“Like Declan Rice” – Our Imps Expert Responds To One Performance v Wigan

Credit Graham Burrell

City’s 0-0 draw with Wigan certainly has people talking, more so than you’d expect a game with one shot on target to inspire.

There were some good performances from Imps players against a really good Wigan side, and on the balance of xG, the Imps should have won the game (just). However, in the end, a draw was a fair result, and it ensured we stayed in touch with the play-off chasers.

On the back of the game, we had an in-depth chat on this week’s podcast, and thanks to a new built-in function that allows quick transcription, I’m able to pull some podcast quotes off for a written article! It’ won’t happen every week, but it certainly makes it easy to do articles like this, promoting the pod!

This week, Gary and Chris were in the chair, and Chris was impressed by two players – one of whom he likened to Arsenal’s Declan Rice. However, before that, he was also impressed with the creativity of our number 14.

“I was massively impressed by Danny Mandroiu,” said Chris. “He stood out on the ball but also off the ball because he was doing a dual role. He was pressing outside centre-halves at times and he was also covering their wing-back at times as well.

“So he had to be really switched on to different triggers and know when to go, and just the angle of his run to dictate play was really good.”

Credit Graham Burrell

Whilst Mandroiu stood out for his hard work, another player who perhaps doesn’t always get the credit he deserves also caught Chris’s eye. Ali Smith, the only player to appear in every Imps game this season, got a start ahead of Dylan Duffy, and Chris believes he justified that inclusion.

“He’s not everyone’s favourite player” added Chris.

“He always looks a little bit gangly, doesn’t always look massively in control of the ball all the time. He’s done some good things, misplaced a few passes here and there. And you think, how is he playing ahead of, let’s say, Dylan Duffy in that role or Haks, who has obviously had a good spell, for example?

“Ali Smith keeps getting picked. Yesterday, I saw why. 

“It’s like this: for about a year or two, I couldn’t work out for the life of me why Declan Rice was getting rave reviews when he was at West Ham. I was like, what does he do? Then I finally watched the West Ham game properly, and I get it now.

Credit Graham Burrell

“It was nothing to do with what he did on the ball. It was everything he did off it, his awareness. And I saw it with Ali Smith yesterday. His tactical awareness was outstanding. Positional awareness was really, really good in the first half.

“He can polish his on-ball stuff. We’ve got a hell of a player there because you’ve got to play the game with your head. And he does. He needs just to improve that technical aspect.”

Listen to the podcast in full at any of the outlets below.

Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/show/5zABNayhbwTiLEuenO2vaL

Apple – https://podcasts.apple.com/in/podcast/the-stacey-west-podcast/id1433889375

Acast – https://shows.acast.com/staceywest