The mystery has been solved and just like most mysteries the answer was the obvious one all along. What would Mark Rudan do with that extra import spot? The first thing that sprung to mind was a proper old centre forward, a number nine, a guy who can act as a pivot for the players running around and past him, and somebody who knows where the goal is and how to put the ball in it. But then wait what if the Nix would be better served with a specialist centre-back? Or a genuine box to box midfielder? Perhaps even a right back?
Nah, the transfer window was only open for like two days when, ooh what’s this, they’ve already signed somebody? Yup, Cillian Sheridan. A 29 year old Irish striker who happens to stand at six foot five inches tall and that about sums up what they were looking for with this transfer. A tall and imposing striker with a solid goal scoring record. Not a fantastic goal scoring record but a solid enough one for the A-League.
Sheridan began his career with Celtic but only played 19 times for them, mostly being sent out on loan elsewhere in Scotland during that stint. He’s not a bloke that has made a massively mainstream name for himself but with spells at CSKA Sofia (Bulgaria), APOEL (Cyprus), Omonoia Nicosia (Cyprus again) and Jagiellonia Bialystok (Poland) he has tended to feature for sides at the upper end of the ladder in their respective competitions. That does make me wonder a tad about why he didn’t score more goals, particularly in Cyprus where he won two league titles and a couple cup trophies, but it’s hard to make those judgements without watching him play properly.
Sheridan also earned three caps for the Republic of Ireland back in his early 20s, featuring off the bench against Paraguay (replacing the esteemed Robbie Keane, how’s that?) again off the bench against Algeria and then he got his lone start against Argentina – a friendly game which ended 1-0 to the Argies, Angel Di Maria scoring the only goal. This was a couple months after the 2010 World Cup which Argentina had been knocked out in the quarter (4-0 vs Germany). So that’s not bad, a little pedigree there. He hasn’t given up hope of getting back into that squad either but unfortunately the choice of gaffers just hasn’t gone his way…
Right so we’ve got a bloke with a sense of humour on our hands too, which is brilliant. Funny dudes are always great for the squad and with this Nix team potentially a little close to the grinding side of things at times, on the field at least where they lead the league in fouls conceded per game and yellow cards received, so a bit of fun and jollity never goes astray. Mark Rudan does have a pretty acerbic sense of humour, to be fair. Only gives a hint of a smile when he cracks a joke in his pressers but the glint in his eye gives him away. That and when he pauses for the journos to have a giggle. I’d bet Steven Taylor’s a hoot amongst the lads too.
The important stuff now, where does Sheridan fit in? Well, based on the way Rudes has eased his imports in so far it might be a case of sitting on the bench for a few weeks to acclimatise. Nathan Burns did get dropped last game for David Williams who has risen to the challenge of getting dropped himself with two (excellent) goals in two games, and you already know that competition for places is what Rudan is all about. There’s not a massive amount of depth in this squad and that’s about to get tested when the yellow card suspensions start flowing in (Singh and Fenton are on 4 bookings, Rufer, Krishna and Mandi are on 3) but so far it’s been a boost to see those guys on the fringes stepping up when they get the opportunity. Two weeks ago it felt like the forward line was pretty skint… now it might even be the deepest area of the team.
Sheridan offers something different. Krishna and Burns are both guys who float around looking for space to receive the ball and turn and looking for passes in behind or over the top of the defence to run onto. They don’t tend to stay in one place for long. David Williams is a little more anchored but he’s still another that’s always moving looking for something to stick his boot into. Sheridan should be able to play as a target man with his size and ability. He can be the dude that holds the ball up and dishes it around as Krishna/Burns/Williams go surging past him. Especially Krishna. He’ll hopefully be good enough to attract defensive attention away from those guys without losing the ball. Hopefully be a threat from set pieces too so that the entire defence doesn’t have to push forward if we win a corner and risk the ol’ counter attack coming back the other way.
Based on some cheeky yootoob scouting, the first thing that sticks out is that he’s a left-footed player. Sweet as, not sure it makes much difference to how he plays because nobody uses their off-foot just for standing on anymore but lefties are always pretty to watch. Sarpreet Singh is proof of that. More than that though he’s also good in the air. One might say shades of Andy Carroll with the tied-back hair and all that. Looks mobile enough that he shouldn’t disrupt the way the team have been playing too much as well, which is crucial at a time when the team is playing really smoothly.
Now I might just be impartial to a bloke with a quality twitter account and his very own podcast but this feels like a good one. So it should be too, the Nix knew that they were going to have this free import spot and will have been doing their diligent research the whole damn time. Hence why they had somebody ready to go and already passed his medical so soon after the window opened. Soon enough that he’s available for the game on Saturday night. Again, I have a suspicion that Rudes’ tendency to not give his imports any free breaks and his other tendency to stick with a formula that’s been working means Sherry might not go straight into the starting line-up but don’t overreact if that does happen. It’s all good. We’re still just learning these patterns of the gaffer’s management is all.
One suspects we might not be done here either. That’s it for imports but the Nix still have holes in the squad… like, what happens if Taylor/Mandi gets injured or suspended? … and two openings remain within the maximum squad allocation which can be used on local players. The Nix are taking a look around, that’s for sure. Myer Bevan, Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi and Justin Gulley have all spent some time training with the side in the last month.
And I s’pose at this point of the season, given how the team’s been truckin’, we’ve gotta give them the benefit of the doubt with all this too. There were plenty of frustrations in the preseason as signings came few and far between and local dudes seemed to be getting the cold shoulder but it’s all about results at the end of the day and the problem with preseason is that you can’t just answer the critics and critiques by going out and winning 3-1 on the weekend. You’ve gotta keep the nose down. Trust in the process. Now they’re five games unbeaten including games against the three top teams and that trust is easy to summon.
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Keep cool but care.