James McFadden returned to the club yesterday in a short term deal until the end of the season. The signature has been met with some derision from the Blues faithful – many of whom were unimpressed by his first spell at the club – characterized by minimal output and now compounded with a major injury in his closet. Is this pessimism justified? This post will take a quick look at the roles McFadden could occupy in his second stint at L4
Attacking Midfielder (Left) A natural left footer, he will look to dribble and hog the touchline. Not being a great crosser and being on the same wing as Baines means this isn’t really a good fit as he would petrude the space Baines likes to ride into. With Osman, Drenthe & Billy ahead of him in the pecking order and Barkley emerging this wouldn’t seem likely.
Attacking Midfielder (right) Probably the most likely. Moyes likes his wide midfielders to cut inside enabling the fullbacks to get right up the line and deliver crosses. This would be preferable for somebody like McFadden who is a natural leftie In a 4-4-1-1 his defensive qualities – or lack of them – would be exposed so a 4-2-3-1 with two holding midfielders mopping up would be a better proposal. Coleman has started right midfield when fit this season but he has two issues – firstly his best qualities are defensively with limited ability on the ball – secondly his stamina is poor – he has been subbed in every game this season so can’t provide an option for 90mins. The Irish marauder was flagging at times last season but our lack of options meant he was often asked to play even in spells of poor form and injury. This gives us another option especially in the home games when Coleman’s pace is less useful.
Attacking Midfielder (centre) Cahill is very rarely left out and when he is Osman is firmly next in the queue for this role. McFadden played very much a second striker role in his first spell (mostly off Beattie) and to be fair his displays outshone the big lump most of the time. He has a decent long range shot in his locker too – his career highlight in the Parc Des Princes one such example and many Blues will recall his wonder goals against Fulham and Charlton. Like Osman and unlike Cahill, he does have good technique, possess vision and the craft to create opportunities and deliver a number ten role– albeit it doesn’t come off that much.
Striker – McFadden has led the line for Scotland in the past with mixed results. His goalscoring record is not fantastic. Physically he isn’t capable of leading the line for the Blues on his own. His preference is also to come deep to get the ball which is an option we already have with Saha/Cahill. I could only see him starting right up top if it was alongside a player with physical stature in a 4-4-2 . Again unlikely.
If he is going to start I think it will be right midfield. I could also see cameos as an attacking midfielder in home games when we are chasing a goal and opposition defences are deep. His ability from deadballs is negated by the fact that hes a leftie and we have arguably the best left footed delivery in the division already. All in all we are short on options in right midfield and need some cover – we have limited options in terms of finance and the kid knows the club and most of the players already. He is flexible in terms of positioning and can be interchangeable in the attacking midfiled berths in a 4-2-3-1 (something Coleman can’t do) Granted, it sends out the wrong signals to bring somebody back to the club who was deemed not good enough in his prime and who now carries a weaker physical record – but desperation is perhaps a tad harsh. The pragmatic view is that we have no transfer muscle and this is probably as good as we can get to boost squad depth– its little more than a stop gap move which probable suits both parties well.