A huge January is on the horizon for Scunthorpe United, as they look to do the necessary business to pull themselves out of the relegation zone and save their season.
Here are the steps that the club must take in order to do that:
Defenders, defenders, defenders…
The Iron simply must sign at least two defenders. They have been a defensive nightmare so far this campaign, having conceded a whopping 51 League goals – which is more than they let in throughout the entirety of last season.
The original problem surfaced after United failed to replace star centre-half, Murray Wallace, in any way whatsoever. They instead opted to put faith in Rory McArdle, Charlie Goode and Cameron Burgess, but unfortunately, none of that trio have stepped up and proved themselves capable of filling the void.
The clean sheet against Wycombe on Saturday, although very welcome, should not have any impact on what Scunthorpe need to add at the back. If it wasn’t for a bit of luck and a couple of top saves, the visitors to Glanford Park could have had another bucket load of goals. Make no mistake, a centre-back will arrive at some point in January – possibly even two.
The hierarchy at the club must be considering signing a long-term replacement for Jordan Clarke. Although he is, on his day, one of the best right-backs in the league, Clarke just can’t stay fit and it’s a real shame. The full-back now faces up to three months out on the sidelines, with James Perch and Levi Sutton the men likely to fill in for him. Maybe a versatile centre-half – who can do a job at right-back – would be an ideal addition to the squad.
Add to the midfield
With the uncertainty surrounding Matt Lund’s injury, Scunthorpe need another body in central midfield. It is too early to speculate on the 28-year-olds long-term future at the club, but the signs don’t look too good at the moment – so strength in depth is certainly required.
James Perch is most definitely in the twilight days of his career. He has so far failed to prove himself capable of holding down a permanent place in the middle of the park, even if he did put in a decent performance against the Chairboys. Meanwhile, Stuart McCall doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of James Horsfield, with his minutes on the field so far being pretty sporadic since the manager took over.
The Iron could really do with a battler in midfield, to partner Funso Ojo. While the Belgian does break up play well, he is much better with the ball at his feet – so a gritty, hard-working, industrious midfielder could be exactly what the side needs. You know, a Sam Togwell, Sean McAllister, Stephen Dawson, Neal Bishop-type.
A bit of pace, please
There is currently no pace in the side, hence why it took them over a month to score a goal after Ryan Colclough’s unfortunate injury. Perhaps the club had been spoilt previously, with both Duane Holmes and Hakeeb Adelakun in the line-up – but their departures are really showing at the moment.
Pace can really go a long way in this division, as we have seen time and time again. Whether it be on the wing or up top, you need a real speedster somewhere in the squad – even it’s just to terrorise defences for the last half an hour of a game.
A winger would be a good addition to the side, though. There is something in Yasin Ben El-Mhanni but he isn’t ready to take up a regular place in the starting lineup, and it’s a similar story for Andy Dales. With Colclough’s long-term injury and Josh Morris’ uncertain future at the club, quality on the flanks would be nice to see once more.
An attacking midfielder
It is not a necessity for Scunthorpe to sign an attacker midfielder, with there certainly being more important areas to sort out and Stuart McCall favouring a 4-4-2 formation. However, it would be a welcome addition. Although Ojo is a creative influence in midfield, he isn’t a naturally attacking player and it is a department that United are lacking in.
George Thomas has played in this role a couple of times but it just isn’t working for him. The Leicester loanee is, unfortunately, a yard too slow and often not strong enough to have a real impact from a number 10 position. How welcome would someone like Cameron McGeehan be in this squad right now, ey?
Sign a goalscorer
This is almost as important as getting in a solid centre-half, with the side looking extremely lacklustre in and around the penalty area. There isn’t anybody in the squad at the moment who has that edge. It doesn’t have to be a Gary Hooper or a Billy Sharp – just someone who puts defenders on their backfoot and gets himself into the right areas for a tap-in.
Lee Novak has done fantastically well so far this season and his goals have carried the Iron through games – but he needs help. The centre-forward doesn’t mind going up for headers and doing the scrappy bits, so he just needs a decent strike partner who knows where the goal is. It hasn’t worked for Ike Ugbo or Stephen Humphrys, sadly, so sending the duo back looks to be the best move for both parties right now.
If McCall and co. can persuade a striker capable of notching 10 goals in before the end of the campaign, during the next month, then that would go a long way to ensuring League One football next season.
But no matter what happens, it looks sure to be an interesting month ahead, for all those associated with the club.