The Roland Harris Column

Friday 12 October, 2001

The elephant in the corner is Ashley Ward

I want to talk about the elephant that is standing in the corner of my dinner party.

Of course everyone else is too polite to mention it, after all, elephants in polite society represent something of a social faux pas but never the less there it is.

I call it Ashley Ward.

I call it a lazy creature.

Perhaps it was all that talk of need Ashley Ward to make the team work that got to the guys head. Since he returned from his injury he has been awful. No eye for goal, no ability to hold the ball up and, most irritatingly of all, a persistent habit of fouling and pushing defenders then claiming that he should have had a free kick. I'm ten year young than Ash Ward but I have leant that if you start getting physical with defenders then you give away fouls 75% of the time. Of course the fans think that you are hard done to, that you are getting pulled up on everything, but everyone knows that Ward vs Defender will result in defensive free kick, even Ward. The fact he does not take a different track underlines my point.

He is a lazy sod. Not lazy in his running, cause many people would say that he works his socks off although I have never seen him do it in the same way a Benito Carbone or Dean Windass does.

Peter Beagrie said that true bravery on the football field was to do something for the 13th time that you had messed up for the past 12. Ashley Ward will not try the first for fear of getting it wrong.

He is a by the numbers player. Wants everything setting up for him, not prepared to dig in and do the work that, for example, Lee Mills did.

And it is not that Ashley Ward does not have the talent. One night in the League Cup for Norwich he showed us all how talented he was, but its that he does not use it.

He is no target man because he will never brush himself down and get on with the game. He is no deadly marksman because he never attacks space. He is decent in the air, but the defender converted to striker Andy Tod can say that and he did not cost £1.5m quid.

If Jim wants to make sure he does not get the boot any time soon he would do well to find himself a proper target man, perhaps Mills, perhaps not, and maybe even play Ward off him (in a three with Beni). In the words of Thierry Henry we need a fox in the box, Ward is an ox. Or an elephant.

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