Just back from Home Park, watching Torquay lose to Plymouth Argyle. It was a disappointing performance, one of a series recently, and summing up the season as a whole. The crowd were getting on Manager Alan Knill’s back towards the end and calling for him to be sacked, some of them, let’s say, extremely impolitely.
I’m not normally one to call for managers to get the chop, but there is very little sign of things improving at Plainmoor, and there are a number of decisions and tactical moves which leave me consistently perplexed, without any chance of them changing.
I’ve mentioned this before, but the 4-3-3 formation which so many teams down the leagues have copied from the Premier League is not as effective in League 2 due to the standard of player at this level. The way in which the wingers are inverted – with the right-footed player on the left and vice versa – makes the team extremely narrow, reduces the amount of crosses into the box and stunts the fluid movement of attacks as players need to turn back onto their stronger foot to cross.
In the past two games, once behind, we have switched to 4-4-2 and brought Benyon on up front to partner Hawley, and he had an immediate impact, especially in setting up Hawley’s goal against Exeter and generally in holding the ball up.
There’s a bit of a mystery for me in midfield selection, too. Firstly, our central midfield is lacking a defensive quality – the player to sit in front of the back four. Mansell is industrious and has impressed when playing further forward (as shown with his mini goal glut a couple of years ago), but he is not a holding player. We have one. Damon Lathrope. But he has been sent on loan to Hereford.
Secondly, the repeated exclusion of probably our most talented player, Nathan Craig. I would think his inclusion essential if you are playing this 3 man midfield system, which requires neat passing. I think, in a 4-4-2, he could be even more vital if the team was allowed to play with more width. Ling and Taylor never liked to play him in the centre however, despite this clearly being the position where he dominated play, instead choosing to play him inexplicably on the right wing. Obviously something happened in the past which led to him being dropped, but that must surely be over now. Craig has made a number of sub appearances lately, but far too late to influence the game as he should be able to. Stick him in the middle, and build the team around him.