How best to replace Jade NorthPosted: March 19, 2013
Jade North’ Socceroos call-up for next weeks 2014 World Cup Qualifier against Oman means he will miss Sundays clash with Melbourne Heart –
and possibly the final game of the regular season against Sydney, just 48 hours after the Socceroos game- and provides an interesting dilemma for Mike Mulvey- who is the best alternative to replace him? It’s a well deserved call-up for Jade who alongside James Donachie have been a key reason for the form in recent weeks. The question now is with Matt Smith out for the season with a hip injury, how best should his spot be filled and who are the alternatives? For mine, there are 3, as outlined by Marco and Craig Moore in the Courier Mail today- Matt Jurman, Ivan Franjic and Shane Stefanutto. Imo Corey Brown isn’t a true alternative as for mine he’s too short and not strong enough to play as a centre back, so here’s brief run down of the pros and cons of each option.
Case for Jurman
Of the trio of options, Jurman is the only natural central defender, which ofcourse is favourable in comparison to makeshift fullbacks playing in the role. Playing Jurman also would require no other changes to other areas of the side which is a massive selling point given the recent improvement across the board, and the greatly improved balance Franjic has brought to the side in attack. He’s also likely to be motivated to do well given that his contract expires at the end of April- that ofcourse could go the other way if he takes the attitude of not caring because he’s leaving.
Case against Jurman
There’s many arguments against Jurman- he’s been inconsistent at best this season, he’s not played in over a month now and his partnership with Donachie wasn’t the best. He’s been a massive disappointment in the defence this season which was one of the biggest problems facing the side earlier in the season- which has improved drastically since he was replaced by Donachie.
Case for Franjic
Ivan has proved to be something of a Mr fix-it since Mulvey has taken over in early December. He’s got some central defensive experience alongside Donachie earlier in the season with mixed results. He is a natural defender however, and if he moved back into the defence it would open up the opportunity for a more attacking player –most likely Halloran- to come back into the side in what is a must win game.
Case against Franjic
The biggest argument against moving Ivan into the central defensive role is his newfound success in the right wing role in recent weeks which has brought more balance to the side. His partnership with Jack Hingert has been a focal point of the reasons associated with the return turn in results, and he’s also shown the ability to get a goal and create chances for others. He’s also, not a natural central defender and despite doing a reasonable job in the role.
Case for Stefanutto
Shane is a strong and experienced defender who’s been a key cog in the success of recent seasons. It would also allow his long term successor, Corey Brown, to get even more 1st team experience. Earlier in the season we saw Shane play the final 20 minutes of a game as a central defender with Brown playing outside him. This would also allow Ivan to stay in his recent right wing role where he’s had some success in recent weeks.
Case against Stefanutto
As I mentioned, Shane has been one of the key contributors in the success, however he has done that purely as a left back. And that’ the real problem, because Shane isn’t really a central defender imo. Despite there being a solid option to replace Shane in his normal position, for mine this is the least likely option. Brown too, like Jurman also hasn’t played a game since the final NYL game of the season a month ago now so fitness could be a concern.
Mulvey has a massive decision to make here, and it could be the defining decision of the season since Sunday’ game against Melbourne Heart is essentially a must win game. For mine, it’s a clear decision between having any trust or faith in Jurman and keeping the structure of the side in tact vs. bringing Ivan back into the defence and bringing in another natural attacker to the side. If it were up to me, I’d be moving Ivan back to the defence and bringing in either Henrique or Halloran, but my gut feeling is that he’ll likely stick Jurman in there as to not disrupt the current structure of the team. We’ll find out later in the week which way Mulvey is leaning.