With Crystal Palace unable to call on the services of Christian Benteke against Manchester United tomorrow plenty of Eagles fans expect Bakary Sako to be tasked with leading the line at Old Trafford but speaking from a purely personal perspective, I’d love to see Roy Hodgson put his faith in 24-year-old striker Freddie Ladapo.
Now, before I go any further, I feel it’s only right to point out that I’m fully aware of the mountainous examples people can give as to why it’s not a particularly good idea. Having made his name in non-league football, Freddie only has 43 Football League appearances and seven goals to his name, none of which have come above League One level but with Roy Hodgson facing an attacking dilemma of truly epic proportions, I fail to see how things could be made much worse by giving Ladapo a chance to create a footballing fairytale on one of the game’s biggest global stages.
Despite having a £30 million striker at the head of the side in our opening six Premier League fixtures, Palace failed to find the net once; a trend which, at worst, Freddie can only continue if given an opportunity to impress. Yes, it would highlight our startling lack of depth up front but what’s the use in trying to hide that? Let’s be honest, thrusting former Wolves winger Bakary Sako into the spotlight at the Theatre of Dreams is hardly going to leave anyone outside the Palace bubble feeling as though everything is under control in SE25.
For me, the biggest plus from giving Ladapo a starting place against Mourinho’s men will be the effort he puts into leading the line. Just two years ago, Freddie was playing in the Isthmian League for Margate, no doubt feeling as though his tilt at stardom had been and gone, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that a lad with that sort of history in the game will run through figurative walls for 90 minutes if given the nod to play from the first kick in Manchester. He may not possess anything close to the sort of talent a top flight club expects from their starting striker but given our current predicament, I’d much rather take a punt on a possibly eyebrow raising performance than settling for a 3-0 defeat with the same narrative as previous weeks.
Although no official word has been given of our behind-closed-doors friendly against Bromley in midweek, the lads won 2-1 with Ladapo grabbing both goals. Now, I’m left hoping that Roy Hodgson throws caution to the wind and rolls the dice on Ladapo against United.
What’s the worst that could happen?
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