Team Choices: Where Can Michael Appleton Go From Here?

Let’s be honest; results have left us all a bit sick. We’re doing the right things (Gillingham aside) but just not getting the just rewards for our endeavour.

I know cynics will say possession stats mean little, but we are controlling games, having purposeful possession and creating chances. We had more chances than Ipswich in midweek and should have won the game. Did we win it? You and I both, sadly, know the answer to that.

You don’t always get what you deserve and the last three years mean absolutely nothing, other than us now being in League One. This is our level of old, the level my Dad feels we belong at. We are going to have to work incredibly hard to get there.

In the absence of a match this weekend I’m planning three articles, the first of which is with you now. This is looking at the current areas of the field and assessing our strengths, weaknesses and where changes might be affected. After this (in no particular order) I’m going to examine the type of players we need to bring in, not necessarily the actual targets, and hopefully finish the weekend with a bit on opinions. If I dare.

Over the next couple of pages, we’ll be talking defenders at their limit, midfield conundrums that must keep Michael up at night and the all-important striker issue; who will score our goals?

Let’s start with a nice easy one shall we? Keepers.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

To put it bluntly, we don’t need a change in goal. I know Grant Smith has turned in a couple of decent performances in the EFL Trophy, but I don’t think Josh can be faulted too much for his efforts recently. He did get a cheap header drop over his head this week, but Jason Shackell cleared off the line to keep the score at 0-0. Aside from that, Josh has been a safe pair of hands. If anything, he’s one of the players who has stepped up and improved massively since the early exchanges; one or two fans were calling for him to be replaced in the early part of the season.

It might be harsh on Grant Smith, but the life of a keeper is a tough one and Josh Vickers is the best we’ve got right now. He’s certainly not to blame for the goals we’ve let in and it might be argued he’s kept us in some fixtures of late.

Next Page – The Defence


  1. Balanced view as always. Personally I agree witht the Shackell comment, I think he is done and if you look at the stats that concurs. I think Bruno on his day is class but both wingers are luxury and for me Harry brings more than the others yes his end product is sketchy but before he was dropped he was in good form. Agree with Payne and if you talk to Bradforsd fans they say when going was good he was awesome but when it got tough he disappeared. I too like Big John he just needs some confidence and we can play a part by getting off his back. Lewis needs a run at RB for sure. January is going to be interested and I presume the Danny compo will be used???

  2. Think your analysis is pretty good , my thoughts would be , if O’conner is fit play Connelly instead of Shackell , if your light in midfield play Shackell. Definitely Hesketh over Payne ( been really poor). Grant is way better than Harry ( he may be good for last 20 mins) and without doubt the best comment you made is Lewis for Eardley ( offers nothing in league 1). Anyhow enjoyed your review…UTI

  3. Why is Eardley not being used for set piece deliveries?
    Against Giliingham Andrade took everything and his delivery was woeful. Disagree about Shackell. Ok….error at Gillingham…but…apart from that? Disagree about Chapman. Publicity before the Gills game….this is my chance……The game passed him by….as it so often does in my opinion. Payne has been poor because Appleton plays him out of position. You are right….the guy is not a winger. He’s a ten. Think back to his performance and link up play with Bruno in the Sunderland game…..We’ll be fine…UTI

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