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Monday, December 01, 2008

Room for Lee Cook?

Dave McIntyre/BBC606 - Cook could be the fall guy
- Will there be a role for Lee Cook in Paulo Sousa’s QPR team?
- Sousa’s ‘diamond’ formation made its second appearance at Crystal Palace on Saturday and is definitely the system he prefers to use
- Several players will need to adapt to that - and Cook could end up as the biggest loser.
- Cook has played up front in the past and could cause problems playing behind the front two.
- But he is most comfortable on the left flank and has proved to be most effective in a 4-4-2 system, especially when there is less onus on him to track back and help out defensively.
- That role doesn’t exist in Sousa’s formation and it remains to be seen whether Cook features when he recovers from injury.
- Hogan Ephraim is comfortable enough in a more central role and did well at Palace, while Gareth Ainsworth has not played this season and Matty ‘four-year contract’ Alberti is only slightly ahead of me in the running for a first-team place.
- That leaves Cook as the only out-and-out winger at Rangers and potentially the player most affected by Sousa’s system.
- Sousa says there could be a place for a wide-man in his team if he has a genuine winger to select, which gives Cook some hope.
- But Sousa’s early selections show how much he favours the current formation.
- He may not have had Cook available but the ‘diamond’ system was still not the obvious one to use with the players he had at his disposal.
- Ephraim and Mikele Leigertwood have played in unfamiliar roles and against Charlton, Damiano Tomassi played in a left-of-centre position he hasn’t operated in for some time.
- Heidar Helguson even initially played behind the front two after coming on at Palace, which again shows how important the system is to Sousa.
- Another problem for Cook is that he has hardly set the world alight since returning from Fulham.
- That was inevitable given his long spell out injured last season, but it nonetheless means he is a far from automatic choice, especially for a coach who much prefers his team to be narrow and play through the middle rather than down the flanks.
- But Sousa is still enjoying a honeymoon period. If his formation doesn’t produce wins, there will be calls for it to be scrapped.
- Take 4-4-2 away from English fans and they tend to be sceptical. Take it away and then fail to win matches, and there's trouble.
- It happened earlier in the season, when Iain Dowie faced pressure from the stands and boardroom to switch to 4-4-2.
- And although stories about the Briatore-led regime’s interference in team affairs are all the rage now, it was happening long before it became trendy to report it. Gigi De Canio was told in no uncertain terms to ditch his preferred system and revert to 4-4-2.
- Introducing a system is one thing, keeping it is another. Once the novelty has worn off then failure to win games – especially at home – would make it difficult for Sousa to stick to his guns.
- It was interesting to hear Neil Warnock hint that Sousa might have to change the formation for home games because it is set up to avoid defeat away from home but not so suited to winning matches.
- I’m not sure about that. Like any system, Sousa’s can be progressive if used in the right way.
- With one home win already in the bag and the likes of Martin Rowlands and Emmanuel Ledesma back, there’s plenty of potential for the ‘diamond’ formation to be a success.
- It is a real pity for Rangers that Akos Buzsaky is out, because he would have been perfect for that role playing just behind two forwards.
- Rowan Vine would also have been useful either in that position or as one of the strikers.
- In their absence, Ledesma may be the best option.
- He has gone off the boil after such an exciting start but has great ability.
- With some confidence and a decent run in the side, Ledesma could make an impact during the second half of the season. BBC606

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