Before we talk about Adel Taraabt, first up, I’d like to thank Mr. Mojo for pointing out that the correct tense should be “If I WERE the manager”, not “If I WAS”.
In hindsight, I should’ve known, as my colleagues had pointed out to me, the Beyonce song goes “If I WERE a boy”. Can’t believe I got schooled in grammar by Beyonce.
But back to Taraabt. The French-born Morroccan attacking midfielder was brilliant all season for QPR, helping them win the Championship and earn automatic promotion to the Premier League. He was also named the Championship Player of the Year.
He has loads of pace and fantastic skills, quite possibly too much skill, actually. He’s earned himself a reputation as a bit of a showboater, with a penchant for nutmegs and step-overs.
But Cristiano Ronaldo had that same reputation. What Ferguson saw in him however, was courage. He had the confidence to try those skills, he was never afraid, and never stopped trying even when he was being persistently fouled.
I think Taraabt has that – it’s just that up until QPR came along, he hadn’t been given the right platform to show it.
And with reports saying he could for as little as 8-9 million pounds – for a 22-year-old prospect who notched 19 goals & 16 assists last season – he would be an absolute steal.
When he arrived at Spurs in 2007 from French club Lens, the club were going through a rough patch.
He was signed by the brilliant but often maligned Damien Comolli, the former Arsenal scout who was Spurs’ Director of Football at the time – a position still viewed with much skepticism in England for it’s potential to undermine managers’ authority.
Then Spurs manager Martin Jol famously quit the club for that reason, leaving a teenaged Taraabt and a clutch of other Comolli signings in limbo. They were blamed for Spurs poor performances along with Comolli, who Jol claims had signed players without his permission.
Juande Ramos then came in and things at Spurs got a bit better. But Ramos, having inherited a large squad of potentially good players signed by Comolli, overlooked Taraabt, not even giving him a squad number for the 2008-09 season.
That was when Spurs had that horrible run of two points in eight games, and rooted to the bottom of the table. Ramos and Comolli were both sacked, and in came the messiah, Harry Redknapp.
Time to shine
Taraabt got his squad number back under Redknapp, but being an unknown quantity signed by Comolli, he never really got his chance, and was loaned out to QPR in 2009.
Despite being initially dogged by a serious knee injury, Taraabt would go on to establish himself as a standout performer in the Championship, scoring a series of wonder goals and demonstrating an eye-watering array of skills. He was quite simply playing on a different level.
QPR were finally able to sign him on a permanent deal at the beginning of the current season, for just one million pounds, and with his performances driving them straight into the Premier League, that has to be one of the best pieces of business the club has ever done.
What he brings
- Taraabt can play on either wing, or in a central attacking midfield position.
- He has that element of unpredictability, able to conjure up that bit of skill to unlock a stubborn defense.
- His pace and balance also makes him a threat in wide positions, and his willingness to take defenders on works well with the Old Trafford crowd.
- He packs a real good shot from distance, as his highlight reel on YouTube shows.
- With a solid 5 ft 11 in frame, he has a good build for the Premiership. In terms of being ready for the physical side of things, he’s already had a few seasons in the Championship. That should’ve prepared him.
Of course, there’s every chance that a step up to the Premier League might prove too much for him.
Or, he could be the next Kevin Phillips or Charlie Adam, and take the Premier League by storm. I think he’d he’d be the latter.