I wrote the headline for this piece last night, before I went to bed. I wasn’t surprised to get up this morning to find someone beating me to it with a piece on a similar theme. We’re all watching the same thing at the moment, and it is a little bewildering.
Kyogo isn’t hitting the heights we expected and which his blistering start to the campaign suggested that he would. For all that, he has eight league goals and that’s only two behind Ibrox’s alleged superstar Colak. I still think he’ll comfortably hit twenty in the SPFL.
Part of this, of course, is that he’s been ever-so-slightly overshadowed by the return to form of big Giakoumakis, who is now without dispute the best penalty box player in the country. His goal on Tuesday was the kind of instinctive finish we’ve seen since he arrived. I’ll be writing more about him later on. Suffice to say, right now he hogs the headlines.
Kyogo is definitely the best footballer in the country. Notice that I clearly differentiate between his striker skills and his overall bag of tricks. But you cannot watch him right now without realising that something is off with the way he’s playing. He’s low on confidence, as confirmed by his recent relief when he scored against Motherwell.
What a lot of people fail to recognise is that he’s still a stranger in a strange land. Ange surrounded him with compatriots, and that has been good for him, but Kyogo is still a guy very far from home and still trying to adapt.
He knows he’s not doing what he should be right now, and that’s okay if you are playing in your domestic league and not much is expected of your team … but now he’s in this high pressure environment at a title winning side where the expectations for him and for the tam itself are sky-high. He’s also got the World Cup on his mind.
It’s easy to see how he might be feeling it.
It’s easy to see that it all might be getting on top of him a wee bit. As his scoring record proves, he is still doing the business even with it all hanging over his head, and it is to his immense credit as a footballer that we can be talking about his playing with low confidence whilst he remains – statistically – one of the most lethal footballers in the country. Those are his standards though, and he knows he’s not quite there right now.
The thing with this team, and the way the games are coming thick and fast, you know, and so does the player, that opportunities are going to come to get some goals and settle the nerves a bit. A full-flowing Kyogo is the player every club fears most, more than Jota, more than Abada, more than big Giakoumakis himself. Even when he’s not all the way there he is capable of doing them damage and they know it. When he gets his head up again …
Note the use of the word “when.” We aren’t speculating here, as the media does with Kent, that someday we might see the player all the hype is about. The hype is real. The player exists. And he hasn’t gone, he’s just not fully on it at the moment.
But he will be, and God help the first team he gets in his gun-sights.