So there I was, collecting for the hospital radio commentary by the car park turnstiles before the Macclesfield game, when I got wind of the team. I thought I might as well provide a public service (after all, that was what I was collecting for!) and let all and sundry know the two changes to the side. One, in particular, got a reaction.
We now know that it was Andy Coughlin’s bad back which brought about Joslain Mayebi’s return to the team, but at the time it was assumed Kevin Wilkin was weighing up his options. When I told fans the news on their way in, a large number of them responded either with astonishment or the air of someone who thought I’d spectacularly miscalculated when I put my clocks forward and thought it was April Fool’s Day.
This slightly surprised me, as amuch higher number of fans than I’d expected seemed to want to see him re-established as number one. At first I thought merely a minority hankered for this, but the more people I asked, the more I found this was a popular thought. Quite what Coughlin has done to deserve being left out I don’t know, but it’s the Mayebi situation I’m more interested in.
His advocates will have been delighted by the clean sheet he kept. He was well protected by his defence: his supporters will point to a sharp save to his left in the second half; his detractors to his failure to come for a free kick which whizzed across the face of goal in the 93rd minute. There was little else for him to do.
The thing is, I’m not totally sure Wilkin will be able to glean much from throwing players in for the odd game which he won’t have already worked out from training (I suppose seeing how a youngster copes with the additional pressure of first team football would be the exception to this).
Dave Artell also came in, finally returning to the team for the first time since Danny Livesey arrived, so, as many have demanded, Wilkin had an opportunity to have a look at another couple of players he’d inherited. I’m not sure what he’d have gained from the experience. Artell illustrated what everybody knew already: that he’s strong but not quick. Mayebi kept a clean sheet, but nobody ever doubted he has ability; the problem is that he peppers his season with costly errors.
If I was manager I don’t think I’d bother with switching things around too much, to be honest. Certainly in goal the more rational approach would be to retain Coughlin for the rest of the season. He’s a young lad and every game he plays adds to his experience. Using the remaining matches to help players improve, even if only marginally, for next year seems more useful than having a look at players who confirm nothing new.