CHRIS Wood has only been a Millwall player for 24 hours and already he is being touted as the Lions’ savior – but Kenny Jackett still has bigger problems to address.
The New Zealand striker agreed terms with the Lions yesterday, joining from West Brom on an initial two-month youth loan, which can be extended.
While Wood could prove to be a great signing for Millwall, we shouldn’t forget that our current defence has been leaking goals at an alarming rate. He shouldn’t be put on a pedestal just yet – especially when we have a more worrying proposition at the back than up front.
We must not adopt a ‘score more goals than you’ policy. In recent years we have prided ourselves on and based a team around a water-tight defence and we must not stray from that mentality.
Paul Robinson, Danny Shittu, Karleigh Osborne and Shane Lowry are a formidable quartet of centre-backs at this level – albeit that Osbourne has only made three-and-a-half appearances in the Championship.
Osborne has shown genuine glimpses of quality at times – enough to prove that he can cut it at this level – however, he has also shown signs of naivety, something that is to be expected of a player who has just joined from a lower-league club.
But should the defenders be held entirely to blame? Especially when the system has been shuffled around three times already this season? We have seen 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 and the wholly unsuccessful 3-5-2 that graced the KC Stadium last week.
Not only has Osborne had to deal with the rigours of second-flight football, but also had to adopt three different formations in four games – a tough ask for any player.
Jackett must solve our defensive issues first, and build from there, because signing Wood won't paper over the cracks.
When I speak of defensive issues, I am not wholly referring to the back four. Jackett likes to refer to the midfield and forwards as the ‘front six’, just as I like to refer to the midfield and defence as a ‘back eight’.
We have all seen how easy it has been for the likes of Robert Koren so far this season, prancing into a dangerous position and being gifted the chance to shoot and score when he should have been pressed and put under pressure.
After all, wasn't that the mentality we adopted to finish top of the form chart at the end of last season? Defending from the front, pressing high up the field and battling for the ball all over the park.
As yet, I have not seen that emulated at Millwall this season. But I have faith that Jackett will find a solution.