Centre Backs


On reflection our season can be summed up in the story of centre halves.

We started with Guthrie and Roberts and Keates knew it was a weakness. We failed to get a dominant centre back who could organise our frail defence. Kory got injured, so we signed an unproven Conor Johnson and at the last minute Jack Fitzwater returned. We started the season with the same defence as the season before, and we did Ok.

Enter Russell Martin and things went pear shaped and we started leaking goals.

In the January transfer window we lost Martin and Fitzwater but signed Scarr. Conor Johnson only appeared when we were desperate and then at the last minute Fitzwater returned to warm the subs bench.

Keates tried different combinations but ultimately persisted with Guthrie and Scarr.

Only when Keates left did O’Connor pair Scarr and Johnson and then Laird and we plugged the holes. In addition, Dunn replaced Roberts and we looked a little more solid.

I wonder what would have happened if we’d signed the dominant centre half last pre-season or if Conor Johnson had been given more chances?

As it is, we have Scarr and hopefully Roberts for next season. Conor Johnson may be an option but 12 months on we still need an experienced organiser.



I would say the main problem with our defence last season was the goalkeeper. Liam Roberts lost form but did not lose his place until it was too late.

I was clearly wrong to dismiss Dunn based on his Checkatrade appearances, and it seems that one of the worst decisions made by Keates was sticking with a goalkeeper who was costing us points week after week when he had decent replacement available.

I think that some the criticism of back four was because for a long time if they made a mistake there was little chance of the goalkeeper helping them out.



Martin promoted with MK Dons yesterday :see_no_evil:



I’ve lost count how many times I’ve said it but…
Martin didn’t cause our defensive issues. When he was brought in everyone said it was good and is the experience we need to stop our defensive errors.
In the end, he wasn’t the man to stop them but he definitely didn’t start them.



Exactly. Martin wasn’t here the season before when the same defence almost got us relegated. Now they’ve succeeded!
Well done Leahy, Guthrie and pals!



There were so many issues this season.

Centre backs, as pointed out, we’ve never really replaced the experience and nous of James O’Connor.

In goal, as has been said, Liam Roberts was left too long in the firing line when it was clear his confidence was shot.

For me, the biggest issue was our transfer activity in January. Letting Ginelly go for a song, and Morris in the same month was madness, utter madness. Look back at the highlights from the first half of the season, and check out how many highlights feature Morris and Ginelly. We had some balance in the squad with those 2, and to let them go was just crazy.

The inbound signings in January, when we were already in trouble, really didn’t bring anything. Oteh was no improvement on Ferrier, Fitz ended up barely featuring, Jarvis offered a little, Norman makes you realise there was no surprise why Oxford wanted rid of his contract, and Laird couldn’t displace an incredibly poor Leahy.

When people talk about our budget - just look at that list of players. 2 loans, probably free, one more from the league below, one doing an old mate a favour, and taking over the contract of a bloke who wasn’t a professional 10 months ago. I’m not sure what the financials of relegation look like for us, but the penny pinching from January, when a couple of quality signings would have kept us up, is criminal.



The same penny pinching from season after season has finally come home to roost.
When you compare the money that’s come in against the money spent it’s criminal.
And then the little money that has been spent has been ■■■■■■ up the wall on bad decisions whether it be on crap players or stupid long managerial contracts we end up paying off long after they’ve been sacked.



We never recovered from the summer, when we were heading into our first league game 5/6 players short. The squad ended up heavily weighted with panic buys.

For this I blame Keates.



What would have happened? Team would be in the League One for the next season. And it’s not only dominant CH at the back. Different system, called 3-5-2 or 5-3-2 would be enough (Guthrie-Johnson-Fitzwater-Scarr or any other loaned defender would be enough; Martin was probably something off the field events). It would add some free space for wingbacks (looks like they signed very good contracts, good weekly base and no-drop clause; that’s why it was critical to find a system, where they can play well), limit chances for the opposition, at the end few points more were realistic goal. Unfortunately, no one was brave enough to play with that system. Two last games MOC tried it and two times it was cleansheet. So for me problem was with system, not with players. But when you add more defenders e.g. Wycombe away, it will be worse. In this game were six defenders (Devlin, Johnson, Scarr, Laird, Norman and Leahy), but team weren’t able to utilise them. Probably team balance, or use of something completely new, not trained before. It doesn’t matter much now. We can say it’s only small details, but accumulation of small mistakes resulted in relegation.

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One of the puzzles this season is why was Johnson sidelined for so long?



And why bring Fitzwater back when we already had Johnson

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DK wanted to have two players for every position. That’s why Guthrie-Johnson and Fitzwater-Scarr. Injured Kory Roberts was fifth.



It’s easy to look at the defence but for me, the midfield has been equally bad. I’ve never known a team be so one dimensional. Kinsella, Dobson, Edwards and Osbourne all do exactly the same job with varying degrees of success. This is partly the reason why we’ve struggled to adapt to different systems. None of them have any real creative nouse. Ironically, a player who we could have done with left on loan in January. Another example of poor management



Very few goals from midfield also as said previously to move out Ginelly and Morris who were waying in with a few themselves is recipe for disaster

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Things worked out well for him in the end…will be back playing at the level he obviously wanted to be at and seems to have a good rapport with their fans which never happened here. Oh and an hour closer to Brighton…

I’d love to know what DK was smoking in the last hours of January transfer window. Not so much signing Scarr who remains a long term punt and actually should be o.k in league 2 but re-signing Fitzwater on loan last minute. This was after WBA had recalled him, said he would be coming back, then kept him for their winter training camp and generally messed Walsall around.

Then he still gets re-signed, just to sit on the bench as back up CB! So means a loan player has to be left out of 18 due to the quota and that player is Johnson who was starting to look alright at that time and has played well in the last few weeks. Frozen out for three months.

It isn’t the reason club went down but does show what happens when an inexperienced manager has to make a quick decision and I’m afraid it was an out of his depth choice.

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I believe Johnson is out of contract at the custard bowlers , if we could offer him a contract I would be happy with that as I thought he was looking half decent when played , that is if another league one club doesn’t come in for him first though .



Yeah cuz as usual we can’t compete for a young inexperienced local youngster.



Been saying the same about the midfield tbh they dont create anything they dont chip in with goals and they offer little protection to the defence the only one i would be bothered about keeping is Kinsella he is a tidy player and rarely gives the ball away cheaply like Dobson and Osbourne do.



I don’t get why so many like Kinsella. Great energy but creates very little, rarely plays a defence splitting pass, doesn’t score enough, and too small to defend. May be he’d be better with better players beside him, but given Dobson is in contract that’s not going to change.

I know he’s one of our own, but not convinced he’s what we need. If the choice is Joe Edwards or Kinsella, then I’d take Edwards.

Just my opinion.



This season if you ran around a bit and showed a modicum of passion you were guaranteed to be a massive beacon of light. That is why I often wanted Kinsella in the team over the likes of Osbourne as we lacked this most basic of expectations in abundance.

Barring Sunderland away I don’t think I have seen Kinsella enter the final third of the pitch and not turn round and play a backwards pass. That isn’t his game though and the fact we needed him to do that is down to poor recruitment by Keates.

Would I keep him, yes, because given recent decisions by this club we most likely end up with someone worse than Osbourne to replace him. However this may show how far by bar has fallen with respect to every aspect of this shell of a football club!