I think it is fair to say that Matt Rhead can at times, divide opinion.
Matt Rhead, Lincoln’s number nine has completed his third season at Sincil Bank with the conclusion of the Imps’ 2017-18 campaign.
It was another lucrative season for the forward, as he scored nine goals and was also the provider for his team mates on ten occasions. Almost double-digits for both goals and assists for the forward, who only really became the starting striker around Christmas time.
The Cowley’s have always placed an emphasis off Rheady in terms of scoring, but the fact that he is chipping in with a healthy amount of goals, shows how effective the big man really is.
What has benefited Rhead, has been the rekindling of the partnership between himself and Matt Green. Together, the two forwards caused a lot of problems for most League Two defences, shown by the 26 goals scored between them in all competitions.
However, with Rhead on the pitch, is it inevitable that the team will play a style of football that is overly direct, which in turn negates the attacking prowess in the wider areas.
I do not have a problem with having Rhead on the pitch and him being the main focal point going forward. It is just I found that we became slightly one dimensional and teams would be able to combat the way we setup. This could be through putting two defenders on Rhead, or instead allowing him to win the header but make sure they won the second ball.
There is no doubt about it that Rhead is one of the most effective outlets in league football. He virtually wins every header and is a complete nightmare for defenders. In addition, Matt Rhead is very useful when it comes to defending opposition set-pieces, which is not something you would ordinarily expect from your front man.
That being said, the players around him have to anticipate his knockdown, otherwise you will struggle to create anything on the attacking front.
I think this is what we saw in the last few games in our run in to the Play-Off’s. An over-reliance on Rhead’s aerial presence was a limiting factor in our ability to create chances. To an extent it worked, but the two matches against Exeter proved that it will only get us so far. To achieve that final push for promotion we need more quality in the attacking third.
Whether this involves Matt Rhead as a starter, well, I will leave that up to the gaffer. Danny Cowley has already expressed his desire for another attacker, even after the arrival of Portuguese winger Bruno Andrade.
From my point of view, with ball players like Andrade, Tom Pett, Lee Frecklington and the potential for more, I can see us playing with more fluidity through the middle of the pitch, with lots of energy and movement.
You could say that this could work with Rhead leading the line, but only if he is supported through fellow attackers and onrushing midfielders.
I think that Rhead offers so much, much more than what people think. I expect him to have another influential season for us, even if his primary role was to be as an impact player off the bench.