If Covid allows it’s time for a Muratti re-set

SO Dom’s the one as far as Steve Concanen is concerned.

Is this the Muratti year for Sam Murray to be Guernsey’s main man in attack? (Picture by Jason Friend)
Is this the Muratti year for Sam Murray to be Guernsey’s main man in attack? (Picture by Jason Friend)

The No. 1 of No. 9s.

And as old ‘Con’ has played against them all, often in Muratti semis, we should treat the Alderney veteran’s viewpoint on Guernsey’s strikers with a good deal of credence, even allowing for his natural alliance and fondness with the Blanche Pierre Lane-based club for which he played so often and successfully, long ago as a youth and tyro senior.

What that says about the rest of Guernsey’s No 9s and those who have emerged in the past decade, is another thing.

Are we still producing real top striking talent in the Green Lions era, or are the pretenders to the crowns worn by Dom Heaume and Ross Allen little more than that, pretenders?

I’m not so sure and, anyway, what contributes to being a pretender?

Are Sam Murray and Kyle Smith pretenders simply because of their reluctance to commit to a punishing and all-embracing GFC schedule?

If so, is that fair?

I think not.

Murray and Smith are top players and would have been in any era of Priaulx League football.

Time and again these past few seasons Murray, the grandson of one-time Muratti keeper Jim, has baled out the chocolate and blues. Seemingly, he improves by the season and where North would be now without him is a worry. He is often their saving grace and spectacularly so.

Smith is a different player, more of a 10 who simply finds it so easy to score heavily in domestic football. Although more skilful, he is less reliable than the Northerner but, when on song, is an outstanding forward.

But when it comes to Muratti selection, that duo come up against the establishment of Allen and flavour of recent GFC times Will Fazakerley.

If a 2021 Muratti goes ahead, there will be more possible barriers to Murray and Smith in the shape of the Madeiran maestro, Carlos Canha, not to mention the Manzur goal ace Marlon Jardim and, the ‘Soif’ powerhouse Fin Whitmore.

All will be in the forefront of Chris Tardif’s mind as he ponders his Muratti possibles, but if he seeks dependability on the big day there is every chance he will follow the Concanen route and pick old Dom as his spearhead.

Speaking as a football romantic who loved it when Ossie Ardiles went for fielding Klinsmann, Sheringham, Dumitrescu, Barmby and Anderton in the same attack, I would be sorely tempted to go with Heaume, Murray, Smith, Allen and Canha.

But, then again, just as Steve Sharman did that fateful relatively recent Muratti day at Footes Lane when he fielded a ridiculously attacking forward formation, I’d be a loser.

Certainly, far inferior players than Murray and Smith have led the line against Jersey, but I won’t embarrass those lucky pretenders.

And I refuse to believe, one or both of these two won’t ever run out in a final against Jersey.

Their time, I fancy, is coming soon.

Allen is coming towards the end of his brilliant Muratti career, Heaume perhaps already has. As for Fazakerley, the jury remains out.

Behind them, Robbie Legg has slipped from the picture, his stop-start career, again stuck in the lower gears.

There are some terrific goal prospects in the Ravenscroft development leagues, most notably emanating at Northfield, but they remain some while away from serious Muratti contention as they are not the level of an Allen – Craig and Ross – or a Kevin Le Tissier.

What Tardif really needs is a couple of Kevin Le Gallez’s to prop up midfield and allow some Ardiles-like enterprise.

In reality, we are unlikely to get any of the sort, but in a season free of GFC football, this represents a chance for Muratti selection/coaching to re-set and not be distracted by the rigours and influence of weekly Isthmian football which will always be a far cry from the Muratti mentality.

This winter of enhanced neutrality offers an opportunity for Guernsey to rediscover its feet at Muratti level, crack a new code which is not so controlled by a rigid pathway.

The only trouble is that: 1, Tardif may not get any worthwhile trial matches and, 2, for the same covidial (sic) reason, there may not even be a Muratti competition.

Possible Muratti final starting XI and bench if all fit and played this month:

(4-2-3-1)

Jason Martin; Frank Tobin, Tobi Oluborode, Tom Strawbridge, Jamie Dodd; Ben Coulter and Thomas Dodds; Charlton Gauvain, Ross Allen, Carlos Canha; Sam Murray.

Subs: Josh Addison, Louis Graham, Kyle Smith, Dom Heaume, Fin Whitmore, Sam Hall, Marlon Jardim.

(Note: Admittedly light on defensive cover but Coulter fully able to drop into back four and Dodd to move over from left-back).

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