Monday, 10 March 2014

What does Powell do next?

After the disappointment of Bramall Lane, Chris Powell and his management team need to rally their troops and dig in again for two vital league matches this week. Given the shortage of quality striking options and a badly fitting set of midfield jigsaw pieces, what does he do for Wednesday night's visit of Huddersfield Town?

He could decide to stick by the side humbled by Sheffield United and let them attempt to remount the horse. However, I think he has to try something else. Given tiredness and the need to fight Millwall on Saturday, changes look inevitable. He simply might not have enough quality to win either of these games but he needs to get the tactics right. He has been widely criticised for poor and often too-late substitutions. I personally also think he is far too cautious which is perhaps understandable when you view his defensive professionalism as a player and consider the managerial influence of Alan Curbishley. On top of that, I think he tries too hard to accommodate the better players out-of-position when there are better options.

I couldn't really fault the back four on Sunday. Hamer is the best goalkeeper left at the club. Morrison and Wood are as good a combination as we have at centre-back and I don't buy the criticism Wood received following the match. He may have failed to get to the deep bouncing cross which led to their first goal but he is only human and it was a superb ball in with pace and accuracy. The fact        that it was he who deflected the second is all some fans can remember of his performance. He did much more than that.

We are missing Chris Solly but Wilson is an able deputy and Rhoys Wiggins had a solid game barring the ten minutes after the opening goal when they were cock-a-hoop and had us reeling. Personally I would move Wilson into a more attacking right wing role. He is better than anyone else we have in that position and we have other options for right-back (Loic Nego or Dorien Dervite). 

I don't think we can afford to play both Poyet and Cousins in our current predicament. Both are very promising and both have been doing ok, but not together and certainly not both in central midfield. Cousins has flattered to deceive in recent months and he looked out of his depth on the wing on Sunday? Jackson lacks pace but does add vital goals and is the obvious free-kick taker now that Yann Kermorgant is scoring elsewhere. He needs to be accommodated but maybe out wide left or even in behind a lone striker.

Perhaps it is time to give Andy Hughes a start as opposed to a finish and I'd even contemplate Gower again in the middle.

Simon Church attracted a lot of stick yesterday but he always gives it everything he has and he has played his part this season with little direct support. He remains our best striking option but should be withdrawn much earlier if he's not making any headway, like on Sunday. By the way, those who said Maguire and Collins were just two big lumps really don't know what they are talking about - they both played blinders. The big problem is who else can get us goals? Reza has a lot yet to learn about the game here and looks lightweight. Can you imagine him up against Danny Shittu on Saturday? Peter the Pole looks like he will be kept back for another season and Marcus Tudgay isn't really an out and out striker. He certainly isn't going to lead the line or threaten in the air.  That leaves Marvin Sordell and I think we established awhile back that he isn't good enough for this division.

I haven't seen much of Asdarevic but he looked all over the place at Hillsborough and I didn't see anything yesterday although there are plenty who are hanging their hopes on him. That looks to me like extreme optimism given his limited contributions to date.

Whatever Powell does, he has to get our team to focus on the game and not let them get distracted or lose their discipline. It's at times like these when the more emotional characters in the side can react strongly in matches when decisions don't go their way or when the going gets tough. The last thing we want is to throw away any more points due to needless sending-offs or conceding unnecessary penalties etc.

Like you, I am praying we get back on the horse this week and pick up some precious points (three or four are needed to steady the ship). If we fail to do that the gap will likely increase and we will be left needing a sequence of unlikely wins just to stay in touch and not get us out of the drop zone. The consequences of another relegation don't bare dwelling on - there will be plenty of time for reflection if that happens - just ask a Sheffield United fan.


Hungry Ted said...

Good post, Dave. A very fair assessment, although I think Cousins form has dipped since he's been shoved out on the right to accommodate JJ in the middle, which is a real shame.

On paper (yes, I know!) a 3-5-2 formation looks a good option for us. Morrison, Dervite, Wood with Wilson and Wiggins in the wing back roles. Then we could accommodate Cousins, Poyet and JJ in the middle.

I'm sticking you and me up front, Dave, as we can't do much worse...but I'm taking the peno's and free-kicks on the right.

Dave said...

Hungry Ted - 3-5-2 would be better given the striking dilemma. Note sure I'm the answer though. Always known my own limitations on the football pitch and that was 25 years ago and three stone lighter...

Anonymous said...

Blimey Dave, you're not 22 stone now are you ? Seem to remember you tucking a few away up on Blackheath.......oh no, wait, I'm thinking about beer.

Dave said...

Tuesday Morning; We know now, he looks for another job. The story here will be interesting because "football issues" have obviously been the parting of the ways.

Dave said...

Anon - no I am not! Down to 18st at the moment. I think you are now going to tell I was 18st when I was 25. Maybe I was come to think of it….

Dave said...

Anon - no I am not! Down to 18st at the moment. I think you are now going to tell I was 18st when I was 25. Maybe I was come to think of it….