Following Carla Humphrey’s season loan move to Doncaster Rover Belles, it looks quite obvious that the coach nearly never played her in her best position on the pitch i.e. as a second striker a la Dennis Bergkamp.
Should the team be organised around that kind of player or should the player try to fit into the usual 4-3-3 system?
We all know Dennis was an exceptional player that needed to be played in the right position and not stationned on the wing, trying to beat defenders with his pace and crossing the ball to the center forward.
Well it is the same problem with Carla Humphrey. Arsenal Ladies and the England youth teams have been playing her on the wing for many seasons with some excellent results in the youth system.
The biggest problem the 19-year-old is now facing is quality a full-back at first team and international level. She cannot really beat defenders for pace, a primary job for a winger unless you are David Beckham of course.
Her ability to eliminate defenders in a small perimeter and find either the killer pass or a shot means she needs to be stationed in the central area of the pitch, 35 yards from the goal or closer to it.
She also makes intelligent runs and can finish as well, as seen early in the 2015 season when she scored a few goals before needing to concentrate on her studies and her playing time disappeared.
The biggest problem is a second striker does not fit into a 4-3-3 system with two wingers and a center forward. While in midfield you have one or two defensive midfielders and box to box players with sometimes a playmaker as well.
In the end the club ends up with a promising youngster that has gone through all the age groups in the youth system and now competes against better players in multiple positions and therefore has to sit on the bench, which hampers her development.
It is certainly a good move for the player and the club to have Carla getting minutes at the Belles, but the question will remain the same, when she comes back at the end of the season. Play her in a position that is not her favourite and where she cannot give top performances or play her behind the main striker, see her flourish with her technical skills and football brain.
My guess and worry is the coaching staff is unlikely to alter the team set-up in 2017, so the club might lose one of the most promising players of a generation that won all the honours in the youth teams at club level. And that would be a real shame.