There are few players I’ve genuinely wanted to succeed as much Roberto Soldado; maybe its because I perceive him as quiet but seriously good guy, and on this note; nothing would please me more than him banging in 30 next season and thus prove every single doubter wrong. Will it happen? I’m not sure but what we saw on Sunday against Southampton, was something we’d not seen since early in the season; a man attacking ball and defender determinedly and with an element of class as well as aggression.
There’s no doubting Soldado’s record in Spain; 29 goals in 60 appearance at mid-table Getafé is about as good as it gets and earned him a move to European regulars Valencia. At the Mestalla club he netted 59 times in 101 appearances (league only); quite superb. He brings with him a certain continental flair and technique, his first touch and flicks are exquisite as were displayed in setting up Chadli and Eriksen chances on Sunday. However, for the first time in a long time on Sunday he gave us a presence physically as well; yes it wasn’t a presence matching that of Adebayor but nonetheless a player challenging for the ball and using his body is better than what we were getting from Soldado before. He seemed fired up, ready for action and prepared to get hurt, he pressured the ball tirelessly and although he personally did not get the rewards, he was instrumental in the our second goal in the game and build up play overall. A polar opposite to Thursday night in Lisbon, where frankly he was terrible. On Sunday he mixed up his play, coming short towards the ball, collecting and inter-changing but also ran the channels well and was prepared to do the dirty work up top too. It is this we need to see more, especially if he’s not scoring; we need a variety of options with which we can play him the ball. If he can continue to do this, whilst working himself into more goal scoring positions he will be a very good acquisition and I hope we persist in the time we have to the end of the season; a season in which it seems most hope is lost.
However, strikers will be judged on goals and Sunday was Soldado’s first Premier League appearance since breaking his drought against Cardiff at the Lane, a goal which was met with relief and finished beautifully. The celebration of Roberto himself portrayed a man who had been feeling the pressure that comes with a £26mil price tag. Hopefully now the shackles have been released and Roberto Soldado can truly begin to show his value; a few more goals as this campaign comes to an end will see his confidence reach a good starting point for next season (should he still be at the club).
As such the remainder of the season should be used as something of a rebuilding job for Soldado both physically but more importantly, mentally. He undoubtedly has the quality to score in bundles and should he keep playing as he did on Sunday against Southampton the goals certainly will come. But that’s the issue; consistency. If it doesn’t go Roberto’s way for another few games, will we find ourselves back at square one with him; out of form and low on confidence? Only time will tell. However as we know, especially in the business of football, time is a thief….
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