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Possession Without Penetration

Prior to Saturday's draw against Crystal Palace, Ian Holloway was a worried man. Why? Because although the Seasiders were having plenty of possession during games, they were struggling to penetrate the opposition.

This isn't a problem that Ollie has faced before at Bloomfield Road; in his first season we scored nearly 100 goals in all competitions as we won promotion to the Premier League, whilst last season we were relegated having scored the highest number of goals for a bottom three team in Premier League history.

However, watching the Seasiders at times this season - the home game against Derby, for example - has been like watching crab football; plenty of possession and movement, but all of it sideways.

Ollie himself has commented on this problem, although he did admit that it was a much improved performance from his attacking players on Saturday. That said though, the emphasis for Ollie today is very much on strengthening his attacking options.

The gaffer is believed to want to return to the blueprint that helped the Seasiders win promotion back in 2009/10; having lots of attacking options on the books, essentially.

But what type(s) of attackers are we after? Well let's start with Jason Scotland...

There is a fascination with certain 'Pool fans about having a target man on the books, despite the fact that neither Ben Burgess or James Beattie - aside from the fact that they weren't up to scratch! - ever really suited our system.

However, not all target men have to be big brutes (something that many within the English game don't seem to realise), and with our continental style of play, a target man like Scotland would suit us down to a tee.

Those of you with good memories will recall that he played in a target man role in a similar system to ours at Swansea; essentially the ball would be played up to him (on the deck, and usually with his back to goal) and Scotland would then hold off defenders and hold up the ball whilst the other attacking players behind him would roam and run into space, before Scotland fed them in.

Scotland also has goals in him, but it's clear to me that Ollie has targeted him for his all-round play.

But what of our other targets? Well, Ollie has mentioned names such as Barry Bannan and Jason Puncheon.

Of course we already know all about both of them after their loan spells here, but Ollie wants to bring them back (permanently) to improve his side's penetration.

Both Bannan and Puncheon would suit our need for roaming attacking midfielders to a tee; both are comfortable in playing any of the three attacking roles behind the striker, both have the ability to produce a bit of magic, both chip in with goals, and most importantly of all, both are capable of stretching the opposition and not afraid of running at them - something that our system has a large requirement for, unless we're happy to try and break down two banks of four for ninety minutes.

It speaks volumes that Ollie is desperate to strengthen his attacking midfielder options despite having the likes of Elliot Grandin and Bojan Djordjic on the books; whilst both are capable players, neither of them really penetrate the opposition enough for anyone's liking. Indeed, Grandin is almost the epitome of 'possession without penetration'.

Of course if Ollie doesn't get who he wants/needs today there's also the loan window, but here at Vital we're hoping for a busy day on the transfer front - stick with us!

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The journalist

Writer: Eamonn Moore  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday August 31 2011

Time: 8:00AM


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