The Carl Baker column: Two up or not two up? It’s not a question to me

Carl Baker believes its harder for opposition defenders in League Two to contain three runners who operate behind a main striker
Carl Baker believes its harder for opposition defenders in League Two to contain three runners who operate behind a main striker
Pompey midfielder Danny Rose. Picture: Joe Pepler

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I heard a fan made his feelings known to the gaffer recently about playing 4-4-2 at home.

I know there are a lot of supporters who want to see it, and you do get the vibe the fans want to see two up front.

For me, though, it’s unfortunately not as simple as saying playing two strikers will make you more of a threat.

I think it’s natural that as soon as there isn’t a great performance, the first question is what we can do to change it?

Is it formation or personnel? This or that. But those changes still don’t mean you would have won that game. A better performance isn’t necessarily about formations.

For me, two strikers is something we can turn to if we need to during the game.

I would prefer to have that in the locker to change the game once defenders get tired.

If you spoke to defenders I think you’d see they definitely prefer playing against two forwards up front.

In fact, I don’t think you’d find a defender who’d say he wouldn’t.

They know exactly where you are when it’s two strikers and they are more central and static.

They know who has to mark who, as opposed to when you have one person there and three runners off them. It’s more difficult to contain.

When you’ve ran the defenders around for 50 or 60 minutes there’s no harm in throwing on a second striker and changing the dimensions and play.

But I see that more as an option to have off the bench.

You also have to be a bit careful with two strikers in terms of style of play.

You want to get the ball down and play the right way.

Sometimes, with two up front you tend to end going more direct and it can end up being a long-ball game.

That suits most of the sides we go up against in League Two.

One of the biggest differences I noticed between playing in League Two from the Championship last season is the size difference. Everyone in this league are absolute monsters! I don’t think I’ve faced a centre-back who’s smaller than 6ft 3in so far!

So, if we were to put two strikers up and start launching the ball forward it’s food and drink for these players. That’s what they want.

They don’t like getting turned, ran down channels and quick one-twos. They are big but they can’t necessarily move their feet as quickly.

They might not have so much pace, but they are strong lads who’ll head and kick anything which comes their way.

I think one striker isn’t one striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation anyway.

When you watch our games you see there’s always more than one person in the box when the ball comes in.

For me, it’s only one up front on paper.

Let’s have it right, I can see why supporters call to play with two strikers.

They are passionate and desperate to win the game, just as we are.

Of course, it seems logical to say having two strikers is going to help you win games.

But when you go into the finer details of it, that’s perhaps not always the case.

It’s up to us to make sure we are mentally in a place which doesn’t see the level of performance drop.

Crash on the coach and a blackout is a typical away trip

It’s probably not the best idea playing a game called crash on long away trips.

But that’s the card game of choice to pass the time on the coach when we’re travelling up and down the country.

Myself, Enda, Robbo and Doyler have a little card school, and we like to have a little game of cards to pass the time going to matches.

Crash is one of the games and there’s other Irish games we end up playing, too – but Enda changes the rules all of the time.

One journey it’s one set of rules and then the next it’s changed – all to suit him!

People do different things. Some lads will be working on their laptops and others watching movies on the iPads. We’ve got TVs with Sky on there, too, so those long away trips can fly by.

It’s certainly different to years ago when it could seem quite a long journey.

When I was at Southport an hour’s journey seemed liked five hours! It was like jumping on the 10A bus!

We normally stay away before matches now and I room with Doyler. I’m a nightmare, to be honest. I have to have the room pitch black. Fortunately, Doyler’s the same.

We’ll cover the spy hole in the room, put towels around the door and curtains and even put a pillow over the red standby light on the TV!

Our room is perfectly tidy and we even make our beds before we leave. I think we’re a bit OCD! If you go in Robbo and Enda’s room it’s totally different. It’ll be loud and like a bomb sight.

We tend to have a cuppa in their room after dinner.

But I can only stay in their room for 30 minutes – it’s like being back at home with your kids!