If you exclude the Paintsil years, right-back is arguably the position Fulham have most struggled to fill in recent times. Since Steve Finnan we haven’t been in a position where our right back is one of the better players in our team.
This isn’t really an issue because the same could be said for most teams: right back perhaps the least glamourous position in football. It also seems to be a place where you can almost get away with lesser quality, as the job description can be quite a low level one: don’t get caught upfield, hold your position well, don’t dive in, hold your position well, etc. If you can do these things well then you’re more or less an asset to the team. It’s what John Paintsil did while things were going his way. A lot of players could make decent right backs if they wanted to, but most have higher ideals and this does seem to leave a certain type of personality actually doing the job. A good clubman, a quietish, or at least a non-flamboyant type, someone you feel you can rely on. If they can cross then so much the better, but as Liverpool found out, crossing is overrated (unreliable, anyway) at the best of times so this isn’t much of a stick with which to beat a player.
Sascha Riether is the archetypal right back in a lot of ways. Shortish, decentish, solid. I thought he played quite well against Norwich, was not great against United (who was?), and probably could have done a bit more against West Ham. It’s his first season in a new league and in a new team, so we must cut him some slack. When I’ve mentioned any perceived shortcomings it’s merely been as a sort of note to self: how is our new right back doing? I haven’t been at all sure. And I had noticed a couple of things awry, I thought.
But he did do very well against WBA. Whoscored.com say that he had 120 touches and played 89 passes, both of which are big numbers. He found space and used it quite well. I like the shape of his delivery from the right wing, he seems to have a bit of variety in his crossing and I imagine that sooner or later his work down there will lead to some goals.
Fingers crossed that he builds on this and grows into the player I thought Fredrik Stoor would become!
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