Written by kirsikka
With the dust settled a little, it’s possible to look at events of the weekend a little more dispassionately. Sure, it was a very poor performance. There’s no getting away from that. However, there were issues forced upon us that we do need to take into account.
The club currently has five specialist fullbacks on the books. That should generally be enough for all but the worst injury crisis. However, before the team was named, four of them were out injured so one fullback position was already being filled by a ‘can do a job’ player. Then in the warm-up the fifth specialist full-back went down so we had to resort to two makeshift options.
We all know our attacking tactical setup is heavily reliant on the fullbacks getting forward so this was pretty debilitating. At least Junior was an attacking makeshift option so should have allowed us to create still but then he went down injured.
Why Junior’s place on the bench wasn’t taken by Ibe is unclear to us on the outside but it could be a point was being made to him by Eddie and it was thought that was more important than having him there. Bear in mind if we wanted to swap out a winger King was an option to move there so the only case where Ibe would have been needed was if Junior got injured. You might say that meant it was 50-50 but that would be cruel… It does feel like Ibe’s exclusion was a bigger picture thing than addressing the needs of the team for that day.
Our best makeshift Right Back then would have been Lerma, who has experience there, but since 3 of our first choice 5 Central Midfielders are also out, 2 injured and one on loan, again our options were limited to moving Centre Backs out there. It wasn’t wise to leave Mepham and Simpson to marshal Mitrovic so Mepham had to be moved to Right Back.
It’s almost like a comedy of circumstances. 9 players unavailable through injury and/or other reasons plus one to whom a point is seemingly being made. 6 of them fullback options (one of those being utility) and the other 3 Central Midfield options. I think most clubs would have ended up with a pretty odd tactical lineup in that situation, even those with a deep squad. Especially since two of the injuries happened after the line-ups were announced so it wasn’t possible to take a step back and maybe prepare a youth teamer for a chance or change the whole setup for the week.
I know there are arguments about how we could have used a different formation but given the circumstance, I think almost every lineup with the personnel available would still have been, at best, makeshift.
There were still some very poor performances out there. There was also some very poor finishing. However, we still could have won that game which, given the weaknesses available to exploit in our lineup, is actually not terrible. I would posit if you put our wingers up against a team with that many injuries concentrated in those key positions then we would probably tear them apart.
The only query I have is Hyndman. Seemingly he was a man discarded when we’ve had benches he couldn’t make that were wildly imbalanced without a Centre Midfield option, he suddenly reappeared but wasn’t called upon. Whether he could have held the midfield together with Gosling and let Lerma done the full back job I’m not sure. It would still have been a big gamble that could have gone horribly wrong and ended with just as much criticism on here.
A poor performance. A poor result. Some extenuating circumstances. No reason to panic really.
Let’s hope we have some specialist fullbacks available for next week as our whole game relies upon them.