If you wanted to count on your hand the number of players who excelled last season in the Premier League, then you wouldn’t need to go much further past your thumb, but a number of players who struggled in the top flight last year have the chance to redeem themselves in 2018/19 and prove some of the doubters wrong.
We asked our Twitter followers which players could look like new signings next season at a lower level, players in particular who really did struggle and looked out of their depth in the Premier League.
The names coming back were mostly those that we expected and would have suggested as well, midfield trio Leroy Fer, Tom Carroll and Sam Clucas, as well as winger Luciano Narsingh.
Graham Potter was known at Ostersund for working with players, particularly early in his reign in Sweden, who had failed and struggled elsewhere. He’d built them up from almost nothing in the bottom division, and some of them were still there enjoying Europa League football last season. So it goes to show just how much he improved certain players during his seven-and-a-half year spell with the Allsvenskan outfit.
If he can do that, then you wonder what he could do with some of our players – those most likely to stay – rather than some of our better players who will earn moves back to the Premier League. Alfie Mawson and Lucasz Fabianski are both wanted by West Ham, who could pay around £25-30m for the duo.
The likes of Tom Carroll and Sam Clucas are likely to stay but these are the sort of players who can hit the reset button so to speak, look to rebuild their confidence under a good manager and start again in August.
Which players (say 2 or 3) have the potential to vastly improve under Potter and could become something like a "new signing" next season in the Championship? Fer? Clucas? Bartley?
— Vital Swansea (@VitalSwansea) June 12, 2018
Still think Narsingh has a lot to offer, never had time or been allowed to play or in the right position, except the FA cup 8-1. Fer once fit will be good again…Carroll ???? Chocolate teapot I think now
— Phil (@skillsguiding) June 12, 2018
Haha. Ok ok. Roberts, Fer has all the tools, Narsingh could really benefit. Would love to see what youngsters he likes
— Brian Mannebach (@BrianManny) June 12, 2018
Borja Baston if he stays
— Ryan (@RyanRyanjey2000) June 12, 2018
It was a season to forget for everyone, but certainly for Tom Carroll, who seemed to be in favour of both managers – Paul Clement and Carlos Carvalhal despite under-performing in the majority of games. He found it difficult to keep up with the pace of the game but it was the physical aspect that troubled him more than anything.
Playing in a deep-lying defensive team didn’t help him whatsoever, and he always looked a better player in the few games when we played on the front foot. The home draw against Everton comes to mind when Carlos Carvalhal changed to a back four and a very different 4-2-2-2 system, compared to the super-conservative 5-4-1 that he persevered with for far too long.
It was one of his better performances of the season, as he played as a wide-left attacker in a 4-4-2 double six formation. Luciano Narsingh was the other player on the opposite flank.
Carroll also showed glimpses of his attacking quality in that 8-1 home win in the FA Cup against Notts County when he scored a cracking goal from 18 yards, firing a shot into the top left corner.
He performed well in the second half of the 2016/17 season after arriving during the January transfer window under Paul Clement and played a big part in our survival. He formed a good link-up with left-back Martin Olsson, who both attacked well down the left, but that partnership was completely lost the following year.
Carroll came top in a metric called xGChain last season, which simply measures a player’s contribution to attacking build-up play. Simply put, Carroll was more involved than any other player in attacking build-up play.
Clucas wasn’t helped by his inflated transfer fee, bought for – what has to be said – a ridiculous £16m from Championship side Hull City. Huw Jenkins fretted over spending about £13m on Wilfried Bony back in 2013 so it’s baffling how he was happy to splash out the clash for a player who was hardly ripping up trees in the second tier of English football.
It was difficult at first to fully understand what his best position was. Paul Clement couldn’t find it but he did improve when Carlos Carvalhal came in. Carvalhal was a fan of Clucas, admitting that he wanted him at Sheffield Wednesday, and the manager’s support help him, temporarily. He scored 3 goals in 2 separate games against Arsenal but his strong spell didn’t last very long after our form dropped again.
Like Carroll, he’s yet another player who looked more comfortable in an attacking position but was too often asked to play deeper. It doesn’t help when the team, in general, sits deep, so these players could certainly benefit and enjoy their football more if Graham Potter delivers a more attacking and positive style of football as he has mentioned in his ealy interviews.
A frustrating player to watch at times, inconsistent, somewhat clumsy and vulnerable in deep positions, but there are moments where he can show some quality, again – in attacking positions.
He had a knack for being in the right position at the right time to poach some goals in 2016/17, scoring 6 but he lost his place that year after Francesco Guidolin left.
It wasn’t until Carlos Carvalhal came in the following season that we really benefited from him, and a number of fans couldn’t believe just how much we missed him when he suffered an injury that kept him out for the rest of the campaign.
He added some much-needed steel in midfield and he lost that habit of losing possession in deep positions. His lack of tracking back was also a big frustration but he showed a higher level of effort and energy before his unfortunate season-ending injury.
Leroy’s another player that does have the ability but like Carroll and Clucas, he has plenty of weaknesses that Potter and Reid can work on removing from his game. Like I said, he has a knack of scoring the odd goal and playing the odd decent key, attacking pass, but the crucial thing is bringing that out from him on a consistent basis.
Another player, like Tom Carroll, who performed well in his first half-season under Paul Clement, but struggled the following year.
He was given the freedom to attack down the left and he formed a good partnership with Tom Carroll. There was that superb goal away at Liverpool when Olsson fed Carroll to deliver a superb cross that was headed home by Fernando Llorente.
He also scored a great goal himself in a home win against Leicester in February 2017, but there wasn’t even a glimpse of that happening last season. He never got into those kinds of positions, he was held back, rarely allowed to get forward as Carvalhal’s “freedom football” here only lasted for a very limited time.
But under Potter, Olsson could thrive again. He’s a player who likes to attack and is desperate to work under a manager who feels the same way and adopts a positive way of playing. A manager who promotes attacking and over-lapping full-backs, not those who have to hold back in a defensive-first mentality.
Lastly, the Dutch winger Luciano Narsingh. He’s been here 18 months now and has still yet to earn himself a regular first-team place – despite us not being blessed with pacey wingers.
Narsingh is the head-down-and-run type of player, and in some ways similar to Jefferson Montero in that he’s very limited as to what else he can do. The pair of them struggle if the opposition team ‘has their card’. Double-marking them is usually all it takes and there’s then little else they can offer in a game, which is why the pair are most usually used as impact substitutes.
But there’s no reason why he can’t develop under a manager like Graham Potter during the Summer and a Championship season. Paul Clement tried to get him to play a more central attacking role and move him away from simply trying to run down the flanks. In fairness to Clement, that was the sort of thing that he needed, and it’ll be interesting to see where Potter sees Narsingh as part of his plans next year.