On Friday, the Reading faithful (and a few even more faithful Bournemouth fans) got to see the latest 'massive coup' signing in action for the first time since joining.
What stood out to me with this signing is the fact that the gaffer(s) have said how unlikely this transfer was. Messers Stam and Tevreden both talked about how Roy was all set to sign for Stuttgart and when that fell through it opened the door for us. The inference I took from this is that he is a player that would ordinarily be out of our reach but for unforeseen circumstances, he suddenly was within our grasp. Sort of like if your girlfriend’s upper class family didn’t approve of your working class self but then they lost all their money and you seem like a decent bet after all.
In reality, it seems that he wanted too much money and a four-year deal.
My first question therefore is ‘why did he only sign a three-year deal with us?’ The answer to that question probably comes within my second question: ‘How much did we offer?’.
Assuming that we paid him what he was asking from Stuttgart (adjusting for the devaluation of the pound and lower tax rate), we are probably paying ‘top euro’ for him. Our history of paying ‘top ruble’ for players isn’t great, so he comes with a heavy burden. The heat is on, and it’s on his feet.
In case you’ve not read all about his illustrious playing history, he started at PSV Eindhoven of the Eredivisie (the top flight in the Netherlands) but evidently wasn’t good enough for them so he joined, inevitably, a worse team, Heerenveen. In terms of games to goals, this was by far the best period of his career, with a goal, on average, every 4.56 games. It was here where he was awarded with a couple of semi-international caps, playing in the 2008 Olympics. In 2009, Heerenveen won the Dutch Cup, and I am hoping it was down to Beerens unparalleled brilliance.
He signed for AZ Alkmaar in 2011 and won the KNVB Cup in his second season, again, probably because Beerens played everyone else off the park. Cleary I am right, as Hertha Berlin, home of the impressive Olympiastadion, signed him in 2014. He did reasonably well in his first season but barely featured in his second year.
So, what happened there? Should we be concerned? Well, my good friend google translate assures me, albeit with colourful language, that Roy received a red card early on and then was beset by injuries. By the time he was recovered, the manager didn’t want to upset the apfelkarren and so he was unable to find his way back into the team.
Throughout, Roy played a fair bit in European continental competition: 40 appearances in the Europa League, and 2 in the Champions League (when at PSV). So, he’s got a fair bit of pedigree, it has to be said, but can he cut the mustard as well as the Royals have ‘cut their cloth accordingly’?
Performance Against Bournemouth
I think we all were hoping to see Roy in action against the Cherries. Roy had declared himself fit by explaining that he had trained for 2 weeks with his old club. Evidently, this did not mean that he was fully match fit as he only lasted the first half, but I think we saw enough of him in that time to get a good idea of what he can offer us.
Now, I am usually one to look at the glass as half full, and so feel free to take everything I saw with a pinch of salt, but I was really impressed. Right from the off, he showed composure, skill, and most importantly for me, effort. He certainly did his bit to track back and chase the ball when he didn’t have it. He’s quite a small player, although he’s no Liam ‘Awwww’ Kelly, but he knows how to use what little body he does have to good effect, holding off players left, right, and possibly centre too.
One highlight early on was when he received the ball close to the touchline, and with four players around him, bobbed and weaved his way through them. Ultimately, he lost the ball, but that was perhaps down more to the lack of alternatives available to him at the time. I think he made about three crosses, two of which were decent in that they went to the back of the six-yard box (though there was no one following in at the back post), and one was over hit. I know that many will say that the cross isn’t any good if there is no one on the end of it, and even less so if it goes over the heads of those who are there, so I wouldn’t defend my opinion in a court of law, but I think attacking players do have a degree of responsibility to make intelligent runs. That means you organize and don’t all go near post.
I was disappointed to see that he’d not made the second half but Tanner certainly did excellently in his place. Comparing the two is difficult based on those 45 minutes alone, but Tanner does certainly look like he has enough to make the first team. I look forward to seeing more of Roy. I don’t think we saw much of his pace yet, just his close control and composure, but I’m sure we’ll get many a chance to see him at the forefront of a counter attack.
Harking back to the 106 days where just about every player in the squad mucked in with a goal or two (even if some left it to the last minute), we will need goals to come from everywhere. If Roy can live up to his Heerenveen stint with a goal every 4-5 games, that’d equate to 8+ goals if he plays 40 or so games. Moreover, he will really need to pop up with a few assists also.
If goals are worth 2 points, and assists one, I would want him to get at least 30 points whether that be by 10 goals and 10 assists, or 30 assists (or somewhere in between), if he is to live up to his billing and my rose-tinted hopes.
If he does that, then we’ll be in for a good season.