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Diary: Transfer window restrics Iron’s on-field setup

So, who stayed up for Vose then? It’s hardly the greatest catchphrase – but certainly sums up the climax to the Iron’s transfer window, seemingly once more at the expense of poor old Grimsby.

Following the departure of Kevin Van Veen on loan to Sc Cambuur and Darius Henderson sent packing (you’re welcome to him Mariners), it was doubly surprising to see this late twist; giving the lack of any Striking replacement and left-field nature of Dominic Vose’s arrival from Wrexham, despite us having been linked with the likes of Grimsby’s Padraig Amond and Preston’s Joe Garner throughout the day.

Signing a 2.5 year contract with us on an undisclosed fee, Vose has been wished well by the Dragons’ fans  – despite having since engaged in a bitter war of words with the fan-owned club’s management and hierarchy as to the true nature of circumstances leading up to his departure.

Having been in his native London as late as 6PM, the transfer undoubtedly came as a surprise to the player himself – no matter whose pre-transfer interpretation we trust. Without this very twist, we would have faced signing nobody despite 2 departures. Whether there’s a recall clause in Van Veen’s loan contract is as yet unknown – but if there are any injuries to Wootton, Madden or Hopper; bet your last £5 we’ll find out!

With Vose another self-styled “attacking midfielder”, it is has certainly been hinted he was a last-minute replacement following our failure to as yet permanently secure the services of Tommy Rowe. An implied “panic purchase” is perhaps harsh – but Rowe’s concurrent lack of arrival from Wolves is certainly hard to dismiss.

Yet in many ways, this is just part of the wider picture of what effect our transfer window will have for the rest of this season and potentially beyond. And with a successful start to Daws’ & Dawson’s joint caretaker stint, it’d be a shame if an expensively assembled yet un-balanced side derailed a Play-Off tilt.

For even if only having only 3 Strikers on our books (despite at least 2 being indisputably very talented), doesn’t singularly prevent the utilisation of any system involving anything other than 1 up front and through the middle – then our lack of true wingers definitely does.

Our lack of cover at Left-Back was gratefully addressed with the very welcome signing of Conor Townsend (again, poor Grimsby) – and with Scott Laird’s recent inconsistent form resulting in Townsend thriving with starting performances at LB, it was shown to be particularly vital even without any potential injury to the previously ever present ex-Preston man.

But frankly, our utter lack of any options out wide is no new feature. With McSheffrey injured and Adelakun out-of-favour, it’s little wonder we’ve attempted to fit square pegs in round holes with our supposedly sophisticated 4-2-3-1 since September. Incidentally, both see their contracts expire this Summer and it’d be a surprise to see either stay currently.

Madden and Luke Williams have gamely grafted away in their respective roles of trying to be front-men and defensive cover simultaneously – but it’s no secret that Madden in particular has been frustrated at this task’s sheer impossibility, undoubtedly restricting his goal tally.

Indeed – if our inability to break down Colchester for 60 Minutes is not atypical, our underlying problems of self-inflicted attacking impotency will remain lurking in the background throughout our remaining efforts this season.

Attempting to circumvent these obvious restrictions upon 1st inheriting them is perfectly understandable, but refusing to structurally address them going forward (and thus signing at least 1 proper winger), surely shows we aren’t interested in solving this particular conundrum. This is particularly noticeable given Van Veen’s & Henderson’s departure freeing up the required £££ to do so.

No matter what system we initially favour, flexibility to alter approaches is a necessity.  Opponents swiftly exploited our embarrassingly ineffective 3-5-2, forcing a huge U-turn with re-introducing 4 at the back. If we again allow ourselves to be unnecessarily pigeon-holed, we openly invite League One to AGAIN effectively exploit ever-present limitations.

Indeed, our outright refusal to embrace 4-4-2 undoubtedly hastened Kevin Van Veen’s inability to cement consistently strong partnerships and performances. Of course the flashes of brilliance shine – but without the framework to bring the best out of both him, they’ll remain just that… Flashes!

So whilst we cautiously welcome Vose’s arrival and Henderson’s departure, this above restriction of our on-field setup is the defining feature to arise from our January transfer window. Of course – we may attempt to tackle the above once the loan window re-opens, but that’s easier said than done every year.

Thus, don’t be too surprised if overloading our eggs in 1 basket may come back to haunt us!

Iron sign Wrexham’s Vose

Who’s next?… and other League one snippets