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Too Many Players Are Too Comfortable in This Team
Written by Pickersblue22 on Tuesday, 13th Oct 2015 21:11

It is safe to say that the first 10 games of the season have not gone as we had planned. To be sat in 12th is disappointing to say the least, but what is more concerning is seeing the manager come out and question the loyalty of his players. That came as a shock.

One thing I have always felt our players would show more than anything when playing for Mick is loyalty. Us supporters have frequently criticised Mick for at times ridiculous shows of loyalty to players so clearly out of form, so to see him come out and publicly get stuck into the players is concerning, but also refreshing, and perhaps necessary.

I put our shaky start to the season down to a number of factors, but there is one that stands out above the rest. There is a group of players in our team who have become almost undroppable. They have played so many consecutive games that they now feel that their place in the team is nigh-on guaranteed.

I'm talking about Luke Chambers, who has not started the season at all well (is it any wonder given he is stuck at right-back), but will feel safe in the team, because Mick has not shown any desire to play anyone else in his position. His limitations in that position are shown game-after-game, but the manager does nothing to change it.

I'm talking about Tommy Smith, who can seemingly do anything in games and keep his place. The run of form he has been on for the best part of a year is average at best and still he keeps his place. It seems that whatever happens, Smith plays. He must be delighted, and almost wondering what he would have to do to be dropped.

Cole Skuse is another who has not got near the levels of last season, and yet is safe as houses because Mick trusts him. Whatever happens, him and Jonathan Douglas "have been different class".

Well actually they haven't. They've been ordinary. In fact I think they might be twins. They look the same, they do the same job, they are basically the same person. There is not room for both of them in the team, and the sooner Skuse realises that his place isn't guaranteed the better.

You could add Christophe Berra to that list, who has not been at the level we expect, but has been marginally better than Chambers and Smith. Daryl Murphy is a funny one, as it may benefit him and the team if he was on the bench for a few games. We have the options to replace him, but I think he is too good to stay out of the goals for long, and I wouldn't put him alongside the other 'undroppables' that I have mentioned.

Those players that I have talked about are currently a strain on the team. It can't be healthy for the squad as a whole to see players play despite their poor form, and the other options sat on the bench, or even in the stands.

What I feel our team lacks at the moment is balance. We are currently setting up with a back four with two holding midfielders just in front. There is then quite a sizeable gap with the front four further forward.

Let's take Skuse and Douglas as the holding players, and Murphy, Freddie Sears, Ryan Fraser and Ainsley Maitland-Niles as the other four. You will never, ever see one of those attacking players dropping deep to go and get the ball. They want it served to them.

In the same way, you will never see Skuse or Douglas go beyond the attackers and get into forward positions. They will not get into the box to get on the end of crosses like the best central midfield players do. We have the players that will do that, but Mick does not pick them.

At the moment our opponents are finding space in front of Skuse and Douglas because they sit deep and screen the back four. There is no balance there. We want to see midfield and attack linking up together, which is why David McGoldrick must start as he will always drop deep and look to create, and why Skuse and Douglas should not play together. It is the same problem as when Skuse and Luke Hyam played together. They are too similar.

Our age-old problem of defence by-passing the midfield when feeding the attackers still very much exists. Under no pressure, our back four continues to lump the ball up field. They are incapable of passing the ball forwards.

I suppose it is not that surprising given that we have a centre-back at right-back and two left-footed centre-backs. Mick is making life harder for them that he needs to and the problem is staring him in the face.

I just can't fathom why players like Piotr Malarczyk or Tommy Oar were signed when they will only apparently play if there is an injury. Mick has hinted that there will be changes for Huddersfield and rightly so. My team would be this - Gerken; Parr, Chambers, Berra, Knudsen; Bru, Douglas; Maitland-Niles, McGoldrick, Oar; Murphy. That could also be interpreted as 4-4-2, which Mick favours.

In that team you have a proper full-back at right-back, centre-backs that are right-footed and left-footed, one holding midfielder and one that will push forward and get in amongst things.

You also have a terrific crosser of the ball on the left, who will come inside into central areas, and McGoldrick, who will drop deep and be another link between midfield and attack. Murphy is the outlet, for when the back four need to get out of jail, but not for when they can pass into midfield. Douglas is a better passer than Skuse, but needs the ball to show it.

You then have Malarczyk, Sears, Brett Pitman, Skuse, Larsen Touré, Smith, and Bartosz Bialkowksi, who make up a very strong bench, and would provide plenty of quality and endeavour.

Huddersfield is a very important game for us - we need a win ahead of tricky trips to Hull and Nottingham Forest. Mick needs to utilise his whole squad, as until he does, he will not know the capabilities of some of the players. Ryan Fraser's injury is a big blow, as he has been our best performer this season, but we have the players to replace him.

Our squad is definitely one of the strongest in the league, but Mick must be prepared to show under-performing players that he is not afraid to drop them. A big statement in terms of selection on Saturday will be beneficial in the long-term, as well as the short-term.

We don't have a big squad, but it is very consistent in terms of ability, so making changes shouldn't weaken the team. The sooner Mick realises this, the better. At the moment the 'undroppables' are the main factor in our poor form. A bit of freshness should be just the ticket.





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ElderGrizzly added 22:26 - Oct 13
The fact this blog starts off by moaning about Chambers af RB says it all. He's done it for 3 years now and isn't anywhere near the biggest problem at the club and is as much of a RB as a CB now.

It then goes on to be apparently mystified as to why two players who are not match fit haven't started yet in Oar and Malarzyck!?

Seems a long way to have yet another mis-informed blub...

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PhilTWTD added 22:44 - Oct 13
Oar's not been match fit, although you'd think he ought to be getting closer, but don't think the same's the case for Malarczyk. Was playing league games in Poland before he came here. More a case of getting used to the pace of the Championship than fitness issues.
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ElderGrizzly added 22:48 - Oct 13
You're right Phil and that is what i meant about our scary Pole. Different type of match readiness

The blog also questioning Skuse's place in the team and saying Sears and Murphy don't drop deeper to get the ball? That is one of Sears' strengths!

Does this poster ever go to games?!
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theipswichman added 00:11 - Oct 14
I don't get it, drop Smith despite the fact he's been our best defender so far this year? Also how can you possibly come to the conclusion that Berra has been better than Smith? Slightly hypocritical blog considering you are also showing large amounts of favouritism yourself.

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Pickersblue22 added 00:32 - Oct 14
RE MarcusEvansReborn Chambers is consistently battered by left-wingers, and is clearly so much better at CB. It would be less of a problem if we didn't have a obvious replacement, but Parr would do a way better job.
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Pickersblue22 added 00:36 - Oct 14
Skuse hasn't reached the level we know he can, and I'm not sure he will until he knows that he can't just walk into the team every week. I agree with what you say about Sears, I just think McGoldrick does it even better. That point came across slightly wrong in the blog. I admit to not being totally in-the-know about Oar and Malarczyk's fitness, but after Oar started at United, I thought he was fitter that perhaps he is. Thanks for the feedback!
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BlueKush added 01:43 - Oct 14
Surely if Mick's gonna make changes then Bialkowski has to come back in.

Agree about the defence, the stats don't lie - Chambers has always been a centreback doing a job at rightback. I think he'll drop Smith and bring Parr in at rightback, maybe even Emmanuel.

Bru had a great game at Brentford and hopefully he'll partner Skuse - feel we're missing Bishop though as well who was excellent last season.

McGoldrick and Sears for me up top, they're the 2 in form strikers and we need to beat Huddersfield. Sears is fit and on form, Murphy isn't there yet but should always be used off the bench until he's up to speed. McGoldrick should always play, he's our most effective attacker and the most economic with the ball.

Niles and Oar both look top drawer for the Championship, but I've got a sneaking suspicion that we'll play 433 as we did last season at Wigan with Connor Sammon. Sears in for Sammon and we've got a top notch front 3.

Bialkowski
Parr, Chambers (C), Berra, Knudsen
Bru, Skuse, Tabb
Sears, McGoldrick, Murphy
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rickw added 09:12 - Oct 14
At times last season Smith clearly needed a break, however he's been our best defender this season. I don't think Skuse or Douglas are bad, they just don't compliment each other in midfield, I think either one of them would look a lot better if playing with Bru or Bishop.

As for Chambers sometimes he looks decent at right back, other times he looks hopelessly out of position - usually against pacy wingers who run at him, I would like Parr to be given a decent go there, but it's been a long time since Chambers played regularly in the centre - so we don't know if he'll do any better!!
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rickw added 09:13 - Oct 14
Oh but I agree with your overall point - we want ALL players to feel that their position is under threat and they'll lose it if they don't perform!!
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CalneBlue added 12:58 - Oct 14
Seems to me that MM started the season with some shiny new toys (aka players) and - perhaps stung by the 'hoofball' jibes - tried to play in a new unfamiliar way to make use of their attacking talents. He got burned and embarrassed at Reading and the experiment ended - back to Plan A. The trouble is, the spell of last season has been broken and the star/crux of the team, Daryl Murphy, has dipped in form so the resurgence hasn't come and the defence remains leaky. Players don't become bad overnight and teams attack/defend as teams, not individuals. In short, the chemistry/balance isn't right as others have allude to.

How to fix that as a manager is the $64m question. You need your players to feel comfortable (and have some confidence they're a regular) otherwise they'll make mistakes and building loyalty/trust is a key factor for a successful team. But you also need players to be on their toes to keep them motivated. It's a difficult balance and I can understand Mick wanting to stick with the same players that have served him well, particularly in defence where reliance on and understanding of a teammate is more important than elsewhere on the pitch.

That said, the team does need freshening up and MM will need to tweak. He may be stubborn but he's not stupid. Time to go back to basics, cut out the mistakes, get a few clean sheets and go from there.
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brittaniaman added 16:42 - Oct 14
Small Squad you are joking ??? 34 players is no small squad !!! when one looks on the back page of the programme our squad is bigger than other teams???? Bristol city for example 21 players that is a small squad, even Birmingham is smaller as well.
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brittaniaman added 16:43 - Oct 14
Small Squad you are joking ??? 34 players is no small squad !!! when one looks on the back page of the programme our squad is bigger than other teams???? Bristol city for example 21 players that is a small squad, even Birmingham is smaller as well.
1

Hackettitfc added 18:46 - Oct 14
Good blog and an accurate reflection on the first few games
Interesting Marcus Evans Reborn questions if you ever go to games, as a season ticket holder of 35 years standing I find his unquestioning loyalty
starts to stick in the throat after a while. It's all about opinions, just because yours may not be the same as his you are not a "true" supporter...starting to annoy me hence my first post for ages
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Hackettitfc added 19:07 - Oct 14
Good blog and an accurate reflection on the first few games
Interesting Marcus Evans Reborn questions if you ever go to games, as a season ticket holder of 35 years standing I find his unquestioning loyalty
starts to stick in the throat after a while. It's all about opinions, just because yours may not be the same as his you are not a "true" supporter...starting to annoy me hence my first post for ages
1

Hackettitfc added 19:16 - Oct 14
I would also add that the consensus of opinion in the Cobbold stand amongst supporters who have probably never posted on a forum, but like me have been season ticket holders forever, is, that after nearly three years of improvement playing steady if uninspiring football, that this season we actually look weaker albeit with a stronger squad on paper.
time will tell and new signings do take time to bed in, but major worry for most is the form of the backbone of the squad ( Chambers, Berry, Skuse and Murphy). I excuse the keepers on the basis we have usually left them with far too much to do.
Think this is pretty much what you are getting across in your blog.
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bedsitfc added 17:47 - Oct 15
As I have said many times before I believe we have 3 of the best cb's in the league why do we not play to our strengths.
343 formation.
1

bedsitfc added 17:50 - Oct 15
Bart
Chambers berry Smith
Par bru skuse Jonas
Sears mcg fazer/niles/pitman


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dalianwasexciting added 07:57 - Oct 17
The key thrust of the blog is good, in other words our lack of a midfield that does all the tasks of a midfield in terms of linking back to front. This has been an issue throughout MM's reign and clearly is why Johnny Williams was brought in. The individuals picked out in the blog are perhaps the wrong ones, for example the most jittery defender has probably been Berea this season, but again we know he is good. The start of the season was good and it was the goalkeeping change that co incised with us starting to ship goals - this is not about Gerkens shot stopping its about how the defensive unit seems so jittery with him behind them.

Up front Murphy was never going to repeat last seasons exploits since breaking his nose he has not been the same in the air and it seems that the weight of expectation is too high and perhaps he feels he has to lead the line. The continued non starting of McGoldrick baffles but clearly he is not up to it in training,
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