Eight games into the 2018/19 Premier League season, five different players up front. The struggles of Cardiff City’s search for a leading striker has been well documented.
A right-back, a six million pound man without a goal to his name and a striker who has one goal to his name since April. Add in a goalless marque signing, and a championship-level striker and the problems are obvious.
In fact, that ‘championship-level striker’ is the only one that has found the net so far this year. Danny Ward’s goal against Arsenal is the only one scored by a Cardiff striker.
The frustration among Cardiff fans is clear; everybody knew they needed a striker. The club did too; with Neil Warnock admitting of their pursuit of Tammy Abraham.
Yet, with eight games of the Premier League season gone, it’s looking grim in the goals department.
Cardiff City did spend money on a forward this summer. Bobby Reid joined from rivals Bristol City for a reported £10m. Reid hit 21 goals last year for The Robins, but has failed to hit the net this year for the Bluebirds.
It was a big outlay for Cardiff – almost a third of their entire budget – so there is a lot of pressure on Reid to deliver.
So far, he is not. One assist, which came in the League Cup, and zero goals is Reid’s outlay so far. A shots on target radio of around 20% has not been good either.
With Reid so far failing to deliver, it begs the question will his signing relegate Cardiff City?
This is not Reid’s fault
Bobby Reid can score goals, there’s no doubt about it. 21 goals in the Championship is no mean feat. Cardiff could only dream of a goal tally like that last season.
This season, Reid has started four games, a substitute in the other four. Everybody expected more game time from Reid as Cardiff’s marquee signing this summer.
When Reid has been on the field, it hasn’t all gone to plan. Zero goals registered has only heightened the pressure on Reid.
In his defence, Reid has worked hard. Alongside Danny Ward, he has pressed with industry. He has exhausted his energy by chasing down every long ball.
It’s fair to say that the service into Reid hasn’t been ideal. Cardiff’s pass completion ratio is one of the worst in the league. A striker of Bobby Reid’s stature is never going to win the aerial battles.
The result of that is that Reid exhausts his energy chasing down hapless balls into the channels.
Where does Bobby Reid fit into Cardiff City?
That’s the big question.
After a handful of games, Warnock ditched the 4-4-2 experiment and the trusted 4-5-1 returned. The problem for Reid is that the one-up-top in this system needs to be a big target man. That’s not a role he can play.
So here does that leave Reid? It’s hard to say.
It’s a classic case of a square peg in a round hole.
What’s most concerning is the scouting procedure to recruit Reid. How could Cardiff’s scouts, or Neil Warnock, not note that Reid did not fit Cardiff’s playing style.
It’s a glaring mistake, that could prove costly.
Where there better options available?
Cardiff found their summer recruitment to be a strenuous process. Warnock has spoken about his frustrating summer; missing out on many targets.
He also spoke at length about Cardiff’s minute budget in comparison to the club’s rivals.
Troy Deeney was a target, as was Abraham. Warnock wanted another striker.
£10m was the fee muted for Deeney, suggesting that was the rest of Warnock’s budget.
Where there better options than Reid for £10m? It’s hard to say.
Where there better options available for £20m? Undoubtedly.
Brighton signed Florin Andone for a reported €6m. Fulham signed Aleksander Mitrovic for £22m. Danny Ings joined Southampton for £18m. Newcastle signed Yoshinori Muto for £9.5m. Solomon Rondon, a City target, would’ve been available for £20m.
These are all strikers with a proven track record in top flight leagues across Europe. Cardiff would struggle to compete, but this is evidence that there were options.
With the signings of Gary Madine and Reid, we can ask questions of Cardiff’s recruitment.
Bobby Reid has played five minutes of football in Cardiff’s last two games. It is looking increasingly likely that Warnock is struggling to fit Reid into his system.
The Tottenham match was most telling; with Callum Paterson, a right-back, up top.
The goals don’t look like they’ll be flying in any time soon, either.
With thirteen games until the transfer window opens, Cardiff current crop must do.
It is certain that come January, Warnock will target one more. With a large chunk of the budget already spent on Bobby Reid, it remains to be seen who Warnock will be able to bring in.
Its hard to criticise Reid, but his signing could be the defining moment of Cardiff’s season. It could condemn the Bluebirds to relegation.
Scott is a lifelong Cardiff City fan and freelance football writer. Scott hosts the VFTN podcast.