Sunday, 13 February 2011

Winston Reid, Jordan Spence and Mathew Fry

Jamie O’Hara gave an interesting interview to the Guardian about the problems of young players given their chance at premier league clubs. He was complaining about how he was not given a real opportunity at Spurs. He had joined the club as a teenager and was a star of the youth team. He argues that it does not matter how well you perform at this level because manager’s give preference to young players they buy. O’Hara rightly argues that managers do that as they need to justify the money they have spent on bringing players in. If they buy them they feel they have to play them, otherwise fans will question their judgment concerning young talent.

I thought about this interview while watching Winston Reid’s appalling performance against WBA yesterday. Reid was purchased by Avram Grant from Midtjylland in the Denmark league in August 2010. Reid (22) had lived in Denmark since a kid but when he realized he was not going to make the Danish team he offered to play for New Zealand, where the standards are much lower. In fact, New Zealand’s manager, Ricki Herbert, put him in his team without seeing him play. Apparently, Grant was impressed with Reid performance in the World Cup game against Slovakia (his goal secured a draw and gave New Zealand's first ever point in a World Cup finals match).

It has been clear that even Grant now realizes Reid is a very limited player and only played him yesterday because of injuries to Matthew Upson, James Tomkins and Danny Gabbidon. However, Grant also has two very talented central defenders at the club. Jordan Spence (20) has captained the English team at every level he has played (U16, U17, U18, U19). He also has had two successful loan periods at Leyton Orient and Scunthorpe United. Mathew Fry is also 20 years old and is currently on loan at Charlton Athletic. Does Grant prefer Reid to Spence because he is trying to develop a reputation for being a good judge of a player? If so, it is not working.

Carlton Cole’s interview after the game was interesting. He credited the speech given by Scott Parker at half-time for explaining the team’s dramatic recovery. He failed to mention the role played by Grant in the 3-3 draw. This is not the first time that Cole has given interviews that have criticized Grant and I suspect it will result in him being dropped for the game against Burnley.