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How do you solve a problem like Joe Ralls?

How do you solve a problem like Joe Ralls?

I sent a tweet out pre-season stating “Sol Bamba is not Premier League quality”

As it stands, I will be re-tweeting that quote in May whilst eating a large serving of humble pie.

There were similar themed tweets from others, referring to Aron Gunnarsson. Those social media users will be eating a similar dessert to me.

Which brings me on to the next player doubted by many; Joe Ralls.

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First up, let’s make one thing clear. We didn’t lose at West Ham because of Ralls. 15 minutes of sleeping cost us three goals and Joe has become a scapegoat due to his missed penalty.

“Why did he take the pen?” they asked.

Well he was the last player to score one (at QPR on New Years Day)

“Why are we so useless at pens?” They said.

Yes, we’ve missed our last three, but Ralls has scored 7 of his last 8 from the spot.

There’s a bigger picture with Ralls though. Is he actually good enough for the Premier League? The 12 games he has played so far suggest he is struggling to adapt. He can be off the pace at times, giving away cheap possession and struggling to have an impact on matches.

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Ralls is one of them players you really want to see do well. At the club since his pro debut in 2011 and approaching 200 appearances, he’s been a fixture in the team for last two seasons (79 games, 13 goals).

Based on how he performed last season, I even went as far as to suggest that if he had an extra yard of pace, Ralls would do well at a top half, established Premier League club.

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Maybe the step up has been too big? Maybe the system doesn’t suit?

There’s no doubt he’s got quality and Neil Warnock is a big fan of his, but…how do you solve a problem like Joe Ralls?

The obvious option would be to rest Ralls, leaving him out of starting line-up for a while. I’m one of those who has called for Victor Camarasa to be moved inside where he could have more impact. Joe Ralls would no doubt be the casualty if that was to happen

Embed from Getty ImagesHowever, it may just be a confidence thing with Joe. Perhaps he needs to believe in himself more and just try to impose himself on a game more.

Ralls certainly doesn’t mind doing the dirty work in midfield and amongst our upcoming fixtures we face teams who have something of a “workmanlike” midfield

Personally, I’d stick with Joe Ralls and hope he fulfils his potential. However, theres no room for sentiment in football and theres no doubt Neil Warnock will make a change if Joe fails to show marked improvement.

Let’s hope that, come May, many other fans will be ordering a large serving of that humble pie

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