I’m going to start this article by stating this isn’t Freck bashing, he’s been a revelation this season and his goals have been spectacular and vital.
I’m not here to be critical to a footballer I believe is a big asset to the club, but I do believe that there might be an advantage to him serving a three-match suspension. Whether it outweighs the loss is another thing entirely.
The situation starts with a transfer policy that I believe was based around us playing three at the back. Remember the talk of a left-sided centre back in the summer? I feel much of that was in preparation for a 3-5-2 set up. We tried it at Northampton remember, the opening game of the season. In that formation the full backs get forward and we play rather more compact further up the field. I think it could be why we didn’t dip our toe into the winger market quite as much too.
After Northampton I think there was a rethink. The two wing backs were asked to cover the whole flank, not just back up a couple of wide players and defend and we got caught out. I think we played worse against Northampton than we did Crawley, highlighting the sort of margins between success and failure.
We reverted to a flat back four and it can’t be argued it hasn’t been a success, were top of the league at present. Some might point to three defeats in four games, but take the cup matches out and we’re not exactly in crisis, are we? What is happening though is key players are not playing as a result of the formation switch. I know a couple have had a knock, but I’m thinking Scott Wharton first and foremost.
With Freck picking up the suspension, the door is surely open for Michael Bostwick to step back into midfield. Bozzy is the sort of player I want to see in every position he can play! He’s a behemoth at the back, an animal in midfield and we could do with two of him. That isn’t possible, so I ask myself what is his best position? The answer, in my eyes, is midfield.
If he steps forward into that area and leaves Shackell and Wharton at the back, would we be truly weaker? Wharton is not Michael Bostwick, but he’s a great young centre half. Shackell, after a slightly slow start, now looks to be growing into his role at the back and I believe we’ll be all the better for pushing Bostwick into Freck’s role, or at least the gap vacated by Freck.
It might mean a switch to a more traditional 4-4-2, something I’d welcome. I think to pair Matt Green and John Akinde would give our attack the physical presence, but also the hard work and endeavour. Throw the wide players into the mix, Anderson and Andrade and we have a vibrant attack. That needs to be backed up by a solid midfield though.
Shoot me down for this next statement, but we miss Alex Woodyard. He would fill the role behind Freck nicely, even with Bozzy in the defence but he’s gone so no crying over spilt milk. Instead, either O’Connor or Pett has to prove their worth and I feel maybe Tom Pett is the man to partner Bozzie. With the hairy one holding and Pett pushing on, our ball retention might be useful, rather than wasted as it was on Saturday. We didn’t get enough movement from Akinde and he looked isolated, but a fully fit Matt Green would be perfect foil for the record signing.
All of this because or captain and arguably one of the better players this season gets sent off. Yeah, it was a bad challenge and I expect better, but it happens to the best. He didn’t actually catch their lad, not as seriously as he made out, but it was a straight red all day long.
There are implications, but I do not doubt his leadership qualities on or off the field. I’ve seen a social media comment this morning saying Freck isn’t a leader of men, but Bozzy is. I think there’s a misunderstanding here about the role of captain. Everyone can be influential, but you have to be a personality off the pitch, a player who will do interviews and put themselves out there. Bozzy hates all of that stuff and whilst he is an inspiration on the field, he isn’t a club captain.
Besides, Rotherham felt Freck was a leader in the Championship and he wasn’t one of their own, was he?
Still, whilst he spends some time reflecting on a moment of madness, the Lincoln City team might settle into the sort of shape that makes it a challenge to get back into the side.