Fleetwood: “We’re missing an attacking spark!”

Gab Sutton speaks to Cods Chat about Fleetwood Town's start to the season and life under new boss Scott Brown…

Gab Sutton

Fleetwood avoided relegation from League One last season with a paltry 40 points – the lowest tally anyone in the third-tier has survived with since Hull in 1979-80.

It was clear a big improvement was needed after experiencing such choppy waters in 2021/22 and the Trawlermen have enjoyed calmer seas this time around.

They currently sit in 15th position and have suffered only four league losses from their opening 17 games – a tally bettered only by four sides (all of which in the top five).

Head coach Stephen Crainey returned to his Under-23s role this summer, with Chairman Andy Pilley replacing the former defender with Scott Brown in the hotseat.

Cods Chat see some improvement under the Celtic legend after 15 new additions to the squad – 10 of whom being under 25 – with recruitment giving the group a youthful, exuberant look.

“The energy is the one noticeable difference from last season. We never look like taking a significant defeat, we’ve been solid enough at the back and aren’t letting our heads drop.”

The coastal club have the joint-best defensive record in the division, conceding only 15 goals, but they’ve also struggled to find the net themselves with just four teams scoring fewer.

In fact, Fleetwood have become the division’s draw specialists, sharing the spoils on nine occasions.

“Draws are becoming too regular, but our defence has improved tenfold from last season.

“However, despite investment in forward areas, we’re lacking that attacking threat.

“Brown still doesn’t seem to know his best side, and we’re all hoping once he finds the formula, we’ll see a few more wins on the board.”

The 37-year-old is fresh into the coaching scene, although he did have a year at Aberdeen before his move to Highbury Stadium, and Cods Chat would like to see more post-match passion from the head honcho.

“I think it would be difficult for any players not to take on board his expertise, however he’s far less animated in interviews than he is on the touchline.

“I think all the fans would like a bit more honestly from him rather than the standard football cliches most managers wheel out.”

Cods Chat praise Brown, though, for his recruitment in defence, with Shaun Rooney, Josh Earl and Michael Devlin arriving in the summer.

“Additions in defence have certainly helped us, and Earl is an absolute Rolls Royce at this level. We struggled at centre-back last year and he’s made all the difference.”

Also among the stand-out players so far this season for Cods Chat is Josh Vela, who brings plenty of League One experience.

The midfielder started all 46 league games when Bolton won promotion from this level in 2016-17, scoring nine goals, and he also won Shrewsbury’s Player of the Year in 2020-21.

Vela “steadies the ship and can also get forward well”, Cods Chat say, although they want more from Rooney and last season’s League One Young Player of the Year, Paddy Lane.

“Rooney is a fans’ favourite and gives 110%, but has been found defensively vulnerable on a few occasions.

“Lane, on the other hand, is a funny one. He’s been nowhere near his level and often played out of position.

“But if Brown can keep him on the right cutting in on his left, we could just have that attacking spark we’re missing.”

The Northern Irishman was at his best last season when deployed as a Mezzala, picking up the ball a few yards in front of the right side of the penalty area, then either dinking a cross to the back-post or arrowing an effort at goal.

Lane, at 5’8”, is a slightly diminutive figure and arguably misses elements of the directness required to do what Harvey Macadam does, for instance.

However, there’s potential for him to make the most of Macadam and Rooney’s combination play by finding inside pockets of space through opponents being forced back, then unleashing those moments of quality.

This could be a blueprint for some openings for Fleetwood, though Cods Chat sees the team settling in midtable, where they’ve resided for much of the season so far, with the potential to push on if things click in the final third.

“The chairman has aims of a top 10 finish. We feel a little bit off that at the minute but, who knows, convert some draws into wins and it’s possible!

“I think for a team our size, it’s a dream to even be in League One so survival is always incredible.

“However, after reaching the League One play-offs twice before, we can only dream to reach them again!”

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