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Why is Bobby De Cordova-Reid still underrated?

Written by Alex Mackenzie on 14th February 2024

Bobby De Cordova-Reid against Sheffield United. Copyright Adam Farquharson.
© Adam Farquharson 2024

As we approach the final third of another Premier League campaign, the Cottagers look set for another year in the top flight. They need a few more wins, sure, but they’re nearly there. At many stages alarm bells began to ring and the Fulham faithful felt as if the team lacked so many things. However, despite some low moments, the team has produced some memorable highs, in a year when safety, for many supporters, is likely to be more than enough.

So far, the goal-scoring mantle has fallen to whoever was willing to grab it. There’s one player who stands out as someone who quietly and confidently steps up every time. Bobby De Cordova-Reid (BDR) has done very little wrong in a Fulham shirt, and this season is one course to be his most successful yet. He’s a true professional. He is technically gifted. He is Fulham’s current top goal scorer. All those traits make me wonder why the Jamaican international still so criminally underrated.

Forever Mr. Versatile

When things aren’t going right at Fulham – and even when things are going well – we can rely on BDR to stay calm and do the business. Whether it’s putting in a man-of-the-match display playing right-back against Liverpool three years ago, or providing the winning goal against Arsenal in the statement win of this campaign, he’s always applying himself to the situation and always fully grasping what that situation requires of him. As the social media phrase goes, he understands the assignment.

I’ve no doubt that BDR, despite his height, would put on goalkeeping gloves and do a half-decent job retaining a clean sheet for 15 minutes at the end of a game. He really is that adaptable. A lot of people forget that Steven Gerrard played almost every position for Liverpool by the time he was in his 30s. BDR is that guy for Fulham, albeit not home grown. In front of goal this season Bobby has comparable stats with Marcus Rashford. Both have 30% shot accuracy and five goals. And yet, Marcus Rashford can’t be asked to play right-back for 10 minutes, let alone a full 90. He brings that level of versatility to the squad, who can then trust him to respect the demands of a new position. Other players just can’t play in this way.

Traditionally, these sorts of utility players suffer as a result of their versatility – managers often can’t decide where to use them. They’re seen as a jack of all trades, yet a master of none. Bobby’s played 172 times for Fulham, thanks to the fact that although he can play across the pitch, he excels on the that right-hand side of a front three, as his 27 goals attest.

Quality contributions

Rodrigo Muniz will grab the headlines after the win at Bournemouth this weekend, and rightly so, but make no mistake: BDR is also capable of controlling and changing games. Last term, three of his four goals gave Fulham the lead. He steps up when the team need to score, simple and vital. World class strikers who scored a lot of goals, were regularly criticised for not scoring important goals. Each of Bobby’s goals scored in this season, again, have given us the lead. Every goal that Bobby has scored this season, bar the game against Liverpool, has meant that Fulham have gone on to victory. Define important.

His goal against Bournemouth epitomises this best. When the other team make an error in early stages of the game, his calmness to put the chance away settles the nerves of teammates and fans alike. We all turn and look at each other nodding, “oh yes, how could we forget, he’s quality”. He makes it look easy. A truly great attribute.

His goal against Sheffield United, in a win that was similar this weekend’s victory against Bournemouth, was equally as assured. He doesn’t look like missing in situations when he should score. He can miss the hard chances, the half chances, but he doesn’t miss the gilt-edged opportunities. So often, it is those chances that can define the course of a season.

Professionalism personified

BDR has captained the side once this term – the 2-2 draw against Arsenal at the Emirates. And it was very professional display for those who remember. Tim Ream and Tom Cairney have been the most loyal of servants, but BDR is also right up there in terms of leadership capability. He sets an example with his determination and workrate. People forget the fact that he too has been up and down with Fulham. Going through that footballing rollercoaster isn’t easy, and his commitment won’t go unnoticed to the club’s hierarchy, who are in talks over his contract extension. His current deal is set to expire this summer.

We should also pay attention to his contributions with the background staff and the Fulham Foundation, as he regularly makes the effort to visit the schools in the community. Gary Lineker also recently praised BDR for another off-the-pitch moment. He sat next to Bobby who was with his wife and child on a long-haul flight to LA. Gary had feared for the eight or so hours that were ahead of him. A young child is a not always a great flight companion. However, Gary said he needn’t have worried because Bobby’s young baby was so well behaved. You just know that professionalism is coming through in his role as a parent too.

It’s arguable that his professional attitude hasn’t quite enamoured him deep into the Fulham favourite category. After all, football is known for its mavericks and big characters. Comparatively, Bobby is a more reserved and focused individual. With a sister as who is an MP and a mum who raised him as a single parent, it might come as no surprise. But maybe this season, if all goes well, Fulham will look back and remember not all heroes wear capes; and that it is often the unsung who keep us all singing.

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