Sheehan - A perfectly imperfect signing

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GhostoftheBok
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Sheehan - A perfectly imperfect signing

Post by GhostoftheBok » Mon Jun 07, 2021 6:49 pm

My opinions on our new Welsh mid. “Too long, didn’t read” version at the end.


When you first watch Josh Sheehan play you can immediately appreciate why fans, coaches and pundits talk about him being a Championship prospect. The Welshman’s first touch is immaculate and his technical play is superb, even by the standards of many midfielders in higher divisions. With the ball at feet, Sheehan looks anything but your stereotypical League Two player. Not only that, Sheehan’s positioning and match awareness mean he can defend admirably well, able to act as magnet for the ball in dangerous areas. When Newport asserted themselves in games last season it was invariably Josh they looked to to dictate play and transition the ball between thirds.

It was when Newport were not in the ascendancy that you began to understand why the Welshman was playing in League Two. When games drifted away from them, Newport had to look to other players – most notably Labadie – to impose themselves physically in games. Sheehan’s ability to make the correct decisions positionally meant he was able to pick up loose balls and block passing angles, but when teams carried the ball he struggled.

The trouble for Sheehan is that he is very slow over 5-10 yards and lacks the physical strength to go shoulder-to-shoulder when tackling. When he takes up a good starting position this is masked, as he is ahead of play; but when he has to recover from a bad decision he struggles. Newport tasked the previously mentioned Labadie with digging Sheehan out of these holes, but also looked for Demetriou to step out of the back four and act as a traditional stopper (thus heading the issue off at the pass). In games where these support players were pegged back by physical players or clever movement, Sheehan drifted out of games – unable to stop the opposition running the ball past him or playing around.

This lack of physicality also probably explains why a player who is so good going forward ended up sat in front of Newport’s back four. Offered protection by the power of Demetriou and removed from the hustle and bustle of the ‘10’ position, where there are ball winning mids to argue with, Sheehan found himself with time and space to get on the ball and pick his path up the park. Lack of speed over 5-10 yards is less of an issue when you’re not challenged during that period and after he gets up to speed the lad is nippy, not least because his superb technique allows him to move at near full tilt with the ball at feet. An understanding of where to run, when to give and go and how to position his body all contribute to make an excellent ball-carrier - as does the fact that he can drop a shoulder with the best of them.

Despite Sheehan’s physical issues, he was very rarely exposed in the last two seasons; but that owes a lot to the quality of player he was up against. Bad touches and poor decision-making often allowed Sheehan to recover and there can be no question marks over his willingness to do so. This is a player who is aware of his weaknesses in this area and works hard to try and make up for them, but Championship scouts will have taken note of the fact he too often gives a player a head start. Opposition at higher levels would not have been as forgiving.

What Sheehan can do, better than any other player Wanderers have, is take a team apart. If you can cover for his deficiencies and give him the ball in space, he will punish the opposition. His ball retention is superb, his off the ball movement likewise; but what he offers Wanderers is that killer piece of play that gets us through the lines. Last season we struggled when teams played a low block against us, unable to show the speed of thought and the quickness of feet to pass or carry the ball through dense ranks. Josh has that in spades.

So will Sheehan succeed with Wanderers? Yes, I think so. Having Williams sat in behind him will give Sheehan natural cover and the movement in the Wanderers side (especially with the over/under runs of defenders) will afford him space in forward areas that the more rigid system Newport employed couldn’t. We will need to make sure we can adapt him to our press and that his team mates step in if he starts to be bypassed, but those are adjustments we are capable of making. We could also do with more physicality in and around him in forward areas to create space in the final third for him. Which, again, is something I think we can achieve. He also has the character Evatt raves about, having come back from potentially career-ending knee issues to make himself into a proper player who is brave with the ball and grafts when needed.

The TL;DR version – Sheehan is your old-fashioned “build the team around him and look after him” little midfield wizard. His creativity and ball-carrying are exactly what our team has been crying out for and his work rate will mean he fits right in. We just have to support him when the midfield gets rowdy. He will scrap and his reading of the game is great, but he will need help with the rough stuff.

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Re: Sheehan - A perfectly imperfect signing

Post by brommers95 » Mon Jun 07, 2021 8:13 pm

Great write up :pissed: Wish this site had a like button.

Has been a great start to the off-season with three signings of technically proficient players with great promise. Long may it continue.

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Re: Sheehan - A perfectly imperfect signing

Post by BWFC_Insane » Mon Jun 07, 2021 9:00 pm

Thing is we need people to win the ball and do the dirty work. If Williams is out for any period who does that? Tutte is less physical and more busy. That midfield without Williams looks a bit lightweight to me.

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Re: Sheehan - A perfectly imperfect signing

Post by GhostoftheBok » Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:12 pm

The whole team is a bit lightweight. When you take out Santos you've got a fairly small, slightly built squad. That's the nature of the beast when you want technical players in the lower leagues, though. Big, athletic, technical lads tend to be in the Championship or above. I'd love someone to come in and add that kind of depth, but we've now too many bodies there and need to get rid of some.

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Re: Sheehan - A perfectly imperfect signing

Post by sonicthewhite » Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:18 pm

A Faye or Jaidi type signing would be immense but you don't find many of those in the lower leagues.
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Re: Sheehan - A perfectly imperfect signing

Post by BWFC_Insane » Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:20 pm

GhostoftheBok wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:12 pm
The whole team is a bit lightweight. When you take out Santos you've got a fairly small, slightly built squad. That's the nature of the beast when you want technical players in the lower leagues, though. Big, athletic, technical lads tend to be in the Championship or above. I'd love someone to come in and add that kind of depth, but we've now too many bodies there and need to get rid of some.
Not every player needs to be amazing on the ball. One or two just to win it back and move it will do. I’ve watched a bit of league one and it’s definitely more physical. Teams are more able to overpower you. So I’d say it needs addressing. We can’t rely on Santos and MJ alone.

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Re: Sheehan - A perfectly imperfect signing

Post by GhostoftheBok » Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:32 pm

BWFC_Insane wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:20 pm
Not every player needs to be amazing on the ball. One or two just to win it back and move it will do. I’ve watched a bit of league one and it’s definitely more physical. Teams are more able to overpower you. So I’d say it needs addressing. We can’t rely on Santos and MJ alone.
I get that you would like us to play another style of football, but we are Evatt's team now and he's going to do it his way. Every player in his team needs to be able to use the ball well, even the centre backs. You don't necessarily have to be Messi, but if you can't pass and move and retain the ball in tight areas you're not going to get on here. The fact is that big, physical, mobile mids who can use the ball and put their foot in are hens teeth, even in League One. Williams and Sarce are probably at the lower end, technically, of what Evatt wants from his mids...by League Two standards they were right up there.

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Re: Sheehan - A perfectly imperfect signing

Post by LeverEnd » Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:42 pm

Interesting analysis Ghost, cheers. Definitely well stocked in central midfield now. Comley clearly has no chance so need to move him to free up space.
...

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Re: Sheehan - A perfectly imperfect signing

Post by GhostoftheBok » Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:59 pm

sonicthewhite wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:18 pm
A Faye or Jaidi type signing would be immense but you don't find many of those in the lower leagues.
Yeah, and if we do find a player like that then I think we'll all be thrilled; both could use the ball. Same as if we could get a Charlie Wyke or Joe Pigott in up top most of us would feel better about it. Unfortunately, at our level and on a budget, we will struggle to compete for the lads who can do everything and if Evatt is going to pick an incomplete player he won't want the technical side to be what's missing. I do think Insane's worries are legitimate and those physical issues will be something other teams look to exploit, especially at set pieces.

Leverend mentioned Comley and that's a good example. He will likely move to a League Two side that just needs a wrecker/runner and do fine. He couldn't play football in our system, so he's probably done here. I don't think it's his fault and I think he tried; but it looks like we recruited the wrong player for Evatt.

Evatt's minimums are work rate and technical ability. Then we try and get the best we can everywhere else.

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Re: Sheehan - A perfectly imperfect signing

Post by BWFC_Insane » Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:12 pm

GhostoftheBok wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:32 pm
BWFC_Insane wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:20 pm
Not every player needs to be amazing on the ball. One or two just to win it back and move it will do. I’ve watched a bit of league one and it’s definitely more physical. Teams are more able to overpower you. So I’d say it needs addressing. We can’t rely on Santos and MJ alone.
I get that you would like us to play another style of football, but we are Evatt's team now and he's going to do it his way. Every player in his team needs to be able to use the ball well, even the centre backs. You don't necessarily have to be Messi, but if you can't pass and move and retain the ball in tight areas you're not going to get on here. The fact is that big, physical, mobile mids who can use the ball and put their foot in are hens teeth, even in League One. Williams and Sarce are probably at the lower end, technically, of what Evatt wants from his mids...by League Two standards they were right up there.
I think you are overegging it. Evatt is no dogmatic purist he knows how he wants to play but bringing in Lee and MJ to replace more technically minded players shows he gets you need a balance.

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Re: Sheehan - A perfectly imperfect signing

Post by GhostoftheBok » Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:20 pm

BWFC_Insane wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:12 pm
I think you are overegging it. Evatt is no dogmatic purist he knows how he wants to play but bringing in Lee and MJ to replace more technically minded players shows he gets you need a balance.
I don't think I am. Lee and MJ are both good technical players. Lee was probably the most fundamentally sound technician we put out last season, so I'm not sure who he replaced that was better. Not a fancy player by any stretch, but very solid.

Evatt isn't trying to put on a ballet and he wants lads who will fight for the ball and do the dirty work; but you're a footballer first in an Evatt side. That's 100% nailed on.

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Re: Sheehan - A perfectly imperfect signing

Post by Prufrock » Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:29 pm

I agree completely. Number 1 is "can you play?" You don't have to be a twinkle toes tekkers winger, but you need to want the ball and be able to have a lot of it without giving it away cheaply and be happy to take it under pressure and protect it.

Someone like Lee is exactly that, neat and tidy get it and move it and get it again. If you can't do that, he isn't signing you.

After that I'm sure he wants pace and aggression and power, but technical ability is the fundamental.
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