League Two Gameweek 23: Good Start For Calderwood At Cambridge?6 min read
Colin Calderwood was named Cambridge United’s new Head Coach on Wednesday – his first game in charge will be a trip to fellow strugglers Morecambe.
Here’s why we fancy the Yellow and Black Army to kick-off this new era with a positive result.
Cambridge in a false position?
Calderwood inherits a favourable situation.
On paper, his new side are languishing in 22nd, just one point above the League Two relegation zone and the job will be perceived from the outside as a very challenging one; the board though are under pressure to invest in January and the existing squad is better than results imply.
🖊️CLUB STATEMENT | Colin Calderwood appointed as new @CambridgeUtdFC Head Coach.
— Cambridge United FC (@CambridgeUtdFC) December 19, 2018
Advanced midfielders like Jevani Brown and George Maris are capable young technicians when motivated, Harrison Dunk can offer pace and width on the left when fit and the performances of box-to-box man Paul Lewis are improving.
The U’s have taken 8.24 shots in the box per game so far this season, which is the sixth-most in the division; but have scored 19 in 22, the second-fewest.
At the other end, they are conceding on average 1.12 Expected Goals per game (based on the quality and locations of opposition shots) but have shipped 35 in 22, the equivalent of 1.59 goals per game.
The above would suggest that there is not too much wrong with large aspects of Cambridge’s performances, but that they need to correct certain details at both ends of the pitch.
U’s forwards like Jabo Ibehre, Adebayo Azeez and Barry Corr have struggled to find fitness and form simultaneously while veteran goalkeeper David Forde might be getting to the stage where he starts to think about what he can offer the game in a non-playing capacity.
If Calderwood can get a tune out of one of the front-men whilst handing more starts to young stopper Dimitar Mitov, who was highly-rated at Charlton, there is potential for the team to steadily climb the table.
Including the possibility that Cambridge could be boosted by the change of leadership, they should not necessarily be valued as the third-worst team in the division.
Jim Bentley has an unenviable task at Morecambe.
Not only is he working with one of the two lowest budgets in the division, he has seen as many as 14 of his players, at one stage this season or another, become unavailable through injury or illness.
This has had a significant bearing on team selection.
In Saturday’s 3-1 loss at Lincoln, for example, centre-back by trade Josef Yarney once again had to deputize at right-back, with obvious contenders Zak Mills and James Sinclair out with long-term injuries.
The Newcastle loanee, who is used to academy football, can distribute reasonably well but can also struggle to adjust to the tempo of the men’s game.
Liam Mandeville, more of a forward than a wide midfielder, plays on the right of the three behind the main striker and is not always defensively focused either, so there is potential for Morecambe to be vulnerable down their right flank against the pace of Dunk.
Jordan Cranston has deputized admirably in central midfield but is a left-back by trade.
Next to him, Alex Kenyon is an honest worker, yet perhaps not quite as technically accomplished as long-term absentee Andrew Fleming or Aaron Wildig and Andrew Tutte, with the latter two hoping to be fully fit.
Wide forward Rhys Oates has been the Shrimps’ star individual so far this season, providing a raking cross for Kevin Ellison’s consolation goal after coming off the bench in the 3-1 loss at Lincoln, but he too has not always been at peak fitness.
Bentley has already used as many as 25 different players this season – hardly ideal for tactical consistency.
U’s to avoid defeat
We are siding with Cambridge here but, because they are the away side, we would like some insurance should the game be a draw.
The 9/10 on Cambridge to win Draw No Bet selection will land if the visitors take three points but repay the stake if the clash finishes all square.
Tip: Win match Draw No Bet: Cambridge United –