Like all of our players I’m sure Aiden must look at himself in the mirror and wonder what part he did (or didn’t) play in the departure of our manager and I have heard many comment on his performances being below the standard of previous years so let’s compare some stats. In the formation(s) we play, McGeady is one of our 4 most attacking players, yet this past season he scored only 7 goals (2 of which were in one fixture) with a shot to goals ratio of over 12:1. His other key role in the team is as provider and he provided 14 assists in 2009/10. But compared to past seasons? Well last year he scored 2 more but had half the number of assists. So the stats tell us that Aiden contribution was little different to past seasons, so why the criticism?
Unlike others I saw the same Aiden last term, an exceptionally talented player from whom you believe there is just a little bit more. As the stats show, last season Aiden created the chances. As he always does he took on full backs, did the odd trick and was a key part of all our attacking presence. But are we now looking for a little more. When the team performs as poorly as last season are we looking for someone like Aiden to grab the game and overcome the limitations of his teammates?
Unfortunately wide players like Aiden are rarely able to grab hold of a game and control it. Their role on the touchline and the flow of a game can often result in passages of 10 mins plus going by without an opportunity for them to impact upon play. The role of someone like Aiden is therefore surely to be that extra spark, the guy to lift the fans with one trick or one pinpoint cross. But the ball needs to get to him and he needs people to deliver to. A player like Aiden will therefore be at his best when the team is at its best. With SPL teams set up to just defend and much of our play being dull and static, Aiden was often left marooned with no support and no-one up front creating space.
These issues are compounded in the SPL where teams play 4 times a season. After 5 years at the top level ALL defenders know what Aiden can do. Add to this the double and tripling up defences do and his contribution to our team is naturally stifled. Creative players often get more room to breathe in other leagues. How many times do you see crosses thrown in in the EPL and the nearest defender is 20 yds away?
2009/2010 was not Aiden’s best season, but it was by no means his worst. A team where few seemed sure of their role devastatingly lost confidence around Christmas and few creative players can excel in that environment. As the stats show, Aiden contributed much to the club and it’s amazing how much goals can alter the perception we fans have of a teams performance. We were all much happier when the team was scoring goals in the last 8 games and my own perception was that Aiden looked at his best when Keane played.
Quality players make the right decisions on the park and last season Aiden made the same good and bad decisions as past terms. The problem for me was what his teammates did when they received the ball. Unfortunately it needed Keane to make that difference on the pitch. Maybe Lennon also changed things off it.