Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Gillingham post mortem

There has been quite a lot of concern about the 1-0 defeat at Gillingham or more specifically about the performance which is more important as results in these pre-season matches don't count. This is not just coming from the usual suspects who see one setback as evidence of inevitable relegation. Indeed, Chris Powell himself has made it clear that he wasn't satisfied.

It is therefore worth reproducing these comments from one of the more level-headed Addicks who was there:

We looked a lot better when we returned to a 442 later in the game, Hollands replacing Cook (who looked half decent incidentally), but first half in particular we struggled for possession against a surprisingly neat Gillingham side and to me we looked easy to play against us. Hollands is by far our best central midfielder so perhaps it's not a surprise we missed him.

I personally think Stephens has much to prove about his ability to step up - he was poor on Saturday, giving the ball away cheaply way too often. Not, I hasten to add, was he the only culprit, but he was playing at the base of the diamond and losing the ball there puts the defence under immediate pressure.

My main observation was that we lacked width, and with our passing lacking crispness and accuracy it meant that it was easy to snuff us out. I thought the movement of Cook in particular was promising, but with Pritchard and Jacko playing narrow it was left to our full backs to push up to give us the attacking width we did have - and I can't see we'll get that freedom against the better Championship sides.

A personal view is that Powell knows very well that the central midfield we have isn't strong enough with two wingers, and with no money to spend in the transfer market he's having to explore different ways to make the best of it. Personally I think a 451/433 would be the way to go, and Haynes, Cook and BWP can all play effectively from wider positions and have the pace and quality that can turn defence quickly into attack.

But it's been suggested elsewhere that maybe the biggest lesson is for the board. Powell has a squad that can compete at championship level, but it will be competing for survival without the investment to bring a touch of quality to the midfield, give Stephens time to learn the game a little more, and perhaps to bring some greater mobility at the back.

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