One of the week’s more complex transfer rumours centred on a potential swap deal with our Irish International Seamus Coleman and Blackpool’s prolific forward Matt Phillips. EB has decided to probe the logistics to see if there is any mileage in such a deal or if this is merely agent mischief making…..
Matt Phillips Strengths / Weaknesses
John from the ace Blackpool tactics website Tangerine Dreaming has watched the starlet develop at close hand since his move from Wycombe and is familiar with the speedy striker’s strengths and weaknesses. On his strengths, John observes “If a team lets Phillips impose himself on a game, then he will…let him turn and give him five or ten yards and he will hurt most defences in any English league. He can score and create from anywhere in the final third. When he starts, he lines up in the wide left forward position and seeks to cut inside to get his shot away. Very few players will beat him for pace.”
Blackpool usually deploy 4-3-3 or 4-3-2-1 with wide forwards and whilst Phillips has mostly been deployed wide left he can also fill the wide right and central striker role and with 18 goals and 6 assists last season he is unsurprisingly a wanted man. Whilst his versatility will be seen as a plus by Moyes there are weaknesses to his game as John points out “Phillips has issues with confidence or belief in himself which affects his game from time to time. Whilst not being overly dominant at this stage of his career, it is likely to affect him more and more should he fail to develop the mental side to his game. This emanates less so in his tendency to ‘drop his head’, but more so in the way that he tries to force things in order to prove that he can do the almost impossible. He can be stopped a little too easily when teams get tight to him, stop him from turning and he has little in his skill set to be able to effectively turn and beat a man.”
His touch has also been identified as a problem area. John continues “To the casual observer his touch may not be questioned, however, he has a noticeable flaw under closer scrutiny. In wanting to keep his head up he doesn’t always watch the ball on to his foot, which in itself isn’t a major issue, top players don’t need to watch the ball on to their foot, but they must use their all round sense and technique to keep the ball under control.”
Thoughts on Coleman
Coleman’s impact in 10/11 and particularly his goals output led to raised expectations that he could go on to become a top player at the club. Whilst his rawness was a positive then it was equally a negative last season when he more closely resembled the £60k rookie than being our answer to Gareth Bale. He is clearly lacking in certain areas mostly due to the standard he played at until he arrived on Merseyside but he does possess qualities which could still make him a good squad player in the coming years. His pass completion last season rose form 78% to 82% and his key passes / cross completion also improved, however other areas of his game withered.
His previously unpredictable dribbling became predictably unsuccessful particularly against physical full backs that could outmuscle him. His rash tackling which led to Liverpool ‘s winner at Wembley also underlined that he can be a liability which is perhaps why Moyes is reluctant to pitch him in at right full back. As the season developed Moyes seemed to have less and less confidence in the Irishman but would his concern lead him to want to cut ties with a player he only recently rewarded with a bumper new contract?
The big doubt I have with this potential deal is regarding the financials. For starters, Coleman’s improved terms see him take home £24k per week at L4. Blackpoolhave a wage cap plus their top earner Barry Ferguson is on a fair bit less than the Irishman. The Seasider’s frugality is as well known as ours and for this reason I couldn’t see them stumping up the wages or envisage Coleman trading places and taking a pay drop. In contrast we could probably afford Matt Phillips wage – he currently takes home around £10k per week – but even a ‘double your money’ pay hike would cost £10m over 5 years including the touted £5m transfer fee. Fellow attacking target Junior Hoilett is a more polished version of Phillips but his wage demands of 50k per week plus a £2m compensation fee would cost £15m over 5 years.
In conclusion I’d say this deal is as likely as Man Utd spending £20m on a fullback with no resale value to fill their central midfield void. Whilst Moyes remains unconvinced of Coleman being able to step up his game I don’t think he is ready to give up on the Irishman just yet.
As for Phillips, he’s unquestionably a good player in the making but we already have a tall pacey left sided forward in Magaye Gueye. Moyes looks to his width principally to provide creativity, predominantly from crossing situations (Drenthe/Baines/Donovan) or subtlety and the ability to thread a pass like Osman or Pienaar. Neither are key strengths of Phillips game. Nor do I think Moyes would invest £5m we don’t have for a striker to warm the bench to provide cover for Jelavic. If Pienaar does sign on this week as expected I think Moyes would look for another new face that can operate in the wide attacking berths but Hoilett would seem more suited to the specification than the Blackpool man.