Do we really need another striker? Why it isn’t critical this January

I know this article is going to get fans frothing at the mouth with anger, but it’s a genuine question that I feel it’s worth raising.

I’ve listened to the different targets people want us to sign. I chuckle at Doidge, raise a hopeful but disbelieving eyebrow at Eisa and ponder on a couple of others. All the while I’m asking where they’re going to play if they join. I’m trying to see exactly where an apparent new striker would fit in right now.

Our set up is a 4-5-1, that is as close as you can get to describing it. Danny doesn’t like labelling formations, but when we’re moving forward we have one central striker. The wide players look to get around Akinde, McCartan sits in the ten role and should be getting there too, but when we’re back behind the ball Akinde is the lone front man. He’s interchangeable with Matt Rhead, although when the big man comes on you need much more pace around him. 

That’s why he’s left until late, even when Akinde is flagging, because he doesn’t have the legs to carry a lone striker role for 25 minutes of a half. From now until the end of the season, Akinde will start and Rhead will deputise. On Saturday I heard fans clamouring for him to come on after an hour, but his mobility means he has to be later than that, otherwise we risk inviting pressure on to oursevles, more so than we do with 11 men defending a corner.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

Behind those two we’ve got McCartan and we used to have Matt Green. Greeny wouldn’t fill the hole, he wasn’t as happy coming from deep, so we switched it up when he came on, usually by going to a flat 4-4-2 with him partnering Matt Rhead. It’s why we didn’t see a lot of Akinde and Green together, because one suited the 4-4-2 and the other was a major weapon in the 4-5-1. 

We need (or needed) cover for McCartan, but is that not Danny Rowe? He filled the role through the centre this weekend for half an hour or so and looked more than comfortable. I paid close attention to DC saying he could play in a ‘couple of position’, meaning he’s not labelled as a wide player. Sure, he can play out wide, but it seems to me he’s going to be another Tom Pett; used in a couple of roles and effective in all.


The question left to be answered is this; where would a new striker fit in?


The question left to be answered is this; where would a new striker fit in? It’s okay to say something short-sighted like ‘a goal scorer will always play’, but that won’t be the case. Lincoln City will not bring in a striker this winter and drop John Akinde, because what John brings to the team is valuable. Would we have held on at Swindon without a robust and mobile striker? 

If we’re not going to be replacing Akinde, which we’re not, then where would a new player go? There’s been lots of chatter about Mo Eisa and obviously, he’s a top player with goals at this level, but we’d need to alter our approach in the second half of the season to accommodate him. Maybe we’d go 4-4-2, but then who gets dropped out of Rowe, Anderson and Andrade? It would also mean Shay McCartan comes out of the side. Can you see Danny changing his philosophy for one player?

I know where will be some of you out there claiming we should drop John Akinde, but that is not going to happen. He is crucial to the way we play, having brawn and mobility is critical and few strikers offer both. He’s not as quick as Green which I know frustrated many at the weekend, plus he’s not as adept at winning headers as Rheady, but who in our squad can bully a defender into giving the ball away before creating a chance for himself out of nothing? He’s also got more running and mobility than Rheady, more brawn and strength than Green. It’s the ‘cup half full’ scenario isn’t it?

Courtesy Graham Burrell

Who else in the squad can chase down a tired ball in the last fifteen minutes and make it stick up front, without the need for it to be pinged right back? If he’s paired late on with Danny Rowe, terrifyingly quick and alert, then where exactly would a new face fit it?

I’m not saying Danny definitely wouldn’t change it around to bring in someone like Eisa, I’m not saying that we won’t sign a striker, but for the first time since we’ve been back in the Football League I don’t think we have a pressing need for a new face. Sure, maybe we could do with cover, but I’m not hanging around on News Now waiting for the announcement of a so-called proven striker. I don’t think bringing in a Matt Green replacement is as critical as I did back at the start of the month.

Now I’ve seen Danny Rowe as a ten I think I’ve seen the future of our forward line, not just for the rest of 2019, but also into the next campaign, all being well.

 

11 Comments

  1. I can’t fault your logic anywhere but one place…..what happens if, heaven forbid, big John gets injured…..then we are stuffed. And so , yes we need another class striker, one that can integrate with our system and add to our still limited squad. I have a sneaky feeling that Danny will have this player up his sleeve and it won’t be any of the names being bandied about…..

  2. Rhead is a number 10. We need cover for Alkinde in the number 9. Our problem is finding someone content to be a substitute. Or do we sign a striker that can get selected / compete with Akinde with a view to league one…?

  3. Agree with Harrow and Steve. Your argument collapses if John Akinde gets injured, and Danny has said often enough that he wants competition for every position. At the moment we need something up our sleeve to cover an Akinde injury. That would need to be like for like, or a different type of threat in a different system.

  4. Have to agree with the above comments. So far we have given ourselves a solid base for our promotion drive (that is all). If Akinde is ruled out for any reason,for any length of time do we really want the great opportunity derailed for the lack of a number 9 cover. Easy to say I know but buy a League1 striker (or a loan player with an option to buy at the end of the season).When we go up we will need more options than we have now.Watch this space.

  5. Really??? So, we put all our eggs in one basket and keep everything crossed that John Akinde doesn’t get injured????? No, I really hope we don’t, because if we do it will be playing Russian Roulette with our season. I get the issue that whoever comes in will be on the bench more than starting and that does maybe limit potential recruitment. However let’s not forget Rheady is out of contract in the summer, with no news on a new one and as such he is technically free to talk to people now about a summer move. As such now might be the ideal time to bring in someone who could ultimately be his replacement and in the long term provide some genuine competition for Akinde and also offer us the real flexibility (as Matt Green did) to go to 4-4-2 if we need to, which may be important as we move through the second half of the season.

  6. Until about 2.30pm on Saturday I’d have said an additional striker was essential, then Danny Rowe started doing his stuff.

    However, I do agree with the other comments above, we do need cover or a plan B for Akinde in case of injury or suspension. That’s not Rheady who’s slower, better used deeper and needs in front of him a fast runner on the shoulder of the last defender, similar to Theo or Greeny. I’m not sure we have that player at the moment, I can think of one or two who could be tried but it would be a risky experiment and would require a change of formation.

    So – we still need a striker, ideally a young (or old!) big, strong relatively mobile squad member as direct cover for Akinde, or faster, mobile forward to play off Rheady, the latter would offer the option of spicing things up with Akinde as a 4-4-2 if needed but also require 2 changes if Rheady needs to start.

    Two alternatives to provide the necessary depth gives greater choice in the ‘hard to sign strikers’ January window.

    I’ve almost repeated the same points RedImp73 has made!

  7. Yes we do need another striker. … Akinde might be our best option at the moment but there is no other option is there?…
    We need someone who can challenge Akinde for the first team , play alongside him if we need to switch the system or at least come in from the bench …

  8. Just think we are one bad tackle away from being a bit light up top. I think John is also one yellow away from a ban ? We need a replacement for Green ( he had to go the offer was too god to refuse ) another loan maybe. UTI.

  9. Further to my comment above I really like the look of Sam Surridge. Recalled from Oldham where he did well and now training back at Bournemouth. Ticks lots of boxes and we took one from Bournemouth last January.

  10. Very interesting question posed. I can’t see Danny switching to a 2 up front as a first option. The other comments beat me to it though. An injury to John could be the difference between promotion and play-offs and it feels as if we have come too far to risk that. An Eisa would surely not be interested if games aren’t guaranteed? Hmmmm an interesting poser!

  11. In the event of an Akinde injury, would it be too soon for Adebayo-Smith to be given a run in the team (if indeed he is capable of playing in that role)? The proposition of being a back-up no.9 and behind Rhead in the subs pecking order would make it difficult to get anyone in on loan that would add anything to the current squad, so maybe giving the youth a chance is the way to go?

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