One Irish bar, two blocks from Time Square, 7 TV’s with Baseball, Ice hockey, American Football and Golf, and one man watching Dundee United against Kilmarnock – and enjoying the prospect.
I recently took a holiday to the USA and visited New York and Las Vegas – I had timed my trip to perfection picking an international week so that no domestic games would be missed; and given previous England internationals, not much would be missed on that front either.
After a day out sight-seeing I ventured in to an Irish pub at happy hour to sample the tavern environment in the US and partake in a couple of happy hour discounted beverages. It was at this point I noticed the plethora of TV sets situated around the bar. Each one of which displaying a different highlight, or prediction of a different sport. On TV1 was ice hockey, on 2 was golf, on 3 was baseball, on 4 was American Football, and on 5, the Scottish Premier League – a re-run of a recent fixture.
Naturally, I opted for the latter and settled down with by Bud Light to watch the beautiful At this point I realised, one of our own was indeed on the TV – David Goodwillie. The striker once dubbed the Scottish Wayne Rooney by the Scottish Mourinho; the striker who Rangers had been desperate to sign (when they had money), but had been trumped to his signature by Blackburn Rovers.
I got myself comfy in the chair – never in the years since he had joined Blackburn Rovers, had I seen him play for any length of time in his preferred position, as striker. At Ewood he has been used sparingly as a substitute and as a winger, but next to never has he been played in the position he was bought for, striker. Even during his short spell at Crystal Palace (some may say he played a part in the promotion campaign) he only made one appearance and did not find the net. Yet here I was on the other side of the world, presented with the chance to see him in his natural environment – Scotland, and as a striker. I settled in to my stool and ordered another ‘light’ beer.
Since the day it was rumoured Blackburn were interested in the Scot, I had been excited by the deal. The number of times I had heard Jeff Stelling mention his name on Soccer Saturday during the 2010/11 season when he netted 19 times, I thought the boy must have some potential; and when we joined in the hunt by Champions League Glasgow Rangers I thought he must have something; this was even backed up by appearances for Scotland. Even during his debut appearance on the first day of the season when he came off the bench, little had changed in my mind that he could be a goalscorer in England. It seems Managers do not feel the same way.
Throughout his time at Ewood some 6 managers (including caretakers) have dispelled him to the bench, reserves or on loan rather than play him. Only Bowyer towards the end of last season gave him a run in the team – again, out of position on the right flank though. There was a hope that he would be in the plans for the 2013/14 season, but once again he has been loaned out, this time back to Dundee United, the place where he ‘shot’ to fame – so far this season he has 4 goals in 9 appearances.
Looking down the M1 at Derby County and you will see their forward line led by Johnny Russell, Goodwillie’s former partner in crime at Dundee United, with 5 goals in 12 games. The difference between his entry in to the English game is that he has been given game time, and ultimately not been called the Scottish Rooney, by the clubs worst and most hated manager in history. Had Goodwillie been given the time on the pitch and been allowed to create a player for himself, the story could have been all so different. It still might be.
Goodwillie’s loan move back to Dundee could go one of two ways:
- He scores regular goals and Blackburn decide to cut their losses and sell him back north of the border, the club cutting their losses, and the player most likely taking a pay cut; or,
- His ability is again seen by those at Ewood and he is given a second chance (or first chance depending how look at it) in England.
Option one does seem the more likely, however, looking at the Blackburn side he does offer something different to the poachers of Rhodes and Campbell, and the strength of Best – he offers the option of a player with a bit of pace and the ability to finish both basically and also, at times, flamboyantly. Add to this the potentially that Rhodes may indeed head for the Premiership should Blackburn not make the play-offs, a striker in form may be just what Blackburn will need come next season.
When he arrived at Ewood there were rumours that his move was part of something far bigger than himself and the football clubs, and added to this, it was also likely he chose Blackburn to get away from the big city lights of Glasgow where he had been in trouble with the law – but both these two issues are now behind him and Blackburn Rovers. Times have changed and both have moved on.
During the defeat to Charlton today, following an early Athletic goal they seemed happy to put 11 men behind the ball and defend for their lives; a task they did valiantly as Blackburn failed to find the spark and creativity to produce a gilt edged opportunity. I’m not saying Goodwillie would be the answer to this, but he has pace and the ability to finish, rather than pass until a gap opens, and given his credentials in the top league of Scottish Football, he may very well excel at the Championship level.
As for the Americans in the bar with me – I was the only one with eyes on the ‘soccer’. And I may add, if footballers in this country think that TV has made their lives a goldfish ball with everyone having an opinion on them – look to America: think Skysports news on every other terrestrial channel analysing every play of every game. They should think themselves lucky the only thing they have to fear is Geoff Shreeves and Gary Neville.