Injuries and suspensions haven’t help us. I think we’re a good team when we’re not battling injuries or suspensions. We obviously lack depth and the decision to go with a smaller squad is perhaps a debate for another day. That said we’ve probably got two players on our books who may or may not play again for the club. Most likely they are taking decent money which could possibly be used on maybe 3 or 4 players.
When we’ve been good, we’ve been very good. When we haven’t, not so much. I’m hoping following Saturday that we’ve turned something of a corner and are now starting to get points when we haven’t played particularly well. Against Southport we should probably have been rolled over fairly comfortably. We got away with it and got a point – half decent teams have that ability to somehow get something out of matches. So maybe in that regard we’ve turned a corner.
Personally I expected us to be a bit higher in the table but it’s still early days and we’re not a huge distance from the play-offs. A couple of wins strung together and things look a lot better in regards to the table.
As I’ve said before in the podcast I’m a big fan of the 4-4-1-1 or 4-5-1 (whatever you want to call it). It can transition into another couple of systems on the fly during a game without too much fuss given some of the players we have. I think it allows us to get the most out of Syers who I think might be our biggest asset. However that clearly leaves us in a position where we’re not able to play both Styche and Ainge (let alone Harvey Saunders who looks more of a threat this season) so I think we’ll revert back to 4-4-2 at some point. Again, there is potentially a debate here about the business we did in the summer in relation to the system… but that’s another debate.
So assuming we’re going to go 4-4-2 at some point… I don’t think that’s a bad thing to be honest and I think it can comfortably work however playing that system means I’m not entirely sure we can play Syers. I think we’ve looked our best when both Elliott and Wheatley have played in the middle. If we’re to have a good season I think we need to maximise the amount of games they are playing together. So if you play them in a 4-4-2 that doesn’t leave room for Syers.
I’d like to see how we’d do with Terry Galbraith and Liam Hughes together in the heart of defence. Hughes has made the position his own with two commanding performances. He’s the main central defender not for me. I’d like to see Terry alongside him when he’s back as I think that could work. If we’re going to play 4-4-2 (and I think we will) we either need our central defenders to be on the top of their game because of the extra pressure they’ll come under because our full backs like to get forward. The alternative is our full backs become a bit more old fashioned and aren’t crossing the halfway line so often. You could still have one of your full backs pushing on but that would require the other full back to stay back and either a defender or winger to cover vacated space. My personal preference is for full backs to be a little less forward thinking in a 4-4-2.
The next few weeks are going to be interesting. Potentially things could drop into place over the next few games with players back and a few little tweaks.
I think players not being from the area is a bit overstated to be honest. We’re playing at a level now where we have to cast our net further a field. It was great when we were drawing players from the local area but that’s gone now.
I think that's almost word perfect to be honest.
Clearly the plan pre-season has been to twin Styche and Ainge but unfortunately when we've done that we've been exposed at the other end by having either inferior players or injuries. It seems that to get a system that will work TW will have to bench two out of Ainge, Saunders and Syers which seems harsh in the sense that they've all played well this season. Either that or start playing square pegs in round holes.
We need to get Galbraith and Hughes a run of games at CB too, which would be an upgraded pairing on any previous game this season. A spine of Galbraith/ Hughes/ Wheatley/ Elliott would be pretty good based on what we've seen so far.