The news that Brendan is considering ways to get the best out of both Moussa and Leigh, that he’s considering tactical changes, is interesting in various ways.
First, it’s something a lot of fans would welcome.
The prospect must terrify opposition clubs and it freshens up our approach, which could grow stale and predictable, possibly to our cost.
But that sword cuts both ways of course, because this is a system the players here are familiar with and in which they’ve performed brilliantly. Are we trying, in short, to fix something that isn’t broken? Are we prepared for the risks of doing it?
Those risks are real, of course. We have a strong midfield unit which is responsible not only for assists and goals but for assisting the defence; we concede few goals because of their hard work and the formation. A change in system, a radical one like this, could have unforeseen consequences.
Brendan, I’m sure, will be thinking about that.
One option is to play Leigh wide; he wanted to do this when he arrived. Another is to move to a straight three up front, making Sinclair a striker. He has the tools for that job. Either way, we increase our firepower, but at the expense of genuine width.
All of this will be under consideration.
Something else will too; if we’re changing formation to this extent (and even if we’re not) there’s a good case to be made for saying we need another striker. Leigh’s ban makes it impossible for us to try this out against Rosenborg at home, unless we play Scott through the middle and Hayes out wide.
That might work, but the Griffiths-Dembele partnership is the one the manager wants to see.
The two man front-line requires us to have a backup striker, which right now the club does not have.
If we’re only playing one up front it is hard to imagine us spending big money on someone to sit on the bench, but it’s clear it’s an area where we require cover. Injuries to Moussa and Leigh – and it happened last season, more than once – will present us with problems and especially in the European ties.
For that reason alone, whether this tactical shift happens or not, you have to think a new striker is a priority.
If we’re going with two up front then that opens up the chance that we’ll go for a bigger name; back in the days of Martin’s teams, we did, of course, have Sutton, Larsson and Hartson on the books at the same time, a potent and powerful forward line we’ve not come close to since.
I still don’t expect big bucks to be spent on a striker either way, but at two up front we can set our sights a little higher than we would with a single forward system.
Brendan is clearly making big plans, the sort that can accommodate many different variations in our play.
That’s only going to be good for us going forward. If he can get those ideas across to the players it’s not impossible that we can match last season’s achievements and even go one better with a decent showing in the Champions League.
Thank God, after days of nonsense, we’re back talking about the football.