I’ve known for ages that Oh was going to get real serious stick at some point. Know when I knew? The minute Giakoumakis started regularly banging in goals across in the States. I knew then that because we’d let a proven scorer leave that Oh was facing unfair comparisons with him.
I’ve also known for a while that Oh wasn’t really producing for us.
I wrote an article on that a few weeks back.
There are two things which have happened since then which has made this a mainstream talking point, and finally taken us where I knew the discussions about Oh were going to go; towards fierce criticism raging across the mainstream media and social media both.
The first is Rodgers’ admission that he sees Maeda as Kyogo’s backup and will sometimes play him in a central role.
The second is that on Wednesday night we chose not to introduce Oh to the game at any point, preferring to switch the formation and finally to bring on James Forrest in place of Kyogo. People assume that this is Rodgers writing Oh off.
But I read the same arrant nonsense from the likes of Keevins when Forrest started against Livingston; this was a “verdict” on our summer signings like Yang and like Palma.
What’s happened since?
Palma has fitted into the team brilliantly and is now rolling. He’s keeping Yang out of the side at the moment. A lot of people see stuff and rush to judgement without fully understanding what it is that Brendan Rodgers is trying to do.
Everything he did in midweek made perfect sense, just as everything he does as manager makes perfect sense.
The Champions League is no time for players to find their feet; Forrest has experience at that level and can play through the middle.
That’s why Oh didn’t get on the pitch, and for the same reason his total Champions League exposure so far is less than 20 minutes. Experience. Rodgers has pointed out how crucial it is and still piece miss that.
And viewing Maeda as our backup striker is not exactly an original thought or one that he’s only just arrived at.
He said this in pre-season and confirmed that there would be games where Maeda would play as the centre forward. Maeda plays as a striker for Japan. We signed him after he’d won the Golden Boot over there.
It stands to reason that he would be the number two behind Kyogo and Rodgers has been of that way of thinking from the start.
Oh needs to score soon.
But I’ve noticed recently that he’s doing everything else right.
He’s getting himself into good positions. He’s forcing the keeper to do work. He just needs the goal that will set him on his way.
He’s never going to be the proven scorer Giakoumakis is, the Greek is one of those players who has the predator’s instinct for goal. My criticism of the signing is that we replaced that guy with someone who was obviously going to take time to settle into the side and who had no record at all for regularly banging the ball in the net.
In short, we replaced a full international with a Far East project player, and that’s troubled me from the beginning but I was, like everyone else, perfectly willing to give the big guy a proper look before jumping to conclusions. Have we done that yet?
And I don’t think we have.
He’s barely started a game, and when he’s had an extended period in the team it’s then and only then that we can make a proper judgement. I think some of the stick he’s getting is ridiculous. There is criticism and there is going OTT and too many people have already moved to the extreme end of that scale.
I would not rely on him to provide backup right now, because you can’t and that’s a realistic assessment which has nothing to do with his potential or his talents … it’s based only on form and what we can see in front of us.
There is nothing that justifies his inclusion right now. But writing off a player who offers us a different element to either Kyogo or Maeda is equally mad … the manager will be looking for a way to fit this guy into the system.
And when Brendan finds that, we may see a different player.
He certainly needs to up his game, but nobody should be talking about ditching him just yet. That’s way premature.