Tuesday 16 September 2014

A one-man team?

I have taken a bit of flak on Twitter over the past couple of days.
Nothing new there... but my crime this time seems to have been the temerity to suggest that maybe we are not a one-man team whose promising start to the season is about to crumble around our ears with the loss of one player.
Yes, Koby Arthur had done very well for us. Extremely well, as the return of four league and cup goals shows.  I am not denying that. But he hasn't done it alone, and is not singularly responsible for us sitting fifth in the table.
As I have stated before, that is the risk you take with a loan player. You cannot pin all your hopes to them as they will be here one minute, gone the next...
A run of injuries at his host club, and that is that, cheerio and thanks very much. Yes, he might go back and only sit on the bench for Birmingham. They 'own' him and can do what they like with him.
But let's face it - he only sat on the bench for us a lot of the time,didn't he?
He did not win us points single-handedly. It wasn't a Billy The Fish-style effort, where, like the Viz character, he took on the other team on his own with no help from anyone else?
The platform which allowed to come on and score that winner against Hartlepool, for example, was set up by the 11 who started the game.
Apparently, according to some Tweeters, without him, we now possess 'no goal threat'. Strange then that in our games so far we have had 91 shots on goal, 43 of them on target. Koby has not had all of those, has he?
Other players have also got into the positions to trouble the opposition, but yes, on most occasions without that key ingredient of actually putting the round thing in the onion bag.
Some of that has been through wasteful finishing, and Koby is included in that. Some of it has been through good opposition defending and excellent goalkeeping - Barry Roche and Mark Tyler having won man of the match awards in the last two games shows that we have been a constant danger the opposition.
So I feel to suggest Koby is the only goal threat we have is, in my view, doing a disservice to the rest of our players. I just wish people would have more faith in them.
It's time for Byron Harrison to rediscover the 15-goal touch from last season, and it would be a very opportune moment for Terry Gornell's goal drought to end. John Marquis needs to add goals to his hard work and channel chasing.
The midfield need to help out, although Joe Hanks,  Jordan Wynter and Matt Richards are off the mark,  and those three centre-halves of ours need to find their range from set-pieces - although so far the woodwork and defenders on the line have stopped them doing so.
I just feel that to put too much emphasis on Koby's goals does not pay enough credit to the part others have played in our excellent start.
Yes, we are told that goals win games - but you don't get the chance to score them without saves like Trevor Carson's, good defending like Troy Brown's, Steve Elliott's and Matt Taylor's and crunching tackles like Jason Taylor's - or tactical changes and the right substitutions like Mark Yates' and Shaun North's (most of the time).
Someone called the rest of our players 'poor' and 'bang average' - if a team sitting fifth in the table is that bad with one defeat in seven games, then I am not sure what that says for the rest of the division.
What he was however was a game changer, an impact player, and he had that key ingredient of pace, and that is where his absence will be felt  - unless others step up to take up that mantle.
We might now see what Omari Sterling-James can do, or it might open a door for Andy Haworth, or give Wynter a different role.
OSJ played a big part in the Tranmere fightback, while Haworth was effective in the JPT against Oxford when, after starting at wing-back, he moved into that role just behind the forwards.
I also think Wynter, with his pace and energy, could also be used as someone to stretch tired defences - not right up front, but getting the ball in the pocket and running at a tired defence, much like Morecambe did against us in the second half at the Globe and caused us problems.
It is worth noting that in the last four leagues games, Yates and North have had to change the system to get a result. It worked at Tranmere and against Hartlepool, but not so much at Morecambe or Luton.
Luton was interesting as he started with Koby, and from what I was told that the introduction of Harrison at the break was what made the difference this time, with a good second-half display which had everything bar a goal or two.
Now Yates and North have to find a different way of changing it, and it will be interesting to see what they do tonight.
I suspect we will start with the 3-5-2, with Harrison and Marquis in attack, with other decisions hinging on whether Lee Vaughan comes back in.
If he does, then it is Hanks or Wynter for a midfield place, and if he doesn't that Wynter fills in and Hanks gets the midfield spot.
That gives the option then to change to the 4-3-1-2 later on, losing a centre-half and giving OSJ, Wynter or maybe Haworth an opportunity to be the game-changer.

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