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What to do with Sam Saunders

Eve of a big match. Lose tomorrow and chins start to drop with a string of poor results, win tomorrow and its a big stepping stone for the rest of the season. One player is key to me and that is the magical Sam Saunders. But where to play him? I am not sure GA know exactly how to accommodate him with the preferred 4-3-3 formation not really suiting Sam in either of the midfield high energy role or part of the front 3.
Does he stick with the formation and try a square peg in a round hole, or bench Sam, or does he now tweak the formation to something more suited to his play?
Any idea when PCH is back as well?



  • One thing that has surprised me about him is that he has plenty of energy himself, for a ball player.

    With O Nien and Gape alongside him, i don't think he'd exactly be a luxury in a central 3.

    Gaz must wonder what's gone wrong though. Massive long unbeaten spell, brings Saunders in which must have felt like the final piece of the jigsaw, but instead it's all gone tits up very quickly.

  • On another thread, Fame_46 has claimed that he spoke to PCH at the gym and he is available for selection this weekend?

  • @Malone not sure it's gone completely @bigred87 just yet...I think Cup distractions/Disappointments and fixture congestion have put a bit of a spoke in our wheels. Hoping good results on Saturday and Tuesday will reset the programme.

  • PCH is back tomorrow. The guy said on here yesterday he'd chatted to him in the gym so it's absolute fact.

    Sam Saunders is more interesting element. I'm not sure he has the same skill level at the moment as last time he was here. At the moment I think that is down to gametime but getting that gametime is tricky when he's not producing. I think he only works in the current formation in either the Sam Wood role or the Scott Kashket one. I'm not sure he's playing any better than either at the moment.

  • He changed the game against Stoke - I think but I'm not 100% sure as one of the midfield three but popping up all over the place.

  • I'm not sure skill is something that you lose is it? He's got the most quality on the ball in the whole squad quite comfortably.

    A Mix if a few more games under his belt, and some of the key attackers getting over their niggles/injuries and it should set us back on track.

  • And of course I meant Crewe not Stoke. Too much Nuttall on the brain.

  • "PCH is back tomorrow" is perhaps a little misleading. It appears that he expects to be available for selection but that is not to say he will be in the starting lineup. Could well be on the bench. My oft-repeated suggestion that GA should turn the clock back and play Sam Wood wide left and PCH wide right would mean excluding one out of Gape, O'nien or Saunders and that ain't gonna happen, is it? But my 4-4-2 suggestion could be viable as a result of second half substitutions if things weren't going well.

  • 4-4-2 would work with Saunders, Gape, O'Nien and either PCH and Wood as the four?

  • Given that our long unbeaten run coincided with the formation switch to 433, can I ask what is the obsession, heard as soon as a couple of games are lost, for 442.

  • I agree with Dev, our best football under GA has been played when we've played a 433

  • Well it isn't lately. Hoof has re-emerged as the preferred method and it's not working. Having wingers (Wood/Weston and PCH) would encourage width, passing and crossing. Well, I think so, so there.

  • Not an obsession. A serious suggestion of an alternative. But then alternatives seem few and far between.

  • Certainly not an obsession with me. Just a different way to get our best players on the pitch and some of those weren't available during our unbeaten run.

  • Hoof never went away - just when you are winning its called a "direct style of play".

    We were successful for a while because we found a style of playing that maximised Akinfenwa's attributes (bullying defenders and controlling high balls and laying them off) and found a nippy forward on a burst of form to get on the end of and finish those layoffs. The midfield were there to stop the opposition playing. It worked.

    Now the midfield have got a little more tired and the nippy forward (in his first full season and recovering from an incredibly traumatic experience) has gone off the boil a little.

    No way of accommodating Onien, Gape and Suanders into a traditional 442 that I can see without playing one of them well out of position. And anyway doing so simply plays to Akinfenwas weaknesses not his strengths - good lad that he is, he isn't overly mobile these days.

    Personally I suspect the rest of the season might be a struggle whatever formation is played, but I trust GA to come up the best available. If all fit I suspect that would be a 433 - not sure if Saunders is one of the midfield three or not.

  • For me Saunders could be very useful as the attacking midfielder in a 433 formation playing slightly higher up the pitch than Gape and O'Nien, with those two sitting back breaking up play, then we just rotate the forward line as much as possible during games to break teams down utilising wood, Weston, jakubiek and PCH for width when needed and then Hayes, akinfenwa, kashket, Thompson and Southwell up top. I also think the high number of games of recent weeks has also been a factor in our run of poor form

  • We can't jimmy jammy this, we need to play our best players every game. This willy nilly approach will result in pooh pooh.

  • edited February 2017

    People do get hung up on 4-3-3, 4-4-2 as if they were very rigid formations with no room for tweaks.

    It's fairly clear for instance Kashket certainly isn't a winger, he's best getting through the middle. So I don't agree that he was ever a standard wide player in that 4-3-3 approach.

    A 4-4-2 would therefore allow him to be properly through the middle, as well as making in theory a good use of Wood, O Nien, Gape and Saunders as a more narrow midfield diamond. Until Paris is back at least.

    I'm just glad I don't have Gaz's selection headaches now!

    I'd say "Most" of us could pretty conclusively agree on at least 10 of the best choice 11, but how to make it work? Good question.

  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • @Wendoverman your be happy to hear Iv had a lobotomy and will bringing only sensible discussion win/lose or draw, no longer will I limit it to "shit" or "not shit"

  • Seems like he may have nodded off @bigred87 (something we older guys are prone to). I've just come out of a doze and I'm very pleased to hear

  • ......that you're planning to be more expansive with your comments. I'm still half asleep - hit "Post Comment" prematurely!

  • @micra had a nap or was it a few pints? One of the two. I'm enthused to hear @bigred87 has had the op and is ready to be slightly perturbed rather than just downright angry and seems willing to expand on his usual terse match reviews

  • (I meant I had had a nap/pint or two not you @micra I assume you're still out at the disco)

  • @Wendoverman said:
    (I meant I had had a nap/pint or two not you micra I assume you're still out at the disco)

    Just got in. Mrs micra not happy for some reason.

  • @StrongestTeam said:
    Whisper it quietly, you are aloud to change tactics within a game, particularly if you find you happen to be crap and getting none of the ball.

    That's too subtle for me but I assume it is a clever reference to my "conversation" with the man from Wendover?

  • I would assume as a professional footballer mr Saunders will be happy to play wherever the gaffer tells him to! He must have been wycombised by now!

  • It's nowt to do with you.
    Maybe so but it was unclear what you were referring to - not least who you meant by "you". There seemed to be a mixture of management and player if you see what I mean.
    Have to set off now. COYB.

  • MOM today imo

  • All day long @JohnnyAllAlone if the keeper had not saved that shot we might have gone on to nick it.

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