I’ve received some nice comments since Saturday suggesting I was proved right about Akos Buzsaky, which in fairness is a bit premature.
Even while Taarabt was in his pomp I’ve always said Buzsaky is the best player at Rangers and the one whose attributes are most transferable to the Premier League, which upset some admirers of Ale Faurlin as well as Taarabt’s fan club.
But even after Saturday I think questions still remain about Buzsaky. Three bad injuries in succession and other periods of inactivity are bound to affect a player.
I doubt even his staunchest critic would deny that Buzsaky is dangerous from set-pieces and can deliver a ball, so in many ways the Wigan game told us nothing we didn’t already know.
The main question is whether Buzsaky has the legs to play consistently in the Premier League and so far that hasn’t been answered. The Wigan game was ideal for him. Faurlin, who I’ve been critical of, looks a great player in matches like that too.
The signs are good though. Buzsaky’s actually getting better and sharper with every game and during games, which is exactly what you’d want to see from someone who needs to recover his sharpness after a long spell of inactivity.
It’s been particularly difficult for Buzsaky, because the odd cameo appearance in which he’s desperate to impress is the worst situation for a player of his type to be in.
He’s a touch player, and those kind of players need games – and confidence.
With that and some match sharpness back, I’ve no doubt whatsoever that Buzsaky isn’t only Premier League class, he’s top half of the Premier League class.
I’ve believed that since he wasn’t even a first-team regular at Plymouth and stand by it. But the centre of a 4-4-2 can be very unforgiving in the top division and tougher tests lie in store for him, that’s for sure.
I’d really like to see him establish himself as a first-team regular, which won’t be easy under a new manager who is urgently looking to strengthen every area of the team apart from goalkeeper – despite being linked with Ben Foster and Heurello Gomes.
It’s a great chance for Buzsaky though, made possible as much by Faurlin’s sad injury as the sacking of Neil Warnock.
In fairness to Warnock, he did initially regard him as a first-team player and planned to make him a key part of the side last season.
But Buzsaky picked up an injury shortly before the opening game, Shaun Derry – who was signed purely as a squad player – started instead and the rest is history.
That said, only a club with more money than sense would have been looking to offload a player like Buzsaky while, as usual, trying to buy half a team during the transfer window – something no-one else does but which at Rangers seems to be accepted as the done thing.
Buzsaky was written off too quickly, and I think the same may be happening with Jay Bothroyd.
I can’t claim to be Bothroyd’s biggest fan, but I would have taken him on a free last summer and think he’s since been a bit unlucky.
Apart from last season, Bothroyd has never been a goalscorer. So getting on his back for not scoring is a complete waste of time.
He isn’t that kind of forward. His strengths are his touch, being at the centre of things, bringing others into play, moving defenders around and so on. He isn’t and never has been what you might call a number one striker.
And like Buzsaky, he’s a touch player who needs games. There’s no point putting him in and taking him out. You either stick with him or ditch him, and I’d be inclined to stick with him.
Part of the reason he was so effective last season was that he played regularly for Cardiff. Their other striker changed repeatedly, but be it alongside Chopra, Bellamy, McCormack or Whittingham, he played.
It’s different for someone like Helguson – once similarly written off and now the blue-eyed boy – as he’s more of a battering-ram type of forward so can be chucked on during a game and expected to do his stuff.
Bothroyd did his job as a lone striker very well earlier in the season, but that job is a thankless one and it’s no coincidence that players in that role are consistently criticised by fans at QPR and elsewhere.
It’s a team role appreciated mainly by the team – not least the attacking midfielder who pops up in acres of space in the penalty area. Few ask how and why he got there or where the opposing centre-backs were.
Helguson is a recent example of that. Kevin Gallen made Rangers tick and was a fine Mark Hughes-type forward but, according to some, slow, overweight and often the weak link in the side.
Bothroyd’s confidence dipped a bit after his time in the firing line and he’s having to work his way back into the swing of things when he’s not a crowd favourite.
Personally I’m not a fan of his attitude, but he’s one of these players who doesn’t respond to being berated, either from the stands or touchline.
He does have a contribution to make and, like most number two-type forwards, that contribution is always more appreciated on the pitch than in the stands.
Proof of that is in the reaction of other players to him.
Think of the QPR players you’d consider to be the best pros at the club and have the best attitude. I imagine the kind of names that come to mind are Derry, Hill and Mackie maybe.
Now think back to last season and those players’ reaction to Taarabt during games.
Yes, they tolerated him and at times marvelled at him. But there were times when their anger at him was obvious. Before his injury, Mackie often looked particularly frustrated with Taarabt during matches.
Look at the very different reaction to Bothroyd from those players when they’re on the pitch together.
At every opportunity they’re having a word in his ear, patting him on the back when something doesn’t come off for him, and are always looking to get around him and encourage him. That tells you a lot.
So I’ve got some time for Bothroyd. As misfiring strikers with questionable attitudes go.