With 937 minutes of Premier League football under his belt this season, Southampton striker Manolo Gabbiadini will be wondering what he has to do in order to nail down a starting place.
The Italian has frequently been left on the bench this season, and has failed to inspire when given his chance on the pitch. Gabbiadini has scored 3 goals so far in this campaign, two of which came in the same match against Newcastle United back in October. With that aside, a tidy finish against West Ham in September has been the forward’s only other contribution to Southampton’s goal tally.
Mauricio Pellegrino has made it clear through his squad choices that Shane Long is his preferred choice up front, despite the Irishman netting on just one occasion since February 2017. His goal against Crystal Palace on the 2nd January ended a run of 1320 minutes without finding the net, the last of which came when Southampton reached the EFL Cup Final with late 1-0 win at Liverpool.
When fit, Charlie Austin also seems to be ahead of Gabbiadini in the pecking order, with the former QPR talisman on six goals so far for the season. Furthermore, Southampton broke their transfer record in the January window, as they brought in AS Monaco striker Guido Carrillo, for £19.2 million. Carrillo is now likely to lead the line in the next few games, with Saints’ fans eager to see what their new man can bring to the side, who currently sit 18th in the Premier League.
Despite all of this, Pellegrino did state in his latest press conference that he felt Gabbiadini, who arrived on the South Coast from Napoli for £17 million, was an important player for the team. The Argentinian went on to dismiss rumours of a move back to the 26-year-old’s native Italy, with Serie A outfit Bologna the rumoured destination.
Is Pellegrino Right to Exclude Manolo Gabbiadini?
For me, Manolo Gabbiadini is one of the most technically gifted players at the club, and when in form, can be a very dangerous threat to opposing sides. This was evident when he joined last year, when he racked up six goals in his first four appearances. Shortly after he achieved this, he suffered an injury away to Tottenham, and he hasn’t quite been the same since.
It is clear that he is bereft of confidence, due to his manager’s apparent lack of faith in him, with Gabbiadini without a goal in his last 13 appearances. But this isn’t the only thing that I believe is causing such irregular form for a striker who seemed so prolific almost exactly a year ago.
Manolo Gabbiadini’s work rate has been very questionable of late, which has led me to wonder whether this may have anything to do with his current situation. I know that he gets very isolated when playing up front on his own, but I am not fully convinced that he shares the same desire to get himself forward and in goal-scoring positions, in order to be as effective as possible.
In the match recently against Tottenham, Sofiane Boufal was breaking away down the right flank, but when he looked up to put a cross into the box, there was no-one in a red and white shirt near him. Gabbiadini was simply jogging over the halfway line, whilst our central defensive midfielder Mario Lemina raced passed him and towards the opposition box.
Now this shouldn’t be happening. If you are on the fringes of the first team and want to prove yourself to the manager, you have got to be putting in 100% every time you step out onto the pitch. Gabbiadini should’ve been in the box, sniffing around for a chance, but no, he was merely jogging up the pitch, as if the attack had nothing to do with him.
I fully understand that this does seem quite harsh, as the vast majority of the time he gets isolated on his own, making runs and trying to offer some sort of outlet, and I can seriously empathise with this, but in these situations you’ve got to question his desire.
But, as aforementioned, I still believe he is a quality player, and hope that he can turn things around, and once again prove himself to the manager and the fans.