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The Roy Beerens Dilemma

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Olly looks at a summer signing who's divided opinion amongst the Reading fanbase.

Manchester United v Reading - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

When you say the name 'Roy Beerens' to any Reading fan, you're likely to get a mixture of responses. You wouldn't get as much criticism as if you were to mention Royston Drenthe, but equally you wouldn't get as much as praise as if you were to mention Gyfli Sigurdsson. The winger is very much a 'hot and cold' player who can amaze you one minute but then do absolutely nothing for the next 20 minutes.

One thing is for sure, and it's that Jaap Stam is a fan. The manager made his compatriot his fifth signing of the summer last July and has only used Ali Al-Habsi, Chris Gunter and Garath McCleary in more games this season. He has shown a stubbornness to stick with Beerens, largely on the left flank, despite other options such as Callum Harriott or Yakou Meite being available.

So, what does Beerens add to the team?

Reading have had to compensate for not having a 20 goal-a-season striker like many of their play-off rivals by sharing the goal scoring burden around the team, and Beerens has been a key player in that respect. His tally of six league goals is only beaten by Kermorgant, McCleary (both eight) and Swift (seven).

But what is noticeable about when Beerens scores, and why a section of the fan-base have taken to him greatly, is that his goals are all crucial.

The 29-year-old has scored the winning goals against Huddersfield (1-0), Fulham (1-0) and Brentford (3-2), and what proved to be the winning goals against Bristol City (2-1) and Sheffield Wednesday (2-1), netting a brace versus the latter. In total, that's 11 points he has earned Reading this season - a very impressive contribution.

Opposition teams also clearly see Beerens as a major threat as only Danny Williams (51) has been fouled more times this season than the Dutchman (43).

But where is he going wrong?

Beerens has often been accused of 'going missing' in games, and certainly sitting in the stands or listening at home on the radio I would agree with this claim. In many games I have forgotten that he is even playing, whilst there are often spells of 10 minutes plus when I don't even hear his name in the Radio Berkshire commentary.

Against Brighton, of the outfield players who completed 90 minutes, only Williams (51) and Kermorgant (30) had fewer touches of the ball than Beerens (54), but that also says something about the Frenchman's isolation upfront by himself. Similarly against Huddersfield, only Grabban (36) and McCleary (31), both of whom had been substituted by the 70th minute, had fewer touches than Beerens (38). Even in the Dutchman's best game in a Royals shirt, according to both WhoScored and our player ratings, against Sheffield Wednesday in December, the only outfield player to have fewer touches of the ball than Beerens (51) was McCleary (38).

There are a couple of other statistics that don't portray the winger in the best light and don't help towards the 'lazy' tag he has been given by some supporters. Firstly, he has been dispossessed a total of 64 times throughout the season, 14 more occasions than the next most dispossessed player, John Swift. Beerens is also top of the list for what WhoScored call 'unsuccessful touches', which they classify as bad control. He has 1.9 per game and 60 across the season. Again, John Swift (48) is second. Finally, only Garath McCleary (23) has been caught offside more times than Beerens, who has been flagged on 16 occasions.

The winger's defensive contribution has also come into question, with many feeling that Beerens should be doing more to help out whoever is playing behind him, whether that be Tyler Blackett or Jordan Obita. According to Squawka, Beerens has won 29% of his tackles this season, and a big fat 0% of his aerial duels. He is only 5ft 6in after all. But a quick look at his heatmaps in the last three games in which he has completed 90 minutes show that the Dutchman barely spends any time in his own half.

vs Brighton (from R-L)
vs Huddersfield (from R-L)
vs Barnsley (from L-R)

You could argue that Beerens is a forward-thinking player and winger who sometimes lines up as high as the lone striker, but in Stam's system where hard work is key and tracking back once you've lost possession should be of paramount importance, it's arguable that Beerens should be helping defend more than he does.

Concluding thoughts

So it's obvious that Beerens certainly has his moments. But for me, they don't come often enough. Sure, it's great that he's often in the right place at the right time and pops up with some big goals, but is that the only thing that makes a good player? This team is characterised with hard work and grit, but arguably that is what Beerens lacks the most.

I would like to see Callum Harriott given more of an opportunity when he returns from injury, whilst Adrian Popa has managed just 37 minutes since arriving in January so surely he should be given more of an opportunity? Beerens is probably better than both of those two, but he needs to show it more consistently.

What do you make of Beerens? Is he too lazy? Or does his knack of popping up with key goals earn him a place in the side? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.