Miles Storey: Marmite Messiah

Swindon striker Miles Storey scores against Aston Villa League Cup

With Portsmouth reportedly leading Shrewsbury to sign Swindon’s quick forward on loan, Alex Cooke assess the value of a striker who has yet to turn potential into goals.

It is almost impossible to have a sensible conversation about Miles Storey online. He has become a totem for every polarising debate within the fanbase: potential v reality; loans v developing your own; possession football v something more direct. And none of it is Storey’s doing.

Questioning any aspect of his game is seen as provocative, praising him seen as simplistic. Fortunately I know you can handle that. After all you, theWashbag.com readership, are wiser, more thoughtful and yes, sexier than others. We already know your comments below the line will be cogent, considered and grammatically correct.

But just in case you can’t resist base abuse such as ‘hairy-backed zebra shover’ or ‘butter-brained pimple’, let’s use facts: Miles Storey is 20, he has started 13 league games and scored four league goals. He has come of the bench 24 times. He also scored twice in the League Cup.The Football League say he provided no assists this season, hit 10 shots off target, got four on target and once hit the woodwork. He also gave away 13 fouls and received one yellow card. He has been on loan at Shrewsbury and Salisbury. He is also under contract at Swindon until the summer of 2016 [corrected].

After that everything is subjective. Yes, that includes the notion that you are a brain in a jar and all of this ‘reality’ is the product of your formaldehyde-soaked synapses.

What is mildly uncontroversial though is Storey has a remarkable turn of pace, good acceleration and an ability to score goals 1v1. However, even the most ardent of Storeyite would admit that he doesn’t hold up the ball well or lead the line.

“It’s not all about running in behind people all the time. We are working with him but it’s about that ability to hold the ball up,” said his manager Mark Cooper. Having watched Storey try to get in behind the opposition on the edge of his own 18-yard box rather than clear the ball, it is hard not to agree. However, it is this kind of ‘game intelligence’ that experience should give him.

Both Paolo Di Canio and Cooper have citied it as a weakness. Obviously some of the same accusations have been made against Storey’s frequent striker partner, Michael Smith, but his ‘fact column’ also includes eight goals from his 20 Swindon starts.

Cooper has also questioned Storey’s ability to master other striking position. So where Storey started the season wide, his manager saw him outscored and outperformed by Nathan Byrne on the opposite flank and admitted the 4-3-3 system didn’t “suit him”. Instead, he said Storey needed to play off another striker. Even then, Copper preferred the likes of Dany N’Guessian, Mohammed El-Gabbas, Nicky Ajose in the supporting forward positions.

The traditional argument in favour of Storey has long been that this young striker hasn’t been ‘given a chance’ and seven league starts and 11 more as substitute seems to support that.

Except Town have a host of young players who have made their mark in a limited number of games. This includes Louis Thompson, Ben Gladwin and loanee Jack Stephens. There is Massimo Luongo and Yaser Kasim who, in one season, have gone from a handful of appearances to full internationals, and that is despite being just a little older than Storey.

In some ways Storey has almost become Schrodinger’s Striker: we dare not take him out of his box and play him in case he actually turns out to be incredible, or awful. Or both at the same time. Or dead, a bit like this metaphor.

If Louis Thompson is taken as a benchmark, Storey’s lack of progress is even more startling. The midfielder is a year younger, has notched only one less goal this season and has progressed from substitute to stalwart, and now scorer. By comparison, Storey has stalled. His chances of playing regularly seems to be no better than after the Aston Villa game.

Talk of Storey leaving on a season-long loan does seem premature – and Cooper has confirmed it as such. Town’s situation is simply too fluid for such a commitment. The club is in flux and the forward line is even more fluid. With only Connor Waldon, Andy Williams and Smith for competition for the central spot, it is possibly that this opportunity for Storey to develop runs parallel with the need for a more seasoned option.

However, this has to be the season in which Storey takes his chance, or risks being left behind – be that at Swindon, Pompey or Shrews. With just a year left on his contract, he can’t remain a mere prospect forever. He needs to start, and to start scoring. And at least that is relatively uncontroversial.

6 comments

  • Firstly what a fantastic article, never been to the site before but it really is a cut above. As a Pompey fan (and I say this assuming Storey will make a loan move to us this summer) everyone has trust in our manager but see this as a bit of a strange move. We’ve had strikers in the past that run all day without reward (Benjani until he found his shooting boots a prime example) and others that were prolific without even trying (Robert Prosinecki) yet Storey doesn’t seem to fit either category…judging by the team were putting together this off season and the type of attacking football we played towards the back end of last season, it would be interesting to see from a Swindon perspective how good he is at making runs into the box and getting on the end of anything coming in from either flank. Will be interesting to see how/if Storey fits in to the system – for most of last season we played with one up top (Ryan Taylor) who was great at holding the ball up to set the counter attacks up either side of him and then a player just behind (Danny Hollands) who scored 5 in 7 at the end of the season. What’s strange to me is that I don’t see Storey starting in the team ahead of players we’ve already got, and is there really much point in us getting a player on loan who won’t play much? at his age I would think first and foremost for both Swindon and the player it would be beneficial for him to be playing week in week out for a lower division side.

    Best of luck to you for next season and hope the guys with the power at Swindon turn things around, things seem to have stalled after the Di Canio era somewhat but we know all about that!

    Like

  • Storey suffers being given a chance because he’s a striker, a position that is – frequently and sometimes wrongly – judged only by the number of goals scored. In hindsight he perhaps needed a longer loan spell away earlier in his Town career to provide the early experience, however the injuries he suffered (I can’t quite remember how long he was out) was a big setback at precisely the wrong time. A loan away now isn’t necessarily an error, however it is the potential length – season long – that doesn’t make sense if he is to have any future at STFC.

    Like

  • Exactly, I would think this is a gamble on our part that if he starts to realise his potential this season (and stays injury free), we would then be in the driving seat to sign him once his contract with you expires. Don’t get me wrong I’d be excited to see him at Fratton Park, I just don’t know what position he would fit into given our current options. If he’s more of an impact sub and doesn’t come on and score, assist or chase down every loose ball, he will find very quickly that he will lose the support of the crowd and the manager. In Andy Awford we trust though.

    Like

  • Drysdalessmashedtibia

    He’s a trier and a gambler but at times naive – like he’s still playing with kids. Always on the shoulder of the last man – including when his manager has told him to hold the ball up and get his body between the ball and his man. He’ll still be thinking about the breakaway.

    Needs to play wherever he goes so if it is out on loan it might be better to be someone with a weaker first team.

    Like

  • Cooper has no idea how to use him. He does not understand that what the Town missed all last season when Storey was not playing was pace. The only way Storey is going to develop is by regular games. Cooper often used players of lesser ability than Storey has. It also shows the poor coaching ability of Cooper that he has not been able to develop raw talent.
    To send him out on a season long loan is plain stupid. He would not be able to be brought back during the season. In one or three month loan may make sense although I would to see how he develops in pre-season before making any drastic decisions. Cooper just does not think or is it Power? It seems that Cooper’s position is similar to Hockaday at Leeds. Hockaday has no control of team selection or transfers!!!

    Like

  • miles storey wasnt used right at swindon you must use his speed with through balls for him to run on to or plat him out wide and give him plenty of ball and play him regular

    Like

Comment Here...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s