Keep it simple, keep it safe

I’m sure Jim (and now Nigel) will have been trying to pinpoint the reasons for our relatively poor results recently. I’m also certain a lot of fans will have their own theories. Here’s mine!

Over the season we have played an awful lot of first time passing, often to men with markers in close attendance, relying on the excellent technical ability of our players to control and pass. This has undoubtedly worked well, and most of the time has been a joy to watch. It does, however, rely on a predictable surface. If we look at recent fixtures, there is a correlation between our results and the state of the pitch. At Ashton, Burscough, Fleetwood (in the league) and, to a lesser extent, Radcliffe, the playing surfaces were uneven. I was not at Hednesford, so I can’t comment on that one. Overall the Wincham Park pitch has held up very well, but against Grantham it was poor, at last showing the ravages of having such a large number of games played on it. I believe that on such uneven and unpredictable surfaces our method of play is to a large extent negated, indeed it can become an advantage to the opposition as we persist in playing potentially dangerous balls across the back, many of which will inevitably go astray.

I am not advocating that we jettison this style completely, but I believe that pragmatism should, at this stage, take precedence over idealism. Get the ball forward, then play the attractive football in the opposition’s half, where, if mistakes happen, they are less likely to be dangerous to us.

I am not implying for one moment that the states of the pitches have been the only reason for us dropping points (explain the Congleton result!), but I do believe that, combined with our persistence in trying to play the same style of football from the back, they have had a significant effect. Just my opinion, feel free to disagree!

Sorry to disagree but to ask the lads to change their style of play at this point in the season is asking for trouble. Pritch drives me mad at times when he tries to play clever football where a "big boot" might be better, but if he changed he wouldn’t be Pritch. We play from the back, it costs us sometimes but mainly it is successful, and by GOD it looks good!!! We WILL go up and playing the best football seen in this league ever.

You are both right!

It is not a good idea to start looking at wholesale changes to the way we play, we have set our stall out to play passing football from back to front and as WHS says when we do play at our best we are simply stunning to watch. We have played a quality of football this year that is way above Unibond level, we have some real talent in the squad and the likes of Farquharson, Kearney, Warlow and in truth Brown and Lloyd are are in my opinion all capable to playing league football.

Mike sums up his entire post in the title; Keep it simple, keep it safe! We should not change the way we play but we should at the same time not overplay it! I was really pleased yesterday to see the back four knocking it into the stands when the ball was pushed down the line. When appropriate clear the ball first time back up the pitch and stick it down both sides of the opposition half, Moseley and Warlow are both capable of winning balls in the air and holding it up, Peers and Caghan are great outlets down the flanks and frighten the life out of defenders when running at them.

So you are both right, don’t try and change the way we play with 4 games to go, now is not the time BUT do the simple stuff well, don’t put ourselves under pressure at the back. Let’s see plenty of movement in midfield and up front so that we have outlets for the ball.

Final thought on this; when Arsenal play at their best they are arguably the most attractive football side in the country, however they are 19 points off United at the top! There is a time and a place for attractive football, in the last four games of the season with the title in reach only the points matter!