SCOUT REPORT: Technical proficiency, positional intelligence and a monstrous long throw - Sam McCallum looks a shrewd addition for Canaries
PUBLISHED: 14:28 09 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:46 09 February 2020
With there being no Norwich City game this weekend, we sent our Canaries correspondent Connor Southwell to watch City new boy Sam McCallum in action for Coventry City.
Sam McCallum displayed glimpses of the quality that persuaded Norwich City to depart with a significant transfer sum to sign him during Coventry City's 2-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers at St Andrews on Saturday.
In a stadium decorated by advertising banners, it's easy to see why the Sky Blues are struggling to discover a homely feeling in Birmingham.
Despite being without a permanent home stadium, ex-City striker Mark Robins has produced a possession-based style of football which has helped put Coventry City in contention for promotion.
Off the field, there's a sense of chaos and turmoil but in Robins, they have a stable figure who is implementing a philosophy at a club that is seemingly on the up.
Integral to that progression is his faith in young talent, as he battles against financial insecurity behind the scenes.
McCallum's involvement hasn't been due to fortune but because of the consistency and quality of his performances.
Operating as a left wing-back in a 3-5-2 formation, McCallum is utilised as a crucial component to the way Coventry City play.
In possession, he became a support to the midfield, providing an outlet on the left wing to switch the focus of their probing passing but equally to help create numerical overloads as they sought to progress the ball between the thirds.
When the ball was with one of the central defenders or in deep areas, McCallum retained a wide position to help stretch the shape which created space for their central creative options.
By design, that approach in possession should help stretch a defensive block whilst retaining the width to provide penetrative options in different forms.
McCallum's technical proficiency was apparent also. In terms of an education, playing in this Coventry side is an excellent way for him to adapt to Farke's style of play.
He looked comfortable with the ball at his feet and was willing to drive inside to alter the direction of an attack.
That said, he didn't show a desire to engage defenders in a one versus one situation before crossing, it appeared his game was focused more on technique and positional intelligence rather than raw pace.
His most productive moment of the fixture saw him intelligently locate a pocket of space on the left before delivering an accurate, driven cross into an area of uncertainty, leaving Amadou Bakayoko to prod home. The Sierra Leonean forward was subsequently flagged offside.
In transition, McCallum's high positioning often left Coventry's left-side exposed if there was a turnover in possession. That is a risk taken by operating with a wing-back system.
Robins admitted post-match that McCallum still had some refinement to do in regards to his tactical understanding, but his technical ability provides him with the confidence to receive the ball in a variety of ways.
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His high-positioning and technical ability are two components Daniel Farke requires from his full-backs and McCallum is another capable of fitting into that mould.
For Bolton's equaliser, the highly-impressive Dennis Politic, a player who has been previously linked with the Canaries, easily ran off McCallum before meeting a cross to volley into the net.
Politic's growing influence on the second period posed a different challenge for McCallum, who was tested by the creativity and pace of the Romanian winger.
His defensive abilities were tested and, for the large part, McCallum stood up to the questions posed by the 19-year-old. In one versus one defensive situations, he looked comfortable and angled his body in an effective way to limit the space available to his opponent.
The 19-year-old also displayed a secret weapon that City can utilise should he become a first-team regular; a long throw.
McCallum's wasn't deployed in a way that Stoke City opted to use it when they possessed Rory Delap, instead, he used his to break lines and help progress Coventry up the pitch.
It was used positively, in a way that relieved pressure and helped them build from the second ball.
Post-match, McCallum told the PinkUn: "I'm athletic. I can get up and down the wing and I feel like I'm quite composed on the ball."
From this outing, the conclusion to reach is McCallum possesses the necessary tools to succeed at City but still requires some refinement to his game.