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Brief Recent History To avoid too much of a wall of text, the club history up to 2016 can be seen in last year's thread here. With a lot of off-the-pitch drama involving the owners, lack of investment, fan alienation and a name change debacle, 2015-16 was an odd season. Promotion back to the Premier League was sealed with a 1-0 win against Sheff Wed in the Playoff Final and the summer started with optimism: We were back in the top league, new owners looked to be incoming and the increased money should bolster the squad nicely. In the end the opposite happened, as the Allams failed to sell the clubs to two interested groups, our manager (Steve Bruce) quit and not a single player was signed when the season started. To add to that many of our key players picked up bad injuries, leaving this first team squad: In the end a few hasty signings were made but the season begain with no permanent manager, no idea who'd be owning the club by the same time the following week and no clear plan. A shambles, after having all summer to prepare! Squad (17.0 Beta database) Goalkeepers 1. David Marshall (31) 2. Allan McGregor (34) - injured until December 3. Dusan Kuciak (31) 4. Eldin Jakupovic (31) There's plenty of cover here, with Marshall signed after McGregor picked up an injury to miss the first 6 months, but it does mean a lot of wages are tied down in this role. Marshall is intended to be the new #1 but Kuciak may actually prove valuable despite being the lowest wage, as he offers the best communication along with reasonable stopping skills. Defenders DC: Michael Dawson (32) - injured until September DC: Curtis Davies (31) DC: Harry Maguire (23) - injured until September DC: Alex Bruce (31) - injured until January DR: Ahmed Elmohamady (29) DR: Moses Odubajo (23) - injured until January DR: Brian Lenihan (22) - injured until October DL: Andrew Robertson (22) DL: Josh Tymon (17) If all were fit there'd be decent depth but we start the season with only 1 fit centre back, one senior fullback for each side and only an untested 17 year old as cover on the left with no cover on the right. The defence is ravaged by injury! The likes of Dawson and Maguire are slow to begin with and likely to decline further before regaining match fitness, and the long injury to Odubajo could stall his development. This area needs an emergency fix more than any other. On the plus side Elmohamady and Robertson can both be very creative from deep wide positions, ideal for playing as wingbacks, and Tymon may develop quite nicely too. Midfielders MC: Tom Huddlestone (29) MC: Jake Livermore (26) - injured until August MC: Ryan Mason (25) MC: David Meyler (27) MC: Markus Henriksen (24) MC: James Weir (21) MR/L: Robert Snodgrass (29) MR/L: Shaun Maloney (33) ML: Sam Clucas (25) Midfield is actually quite heavily populated, as 3 new players were brought in here despite the injury ravaged defence receiving no reinforcement. The standout issue though is that most of the players want to be central and Snodgrass and Maloney both lack any real pace out wide. Elmohamady can be played on the wing but then there's no one for right back. The midfield options are probably best suited to a tactic utilising a central three or diamond. All the central players do have a different focus. Huddlestone is slow but can act like an NFL Quarterback as a deep playmaker, Meyler lacks skill but will work hard. Livermore and Mason are pretty good all-round, with Mason in particular looking standout - plus his ppm to get forward will see him score goals. Henriksen is slow and can't tackle but is a great distributor so some kind of advanced plamaking support role may suit him well. If you can use Snodgrass in the right way, without depending on pace, he can contribute a lot. It may be that he's really more suited to an advanced central role despite being natural on the wing. Forwards STC: Abel Hernandez (26) STC: Dieumerci Mbokani (30) - Loan STC: Will Keane (23) STC: Adama Diomande (26) - injured until August STC: Greg Luer (21) - injured until November Better options than we've had some years as both Hernandez and Mbokani should be very capable goal scorers, both having decent strength and skill all round. Keane is probably more of a backup and lacks some strength, and Diomande's attributes are lower all round than the star pair, but as we've had seasons starting with only 1 striker it's not too bad! Reasonable cover here. Summary It's the ideal time to take over management here as the club began the season with no manager in reality. The squad is ravaged by injury and defence is a complete mess at the start but it's not as bad as it might seem at first, with some quality players spread throughout the squad. If you can fix the defence situation and keep key midfielders and forwards healthy there's every chance of outperforming expectations (media predicts 20th). If you can bring in new defensive cover, a 532 or 41212 might be the way to go at the start. Oh, did I forget to mention half the first team contracts expire at the end of the season? Check each player though, as you can trigger 1y extensions on several including Snodgrass and Hernandez. The initial budget room is low (£6m transfer with £30k p/w wage room) so finding bargains will likely be key unless you sell players. If you manage to get a defence in place it should be possible to secure Premier League survival and look ahead to rebuilding the following summer - or be bold and cash in on high valued key players now to undertake an immediate overhaul if you prefer!