Nice Problems

THE recent sharp uplift in Argyle’s fortunes, reaching their highest league position for four seasons and progress in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy...

...has given John Sheridan the clichéd headache that every manager wants.

Not only does he have relative riches in the talents available to him, those talents are able to adapt to different demands.

Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Tranmere – only the Pilgrims’ second on the Wirral – was founded, like the previous Tuesday’s 3-2 JPT win, on a 3-5-2 shape that proved successful for part of last season. At other times, they have played 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or variations.

Despite the most recent two triumphs, John is very much a horses-for-courses man and will take a view during next week on whether to stick or twist for Saturday’s visit of Carlisle to Home Park.

“The system did very well for us for away results last season,” said John. “It enables Carl [McHugh] to play in the middle [of the defence], and two up front, instead of three. 

“I threw Coxy [Lee Cox] in after his performance on Tuesday night and I’ve got a couple of other players who could fit in that system. If I feel it’s going to have an effect on the game, I’ll play any system.

“Carlisle will be a different game next week. Whether I’ll play it at home, I don’t know, but we’ll look at it and purely play a team that will hopefully go out and affect the game, and win the game.”

The performances of McHugh in the middle of a central defensive trio, as opposed to his previous left-sided role, have been particularly eye-catching, while Anthony O’Connor and Kelvin Mellor have adapted to playing as wing-backs.

“Carl’s a competitor,” said John. “He’s unbelievable – the lads will tell you that – in training. He’s frightening – he competes for everything; never lets anything go by; and he’s a bit of a warrior. 

“Obviously, he’s got Pete [Hartley] and Nelse [Curtis Nelson] next to him. It looked alright, especially in the first half. Anthony and Kelvin did well. So the system works. Whether I play it next week…I’ll look at Carlisle, and whatever system I play will hopefully get us the three points.

“I’ll always try to win the game; I never try to get a draw or be negative. That’s my job. It’s about winning football matches.”