaw, Mateusz Klich and Lewis Baker. Is Baker a number ten? The jury is out, he was certainly the more advanced on Thursday and with Klich and Vieira both starting as centre-backs it may mean a future is there for Klich, despite training with the under 23’s at the start of pre-season.
Personally I believe Klich is a player who can make an impact, we have nobody of his style at the club and he’s more unpredictable than the others. He can do a bit of everything and he’s proved at other clubs he can arrive in the box if that’s the role he’s given. By the end of the Guiseley game on Thursday we’ll know a lot more about who’s going to be involved under Marcelo Bielsa for the upcoming season.