Having started the vast majority of our games this season, Kyle McFadzean has stepped up to the Championship in a manner that had looked doubtful based on the number of mistakes he made at League One level in his first year at the club. The reason why McFadzean has played so often is that he offers a level of physicality and leadership that none of our other centre-backs look close to providing. While his lack of pace and tendency to be overly aggressive in the challenge has cost us a few goals this season, he has been an integral part of a defence that was one of the best in the Championship over a 10-game spell.
To get the best out of Kyle McFadzean, you have to avoid leaving him exposed in one-versus-one situations. It’s not just that he’s slow but that he is too proactive in looking to win the ball in the challenge, which leaves him prone to being beaten by quick and skilful players, which then leaves space behind him for his other defenders to cover. While that possibly forces the team to sit a little deeper and make it tougher for us to squeeze opponents into their own half, McFadzean has shown that he can lead a deep-lying defence both through the example of winning aerial challenges and an aura of dominance that projects confidence to the wide centre-backs in the back three.
Having proven that he can be an effective defender in the right set-up at Championship level, we are likely to lean on McFadzean’s leadership qualities for the rest of the campaign as we look to eke out the points to stay up. Over the longer-term, he is a player that we will have to look to replace with someone younger and more mobile but can provide a similar presence in the heart of the defence if we want to evolve beyond being a team that looks to defend deep.