Opinion: Boro welcome Negredo with open arms but Rhodes deserves his chance

The 26-year-old striker was prolific in the Championship but hasn't had an opportunity to prove himself in the top flight

Opinion: Boro welcome Negredo with open arms but Rhodes deserves his chance
Rhodes scored six vital goals for Boro in the second half of last season | Photo: Sky Sports

When he arrived he was the striker Middlesbrough fans craved; a goal scorer, a finisher, a man who knew where the back of the net was. But can Jordan Rhodes cut it in the Premier League?

His record at Championship level suggests he, at the very least, deserves a chance. The Scotland international registered 83 goals in 159 games for Blackburn before his £9 million move to the Riverside back in January - a superb ratio of 0.52 goals/game.

With stats like that it’s easy to see why Boro forked out the funds in a desperate attempt to return to the top flight. Many believed then that Rhodes’ goals would be the difference after seven long years in the second tier and it could be argued that they were.     

His header against the MK Dons on his debut and finish at Burnley were among the highlights, while a decisive brace against Bolton Wanderers kept Boro’s fate in their own hands at the tail end of the season.

Some may have expected better from a man renowned for his lethal finishing and poacher instincts, and there were times when Rhodes wasted chances which he would have gobbled up in a Rovers shirt.

Even so six goals in 18 appearances, for a team which only played with one up front and didn’t create a bucket load of chances, is far from a bad return. We should also factor into the mix the change of scenery, new teammates and a different style of play.

Nevertheless, as many good Championship strikers have found, the Premier League is a whole new ball game and Rhodes is still unproven at the very top level.

Rhodes' qualities are easy to overlook

He’s not especially quick, strong, or prolific in the air. Neither will he regularly drop short to bring others into play. However it is a mistake to overlook Rhodes’ obvious attribute - scoring goals.

Ex-Ipswich Town manager Roy Keane admitted his mistake after selling Rhodes to Huddersfield for a fee of just £350,000 back in 2009. The former Manchester United captain confessed that he and his staff discussed the things Rhodes “couldn’t do rather than what he could do”. That turned out to be a costly error considering the striker was snapped up by Rovers for £8 million three years later.

The fact of the matter is that Rhodes is a poacher and a man with a knack of popping up in the right place at the right time.

He may not be tailor made for Aitor Karanka’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, which at times made Rhodes look isolated last campaign, but as the cliché goes ‘goals win games’ and the Scot knows how to score them.

Negredo's arrival will provide competition for places

New signing Alvaro Negredo should prove competition for place upfront (Picture from Sky Sports)
New signing Alvaro Negredo should prove competition for place upfront | Photo: Sky Sports

Following the arrival of Alvaro Negredo from Valencia, it would be easy for Karanka to overlook Rhodes who may not have the same physique or prowess as the Spanish striker who is known as ‘the Beast’.

Even so Rhodes’ qualities shouldn’t be underestimated in upcoming campaign. He is still only 26 years old and still has plenty of time to improve at the top level. In his interviews he’s well-spoken and humble, while on the pitch his performances are full of persistence and graft.  

When he arrived Rhodes’ initial job was to fire Boro back to the Premier League; however he now deserves a chance to prove himself in the top flight and show that he was more than just a quick fix.