It isn’t a surprise that Ange was directly asked about Daizen Maeda, and it’s not a surprise that he chose to back his player up.
He knows what Maeda can do; he was his manager in Japan. He also knows what the player can’t do yet, which is why he pointed out that the kid is still developing as a footballer. We sometimes forget that.
Maeda is 24, in a strange country. He initially seemed to have settled in brilliantly, but he has definitely lost a little something in the last few months. Still, he’s clearly a talent, a big talent, and the manager knows it well.
But there are areas of his game that need work, and that’s equally obvious.
The manager believes in him though.
The thing is, Maeda has to start believing in himself. We have a team low on confidence it seems to me, and Maeda is a symptom and a victim of that. He’s trying hard. Perhaps too hard.
He needs to stop sweating it.
He needs to start taking that extra second to make better decisions, and if he does that then I think he’ll back up soon enough.
Ange is right, the idea that we should start junking players is a nonsense.
Maeda is part of this squad and a big part of it.
His work-rate is astonishing, and as I’ve pointed out in previous articles he has to be exhausting to play against … and that works for us in ways which aren’t always obvious. This guy brings net gains to the team, and I believe that and somewhere I’m sure is data that bears it out. We have to be patient, as with all the team right now.
He has to improve though, that’s obvious, and we can’t wait around for his performances to start stepping up.
It has to be come soon, otherwise he’s looking at a spell on the bench. The boss didn’t build this team to keep one guy in the side when he isn’t performing. It’s the whole point of having this big squad in the first place.
I think when we have a full complement of wingers you will see him named amongst the subs for a while. When the rest of this team has its confidence up, his will follow.
But nor he nor the manager wants this guy to be carrying us right now. We can’t afford it.