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The key to sustained attacking

The key to sustained attacking

For months I've argued that we need to have more attack-minded players in our team to enable us to score the two goals which statistics suggest are needed for us to win.

Those statistics say we concede goals at more than one a game and, indeed, we have now gone 14 games without a clean sheet.

And yet we lost 2-1 at home today (and have now gone four home League games without a win) yet how many attack-minded players did we have in the team against Cardiff? Just six!. For a home game!

Rab Douglas, Paddy McCarthy, Nils Eric Johansson,Alan Maybury (nowadays) and Patrik Kisnorbo have little attacking impact at all.

And that, put simplistically, is my theory as to why we keep losing or drawing matches, particularly at the Walkers. We just cannot press our attacks strongly enough. There are gaping gaps when our attacks break down.

It is even possible to replace Paddy McCarthy though it wouldn't be popular and I wouldn't suggest it but, Douglas apart, all the rest are easily altered in the squad we have today.

Johansson for Dublin, Maybury for Sheehan, Kisnorbo for Wesolowski and straight away your team has nine potential attackers and much more chance of sustaining attacks (as the reserves demonstrated against Arsenal last week) for about 70 always exciting minutes.

Consider the performances of Johansson, Maybury and Kisnorbo against Cardiff.

Defensively, Johansson didn't play badly. But his long-ball distribution was woeful - basically high and hopeful which often meant straight back to the opposition. I cannot recall any meaningful attacking contribution.

Maybury can attack as a right back but rarely goes forward down the left and today he wasn't even a good defender really.

Neil Ardley, a capable, seasoned but hardly lightning quick winger, had three free crosses in two minutes at the start of the second half, made their first goal and generally kept him well occupied. We carried no real attacking threat down that side from Maybury.

Kisnorbo was Kisnorbo. At times he produced a reasonable pass but then he'd do something wrong. The fact that (unusually) the crowd celebrated so pointedly when he went off said it all. On came Wesolowski and immediately started prompting all sorts of attacks and having a crack at goal.

Why he didn't play from the off is a mystery. Even less than fully fit he's different class to Kisnorbo from what I've seen. He started for the Reserves in midweek with no apparent ill effects. He could have been an important cog.

The endlessly frustrating thing about Levein is that he never tries these things to see if they'd work, He rarely changes anything but just persists with his same old selections, his same old approach even when it demonstrably doesn't work.

On countless occasions we have plenty of attacks and plenty of shots. But we don't sustain those attacks, they break down too quickly and too easily often resulting in the odd goal or two that gets us beaten.

A team shouldn't be made up of attackers and defenders it should be an integrated, co-ordinated unit and, ideally, all its players, apart from the goalkeeeper, should be able to attack.

Date:Saturday January 21 2006
Time: 10:14PM

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