Andy Sinton can’t have done himself any favours with his fiercest critics after we were knocked out of the cup with our third limp performance of the season against greatly unfancied Nuneaton writes Bucks blogger Rob Hughes.
His immediate insistence on further strengthening, having seen us just lose out on the £12,500 prize money, could have perhaps been timed a little better.
Yes, we are struggling with injuries and the minor knocks belonging to Nathan Rooney, Jordan Rose and Will Salmon, added to by the longer term injuries endured by Jay Smith, Chris Blackburn and Mike Briscoe do make things difficult.
We do, however, have the flexibility and versatility left in the squad to still be able to compete at this level. Where we went wrong last season was bringing in players like Conal Platt and Elliot Chamberlain who didn’t have any affinity with the club, other than they were coming in for 28 days on an emergency loan.
This unsettled a group of players that would run through walls for us, completely knocked their confidence for six and was something we struggled to recover from.
The players we have in our side have more than enough about them, but they need protecting, loving, bigging up and, in some cases, a kick up the backside. That’s where Andy really needs to earn his corn.
He sees the players more than anyone else, he knows what makes them tick and needs to do the things that gets them going, not just in the games where it is easy to motivate, the likes of Luton, Mansfield and Stockport, but the ‘so-called lesser sides’ too.
Certain individuals could do with a rest. In the midfield and attacking thirds, we do have a greater deal of options that we can use to shake things up. It might include a few of the untouchables, but no one in our side should be guaranteed a starting berth.
Take a couple out of the firing line and watch them come back in with a point to prove.
Just look at Javier Hernandez in midweek - he was absent from the team for a prolonged period and came back to bag a couple against FC Braga – Danny Welbeck, will benefit from having a rest and will come back eager to reclaim his starting berth. A win-win situation if ever I saw it.
So the team against Alfreton, for me, would have Young in goal, Valentine back to his preferred left back position, Salmon at right back or, failing that, Jonathan Brown, who for me has been a lot more suitable in that role than in the more advanced right midfield/wing role.
I would keep Preston and Chilvers at centre half to develop that partnership and give Jordan Rose an extra couple of days, also making the point that petulant red cards need to be avoided. He is one that has looked likely to catch the referees attention on many occasions - that finally caught up with him at the weekend.
My midfield quartet would include Taylor, Davies and Trainer in the middle supplemented by Tom Roberts, who could have the impact of Luke Hubbins early on in the season, offering a bit of width and something different. Then up-front would be Sharp and Spray who offer something a bit different, but could forge a good partnership.
Imagine with thirty minutes left unleashing Hubbins, Jones and St. Aimie on a tiring Alfreton defence. And Steve Leslie to come back into things having had a breather and remind himself of the high standards he was setting himself early on in the season.
It’s all about being brave, not rash, with the signing of players that don’t necessarily improve us.
I’m not the manager, but can see when something isn’t quite right.
Here’s hoping we can turn it round in Derbyshire on Saturday – and really make an impact.