We're working with essentially the same DC United team that we ended the actual 2009 season with. It's not terrible, but my meeting with the coaching staff pretty much confirmed my assessment: technically sound, but slow and old to boot. Likewise, the staff could use a bit of refreshing and pruning of dead wood (I'm looking at you, Chad Ashton!), but I'll keep some of the old dogs around long enough to transition the new blood in.
The first order of business is hiring new scouts so we can get get a better look at some options for the roster holes that need to be plugged. The one scout the game gave us to start pretty much encapsulated why we signed that Peruvian keeper on his mom's advice. Ugh.
Anyway...the holes. Let's do the roster bottom to top after noting that Khumalo and Barklage start the season with injuries that'll keep them out long term, probably for the entire season, and that the FM researchers don't always get the evaluations dead-on...
The keeper situation is about what you'd expect. Hamid doesn't look ready for prime-time and is away on loan at the DCU Academy with no option for recall until the end of the season anyway (clever folks, those SI guys). Wicks is rated slightly higher than Kocic, but they're pretty similar in that they're both athletic and erratic. And Mark Simpson isn't doing his case for staying on my staff any favors with nuggets like this...
The defense looks surprisingly adequate, with depth on the corners. Avery John actually looks competent, Namoff is Namoff, and Habarugira and McTavish look to be able understudies. Where does that leave Vaughn and Burch? Probably on the curb. The problems are in the middle, of course. We've got one competent centerback (Jakovic), but James is predictably raw, and Janicki doesn't look too hot either.
Midfield and attack are going to be where I have to figure out how I'm going to play. The defense is easy. Back four. No question. But what to do with the rest of the formation? Quaranta is quality on the right, and the game seems to think that's where Pontius belongs as well, so he's good depth. Olsen is quality in the middle or on the right, with Szetela and Simms both looking solid, and Jacobson some healthy depth centrally. Fred and Gomez are both quality attacking mids, with Fred also able to patrol the left, where Wallace looks starting quality as well. Moreno and Emilio look solid, if unspectacular, up top, and the depth doesn't look good at all unless we pull Quaranta and Pontius off the right side of midfield, where they seem most comfortable.
So the priorities are:
1. Get some decent staff (scouts and coaches!) in, so we can better assess what we have and what's available.In Part II, we'll get started with the pre-season, where I've already cancelled about half of the worthless exercises against USL opposition, scheduled a few dates with MLS clubs, and booked a pre-season tour of Honduras in the faint hopes that somebody spots Emilio and wants to take him off our hands ;-).
2. Land some quality forwards.
3. Find a centerback or two to beef up the defense.
4. Look for quality alternatives in the keeper department.
Think I'm making a mess of this? Grab a copy of Football Manager 2010and have a go yourself. Then write it up and post it to your own blog or send me a copy and I might post it here on FBF...