New Role For Cardiff City's McPhail
Cardiff City's midfield lynchpin Stephen McPhail looks to be operating in a more defined role in front of the back four in recent games, and is seems Dave Jones is finally looking to add more fluidity to the rigid 4-4-2 system he has stubbornly stuck to during his CCFC tenure.
McPhail is a creative midfielder, with a cultured left foot and impressive passing array. When on form, we play open football, with a fast tempo allowing the likes of Chopra and Chris Burke the space to run and cause problems. However, other teams regularly opt to stifle McPhail, denying his room, possession and seeing us revert to ugly route one football leading to loss of possession, no cutting edge and increased pressure on our midfield and defence.
McPhail's form has been the subject of much discussion amongst fans and media, yet the fact remains he is crucial to our team. In recent seasons he's dropped deeper as he looks to acquire possession and spark team passing moves - that has lead to problems for Gavin Rae, who in truth is poor with the ball at his feet and in attack.
It seems Jones is looking for McPhail to sit, and be at the centre of every team move. He is not a natural aggressor in that role, a Roy Keane type, or the role performed ably in the Championship by Lee Carsley recently. Nevertheless, with his range of passing he has the ability to control proceedings and dictate the tempo.
The change in role for McPhail will mean there is no room for the sideways/backwards passing or 360 degree rotations that typify his patches of poor form and also suggest the need for a genuine box-to-box midfielder capable of both defensive and offensive midfield contributions. Hopefully, Danny Drinkwater will prove up to that task...