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BILLY'S CONTRACT


I was delighted to read in the Mail that Matthew Bates stated that in training Pools do actually experiment with other formations such as 4-4-2 and 4-3-3, in addition to the manager's much favoured 3-5-2. That said, I cannot recall any match this season when Pools adopted 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 as their starting formation or reverted to them in the latter stages of a game when change was required.

Don't get me wrong, 3-5-2 works very well on our away day travels so why change it?* Having only won three home league games out of nine this season it would suggest that  the system isn't quite working as it should at the Super Six Stadium. (Victoria Park in old money ...Victoria Ground in very old money!) Antonio Conte's Chelsea won the Premiership using this very same system. On the other hand they do have Eden Hazard in their set up whereas Pools don't.

Every home match sees Pools predictably set up 3-5-2. By half time our opponents, and I include Kidsgrove Athletic in this, have sussed us out, changed their formation then we are given the run around and end up playing like the away team. generally hanging on to a slender one goal lead. And as we are pushed deeper and deeper into our own half we are then dependent on breakaways or clearances which, because we have no-one up front, are sent back to where they came from. Surely this would be the time to revert to another formation and try something different that might even surprise and shock both the opposition and Poolie fans alike.

I am not sure why Bates sticks so rigidly to this system as it is clearly not working on home soil. The proof of the pudding was when Scott Loach was voted man of the match against eighth-tier part-timers Kidsgrove Athletic, who breached our 3-5-2 system with regular monotony, which spoke volumes for the formation. Einstein's famous quote sums up Bates's (and that of his predecessor Craig Harrison) brilliantly: 'Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results'.

I feel one victim of the 3-5-2 system is Mark Kitching, resulting in his getting undeserved criticism from the fans. I think he is a decent young player but clearly looks uncomfortable in the role of a wing back. He doesn't seem to have the confidence to go forward and take his man on. This could be down to the fact that he gets little or no cover when he does break forward. At times he reminds me of the old science fiction programme 'Lost in Space'. What we should not forget is that Kitching, who has less than 40 career games under his belt, is still learning his trade and to my mind would be better suited playing in a back four line as a left back.

Nico Muir should only be employed in one place and one place only and that is, not out wide, defending or bailing out the midfield but in the box, preferably the nearer the six yard box the better as he is a predator. The box is his office and it is where he banged his 40 goals in for Hendon and not from thirty yards out on the wing. With the right tactics and support if he is allowed to ply his trade properly he could be a 21st century Joe Allon.
"I am not sure why Bates sticks so rigidly to this system as it is clearly not working on home soil."
Our midfield which has been a problem for years even with the addition of the combative Liam Noble, bar a little purple patch, has not improved dramatically, mainly because Featherstone Woods and McLaughlin are all birds of a 'Featherstone' and to my mind only one of these three players should be in the side at any one time. The pick of the bunch for me would be Paddy McLaughlin. Although defensively minded he is not as obsessed with passing the ball back to the keeper as much as Nicky Featherstone does and he is a tad more attack minded.

We all like Michael Woods but I don't think that he influences a game as he did in the past. A move would be beneficial for him, as well as Nicky Featherstone. I didn't realise Featherstone was playing against Sutton until it was announced over the Tannoy that he was being subbed.

Losing these two in the January window could possibly free up some cash to enable Pools to bring a speedy forward-thinking midfielder along with the much needed centre forward that everyone has been crying out for. Please do not let that be, as touted in the press,  the 37 year old injury-prone Shola Ameobi who has only scored 14 league goals since he left the Mags in 2014.

* This was written before the Wrexham game.

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