Last season, they were the run-away champions. This year? Oh my word. Losing five of their first ten games put them in the wrong part of town- near the relegation zone. With their championship winning manager, Dario Dominguez, now gone, it’s up to Patrick Brady to try and steady the ship. How does he do that?
First we need to look at what exactly is wrong with the team.
1) There’s no leadership from midfield.
2) There’s no creativity in midfield.
3) There aren’t enough chances coming and being take by Nelinho.
What’s wrong with the midfield then? This is the same line-up as last season. In fact, that’s probably the stat of things right there. Hernandinho has been feeling homesick, his trip back to Brazil helped, but he was rushed back to quickly. He is having a sophomore slump, and that directly has affected Nelinho. With both ticking last year, they were nearly unbeatable.
The defence needs a little help too. With injuries preventing Buckhalter and Scott being a cohesive unit together for many games, the replacements have to focus on defending first- then attack, possibly afterwards. It seemed that Dario Dominguez loved the deputy centre-backs to encroach forward. This really didn’t work.
Astrada is now 35 years young. In footballing terms, that’s near the end, following a good season and then a summer tournament (CONCAFA Nations Cup)- Astrada has looked tired all season long. There’s not been enough cover to replace the skill that Astrada supplies. Over-use has made him seem quite pedestrian this season.
With all that going on, it has heaped the pressure on Martijn Bockel to produce, he has done very well, scoring five times, creating chances and being great in the CCL too. He needs help as he is clearly over-burdened right now.
Olympians need to have a stable base- they need a good anchor player in midfield, so that Astrada and Williams can be rotated. They need someone there to do a lot of running back, so Bockel and Hernandinho can focus on what they do best.
With the January transfer window on the horizon, we think a good start is the defensive midfielder and then to find a decent winger/striker to bring in more goals. Patrick Brady is used to using this window to sort things out- he’s hitting the ground running in this job.
p.s. If the money is there, I’d get a direct replacement for Busua’ala. Too inconsistent for a big team like this.
We’ll wait and see what’s to come of this.