If recent press reports are to be believed, it appears that Rudy Gestede was one of the summer signings who Tim Sherwood actually wanted. I’ve found the furor about who signed who at Villa Park a little bit tedious over the last few days for two reasons. Firstly, there is no way that Sherwood will not have had the final say over incoming players. Paddy Reilly may have recommended players but I find it hard to believe they came in over Sherwood’s head. Secondly, I have seen it suggested on social media sites that Sherwood won’t pick the players Reilly recommended over his own choices. I don’t think any manager would cut off his nose to spite his face. Even though things aren’t great at present, Tim Sherwood will pick the team he feels has the best chance of winning, as it is his reputation on the line.
One player we know Tim Sherwood did look to sign in the transfer window was Adebayor, who is now without a club having been released by Tottenham last month. I have no doubt that Sherwood will be back in for the player he manged at White Hart Lane if he is still our manager in January. Whether the nomadic forward would wish to join us is an entirely different matter. There are those who believe that we dodged a bullet by not signing the Togolese striker and that would be a fair opinion, for he inevitably brings trouble and baggage with him. In my opinion, not snapping him up has actually ended up causing us problems. We certainly have problems without him on board. I certainly don’t think our points tally would be any worse if Adebayor were a Villan.
I believe that Adebayor was Sherwood’s number one striking target. A player who tends to hit the ground running when he’s at a new club and a player Sherwood had managed to get the best from previously would have been a massive help while the new boys settled in. A number of our new players don’t have any Premier League experience, something Adebayor has in abundance.
Rudy Gestede has become our main man, our number one forward. I think that he was going to be utilised as Sherwood’s ‘Plan B’ or alongside Adebayor in certain matches. Without the former Spurs man, Gestede is now our ‘Plan A’, a role I’m not sure that he is ready for. Gestede has shown glimpses of his ability and it feels weird to be playing down our top goalscorer but, in my opinion, he is part of our current woes. I am not writing him off: he has most definitely been useful but I don’t think he is ready to be the main man at a Premier League club. He either needs someone alongside him or he should be the club’s second-choice striker.
The Benin international, from what I see, is not a lone striker. He is not mobile enough nor does he possess the level of hold up play required to perform the role the way Sherwood needs it to be performed. I am praying that there are areas of his game being refined on the training ground but I think not purchasing another main striker is now hurting us. We are being forced into a more direct style of football to accommodate Gestede and I don’t think this is the main way in which Sherwood wanted his team to play. Gestede does not play to the strengths of our two most gifted players in Carles Gil and Grealish. As a result, both have been in and out of the team, with Grealish’s form fluctuating and Gil not getting as many minutes when fit as the fans would like. On the odd occasions the players have produced any kind of flowing football recently, it feels like moves have broken down when they get to Gestede.
Our best football this season came in the first half against Leicester City, when we looked great on the ball, dangerous on the counter and threatened to create chances through penetrating, probing football. I really felt Sherwood had the makings of a good side in that first half. For all his flaws, Agbonlahor leading the line suited us that day, as he stretches the opposition and opens up space for the likes of Gil and Grealish. That’s not what Gestede’s game is about and it affects the way Sherwood’s side plays.
I want Gestede to do well. Nothing would please me more and I really think he can be useful in certain games. However, if we are relying on him to be our main man for the whole campaign, I worry for us and I worry for Sherwood too.
Gestede has gone from being Sherwood’s ‘Plan B’ to being his ‘Plan A’. He obviously wanted Adebayor, which means hee wanted another striker. Failure to get one is causing us short term problems that could well turn into season-defining, long term issues.