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MANAGER: Utility players can sometimes get naffed off

Paul Simpson on putting Jon Mellish back in defence

5 March 2022

If you were to try to put a ‘tag’ on United’s Jon Mellish you would most likely find it an extremely difficult thing to do, with the versatility he brings to the squad having been utilised in a number of different ways across all areas of the pitch.

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Left-back, striker, wide man, central midfield, centre of the back line and sitting deep are just a few of the roles he’s picked up that we can remember off the top of our heads, and new boss Paul Simpson admitted that he’s still a player he’s getting to know.

“He’s not someone I was aware of before,” he said. “I literally stuck my computer on in my study at home and looked at Wyscout, and went for best clips of them all just to see what they were about.

“I just felt as though the inexperience at the back needed a little bit of help. I didn’t think it needed changing, in fact I’m not even sure we had anything I could change it to.

“I just felt it needed supporting. I felt by putting Mells there, and Callum Guy to help in front, was the right thing.

“Unfortunately the other night it wasn’t the right thing for the first-half and that’s why I had to change it. But they still went and did the job for us.

“On Tuesday the goalkeeper got his gloves on and did his job for us which was good to see.”

“I think as a utility player, they sometimes get a bit naffed off when they keep getting shifted from pillar to post, and they’re probably never really considered to be first choice in any position,” he added.

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“But I think the way Jon’s gone about it, he’s shown that he’s more than capable of doing it. He’s done it really well.

“What are the considerations? I don’t even know to be honest with you. I just tried to pick a team that I thought was going to be fairly solid, but also be front-footed.

“The feeling I’ve had was everything was a little bit negative and we didn’t go on the front-foot before. I just thought, I have this thing if you’re going to lose a game you may as well go down kicking and screaming.

“I think the players have had a right good go. If you do that, the change the other night was we’re getting murdered here with the ball, so I’ll tell you what we’re going to do, we’ll stick three up front instead of two and let’s have a go at it.

“And it worked for us. It changed the way they were approaching it and it got the rewards, because they were throwing the kitchen sink at us and they got exposed.

“There are all sorts of ways to win games and I felt we probably just needed to have a go at it and see where it took us.”

Part of the decision to get forward more has been of real benefit to wide man Omari Patrick, who now has five goals against his name following his January return to the club.

“He’s done well, I’m pleased for him, he’s looking confident,” he said. “But it’s a really strange thing. I was thinking this today, when I was driving up this morning, I should have said it to the players, I think Kristian Dennis has been superb in the way he’s pressed and closed people down.

“Omari gets the plaudits because he’s got the two goals. But Kristian’s done a shedload of work, so I think between the two of them they’ve got two goals.

“I’ll go even further, between the three of them. I said on Tuesday, I thought Kristian and Omari softened up their defence and Tobi goes and gets the reward through it. It’s about the group.

“Three strikers, and Tyrese who came on to do a role on Saturday. As strikers they’re doing their job and we’ve got three goals from strikers in two games. Let’s hope it carries on that way.”

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