Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Could be THE telling signing

A great performance, though limited to a late substitution, from our new French striker.
He looked class as soon as he came on. Not only did the Frenchman hold the ball up well, he got two great headers in straight away, threaded a sublime through ball and even showed some real old fashioned muscle and shoulder; like a centre forward of old.
He looks like being a real snip and will become a favourite with the fans if he keeps it up. One is tempted to say; "what's the catch'? how come we have managed to secure him? For the time being, I'll credit CP with the coup.
Otherwise, the again was of two halves; MKD dominated the first half when were really poor, like many performance last season. They could have been 3 or 4 goals up by the interval with Hollands showing all the signs of sleepless nights on the domestic front, Stephens reverting to his anonymous role and Wagsatffe succeeding again in not being able to cross the ball.
We sharpened up in the second half and harried their midfield to greater effect. We had a couple of concerted pressure period, during which our new striker scored a great goal and came close with two other efforts.However, even then we did not look the class act of recent games, probably due to the fact that MKD looked like a side who will stay the course and be there amongst us at the end of the season.
With the skills of Green to provide pin point crosses, the new striker can yet be the hero of the season. However, there is a need to work out how to cover Solly when he is providing an attacking force, as that is not a quality that Green seems to possess, other than giving unnecessary free kicks away in dangerous positions.
Once again. some of our headed clearances were not deep enough in the first half but the back four otherwise held up reasonably well though Solly had a shaky first half.

Our new goalkeeper made a number of good saves, in particular one in the second half from a  long range shot that he saw very late . He seems to be proving himself as a sound replacement and shot stopper, and a probable improvement on Elliot and with his height he also provides a real force in cutting out crosses.
Pity that Preston are hitting form as a draw was a good result (with us even let off the hook to an extent)which would have meant that a draw at Sheff United would see us retain top spot. However, Preston are at home so things may be different.
We are hoping that our Canadian visitors (Bob Miller and his wife) a regular CAFCPICKS contributor, will bring us  some Maple Leaf luck at United

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Just Testing

In haste, I left out some player comments in my last post that should be resolved (did you spot the dliberate errors!!!??).
As per my pre-season Aldershot post I was really impressed with Ruben Bover Isquierdo. I had omitted him as he had only figured in the Reading game and whilst he had a fair game he did not stand oput as much as he did at Aldershot. However, I still see him as a great find and his less impressive appearance against Reading seemed to me to be because he was playing wide on the left and I saw him as a central midfielder. I may be right, but have not seen enough of him yet. However, this real find must certainly figure in our team building plans but I'm not surfer whether he will break through this season or not: it would be good if he does Davisson at Woking. He again must be one for the future but he may not have enough to make his mark this seaosn but I hope he continues to develop.
I omitted Jackson, (how could I doi that) probably because for him he had a relatively anonymous game against Sheff' Wed. However, he is a more experienced pro than most and I'm sure he will continue to be a force in midfield. If there is a problem it's positioning as he plays well down the left but we cannot expect him to be a flying winger as he does not have the speed (the same applies to left back where a fast winger will catch him out). Perhaps a more central role would be more effective, but it's a getting a little crowded in midfield with all this talent, but a few yellow cards and (hopefully not) can a least be covered by what seems to be a promising band of players. Whether they will be permitted to play the passing game that CP and the crowd seem to want now that opposing teams have cottoned on to how we ant to play remains to be seen.
And what happened to Honore who impressed briefly at Woking. I thought he looked useful but I do not know whether we have given him a chance to hang around to further assess or not?
Yet to see Leon Cort but just seeing him in a warm up before the game last night was impressive enough in respect of his physical attributes. Looked like solid muscle to me, in the same style as Mambo. Perhaps with his experience at higher levels, he is the man who may remove any doubts I have about our central back four pairing?

Time to Ponder

I have stood back from posting of late as others have provided excellent asessments and time has been tight (and it was good to have the opportunity to assess these new players over a longer sequence of games). Here are a few views to date:

Hamer: not sure as yet: not doing too bad a job. Sullivan should not be forgotten and should challenge for a spot. (Pity Randolph is not still around);
Solly: still a reasonably solid player and developing; but others’ fears about sides identifying him as a weak link in the air seem to be materialising.
Hughes: not the answer to challenge for full back; lacks speed. Seems to be a general purpose utility man cover. Francis should be challenging. I assume that we want to move him on (transfer or loan) because he is too expensive (rather than any falling out with the management??). Pity, he could add something to the side based on recent form;
Wiggins: skilful player / footballer but distribution patchy, and too lightweight. Will be found out once the pitches get heavier, and against better sides than we have played to date.
Evina; good acquisition but prob. has more attacking virtues than defensive capabilities (like Wiggins), one for the future.
Middle of Back Four: Still not sure about current pairing; Taylor and Morrison don’t clear the ball properly or are dominant in the air. Who is the better of the two?; any slips to date seem to have come from Morrison.
We are wrong to set aside Mambo for the future alone; he could be bloodied sooner than later.
Doherty: though statuesque on the ground, is certainly more dominant in the air (both in defence and at corners, where our new pairing have not threatened).

Hollands: key player; aggressive / combative but also has vision. Will turn in the more consistent performances in terms of breaking up attacks and creative play;
Stephens: highly talented creative player, but on the evidence of the Sheff Wed game may be bludgeoned out of games by hard tackling midfielders who have been briefed to snub him out as a major threat. Remains a key player but do not expect continuous runs of good form;
Green: should be a key player leaving Wagstaff, who still cannot deliver consistently a final ball or cross, to fulfil a “super sub” role of some sort;
Pritchard: could be a real find, a Keith Jones look-alike in appearance and style.
Alonso: have not seen; cannot comment; Harriott; an interesting one for the future, but may not make it this year?

Is Benson staying? odds seem on him moving, though if Green delivers he could yet surprise a few if he stays with just what he can do. Assuming he does go out on loan:
Hayes: I was lukewarm pre-season but came around to him over recent games but was ineffective last night. Most frustratingly of all, fits into the mould of strikers we have had over the years who, even if they have height, cannot get their feet off the ground to win headers or at least challenge for the ball (even though he did score the other week from a close range header). Apart from good runs at Scunthorpe has never been a prolific goal scorer.
Euell: another who makes limited effort to get off the ground (albeit he also scored from a close range header) and spends too much time backing into the opposition (as he did when he last played for us). I have a feeling he could fulfil a role slightly behind the front two, but others doubt whether he has the legs for it. Should not be relied upon as an alternative target man.
BWP; an undoubted scorer, if we can keep him fit. I have questioned to what extent he can contribute if the rest of the team is not playing well and he is not scoring (maybe that needs yet to be fully tested). However, I have revised my view as he has improved in his running, distribution and laying off. A vital payer, but dangerous to pin all hopes on him alone.
Conclusions: We have not yet been that tested, more difficult fixtures are in the pipeline (Sheff’ United, Hartlepool, Rochdale and Stevenage away in the short term) when the credentials of our defence and forward line in particular will be tested.
We need a good quality striker in on loan (can one be found?),;Francis restored and another full back, perhaps a more conventional tough tackling variety (in the mode of Young, Bonds, Warman, Brown of old or CP himslef).
Of course anything else the management can come up with without rocking the boat and team morale would be gladly accepted.