Galway United are at a crossroads – it’s time for an attacking shakeup

Image taken from Sportsfile.

Image taken from Sportsfile.

Winless and goalless in their last three league games, the adrenaline wave of a return to the top-flight has worn off for Galway United. John Caulfield's side have established themselves as one of the toughest defences to face this season. However, in terms of attacking, United leave a lot to be desired. It could be the perfect moment for a reshuffle in attack for Caulfield.

Six games into the season, teams are beginning to establish their systems and personnel. United have been competitive in every game, reflected in each of their three losses this season being by a one goal margin. Still, those dropped points could easily have been wins if John Caulfield's side showed more creativity in attack. That is a major concern for the season.

Galway United sit mid-table after the first six games of their return to the Premier Division. United have curated the perfect blend of defensive resilience and raucous atmosphere, and in doing so have made Eamonn Deacy Park into an intimidating and challenging proposition for visiting teams. There is no easy game when you travel to the west coast, that has been Caulfield’s side's greatest strength this season.

The Tribesmen boast the second-best defensive record in the Premier Division and that is a testament to the resolute, organised, and compact defence that John Caulfield and his coaching staff has crafted. In contrast, United are the second lowest-scoring side in the league. The defence is the foundation for results, now it is about polishing their attack. If Galway United can find the balance between the two, they have enormous potential to exceed expectations this season.

The upcoming international break serves as an ample opportunity for Caulfield to reassess his forward options. So far, his go-to front three has been Ed McCarthy on the left, Stephen Walsh through the middle, and new recruit Karl O'Sullivan running the right flank.

Walsh has struggled to get to grips with step up to the Premier Division, and arguably United's best attacking displays were when he was suspended and Aodh Dervin was in the squad. Dervin's performances in Walsh's absence have earned himself plaudits nationwide, the illusive playmaker has been Galway United's best offensive outlet this season and will surely be scratching his head as to why he is not one of the first names on the team sheet.

'Aouachria's return could be a pivotal turning point in United's season'

United will hope that Wassim Aouachria spell on the sidelines is nearing an end. Aouachria's return could be a pivotal turning point in United's season, his profile suits that of a Premier Division striker - good hold-up play, strong physically, relentless pressing, and a keen eye for goal.

New signings Tom Costello and Leo Gaxha will no doubt be chomping at the bit to get more minutes and prove themselves. The pair have played a combined 52 minutes of Premier Division football this season and have impressed. Gaxha, in particularly, appears to possess qualities that United are crying out for in attack.

Like Dervin, his low centre of gravity makes his evasive dribbling a nightmare to defend. He also plays with his head up, constantly looking to probe and pick out inventive passes. United fans were impressed with his pre-season showings, but he has not had the opportunity to show what he is made of so far this season.

McCarthy and Walsh were instrumental to United's success in the First Division last season. But as a pair, they have struggled to get to grips with the Premier Division thus far, even though McCarthy terrified Rovers at times last Friday night. O'Sullivan, bar a couple of impressive showings at centre-forward, has failed to impose himself in this team.

Galwegian fans will be delighted with the competitive nature of this squad, their work rate and ability to get stuck in is infectious. However, if the losses keep piling up, and the back of the net fails to bulge, it won't be long before frustration starts to murmur through the Eamonn Deacy Park stands.

With games against Derry City and Bohemians over Easter weekend, April is imperative for Galway United. John Caulfield is an experienced manager; he will know the importance of the next month for his team in terms of cementing their position in Ireland's top tier. If United are to pose a threat to these teams, something has to change in the attacking third.

In a moment that ponders ‘stick or twist’, Caulfield has got to twist.


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