Attacking options are looking good now for Albion
BOSS WILL AGAIN LOOK FOR GOALS FROM ALL AREAS
AS Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Dino Maamria drill 10 new players – so far – alongside those who they gathered together last season, one thing about their approach is unlikely to change.
Hasselbaink sets great store about goal threats coming from all over the pitch and he will assuredly do so again.
On the face of it, it sounds obvious – and yet it does not always follow. Here’s an example.
Sunderland and the Brewers each had 17 different players on target in last season’s League One campaign.
But Charlie Wyke scored 25 of those and the next highest scorer, Grant Leadbitter, had seven.
Burton’s leading scorer, Kane Hemmings, scored 15, while Lucas Akins was next with nine.
Joe Powell had six, John Brayford and Hayden Carter each weighed in with four and Tom Hamer with three.
Burton defenders scored 17 of the club’s 61 League goals, not far off a third of the total.
It will be fascinating to see how Hasselbaink goes about attacking teams this season.
He has hinted that two out-andout strikers could be deployed, saying when Louis Moult signed that he thought he could play well alongside Hemmings.
The Brewers favoured 4-2-3-1 for much of Hasselbaink’s time in charge last season, deploying two essentially defensive midfielders in front of the back four.
That, though, was when it was essential to stop the team leaking goals, first and foremost.
And it was flexible. When one of them was the hugely reliable Michael Mancienne, his partner had more licence to get further forward. Mancienne just mopped everything up when he had to.
Therefore, if the Brewers were to line up with two strikers, it would seem logical if the change to allow it were to be to make do with one defensive midfielder – Hasselbaink has given himself enough options in that area, with Mancienne and Terry Taylor already in the camp before the arrival of Conor Shaugnessy, Tom O’connor and Bryn Morris.
There is competition, too, on the wings, with Danny Rowe, Jonny Smith, Lucas Akins – if he is played wide – and Omari Patrick in contention for places.
We know that Smith has an eye for cutting inside and shooting, we know that Patrick scored seven last season for Carlisle United and that Rowe, rebuilding a stalled career with Burton in the second half of the campaign, has the willingness to run at players and take a shot.
And, of course, we know what Akins brings to the table, with 68 goals for the club.
Up front, Moult and Hemmings have remarkably similar – and
JFH has hinted that two strikers could be deployed; that he thinks Hemmings and Moult could play well together.
impressive – goals to games ratios at whatever levels they have played, both of them traversing the English divisions as well as scoring goals in Scotland.
Then there are set-pieces and, here, members of the Brewers squad are queuing up to be a threat.
It is not a lot of years ago that you had to delve into the previous season’s stats, or those of the season before that, to find a goal Burton had scored from a corner.
Now they have players who are adept at delivering free kicks and corners, arguably with Joe Powell at the head of the queue, not least after his sublime free kick goals towards the end of last season, but also from the headed goals scored from his free kicks. Smith and Taylor, too, can be expected to deliver dangerous free kicks.
While it obviously depends on who is playing in any one game, Burton now have Bostwick, Brayford, Tom Hamer, Deji Oshilaja and Shaugnessy who would all fancy getting themselves on the end of a free kick or corner.
There was evidence towards the end of last season that the squad were developing carefully workedout routines for corners, too.
Add to that Hamer’s ability to make a throw-in into a similar threat to a corner or free kick and the fact that Shaughnessy also has a long throw in his locker and the range of attacking options starts to look very promising indeed.
It’s all speculation for now. As we know, seasons can pan out very differently to what is expected and there is no optimism quite like preseason optimism.
I would just say, the optimism is looking justified this time around.