|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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