Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.
So Johnny Hunt returns to Wrexham. He’s an interesting and welcome signing. Hunt is a good player who will augment our squad but I’m fascinated by how Kevin Wilkin will utilise him.
Hunt is a terrifically flexible player, but ironically there’s no obvious spot in the 4-2-3-1 we’re playing for him to slot into.
The position he’d be most suited to is on the left side of the second line. That’s essentially where he scored most of his goals from last season, and his intelligent movement will fit neatly into the way we’ve attacked this season. His stamina and discipline mean he’d be able to offer support to Neil Ashton when we lose the ball as well.
But I’d be a little surprised if he is selected there because Wes York occupies that position, and he’s made a very positive early impression. You could shift York elsewhere, of course, but in this case I’m inclined to think that if it ain’t broke you shouldn’t fix it.
Perhaps York could fit in behind the lone striker, maybe he could play on the right, but neither of those possibilities sit easily with me. Centrally it’s more crowded so York’s pace, so valuable when we swiftly change the phase of play, would therefore be less useful; if he moves to the right a potent part of his game, the ability to cut in from the flank and shoot, would be lost. Perhaps we could look to him to go round the outside and whip crosses in, but are our strikers happiest when getting that sort of service? Pity Radamel Falcao failed his medical at Colliers Park on Monday!
I always liked Hunt in central midfield, a position he rarely filled last season, but he only ever played there in a three as part of a 4-3-3, and I’m not sure how he’d adapt to playing in a two, which is what would be required in the current system.
Which leaves us with left back. Hunt’s Wrexham career started there and he’s more than capable of performing there. He has a hundred per cent record at Wembley at left back after all!
Of course, that would have repercussions for Neil Ashton. With the full backs looking more exposed in the 4-2-3-1 system this season there has been plenty of attention on the back four. We’re essentially conceding two goals a match, which obviously can’t go on, and the replacement of Mark Carrington with Ross White showed that Wilkin is looking to make changes at the back in order to solve the problem.
Replacing the skipper with Hunt would be a radical move, but Wilkin showed that he’s not scared of making a brave call in bringing a teenage debutant in for a player who hadn’t missed a minute on the pitch since his debut.
Wherever Hunt slots in, he’ll certainly improve our squad. Quite what Cambridge were thinking of, bringing him in and not using him, is beyond me, but their folly has worked to our advantage.