Iron fan and Donny Road ender Matt Ellis fears negative tactics will be the real danger to a successful campaign.
We’ve had a frustrating summer, we’ve heard whispers of ‘head-turning’ signings, ‘eyebrow raising’ signings, ‘marquee’ signings, we’ve been promised more recruits to renew our assault on the gates of the Championship. So far, we’ve had perhaps one signing of this ilk, arguably Rory McArdle.
In recent seasons, we’ve been furnished with the Swanns’ largesse, bringing in players almost at staccato rhythm, this season the oil that greases the great recruitment machine has dried up, leaving many fans understandably anxious. By most estimations, we need another three and Funso Ojo will have done little to allay many fans’ fears of a summer of relative drought, compared to seasons of absolute monsoon.
Though, I feel, the real danger lies somewhere else, somewhere much harder to remedy. We’ve seen it reveal itself from under Alexander’s well-groomed demeanour perhaps twice, the last, and most fatal occurrence was at home to Millwall, in the second leg of our playoff semi-final last season. You know of what I speak, the negativity, the backwards passing, the hoof-ball nonsense, all of which represents Alexander’s dreaded diamond formation.
We saw long-balls catapulted to an aerially-inferior forward line, eschewing our customary ‘to feet’ approach, which brought us so much success early on. The terminal lack of width, the frustrating episodes of Josh Morris disappearing into the void between the midfield and the forward line, the negative sideways passing characterised by Bishop. I fear all this will rear its ugly head again this season.
This is the real danger, the real poison that will scupper our season surer than a lack of signings. However, there is a remedy. All Alexander has to do is play with width; he must have seen it against Millwall. As soon as Holmes came on, he gave their creaking back-line nightmares, flashes of brilliance that they would have been afraid of coming into the playoffs; we never used this weapon, or, indeed, nowhere near enough. By the time Holmes had made the Lions’ defence soil themselves it was too late, the game was over, we had already lost.
I trust our manager to get it right, he did 90% of the time last season, it’s just a shame that the 10% of the time the diamond came out it really cost us – and undid all the dazzling work we had done hitherto.
The same group of players is still here, it can and will steamroller teams at Glanford Park. You can get 11/2 on Scunthorpe to win promotion and take advantage of a 10bet free bet if you think we may just do that. Yet I fear the diamond is there also, lurking beneath the surface of our almost un-mutable attacking force. The real danger is that we’ll see more of it than the flow and swagger we deployed with width and pace, and I fear that all too readily for this coming season.