There is no question that the Roar has some striking issues. From accounts all over the place Farina has got the boys in haz-chem orange playing some great attacking football, ostensibly there's a solid defense, the midfield looks like a well-oiled machine at times, but there's that problem in front of goal. Here is the Roar player who many fans seem to want to scapegoat. I think that is a big mistake.
Now I've cursed him missing good scoring opportunities many times and I had my turn of scapegoating him myself
, albeit after being a real observer of football for a total of less than three months. I've kept watching, and realised there's a lot more to see than the wasted opportunities on shots.
I've noted his work rate winning the ball, both in the air and on the ground. I've noticed him setting up opportunities at least as much as getting his own. And meanwhile, everyone else up front in the Roar have failed to score (except for Dario perhaps, and of course we miss him).
Meanwhile, for a team who has rarely managed to score, Reinaldo has scored about as well as anyone. He scored two against the South African side Supersport United, he scored
four in the pre-season, and has scored seven and assisted six so far in the A-League proper (in 30 games played). It's not the most amazing record, but let's keep a couple of things in perspective.
Firstly, Ante Milicic and Simon Lynch are both older and more experienced, and have frankly not only done no better, but do bugger all else on the field as well. The Roar does
have a striker problem, but we should be careful to note that it's everyone's problem. What if Milicic, an ex-Socceroo, and Lynch were delivering on their reputations? I'm willing to bet they're paid quite a bit more, after all. Then we'd potentially have a brilliant hard-working impact player who could take defenses by surprise with his speed and footwork. Instead he's expected to be the number 1 striker, on half pay. I wonder if it's because he's Brazilian that he's expected to have been born a genius. He's young and hasn't peaked, in a new country, and yet he has the pressure of the whole fan base focussed on him.
And it's not just the fans. It has become increasingly clear the more I watch this guy that opposition coaches single him out as the one to shut down. Basically if you can pressure Reinaldo out of the game you have beaten the Roar. He is constantly
man-marked, often fouled, shirt-pulled and kicked, and generally by players with much more experience. If you don't believe me, watch for it next time. The photos above (from Four Four Two
) are good examples. In the first at least the player from behind appears to be going for the ball. In the second, does Vargas even have any idea where the ball is?
They're both from the same game, against Melbourne last weekend. We hear about Moore's great strike (brilliantly defended) in that game. Who delivered him that perfect ball? You guessed right. Watch him. Even under sometimes an ugly level of pressure, he's the one up front working, and I reckon the opposing defenders are bloody well aware of it.
In my view when Moore, Tiatto, Mackay and Oggy all get shots on goal (from defense and midfield) they have Reinaldo to partly thank for drawing so much heat (not to mention delivering balls).
The Roar needs a new striker - no doubt about that. If it is Reinaldo they replace it is idiocy. Milicic is out for a bit anyway, and frankly he should retire as gracefully as possible. And Lynch (I have a lot of Scottish blood by the way so this doesn't come easilly) should be sacked. Zullo has shown some great potential but it would also be a great error to expect him to step up as the number 1. The Roar needs to employ a solid, experienced striker who knows the tricks and can put a few away. Reinaldo will then, I sincerely believe, prove to be the best second striker in the League. Give him some proper time and nurturing, without the pressure of everyone on him alone, and he may well become number one in another season or so.
As addendum here's some comparatively petty reasons to keep the guy. His celebrations are a great draw card for the kids (I know this first hand). And he spends probably more time after the game signing kids' shirts than any other player in the team.
Reinaldo is committed. He's got natural talent. He's working his ass off. If we can see a bigger picture and give him a break he'll get there.