At one point this weekend, before Mark O’Hara’s header and certainly before Mansfield fell out of the top three, there was a feeling of anger somewhere behind me.
It came from behind my Dad, who sits one row back from me in the Coop. I’m not sure where it was from exactly, but it went along the lines of ‘why the French Connection did we sign Roberts and Angol?’
I suppose there’s a fair point there in someone’s eyes. Football is a game in which we see between eleven and fourteen players at a time, usually the same ones every week. There’s a reason for this, certainly when we’re top. You don’t need to experiment and play around with the faces you have out because those in the team have done well so far.
There’s a feeling that maybe Danny’s late business is always underwhelming. You know what I mean, waiting for Simeon Akinola, but not getting him. Bringing in Angol when some deluded fans thought we might get Mo Eisa. Usually, the big business is tied up relatively early.
Look at Danny Rowe. He was intended to be a key player last season and in fairness helped us to Wembley, but he was in the building early. Lee Frecklington, another who was a huge coup at the time, was in Sincil Bank long before the last day shenanigans. To be fair, even Tom Pett arrived the day before the curtain came down.
No, Danny doesn’t wait until the last minute to get his main man, at least not in 99% of instances. He knew he needed a striker this transfer window, but was it going to be one who replaced John Akinde? Maybe if we’d signed the rumoured Joe Nuttall on loan, there might have been competition. It’s the same with Jorge Grant, if he’d come in then somewhere across that bank of three behind Akinde, someone would have missed out.
That’s not going to be the case though with Angol and Roberts. Look, both are good players who would play for 90% of the other teams in this league. Angol, who I believe could be a big player for us given the chance and the system, isn’t going to get that opportunity when we play as we do. Think about it, if we play the 4-4-1-1 that we like, the runner behind John is likely to be a midfielder such as Rowe or Pett. Maybe, Shay McCartan gets the nod, but if it’s Angol then we go to a 4-4-2. If the 4-4-2 is the favoured option, it’s going to be Rhead and Akinde.
Never underestimate the importance of Matt Rhead to the squad. He wasn’t at his best this Friday night, but he was still a presence, working as hard as ever and always willing in the aerial challenge. John looked happier after Rhead went off, but that’s not the case. It’s just that he’s ploughed a lone furrow up front for 34 matches and this week was asked to do it differently. It wouldn’t take long to see the John that we saw at FGR at the Bank.
There’s the problem for Lee Angol though. John Akinde plays both roles and whatever your individual thoughts on him, he’s been a significant figure this season. Plenty of assists, key passes and goals. I think we have to be careful how we label assists, the figures coming out of the club have him assisting double figures, but those official ones through the likes of whoscored, or Google search, do not.
A word on that; Harry Anderson got a lot of plaudits for the cross for Friday’s goal and rightly so, but what of the ball back to him by Danny Rowe? Rowe wouldn’t get a so-called assist as he didn’t have the last touch, but he was just as involved in creating the chance. We should always be careful when talking assists because sometimes, the pass that creates the chance is just as important. They call that a ‘key pass’ on whoscored, but then a pass that leads to a chance but not a goal, in otherwise a missed assist, is also a key pass. Stats eh?
Moving on to Harry and Bruno, where would you play Jordan Roberts? Serious question. I heard someone behind lamenting the fact we’d not see him and I’d love to know where we want him to play. This isn’t FIFA, you don’t always swap like for like on 70 minutes and do the same things for the final spell with fresh legs. We’ll change shape if we’re 2-0 up and usually, Stevenage aside, it works. If we’re chasing the game we’ll do the same, as we did at Exeter.
Even when we’re drawing, as we were this week, a change will bring about a different approach. Just doing the same things with different players suggests the first players weren’t good enough, to a degree. I buy they might be tired and all that, but that’s not been the case through February. We’ve had to change things, chase games and Roberts has been the unwitting victim in all of that as he’s not fitted the patterns.
There’s plenty of reasons why we haven’t seen them yet and it’s not to say we won’t, but Danny works with these players every week and genuinely knows best. It would never be said at the time of capture, but some players are brought in ‘just in case’. There’s no plan to drop a first team member, no need to break up the current squad, they’re just there if we get an injury or suspension.
As for James Brown, if he wants a game he’s going to have to lock Neal Eardley’s electric gates from the outside or slash his car tyres or something. Sorry lad.
Please, do bear that in mind if you’re the one voice in Block 3, row L, M or No seat’s 76 to 84, ish.
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