We started pretty well this season, but things have started looking a bit flat and we’ve stopped scoring.
It’s hard to work out exactly what’s gone wrong, but my guess is that the balance of the side is a bit off, particularly in midfield. The fans have been moaning about the formation, but 442 vs 451 vs 433 isn’t the problem.
The problem is that playing Dani Parejo (on loan from Real Madrid!!) as a deep-sitting playmaker was asking too much from him, but dropping him is equally stupid. We need players of his quality on the pitch, but we can’t expect them to do everything.
I’d put Parejo back up front, dropped off behind one striker, as he played earlier in the season. We can rotate him and Buszaky in this role (and Vine, when he’s back). I’d also make the striker Agyemang or Balanta, and not Blackstock. Balanta was excellent in the early games, and I don’t understand why he’s not featuring. Blackstock may be popular, but I don’t believe he ever makes goals for us. He pops up to tap/head the ball into the net, which is obviously a valuable quality in a striker, but he is way too passive most of the time, and I don’t believe that any of our other strikers would get any less tap ins.
I also think that dropping Ledesma is ridiculous. We can’t expect him to be on fire every game, but his delivery, especially from corners and free kicks, is infinitely better than any other options we’ve got, and he makes things happen.
Rowlands is truly awful on the right, and if we have to find a way to lever him into the team each week (I’m not convinced that we do), that is not the solution. I think Rowlands is decent as a more defensive midfielder, but if Dowie feels he needs two out-and-out defensive midfielders, then I’d rather see Rowlands play on the left instead of Cook from time to time. He played well there a few seasons ago, and although his left-footed crossing is poor, he would cut in and unleash some great right footed shots which got us a few goals. And Cook is still a shadow of the player he was a couple of years ago - I don’t think it would do him any harm to be rotated or come on from the bench from time to time.