The absence of Matty Fryatt from today’s squad has surprised quite a few City fans. As City failed to find the back of the net in their first home game it came as no surprise that some chose to criticise Paulo Sousa’s decision to leave Leicester’s top scorer of the last decade on the bench.
After Fryatt’s jaw found itself subject to the business end of Brian Stock’s shoulder the former Walsall man missed almost all of City’s charge to the playoffs. In that time the Foxes have chosen to move away from the 4-4-2 which suited Fryatt and instead played a 4-3-3/4-5-1. Under Sousa this has been refined further to a 4-2-3-1, with Oakley and Wellens anchoring the midfield and Steve Howard operating as a lone front man.
With the return of DJ Campbell to the ranks and the signing of Frank Moussa, Leicester have the players to make this system work. Dyer and Campbell, Moussa and N’Guessean are able to cover sufficient ground to tend to defensive duties when City don’t have the ball, but quickly become active forward players when the Foxes are in possession. With Steve Howard leading the line as the preferred striker and Leon Crncic his preferred replacement, this leaves Fryatt without a role. He lacks the mobility to shift the wide players or the aerial ability to replace Howard.
Fryatt operates best on the shoulder of the last defender. He has the uncanny knack of finding space in the penalty area. But for all his goals, Fryatt’s game is lacking in precisely the areas he needs to excel under Sousa. He makes, as Sousa might say, poor decisions. He dribbles when he should spread the play, makes runs down blind alleys and takes forever to look up and assess the options with the ball at his feet.
The opening 45 minutes at Crystal Palace really, ahem, crystallised these points. Fryatt’s control let him down, slowing the play to a standstill. Having allowed defenders to get behind the ball he was left with a series of unappetising options. More often than not, he gave the ball away.
If City are to stick with 4-2-3-1 Fryatt might not be long for the Walkers Stadium.