Kaizer Chiefs have won five league games and drew four matches with three matches lost as they are on the 5th position of the league standings with 19 points.
When a team is having a strong run of results, it's difficult to criticize them. However, it appears that the Chiefs have been papering over the seams in recent weeks, and that despite scoring 13 of the past 18 points available, the team is not operating at full capacity.
On social media, there is a sense of unrest among some Chiefs fans. One of Baxter's critics has claimed that he has 'favorites' on his team that are 'undroppable.'
Cole Alexander is another one of those players, and his absence from Sunday's encounter against the Swallows could prove to be a turning point in Chiefs' season.
Baxter's inclination to pitch three players who are more hard men than producers, mainly Alexander, Phathutshedzo Nange, and a transformed defender, Njabulo Ngcobo, might be regarded to be excessively defensive or conservative.
Baxter may be wary of a retaliation from the underperforming Birds in Sunday's game against Swallows, predicting Swallows coach Brandon Truter to have his men pumped up and ready to go into combat.
In that situation, he'll most likely replace Alexander with someone like Anthony Agay or Kearyn Baccus, who are both dedicated and strong, but not attack-minded.
Alternatively, he might throw warning to the wind and play Nange and Ngcobo as deep-lying midfielders, replacing Alexander with a more forward-thinking alternative who can get up and support Bernard Parker.
Nkosingiphile Ncgobo, Khama Billiat, Lebogang Manyama, Kgaogelo Sekgota, Njabulo Blom, or even Happy Mashiane are all candidates for that free-roaming center midfield role.
Rather than a three-man assault with Keagan Dolly, Billiat, and Parker, Chiefs may use two wingers, a striker, and a support striker/advanced central midfielder to create a four-man front line.
It would necessitate Baxter putting greater faith in his defense. Njabulo Ncgobo, the reigning PSL Defender of the Season, may still play as a holding midfielder, sheltering the actual defense.
Such a team would undoubtedly be more entertaining to watch and more well-liked by fans, and why not put more of Amakhosi's explosive attacking lineup on the field at the same time?
Baxter may be able to set his players free and push the team to the next level with just that one simple change - a squad that plays on the front foot with courage and purpose and scores a lot of goals, rather than a team that is content to grind out results.
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