Cardiff's expensive gamble on Bobby Reid hasn't paid off
Background photo: Ceri Davies, CC BY 2.0
Cardiff City forward Bobby Reid scored just his second goal of the season in Saturday’s defeat to Watford. He hadn't found a Premier League net in two months prior to the tap-in. It wasn't nearly enough to mask his poor start to the campaign. Reid's struggled for form since making the switch from Bristol City over the summer.
The Bluebirds spent 37% of their summer kitty on Reid after he scored 19 goals in 46 Championship games last season. He’s failed to make the step up to Premier League quality. Cardiff’s toils in the division don’t help but Reid has been so ineffective that Neil Warnock recently dropped him from the starting lineup.
The top flight is a culture shock for many successful Championship players. Defenders rarely allow an inch of space. Goalkeepers save more shots. Midfielders don't give time on the ball. Cardiff have grappled on all fronts since their promotion. Reid is one of many who haven't come out on top.
With the Robins last season, the 25-year-old averaged 27 passes [79% completion ratio], 1.2 chances created, 1.4 dribbles completed and 1.9 shots taken [45% accuracy] per game. At Cardiff, he’s averaged only 10.7 passes [68.3%], 0.5 chances, 0.7 dribbles completed and 1.2 shots taken [33%].
He’s encountered tougher opponents and so far failed to adapt. The forward has made 13 Premier League appearances this season but has only amassed 50 minutes of playing time since early-November. Reid’s last three outings came from the bench. Warnock has avoided bringing him on at all on three separate occasions during this period.
There’s good reason to suggest Reid was signed a year too early by Cardiff. He had the best season of his career in 2017/18 but may have needed another 12 months in the Championship to solidify himself as a top player outside the top division. It’s worth noting he only scored eight goals in 106 games for Bristol City before last season’s heroics. Cardiff gambled that 2017/18 was a breakthrough when it may have been an anomaly. Reid hadn’t managed more than three league goals in any previous season at Ashton Gate or for Cheltenham Town, Oldham Athletic or Plymouth Argyle when on loan.
Warnock’s decision to leave Reid out of the starting lineup may baffle many people given Cardiff average only one goal scored-per-game but the player's performance forced his hand. Reid has completed only four passes in his last three league appearances, failed to create a chance in his last five league appearances, failed to complete a dribble in his last four league appearances and has registered only three shots on target since late-September.
Reid clearly isn’t cutting it in the top-flight. What choice does Warnock have but to drop him? Cardiff hoped the forward would replicate his Championship form in a higher division but, like the Bluebirds, he’s not making the adjustment. The 25-year-old is Cardiff’s second-most expensive transfer. Their gamble has not paid off. Sitting 16th, only two points from the drop, the consequences could be severe.