How Crucial is Building a Spine?

You hear it a lot in football, the term “Building A Spine”. What does it actually mean? Take Arsenal as an example, pundits often say they’re a good side, however without adding to the spine they will never win the league. The spine is made up of 4 positions on the pitch: Goalkeeper, Central Defender, Central Midfielder, Centre Forward. It is seen as the foundation of your side, positions that pick itself in a winning side.

Relating this to our sides of the past, the year of promotion in 2010 we had Forde in goal, Robinson and Ward at the back, Abdou and Trotter in the middle, with Harris and Morison leading the line. It’s no coincidence that with these in place, we managed to go on a sensational run from January to the end of the season. Each player understood their role and knew they’d be playing every week, which is a great boost for players. Some disagree, Ian Holloway last season would constantly change the side, with the explanation that players become “fatigued” and “mentally tired”. I personally believe if you’re a Professional, you should be more than able to play twice a week and perform to a standard expected of you.

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With the above mentioned, looking to this season we now need to find and create the “spine”. Currently we have uncertainty with Forde sure to leave, only two central defenders on the books from last season plus Byron Webster, and no clear idea of our front two pairing for next season. If I had a free reign on choices and signings I’d like to think the spine would be something like this…

The keeper would be an established, and importantly a proven player at this level, a player in the mould of Forde when he originally signed. At the back I’d do all I can to resign Tony Craig, with Nelson next to him I see it as a further improvement to Sid’s development. We might have to deal with suspensions, given the nature of both and how they play, but we can all agree they will do all they can to win.

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If the midfield stays the same with ins and outs we are likely to have Williams, Upson, Abdou and Powell as our central midfielders. All, in my opinion are more than capable of performing well in League One, if we are to go with a 4-4-2 formation I feel the best combination will be Upson and Williams. Powell plays well with more bodies in the middle, and with less time on the ball he can be pushed out of games, also more running will be required in a 4-4-2, if we are chasing games then you use Abdou, but to dominate games I’d like to see Williams and Upson.

Finally, the front two, last season I felt that Gregory was missing a partner up top, I thought Marquis and Gregory would be a perfect. Both are mobile, and are willing to do the hard work, the end product might be an issue with both at times but in League One you get more chances as a forward. Both are hungry and determined to prove a point, Marquis has proved last season that with a run of games he can do a job. He wins a lot more headers than people think, and cares about the club and is a fan. Gregory on the other hand will be going into his second full season in the Football League, I myself was critical of some of the chances he missed under Holloway, it was easy to feel like this, having gone every game and seeing us lose time after time we were all looking for excuses. However, under Harris he is a changed man, Harris had immediately given Gregory his backing and changed the system to suit him, something which shouldn’t be underestimated.

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So that’s my view and opinion going into next season, if you have anything to add please do with a comment below!

Thanks again for reading.

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