Damian: We SHOULD start Duncan
Yes! First of all, let's face it: the panic button was pushed when we realised David Moyes was drowning in a shallow pool, that's why we've got Simon Grayson, and four good players in a squad of 31.
Giving Duncan Watmore a starting berth is not the pushing of any panic button - it's simple logic. We're 12 games in to a torrid start to a season that always promised to be equal parts challenging and ugly, and the facts are these:
- We haven't beaten a team in this league other than Norwich City, two months ago to this day.
- We failed to sign any players in the one position both your dead nan and your dogs unborn puppies could have told you we need one; a striker.
- If we don't take the risks, we will remain on the receiving end of unceremonious beatings.
The only plausible redeeming point of the flat out stupid decision to ignore the need for a new striker is that Grayson has so much faith in the attackers we had either injured or waiting in the wings. Now we all know the squad is thinner than bog roll, so the likelihood of the manager chomping at the bit to give Josh Maja his big chance is low indeed. Likewise the timing of the injury to Lewis Grabban means his participation was expected (something we should frankly crucify our managerial team for failing to remedy quickly) and his absence didn't factor in to whatever 'strategy' the manager had in mind when ignoring the gaping hole in the squad.
For these reasons alone Duncan Watmore should start. Because we need to take risks, because his participation wasn't just expected but hoped for and because he's one of the only options we have.
But that's not all, because something we haven't even considered yet is what we know he brings to the squad.
Watmore was an exciting prospect when he broke into the first team last year. He made a steady rise, even meteoric by some standards, from Altrincham FC to Premier League-era (sob) Sunderland. None of the credit due him for his efforts and ability is misplaced; he belongs in the first team. We need his pace, we need his fierce determination like we never have before. Some players are simply too young to take centre stage in a dog fight - these are developing men, barely more than boys, that need to learn composure and self discipline so that when the time comes they can take their chances. Duncan Watmore has already gained the maturity and the severity we expect from a first team player. This isn't a trial by fire for him, it's his job as simply as it is any of the older veterans on the pitch.
At Premier League level he isn't the finished article. By championship standards he's quick as lightning and just about strong enough to muscle his way in to goalscoring positions. He can shoot and when he does I'd put my money on him scoring. Make no mistake - if we're to survive this season with any dignity intact, Watmore will be one of those we're thanking at the end of it all for making it happen. We can't afford another slow start, and there's no use relying on Grayson's questionable timing for substitutions, nor his tactical decisions therein. We can't afford to not start Watmore.
Gav - It’s not time... just yet
I can’t argue with the majority of what Damian has suggested above - for almost every reason listed, it makes sense for Duncan Watmore to start in tomorrow’s game against QPR.
But, taking our opposition into account and the way that they play, I honestly think he’ll be better utilised as an impact player early in the second half.
Ian Holloway’s team have been famed for their balls-to-the-wall method of play early in games and they often tire, leaving themselves vulnerable to pace and trickery as the match progresses.
I already suspect that we’ll start with Aiden McGeady and Callum McManaman, so Watmore’s influence in the latter stages could give us something extra - provided, of course, we don’t collapse in a typical fashion early doors.
We’ve also got to take into account the length of time that Duncan has been out for. Though he appears fit, he still has to be treated carefully until the physios are completely happy with the progress that he’s made. Simon Grayson has alluded that both Watmore and McNair will be given time and patience to bed back in, and I think that the fact Duncan got 45 minutes for the U23s on Monday night shows they’re not quite ready to pull the trigger on him in the first team just yet.
Eventually, the thinking behind what Damian has said before will become clearer and I do believe that in the coming weeks we’ll see Duncan start a game - but just not yet. Against a team that sit deep and defend we might struggle to fully utilise him and then in starting him, he won’t be expected to last a full game, meaning that the period of the match in which he becomes most effective will likely see him leave the pitch.
Tomorrow, lets keep our secret weapon on the bench, ensuring that we use him at the most opportune moment of the game.
Should Duncan Watmore start against QPR?
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