Sunday 22 October 2017

Spartak move wrong for 'frustrating' McGeady - Nicholas

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

IT turns out Ireland fans are not the only people who become exasperated by the very mention of Aiden McGeady's name.

Charlie Nicholas has a familiar look on his face when the winger is brought up in conversation. His eyes glaze over as they rise towards the heavens, his arms flail a little uncontrollably and his voice rises in vexation.

The former Celtic, Arsenal and Scotland striker has strong opinions on McGeady, whose performance on Friday against Slovakia was among his most frustrating in a green shirt.

It's a feature that seemed to be slowly seeping out of the 25-year-old's game since he upped sticks to Russia and Spartak Moscow, a move that Nicholas believes was the wrong one to make.

Nicholas watched McGeady closely when he was at Celtic and finds him as frustrating as the fans do. And it's not just on the field.

"The guy's just got absolutely tremendous ability," Nicholas sighed. "I don't know why he went abroad when he did.

"I know it's financial, but he could have bided his time for six months and gone to the Premier League. It would have been perfect for Aiden, it would have made him a better player.

"You go as far afield as he did, in a way it's hiding, just passing time, like when guys go to America."

Nicholas clarified that Robbie Keane, like David Beckham and Thierry Henry had, in his opinion, "earned the right to make that decision," but, he argued, McGeady has to prove himself first. Putting the ball into the box on a more regular basis would be a start.

"He's so frustrating," Nicholas continued. "I mean the crowd at Parkhead would love him and then the final ball was awful.

"He could do magical things, but sometimes you have to just get the ball in.

"Look at the Robbie Keane chance the other night (created by Damien Duff) -- put it in the area. Aiden tries to be perfect, too cultured at times.

"If you're a striker and you make a run three times and the ball doesn't come in, then you're not going to make that run a fourth time.

"Is it a change of focus he needs? Maybe it's time for Aiden to be a bit more central. We know he can beat a player, we know he can do things. He's done it at a high level, he's done it in the Champions League. He's just frustrating."

As a Sky Sports football pundit Nicholas is in a decent position to judge Ireland midfielder James McCarthy's progress at Wigan.

McCarthy is in Moscow after captaining the U-21s on Thursday and Nicholas would have him starting for Ireland at the head of a midfield three were he in charge.

Giovanni Trapattoni is not yet convinced and Nicholas argues that the highly rated 20-year-old has yet to fully prove himself at club level.

"I think he could do with a bit more patience," he said. "Sometimes it's down to style, Trapattoni has his formation and he needs people to do that.

"He's (McCarthy) got invention, he's a creative talent. Personally I would put him in, I think he's got the quality, but managers want to play a certain system.

"Consistency is the hardest part, that's what great players have. He's got to score more goals and make a bigger impression. We know he's a nice player but you've got to be better than that.

"I don't think he's developed as quickly in England as I'd have liked him to have done.

"It's so much easier in Scotland. I'd give him two years, he's played a lot of games but it's a big learning curve against these type of guys in the Premier League."

You can see Charlie Nicholas give his views on the Premier League live on Sky, the only place to see five Sky Sports channels in HD, live coverage in 3D and on computers, phones and tablet devices via Sky Go. Find out more at sky.com/skysports. Sky 1&2 subscribers now receive ESPN at no extra cost.

Irish Independent

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