First full day on the job and I’m at the training ground for the first real look at the playing squad, with a select First and Second XI set to go head to head. With no preconceptions about who should be in the starting XI yet, this match is a great opportunity for the players to show me what they’ve got, while also a chance to start building some fitness ahead of our pre-season camp and the coming season. With a solid 4-4-2 the preferred foundation, I look to build a unit across the back with Gayà, Gabriel Paulista, Diakhaby and Daniel Wass, former Barcelona goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen between the sticks. Further forward I’ve gone with club record signing Guedes on one wing and Soler on the other, Musah and Racic in the middle, and a front pairing of Gameiro and Maxi Gómez, which given the lack of depth is likely to be the front pairing most of the season.
In the Second XI, experienced players such as Mangala and Cheryshev are flanked by some of the younger stars at the club, including right winger Jason and centre-half Hugo Guillamón. The game itself is dominated by the first XI, but despite this it’s the second string who claim victory, goals coming from Denis Cheryshev and Manu Vallejo from the spot, definitely giving me food for thought in the coming weeks. Perhaps more frustratingly was the lack of goals from the first team, despite creating the far better opportunities in front of goal, Diakhaby the one positive note, looking very solid at the back.Share this: