Saturday, January 19, 2008

A backward step for Cheeky Boy?

Scottish coverage of James McFadden’s move to Birmingham has been almost entirely positive and uncritical. His genius displays for Scotland (and especially that goal) have cemented his good reputation in the minds of the Tartan Army, and so it’s definitely the case that his move has been seen as a positive move which will guarantee him the regular first team starts the English Premiership he richly deserves, or so seems to be the prevailing opinion.

I’m not so easily convinced, however, that this is the right move for him right now. While he has acknowledged the inconsistency in his form, Everton fans also seem to be of a mind that although he will be missed by fans getting £6m for a ‘luxury player’ who scored 18 goals in 136 games for the club has been good business.

Although they haven’t set the heather on fire, Everton have been a consistent force in the Premiership in the last few seasons with decent finishing positions in the league. Birmingham, on the other hand, are hovering above the bottom three on goal difference. The main question must be whether, given his inconsistency at club level, are McFadden’s talents better employed in a team going forward or one who have to grind out another 20 points before the end of the season to avoid the drop? I’ve not seen a great deal of Kenny Miller’s games for Derby, but although it’s clear that he’s doing the best he can, it’s impossible to fulfil your full potential as an attacking player when playing for a team who are constantly forced onto the back foot.

So fingers crossed for Cheeky Boy, and here’s hoping he can produce the same kind of match-winning performances for McLeish in the Premiership as he has delivered for Scotland. At 24 he needs to be playing top-class football, not in the English Championship.