With the whole squad to choose from, who would be in your starting line up? One condition though. Your best eleven must be for the 4-2-3-1 formation that Parky will absolutely stick with on Friday night. As an added extra I’ve given my team marks out of ten for their performances in the season so far.
GK: Alnwick 6. Obviously first choice in front of Howard. Seeing as his distribution is tactically restricted to the boot up field, his passing accuracy has seemed good to me. Great shot stopper, fumbles some crosses at times but generally now coping with Championship football.
RB: Little 6. For someone seen primarily as our only wing back during those horrific days of 3-5-2, Little has made the right back role his own. Combines well with Ameobi on the right and keeps Darby out the team.
DM: Wheater 7. Slow maybe, but when it comes to defending, this guy has an unerring ability to be in exactly the right place at the right time. Yes he had a poor start but so did the whole team. Wheater is now looking every inch the capable Championship defender. Dervite is a distant second.
DM: Beevers 6. Whether it was a confidence thing, who knows, but Beevers did not live up to preseason expectations that he’d walk the Championship. He had a shocking start to this season. However, since we’ve returned to a back four and with Henry in front, Beevers is quickly getting to grips with this level. I rate Burke, but he’s a loanee and I rate Beevers more.
LB: A Taylor 6. As with the others, Taylor has settled back into rhythm when in a back four. Injury has let Robinson in but I think we need a more accomplished defender and Taylor gives that. As an aside I’m not really seeing what all the fuss is with Robinson. Talented yes, good going forward yes, but defensively he’s not there yet for me. We always look in trouble when teams attack down that wing.
DM Henry 8. This bloke should’ve had a role in Baywatch, he’s so good at diving in and saving the team. Rolls his sleeves up and gets stuck in. It’s dirty and there’s no prisoners but, by Christ’s bulging ballsack Henry is so effective. Best signing this season in my opinion, despite what may happen in January. The turnaround started with his arrival and got successful when Ameobi and Vela returned. But you all know that. Cullen? Derik? No chance, sorry.
DM: Karacan 5. My first real swerve from a Parky first choice. As with Beevers Karacan hasn’t lived up to preseason expectations so far and has been a disappointment to put it politely. However, he has Championship pedigree, still youngish and didn’t have the benefit of Henry alongside him earlier in the season. For me, Karacan is the more all round accomplished midfielder compared to Pratley, who just seems like a poor copy of Henry. I’d love to see what a Henry/Karacan partnership could do and we do need more composure and to keep possession in that midfield.
RW: Ameobi 8. Of course. This guy is why we go to football matches. Provides that magic we crave and his goals, well, they are generally something special. He has been outstanding so far since his return. Nothing against Morais or Noone but a first choice of anyone but Ameobi at the moment is just plain daft.
AM: Vela 7. There’s always one unsung hero in a team and Josh currently comes closest to it this season. No real stand out performances as per say Henry and Ameobi, but he has played a big part in the five game unbeaten run. I think he’d be better alongside Henry in a 4-4-2 but the lad is doing a good job further forward. Whilst Madine still sometimes leads a lonely life up front, he isn’t the isolated figure of the first dozen games and that’s down to Vela. No real alternatives either in a 4-2-3-1. Ameobi maybe but I can’t think of anyone else.
LW: Buckley 5. My other big change from Parky’s current first choice of Armstrong. Bedevilled by injury, Wills season hasn’t got going and hence the low mark. Still a class player at this level though, a quality left winger (although he also plays on the right) and is now back from injury. I’m still not convinced by having Armstrong out on the wing, despite a good showing against Norwich. The other option, C Taylor, frankly isn’t a fucking option, full stop.
S: Madine 7. Big Gary has done a country mile better than preseason expectations of most fans, let’s be honest. He’s taken the step up well and so far not repeated the shocking performances of his last time in the Championship. Battled valiantly against lost causes and it most have been soul destroying for him during that winless start we had. Doesn’t score many but obviously misses having a striker alongside him. Not his fault either that he is the hoof-ball target with no support. No other options either. ALF and Armstrong need to be in a front two whilst Wilbraham is someone you bring on in the last ten minutes. At best.
So there you go. That’s my team. What are thoughts? Who’d you pick? Would you change the current line up or stick with it, as Parky will surely do, until injury or defeats force a change?