The Guardian sports journalist Barney Ronay recently said of N’Golo Kanté that such were his powers of prescience and prediction in intercepting opposition passes it was as if the Chelsea midfielder was playing with the benefit of a three second radio delay.
Whilst those around him run aimlessly in a state of real-time frenzy, Kanté behaves like a man who had just heard exactly what the opposing team had planned to do, before shuffling across with a palpable ebullience to nullify any potential threat.
On the contrary, Derik Osede performed for Bolton Wanderers against Bury as though he were playing FIFA online through a dial-up modem.
His performance was reminiscent of a particularly glitch ridden game of the football simulator, perpetually reacting to what had actually transpired three seconds before – akin to furiously mashing the cross button to clear a dangerous ball into the box only for the screen to reload to the sight of the opposition wheeling away in celebration of a goal.
Throughout the match on Tuesday night Derik seemed to be behind the play, belatedly reacting to signs of danger and any loose balls. Luckily Bury were not able to capitalize, but against better opposition such mistakes would not go unpunished. I am not asking for the clairvoyance of a Kanté, but Osede’s reading of the game does leaves a little to be desired.
This particular indiscretion could be forgiven in isolation; he is still a young player who can and no doubt will develop a greater understanding with age.
However, it is Derik’s lack of foresight married to a seemingly nonexistent passing range that truly calls into the question the wisdom of his continued selection.
He loses the ball far too often to merit inclusion in a team fighting for automatic promotion, with his 3 missed placed passes in 30 seconds a particularly potent example of this incompetence.
During our recent trip to Valley Parade, I bet a friend at halftime that Osede would misplace more passes than he completed in the second period. Although much to my chagrin I lost, the margin of success was worryingly narrow - 11 completed to 8 misplaced if memory serves.
After some initial gloating my mate conceded that his was a pyrrhic victory, the mere fact that our wager offered a reasonable chance of success for both parties ample evidence of the problem at hand. How many other defensive midfielders can you recall with pass completion rates approaching 50%?
By way of a disclaimer I have nothing against Derik personally, and he is by no means the only player to have underperformed in recent weeks, but it is hard to escape the conclusion that he hinders the efficacy of the team.
The player ratings on this site were absolutely correct in their critique of his latest performance, concluding that he combined all the wayward passing and first half anonymity of Jay Spearing without the appetite for a strong challenge that is often the latter’s saving grace.
After Osede was substituted there was a marked improvement, with James Henry, Josh Vela and Filipe Morais dovetailing and overlapping effectively on the right hand side. Vela in particular benefitted from the deeper position from which he was to exert more influence, particularly as he can struggle to play with his back towards goal in a more advanced role.
Playing James Henry from the off this weekend would seem the logical step to ease our goal drought, although Parkinson has been reticent to trust the loannee with a starting berth.
If he does start I would love it, love it, if Derik managed to channel compatriot and fellow Madridista Ivan Campo and calmly steer us towards the Championship whilst spraying 40 yarders across the pitch.