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Hank shoots Skyler

Were we better with Sargent as the number 9?

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Looking at today and Wednesday night, Sargent’s performances on the right have pretty much receded back to the start-of-season levels - and I mean that in a bad way. Yes I know he managed to sneak the goal from the corner on Wednesday, but he otherwise struggled to impose himself in open play - which continued today - and I can’t help but feel we’re wasting him out there somewhat.

Sarge was playing as a complete forward versus Huddersfield / Millwall / Sunderland and he seemed to offer us so much versatility; running into the channels, coming short or going in behind, challenging aerially in and around the box and just generally making a total nuisance of himself off the ball. Not to mention scoring too!

He looked like he was absolutely loving every minute of it as well and I can’t say I’ve seen that in his last two games. 

Pukki on the other hand has popped up with key goals, with a few lovely finishes, but is he bringing as much elsewhere that Sarge was?

In my opinion no he hasn’t… looking at this season in isolation at least. The odd flash of quality here and there or hard press / tracking back, but not really the constant menace we’ve known him to be in the past. He’s been more like a finisher, seeing much less of the ball than usual, but when he has received the ball he’s not looked super sharp (apart from in front of goal) - the amount of times he’s ran the ball straight into the nearest defender after a heavy first touch!!!

Whether the lack of service / lack of (non- goal) quality when he does get service is an issue with Smith’s style of Pukki himself I’m not sure, but under the same manager Sargent has offered more IMO and we need to work out a way to accommodate him in the team more effectively.

Currently Sarge on the right is an understandable and convenient fix as we get to shoehorn our two biggest goal threats into the team, whilst also plugging the right wing spot which continues to be a problem in of itself and Sinani / Dowell have hardly made themselves a case to play there. But it’s currently to the detriment of Sargent’s performances levels and I’m starting to wonder if it’s to the detriment of the team too.  

A 3-5-2 on paper that would appear fix these two dilemmas, but I don’t see Smith shaking up the formation. What do we think is the best fix? I’d personally be happy to see us try Hernandez or Ramsey on the right to allow Sargent to go to the 9 spot, with Pukki on the bench (sorry Teemu 😢). A front 4 of Sargent, Cantwell, Ramsey and Hernandez IMO feels our most potent one right now. 

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5 minutes ago, Hank shoots Skyler said:

A 3-5-2 on paper that would appear fix these two dilemmas, but I don’t see Smith shaking up the formation. 

Given our current injuries I wish he would! 

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Yes, although we have to try and fit in Pukki as well is the problem. I genuinely think 4-4-2 would have been better than the **** we watched today. 3-5-2 is an option as well once Dimi is back. 

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It's an interesting one.  Sargent is demonstrably less effective wide which if you think about his skillset shouldn't be a surprise.  Wide right he is basically Dirk Kuyt - all work-rate but little penetration or creativity.  But to drop him after his current goalscoring streak and all round performances seems harsh.  Conversely Pukki seems to be back on song but limits our style of play to suit his needs.

If Dimi was fit, 3-5-2 would be an option, particularly once Hayden is back to drop in if necessary.  In their absence I wonder if a slightly lopsided 4-2-3-1 would be an option with Pukki nominally operating from wide but joining up top.  I'd keep Sargent as a 9.  He is both more effective there and I'd argue makes us less effective when he plays wide.

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Good question. It does seem that Pukki and Sargent require completely different team formations to get the best out of them and it's hard to see how they could both be integrated into the same team. People have suggested 3-5-2, but I don't feel I have enough expertise to comment on this.

One possibility, I suppose, is to alternate them, but this has the problem that the team would need to be flexible enough to move between two very different formations. Also, what would it do to Pukki's mentality, going from being The Man to missing every other game? 

He was open about wanting to leave at the start of this season, and in his recent interview with Southwell he dropped a lot of hints that he has decided he is going at the end of it. I'm sure there are teams and managers who could make much better use of his abilities than we are at the moment.

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Round pegs in round holes is always best. Sarge is a striker and needs to play in that role. Teemu would be able to play in a wider role off him.

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2 minutes ago, Crafty Canary said:

Round pegs in round holes is always best. Sarge is a striker and needs to play in that role. Teemu would be able to play in a wider role off him.

I still think we could play a diamond again with Pukki at the top behind Sarge. To me that would be the better use of both players. I think a big problem for us is that we still don't have a right winger

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Was going to say similar- have we ever swapped Pukki on the right and Sargent up front? Seems a logical thing to try esp. considering Teemu’s work rate. 

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I think in a 3/5/2 we would ship goals 

you've only got to look at some of the confusion at the back we saw yesterday to deduce that. We were let off a few times. The flapping about was pretty severe

I felt really bad for Pukki yesterday he was starving to death up front with the occasional lobbed grenade of a ball floating out of touch

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We all know by now exactly what Sargent's strengths and weaknesses are. Wherever he plays, you know he's going to work his **** off and put the opponents under pressure, potentially opening up opportunities for his teammates. 

As a striker, he's capable of finishing if you cross the ball to his head or you give him a chance where he doesn't need an impeccable first touch, but when you play him out wide he also needs to have the ability to provide ammunition for Pukki (or others) and he doesn't have the technical quality to do that.

Sargent is probably better as a centre forward, but Pukki is undoubtedly a better centre forward than Sargent. Sargent isn't without his uses, but it's hard to figure out what to do with him.

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Agreed. It’s one or the other for me (Pukki/Sargent) as they simply do not link up well even when as a two up top.

Under Smith, Sargent will thrive more than Pukki in terms of style of play.

Bringing Pukki off the bench then gives us option. Like most yesterday, both were very poor/starved of service. You could see Sargent was trying but he just isn’t suited in that formation. Has to play central and offers us an aerial threat and route which Pukki doesn’t.

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22 minutes ago, NWC said:

Was going to say similar- have we ever swapped Pukki on the right and Sargent up front? Seems a logical thing to try esp. considering Teemu’s work rate. 

I think whilst it sounds good I'm not sure Pukki is really as fast as we think he is and would perhaps be exposed defensively. Pukki still has a great burst of pace when played through but it's very different to running at full backs all game. 

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11 hours ago, Hank shoots Skyler said:

Looking at today and Wednesday night, Sargent’s performances on the right have pretty much receded back to the start-of-season levels - and I mean that in a bad way. Yes I know he managed to sneak the goal from the corner on Wednesday, but he otherwise struggled to impose himself in open play - which continued today - and I can’t help but feel we’re wasting him out there somewhat.

Sarge was playing as a complete forward versus Huddersfield / Millwall / Sunderland and he seemed to offer us so much versatility; running into the channels, coming short or going in behind, challenging aerially in and around the box and just generally making a total nuisance of himself off the ball. Not to mention scoring too!

He looked like he was absolutely loving every minute of it as well and I can’t say I’ve seen that in his last two games. 

Pukki on the other hand has popped up with key goals, with a few lovely finishes, but is he bringing as much elsewhere that Sarge was?

In my opinion no he hasn’t… looking at this season in isolation at least. The odd flash of quality here and there or hard press / tracking back, but not really the constant menace we’ve known him to be in the past. He’s been more like a finisher, seeing much less of the ball than usual, but when he has received the ball he’s not looked super sharp (apart from in front of goal) - the amount of times he’s ran the ball straight into the nearest defender after a heavy first touch!!!

Whether the lack of service / lack of (non- goal) quality when he does get service is an issue with Smith’s style of Pukki himself I’m not sure, but under the same manager Sargent has offered more IMO and we need to work out a way to accommodate him in the team more effectively.

Currently Sarge on the right is an understandable and convenient fix as we get to shoehorn our two biggest goal threats into the team, whilst also plugging the right wing spot which continues to be a problem in of itself and Sinani / Dowell have hardly made themselves a case to play there. But it’s currently to the detriment of Sargent’s performances levels and I’m starting to wonder if it’s to the detriment of the team too.  

A 3-5-2 on paper that would appear fix these two dilemmas, but I don’t see Smith shaking up the formation. What do we think is the best fix? I’d personally be happy to see us try Hernandez or Ramsey on the right to allow Sargent to go to the 9 spot, with Pukki on the bench (sorry Teemu 😢). A front 4 of Sargent, Cantwell, Ramsey and Hernandez IMO feels our most potent one right now. 

Agreed. Sargeant seems like the better option overall at the moment, plus it's important to bear in mind that Pukki is out of contract at the end of the season and clearly wants to move on. Sargeant is the future as number 9, so start building on that now. 

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4 minutes ago, Worthy Nigelton said:

Pukki was THE difference v Bristol City. I'd be tempted to go 442 or 352 but if you are going with one up front it has to be Pukki.

That's great. So we play Pukki in number 9 for the rest of the season, he leaves in the Summer, then what? 

He's 32 and doesn't really want to be here any more anyway; people need to start thinking ahead. Maybe even get a decent price for him in January. Sargeant has shown that we can do without Pukki when he won't be here for much longer anyway. 

Edited by littleyellowbirdie

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Just now, littleyellowbirdie said:

That's great. So we play Pukki in number 9 for the rest of the season, he leaves in the Summer, then what? 

A) he might not leave B) so Cantwell also doesn't play C) you pick your best players to get promoted D) if you get promoted you have a much better chance of keeping him E) you should show some loyalty to a brilliant servant despite his contract F) I want to watch the best players G) despite Sargent's decent start (I like him by the way) he has no pedigree in scoring enough goals to get us up.

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I have been advocating for two up front all season, thinking it would be the same as earlier in the year, Idah and Pukki. But Idah is injured and Sargent is having a run of form therefore Sargent and Pukki. 

I am sure I have read somewhere that Teemu was brought to the club as a number 10. If we must persist with 4231 is it not possible to play Pukki in that central position Ramsay occupied yesterday? 

 

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1 hour ago, littleyellowbirdie said:

That's great. So we play Pukki in number 9 for the rest of the season, he leaves in the Summer, then what? 

He's 32 and doesn't really want to be here any more anyway; people need to start thinking ahead. Maybe even get a decent price for him in January. Sargeant has shown that we can do without Pukki when he won't be here for much longer anyway. 

At first glance this sounds very harsh but actually it's a case of 'nail very firmly on head'. I've said for what seems like years that we have no plan B in case of Pukki leaving, lengthy injury etc. Farke thrashed him pretty much to death in almost every game and Smith (whilst slightly less circumspect) is inclined to go down the same path. To be fair the early season burst of goals from Sargent has made it a tricky issue for the manager to solve but playing Sargent out wide at this level simply doesn't work.    

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1 hour ago, Bovril said:

Under Smith, Sargent will thrive more than Pukki in terms of style of play.

Do you think? In his last two jobs, Smith's main strikers were, at different times, Vibe, Maupay, Abraham and Watkins. I'd say three of those are more similar to Pukki (smaller, more technical) and one of them more similar to Sargent (bigger, more physical). 

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1 hour ago, Bovril said:

Agreed. It’s one or the other for me (Pukki/Sargent) as they simply do not link up well even when as a two up top.

Under Smith, Sargent will thrive more than Pukki in terms of style of play.

Bringing Pukki off the bench then gives us option. Like most yesterday, both were very poor/starved of service. You could see Sargent was trying but he just isn’t suited in that formation. Has to play central and offers us an aerial threat and route which Pukki doesn’t.

Pretty much this, but how on earth can you bench the goat?!?! (More of a rhetorical question than something aimed at the quote) 

Edited by Nexus_Canary

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I think we have room for both. Teemu is not a conventional forward. He is a striker. Sarge is more the conventional forward who will challenge in the air etc. Both are wasted playing anything than their normal roles.

Clearly a three man midfield doesn't accommodate two up front. So its either a back three or 442. A back three is difficult with hardly any defenders left. Gibson is too much of a liability I'm afraid. And Byram is not the best attacking full back.

So if we tried 442, what would our midfield be? We clearly need someone to sit right now and haven't got one so how do we manage that in a four? We couldn't play it as a diamond for the same reason.

So accepting one of the front two may well make runs wide in the channels we can accept that we play our four best in the middle as none of them apart from Todd are width players. So all I can come up with is Todd, Nunez, Kenny, Onel.

Onel gives us the attacking prowess that Sam doesn't possess. And Todd gives us flair to play with Max's forays forward. Kenny can be the box to box and Nunez will have to try and sit in the middle and try and play the through balls.

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5 minutes ago, Kanadyan Kanary said:

I would like to see 4-5-1 with Sargent up top and Pukki playing a link up, number 10 role behind him. I don't think either should be on the wing.

i think this would be worth a go as pukki has experience to move up along side Sarge or drop back when needed like a floating striker around the big number 9 

Sarge has to play through the middle 

pukki is a better player all round so might be able to play a different role more easy 

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34 minutes ago, keelansgrandad said:

I think we have room for both. Teemu is not a conventional forward. He is a striker. Sarge is more the conventional forward who will challenge in the air etc. Both are wasted playing anything than their normal roles.

Clearly a three man midfield doesn't accommodate two up front. So its either a back three or 442. A back three is difficult with hardly any defenders left. Gibson is too much of a liability I'm afraid. And Byram is not the best attacking full back.

So if we tried 442, what would our midfield be? We clearly need someone to sit right now and haven't got one so how do we manage that in a four? We couldn't play it as a diamond for the same reason.

So accepting one of the front two may well make runs wide in the channels we can accept that we play our four best in the middle as none of them apart from Todd are width players. So all I can come up with is Todd, Nunez, Kenny, Onel.

Onel gives us the attacking prowess that Sam doesn't possess. And Todd gives us flair to play with Max's forays forward. Kenny can be the box to box and Nunez will have to try and sit in the middle and try and play the through balls.

Byram would be a disaster as a wing back but could play as one of a defensive three - again it comes back to really needing Dimi back and Hayden (or at least Gibbs) available to make that system work.  Personally I think Four in midfield (so two centrally) is asking to be overrun, particularly given the lack of defensive positional responsibility shown by all of our central midfielders bar Gibbs so far.  Unless it is a diamond, but again the lack of a true DM and an attacking left back to provide width undermines that as well. 

It's why I sort of settled on the lopsided 4-2-3-1 with Pukki nominally playing wide but in the channel and free to join Sargent up top rather than as a winger as the stopgap.  He couldn't play as a 10 in that system IMO as it would again leave the central midfield area exposed.

In one sense Pukki, much as it pains me to say it, is almost becoming our Ronaldo - still our outstanding finisher, will get goals, but (with the currently available players at least) maybe one who unbalances the team somewhat.

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3 hours ago, Worthy Nigelton said:

A) he might not leave B) so Cantwell also doesn't play C) you pick your best players to get promoted D) if you get promoted you have a much better chance of keeping him E) you should show some loyalty to a brilliant servant despite his contract F) I want to watch the best players G) despite Sargent's decent start (I like him by the way) he has no pedigree in scoring enough goals to get us up.

Don't forget that's also Byram, Onel and Dowell that we can't play as out of contract at the end of the season.

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@Grando Gibbs is young so should recover from his turned ankle pretty quickly. He is out of his boot and was on duty in the Gunn Club yesterday so not impeded at all by his injury. Although not confirmed, I would assume he will be training over the international break, and bar a set back, would expect him to be in squad contention for Blackpool if not starting line up.

Edited by shefcanary
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