Town’s midfield mastered?

Graham Alexander
Graham Alexander

Jimmy Ryan may be the man to finally solve Fleetwood Town’s holding midfield problems.

Town have struggled to find a perfect fit for the anchor role in their diamond formation.

There were high hopes last summer when Keith Southern arrived at the club.

But he played only a handful of games - shipped out on loan after it became clear he didn’t fit in with Graham Alexander’s Highbury set-up.

Jeff Hughes and Steven Schumacher were also used in that position last season - both released earlier in the summer, falling foul of Fleetwood’s self-imposed wage cap.

But Ryan, captured from long-standing rivals Chesterfield, could be the man to make the position his own.

Alexander has made it clear he has a specific role in mind for the 26-year-old.

And while he didn’t specifically mention the base of the diamond, he listed all the qualities necessary for a man in that spot.

“I think he’ll bring a bit of everything,” said the Fleetwood boss.

“Before anything else he’s a very good footballer.

“He can handle the ball, he’s very intelligent.

“But he can put his foot in as well, he can compete.

“I think he’s one of those midfielders who can do a bit of everything.

“He’s been a thorn in our side for the last couple of years when we’ve played against him.”

Alexander made it clear he had gone on the hunt for Ryan with a precise mission in mind.

He said: We needed someone specific for the role we’re going to play him in.

“He ticks every box for that and he’s a fantastic age at 26.

“With the group we’re going to have next season we need a spine of the side with experience - that’s going to be crucial at the level we’re playing at.”

Ryan was the target of a number of top League One clubs.

But Alexander believes he sold the ambition of Town, thanks in part to the club’s new training complex, taking shape at Poolfoot Farm in Thornton.

“To get Jimmy onboard was a lot of work,” he admitted.

“We took him around the new training ground, showed him we still have big ambitions.

“I explained to Jimmy what role we want to play him in.

“I also explained what role we can play in his career, about taking him to the next level and improving his personal game and getting the best out of him.

“It’s a great deal for both sides and we’re happy to have him onboard.”

Ryan joined Declan McManus and Amari’i Bell as one of the club’s stand-out summer captures.

And, despite a greater reliance on youth, Alexander made it clear he can build a squad to compete and potentially better last season’s tenth place finish

“I think we did fantastically we last season to do what we did,” he said.

“This season will be the same, if not more difficult.

“But we want to achieve the same.

“We’re slowly putting together a squad to compete not just for this season, but for the future.

“That’s the big thing.

“It’s not just for this season we’re working.

“We want to produce a squad which will bring results for years to come and add value financially.”