I’ve been disappointed with Rudy Gestede this year. After making his dream début for the club, powering in the winner from a corner against Bournemouth on the opening day, there was a real feeling around the club that he could have been our best signing of the window. When walking up to Villa Park for our first home game, I counted quite a few shirts with his name on the back, as youngsters hoped he’d be their new goal-scoring hero after Christian Benteke’s departure. When he came on as a substitute for his first home appearance, I could feel the anticipation and excitement around the ground. Could he make an impact?
No, he could not. This soon became a common theme of the 2015-2016 season.
Maybe I’m being a little harsh, as there have been times where he has shown us what he can do. His brace at Anfield, a well-taken equaliser against Leicester City and his most recent consolation goal against Everton make him one of our top scorers this season. All in all, after the joy that he brought us on that sunny opening afternoon, it’s been quite an anti-climactic season for the big striker.
My problem with him comes down to work rate. Gestede never really looks particularly bothered on the pitch, very rarely chasing down loose balls or attempting to make runs in behind the defence. It says a lot if I’m picking him out for being lazy in the current Villa squad. At times this season we’ve shown about as much enthusiasm playing football as children do when tidying their rooms yet I still picture Gestede dawdling around the field, seemingly never breaking a sweat or looking remotely interested in what’s going on. There are very few things more frustrating for a fan to watch. Villa fans would know: we’ve had to watch Charles N’Zogbia for the last five years.
Having said all of this, I do believe that we need Gestede next season. He will not get us promoted, he will not be the league’s top scorer and he will most probably still drag his feet as he moves across the pitch but he knows how to play in the Championship. He knows how to score goals in the Championship. I would be very surprised if Gestede doesn’t pop up with at least ten goals across all competitions next campaign. He’s a good header of the ball. He’s strong, capable and, if he gets the time on the pitch, this will translate in to goals, even if we have to put up with the less pleasing aspects of his game in between.
I know that I’ve just criticised Gestede and then claimed that he’s still an important player for us but we have to start preparing for next season. The Championship is a very difficult division and certain players will be better suited to it than others. Rudy Gestede knows, from his time at Cardiff City and then Blackburn Rovers, how to find the net in the second tier of English football. Let’s whip in some crosses and let the big man go and get them.