Mansfield’s park and positioning Daniel

As I write it seems that today’s FA Cup third round tie at Mansfield is in doubt because of a wet pitch..

 I’m assuming that, because it is on TV, every effort will be made to ensure that Field Mill is playable even if means the TV company (not sure if it’s ITV or ESPN) forking out on all manner of methods to ensure it is?

 I hope it goes ahead. The TV are showing this game because Mansfield are regarded as a non league team however, in my book they will always be part of the football league. The first time I started watching football properly was when Mansfield, along with Chester my local team, were promoted from the old division four. ShrewsburyTown and Rotherham United also went up with them. No big deal, unless you are a forty something fan of these teams, such things are engrained on the memory for life!

 Whatever the case the FA Cup third is still, regarded as one of the best footballing days of the year. In these days where cup tournaments are fixed (they call it seeding) the Russian roulette format of the FA Cup is always exciting to this end the draw is almost attractive as the actual games themselves. The format is how a cup competition should be (take note UEFA) what sort of competition would have us visiting Mansfield but, in the same round, the Mancs travelling to West Ham and Arsenal to Swansea?

New boy Daniel Sturridge is in our squad for the game however there appear to be conflicting stories as to whether he will start.  The papers said he will however BR has since suggested that because Sturridge hasn’t played for a while and might even be injured, the best he and we can hope for is a place on the bench with a view to a fleeting (cameo?) debut. Whatever the case the inference seems to be don’t expect too much too soon?

 If or when Sturridge is fit there will also be curiosity as to where he plays. Many have suggested that playing him alongside Luis Suarez is not an option and that one alternative, playing Sturridge wide, would be fielding the new signing out of position. Of course this is down to BR, he fields players where he feels they should play, however we’ve enough wide players now usually full backs, with attacking delusions of grandeur, bombing up from deep so where does Daniel fit?. The assumptions have always been that Suarez, because he’s done so well, should stay where he is and Sturridge should somehow be fitted in around him. However, these are the utterances of people with short memories. When we were left with just Suarez as our only top flight forward one opinion that was put forward was that the Uruguayan wasn’t a target man or a first string striker. To this end BR words yesterday made perfect sense.

 “Luis will play for the common good of the team. I spoke with Luis on this subject a number of times. When he played at Ajax he played in behind the central striker as a No. 10 in between the lines.”

 Of Sturridge he added

 “His best position is as a central striker”

 This seems to be sensible assuming both players are happy. Suarez  dropping off behind Sturridge would surely, given the way he plays be his best position? How often has Luis got the ball run on created space and then found no option around him because he is the only front man. Running on from a slightly deeper position, and working closer with Gerrard, to link up with Sturridge would surely be more effective? Actually the more I think about it the better it feels!

 As it is it seems we shall have to wait to see how things pan out. Sturridge is unlikely to start today and, if reports are true, neither is Suarez although, because Gerrard is also being rested, he may appear at some stage of the proceedings, probably when we go behind!

 I jest but of course there is always a risk of underestimating the opposition however even though the FA Cup is made for these sort of ties, we should still have more than enough to see off Mansfield and I take us to do this first time and by three goals.

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