MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: Edinburgh must inject pace into his squad

Justin Edinburgh (5916170)

Justin Edinburgh (5916170)

First published in Sport by

NEWPORT County might have made a horrible start to the new season, but manager Justin Edinburgh still has enough time to put things right.

I know this verdict won't wash with some of the posters on the comments section of the Argus website, who seem to have decided County may as well not bother in the next 45 League Two contests this season, because they are convinced only doom and gloom is on the horizon.

Based on Saturday's performance it is a fairer assertion than suggesting this was just a bad day at the office and everything will be ok if we just cross our fingers and hope for the best, but only marginally.

In general life, extreme views tend to be clouded with confirmation bias and it's an oversimplification to try and paint fans as being either doom and gloom merchants or happy clapping loonies who have permanently fixed rose tinted spectacles at the end of their noses.

Most of you, like me, are probably feeling neither doom and gloom or optimism, more just disappointment at such a miserable start to the season.

However, we need something of a reality check here. The Exiles squad, without ANY of the new additions this summer, was a competitive mid-table side in League Two last term and English football's fourth tier tends to reward and punish form, with York -either a top of the table or bottom of the table side in recent seasons - a fine example of that.

The difference in League Two, between being a squad destined for eighth or eighteenth, is marginal and in comparison to the Premier League or the Conference National, it is positively miniscule.

So anyone declaring with any assuredness that they "know" what is going to happen, or they "knew," things would go badly wrong for the Exiles, are deluded at worst and massively premature in their assessment at best.

However, they'd argue, and I wouldn't disagree, that Edinburgh is equally deluded if he believes the current County squad is good enough to have a better campaign than last season.

The Exiles are missing a fundamental ingredient needed to fashion a winning recipe in the modern game and it has nothing to do with formation or the state of the grass at Rodney Parade, or indeed, any other ground.

County, purely and simply, lack pace.

Other than Ryan Jackson, Christian Jolley and Aaron O'Connor, the Exiles are short of genuine speed in their squad and it's an issue, especially in midfield.

If County are to play 4-3-3 with attacking fullbacks, they need midfielders capable of slotting back to cover them, impossible to achieve without pace.

And if they do line-up with four defenders, it's essential that Newport do all they can to inject more pace into their backline, meaning Jackson and Ismail Yakubu in particular are likely to be recalled quickly.

However, the signing of a midfielder with pace, at least one, is essential for the Exiles if they are to do more than battle in the lower reaches of League Two this season.

In terms of Saturday, it was hard not to be despondent at the result, but in hindsight, the Exiles weren't outplayed or soundly beaten by Wycombe and were the architects of their own downfall.

There was a good tempo about the Exiles for about 20 minutes in the first half, but they failed to maintain that standard and failed to defend properly.

To be caught twice in 240 seconds and concede two preventable goals is clearly a recipe for disaster and to expect as well as hope that neither Kevin Feely or Darren Jones will perform so poorly again this season - they are both, after all, fine players - is entirely reasonable.

County have a bonus game in midweek where Edinburgh can tinker with his personnel ahead of the trip to Morecombe on Saturday, but if he's set on 4-3-3 this season, he shouldn't abandon it just because of one poor result and display, he should find a player or two to make the Exiles more suited to the system.

However, he will be aware he now has three weeks to alter his options in his squad and we've already seen clues as to who might be considered dispensable.

Newport desperately need pace and variety in their midfield where they have several steady Eddies but a lack of flair and steel and with Christian Jolley out of favour, Joe Parker untested and Danny Crow injured, County have a lack of variety in attack with Aaron O'Connor the only number ten with Chris Zebroski, Rene Howe and Shaun Jeffers all fulfilling a similar role, namely, number nine.

A couple of acquisitions to provide more pace will make a huge difference to County and we can surely all find common ground in having faith in Edinburgh to identify problems and solve them, because he's done so throughout his tenure as County manager.

It's a myth that Newport's season was split in two last term, namely good and then bad, because performances and to an extent results were vastly improved in the final few weeks of the campaign and that's what Edinburgh should be reminding his charges.

An injection of pace, a win or two and some confidence would make a big difference and we must now hope the Exiles can and will foray back into the transfer market before the end of the month.

Because it is still very early days indeed and far too soon for happy clapping or doom mongering of any kind.

Comments (1)

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3:55am Wed 13 Aug 14

phalsauce says...

Agree with you Mike but County played well tonight against a Reading side that had 9 of the team that started against Wigan on Saturday. 3-1 flattered the Royals. Things can now only improve starting next week at Morecombe. I think they answered Justin's call for more effort after the Wycombe debacle!
Agree with you Mike but County played well tonight against a Reading side that had 9 of the team that started against Wigan on Saturday. 3-1 flattered the Royals. Things can now only improve starting next week at Morecombe. I think they answered Justin's call for more effort after the Wycombe debacle! phalsauce
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