Reid silencing doubters to inspire Forest

by , December 31, 2012

As Andy Reid came face to face with the large away support from Leeds United on Boxing Day, the outcome was predictable as the travelling hordes made unflattering references to his waistline. However, the second half it was Leeds who were doing the eating – of their own words, as Reid skipped past their full back to deliver a quality cross onto the head of Dexter Blackstock to make it 4-1. The goal had all the hallmarks of John Robertson, who like Reid proved that quickness of thought and skill can be just as effective as raw pace.

This goal was no one-off, but the latest in a long line of goals and assists that have been such a feature of this season and also the final months of the Steve Cotterill reign, when Reid belatedly persuaded a hesitant manager to give him his chance. Since then we have seen tremendous goals against Bolton, Cardiff, Peterborough and most lately Crystal Palace, to add to superb assists against Blackpool and Burnley. At this level, Andy Reid can terrorise defences without question.

However, during and after the Crystal Palace game I noticed that there still seem some lingering doubters in Reid – falling into the same stereotypes vocalised by the Leeds fans. I find it bewildering and unfair, so let’s try to tackle them…

Firstly, his weight is always the number one talking point. We are all different shapes and sizes. Some are slight, while Reid is naturally stocky. There is no doubt he has put on weight in the past, but few can argue that in the last year he has lost the excess pounds and got himself fit. While not a natural athlete, I don’t see any sign of laziness or non-commitment – quite the opposite in fact as he chased back to win the ball for Billy Sharp’s equalizer on Saturday.

Secondly, I often hear that he is a defensively liability. Again, he is not in the James Milner mould, chasing up and down blocking crosses – but if he were, would he be playing for Nottingham Forest? Few midfielders in the Championship are the complete package and there is no question that Andy Reid is scoring and making far more goals than he is conceding through poor defensive work. Left back Dan Harding may have been exposed at times, but in general I feel it is he, not Reid, who has looked slow and flat footed against some wingers. A quick, energetic, left back to challenge Harding is a must for me in the January transfer window.

Thirdly, I have noticed at games people get irritated with his delivery, especially corners and free kicks. I will agree that on a dead ball, Reid isn’t in the David Beckham class. The deliveries lack a bit of pace and venom but the fact he is still taking them suggests that he remains the best dead ball taker in the squad. There will have been ample opportunity for others to stake their claim in training. Indeed, one poor corner against Leeds – not taken by Reid, ended directly in a Leeds goal.

The only explanation I have for the continuing uncertainty of some fans as to Reid’s place in the side is that he perhaps doesn’t excel in the one area that English football fans love – plain old hard work. This is important in the Championship but Forest do have other players that provide this. However, there is a mix required. Chris Cohen is near universally lauded for his hard working performances, but he cannot unlock a defence as often as Reid, and nor can Radi Majewski. Andy Reid has played in the Premier League because he has the confidence and ability to try the extraordinary and take responsibility, even if it means the crowd can get frustrated on an off day. In short, he turns a 0-0 into a 1-0.

Reid is a committed player, Forest through and through and we are lucky to have his quality. It would be a shame if some fans cannot enjoy his performances because of unrealistic expectations or falling in lazy stereotypes. It is said that Forest need an injection of pace this January, but whoever that may be, they will have a huge task displacing our number 11, who is quietly becoming one of the players of the season – not just at Forest, but in the whole Championship.