How do you sort the defence?


I’ve seen a couple of people suggest that there is enough quality in this squad to stay up under a different manager. I’ve seen a couple of people suggest that a simple formation change is the answer.

What I would ask is how do either of those things sort the defence? We currently play 4-4-2, just about the most defensively stable formation there is. Two banks of four should be bread and butter defensively to professional footballers at this level.

And changing the manager because there is quality in this side? Which defenders at this club poses quality? Real genuine quality? Leadership, athleticism, decision making? I don’t see any. I don’t think it matters who’s in charge or what 4 you play.

Devlin and Leahy have been piled on all season. Sometimes fairly, sometimes unfairly.

Their replacements, Norman (who looks way to immobile for a right back) and Laird (every inch a Forrest Green Rovers squad player on Saturday) don’t look like the answer.

Scarr is bang average, and that is being kind. People moan about Guthrie, ■■■■ me, have a look at this guy.

Fitzwater is out of his depth. That spell at the end of last season looks more and more like a flash in the pan every single day.

Guthrie himself is weak in the challenge, weak in the air and poor organisationally.

Johnson is the only one that hasn’t completely disgraced himself at some point. That’s if you don’t count the Checkatrade Trophy mind.

I genuinely do not know which 4 you play. We can moan about Keates, or throw out wacky formations and suggest dropping in form players for the greater good all we want but I see absolutely nothing in that defence that keeps us up. Nothing.



I agree. Nothing we had and nothing we have signed are good enough. If we do continue with 4 at the back then the best of a poor bunch would be Devlin, Johnson, Guthrie and Leahy (thats depressing writing that).
Formation wise, we dont had the energy and physicality to play 442. For me its 4231 with Kinsella and Osbourne/Edwards sitting in front of the defence. Once Dobbo is back he slots in alongside Kinsella.
Going forward I would play Zeli central behind Cook as he can genuinely carry the ball. Then its Jarvis and Taylor out wide. Once Ferrier is back he plays wide in place of one of them.

I still dont think its enough to keep us up but its worth a go as whatever Keates has tried so far isnt the answer.



I agree every member of our defensive players are extremely weak whichever way you look at it and try different permutations, they simply aint good enough for league one, or league two next season, which is unfortunately where we are heading.

I hate to say it, as I thought he was finished last season, but we badly need Adan Chambers fit and back for the run in and sit him in front of the back four and give him the captains armband again, he may not be the most vocal of captains, which has always been a criticism of mine about him, but he leads by example on the pitch and may well make us more difficult to score against and he is probably, still the best player we have at getting a tackle in and stopping attacks before they get too close to our inept defence and more importantly starting us on the attack by finding another red shirt with the pass, it will also give more freedom to the other midfield players to break forward, but we need a fit Dobson back to do that, we also tend to keep the ball on the deck more and pass through midfield when Dobbo is playing and on song.

Joe Edwards looks a pale shadow of the player of last season before his injury, but may be better alongside Dobbo with Chambers behind them.

Kinsella is an adequate defensive midfelder, but not very good going forward, least said about Osborne the better.



As I said on early this season, the defence was over achieving after being consistently poor last term and would be found out. And boy, have they been found out. Consist failure after consistent failure over almost 2 seasons.

I’m not sure any of them are good enough for the football league, they are rotten the core - and need to go - along with the manager.



BTW take it you would rule out 442 completely, so we can get Ronan back?



I would pack the midfield to try and stop them walking through the middle of us, the long term absence of Chambers has destroyed us.



Yes, spot on with the last comment. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if we have the midfielders to do this and that’s where the real problem lies. For sure, our current defenders aren’t world beaters but they looked a lot better last season and a large part of this was having chambers sitting in front so there was no hole for the opposition to work in, and also having wide midfielders who knew what their job was in defending. The loss of chambers has been massive and several have pointed out, quite rightly in my opinion, that while the defence are being blamed for a lot of goals, the original problem often arises with losing second balls, failing to keep possession or not marking close enough in midfield. Right now, I’d have chambers in if he can stand on one leg!



Think defence was okay until we introduced Scottish international, championship winning ex premier league player. He left under strange cicumstanes. We haven’t been any good since he started.



Got to say I disagree with the people mentioning the midfield as a problem defensively.

Have they all been perfect? No. I’ve been very vocal in my criticism of them, particularly Osbourne. And I rate Chambers as much as the next guy. Boy has this season shown how much we miss him. But what I would say is Kinsella has deputised in that role and at least made up for some of that loss (when he hasn’t been dropped by Mr Keates). And at times we’ve sacrficed a midfielder for an extra defender this season (playing Devlin at right mid). That shouldn’t be necessary. This defence has run out of excuses for me. You defend as a team but I think they are getting protection. It’s just that whatever gets through normally ends up with a goal.



And I respect your opinion. In the games I’ve seen, and from seeing extended highlights, I have to say I don’t particularly rate kinsella at this stage and don’t think he’s good enough to do the chambers type job. That said, he certainly appears to be a better option than Osbourne, who should never have been brought back.

As for the wide players, I don’t think you have to have defenders there either, but what you do have to do is set up in the right way and make it abundantly clear what you expect of them in terms of defending. Too often this season, the full backs are pulled in narrow but then the wide players are either nowhere to be seen or are, themselves, isolated. The full back and wide midfielder should be working together.

As I said, I don’t think any of them are world beaters but I certainly think that they are capable of only shipping one goal per game instead of two, which at least gives us a chance of a point or more. Right now, they’re averaging 2 per game, over a long period, something which they proved last season they could do better than.



You might respect my opinion but I find this genuinely baffling. One of maybe two players to come out of this season with any dignity whatsoever in my opinion.



I didn’t say he can’t have dignity. I think he tries hard, I personally don’t think he’s up to the job we need of him.



He’s literally the only player that has been up to his job consistently. I can’t think of another one in the squad. Consistent effort and consistently solid.

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Well we can disagree on that :wink:



Hey, we don’t even need to disagree. I’m more than open to being convinced. What games has he been particularly poor in? Because I can think of certain games he’s been outstanding in but not really any I’ve though “that was useless”.



A lot of truth in this thread.

Something has to change. I would ask the team to put egos aside, and maybe think about:


         Fitzwater   Johnson    Scarr

Edwards    Osbourne  Dobson   Kinsella   Leahy

             Ferrier         Cook



Edwards      Fitzwater       Johnson       Laird   

          Osbourne  Dobson   Kinsella  

        Jarvis       Cook       Ferrier

Or something. I can’t believe we have around 30 players and we really can’t do much with the formations. It’s not just shambolic squad build this season, but since the play off semi finals in general.

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I also think that we should pick a back 4 and (barring injury and suspension) we stick with them for the rest of the season. I would hope that some consistency would help.



I’d consider bringing Norman in for Scarr and sticking with Devlin Norman Fitzwater Leahy for the rest of the season. Is that good enough to keep us up? No but I don’t think any combination is. Johnson possibly for Norman but other than that the players missing out have no right to demand a first team place. Laird isn’t as mobile in defence as he was and doesn’t give us the passing ability or forward play that Leahy does. Guthrie has had more than enough chances and Scarr, I’m sorry, isn’t even a football league centre half based on what I’ve seen. I’ve defended Keates a few times but that signing looks dreadful.

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How to sort defence or squad? Oh, it’s very easy. So easy a lot of managers do it once, later failed to replicate this success. First day of the end of season break, manager should make a careful assessment of the squad and draw up a plan, how many defenders he wants to play (3-5, maybe less or more), how many should be in the squad, identify weaknesses and strong points, replace some defenders (if necessary). Later, during preseason friendlies, gel players, add some tactical nuances and voila, ici, that’s the plan. Later the same with midfield and attack. If you want to know how to do it now, answer is rather simple. New manager, new instructions, new belief, maybe some hope. Current manager looks like he reached the end station. Of course we can bet he will turn around and everything will be fine, but that’s only a bet. Hope will never die, and after dark days there will be bright ones.



How to sort out the defence? That should have been top of the page on DK’s summer “to do” list. Yes he was somewhat hamstrung by the existing contracted players, but that hasn’t stopped him signing an entire new defence during the course of the season. Trouble is the ones he’s brought in are no better, and in some cases worse than the ones he had to start with, and his recruitment seems to have destroyed what little confidence and organisation there was following last season’s escape and subsequent decent start. So in answer to the question, replace the one person that has totally failed with his most pressing and basic task, and take it from there.

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