Position: Left Winger
From: Watford FC Academy
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: Back at the crossroads.
Past Profiles: September 2005, June 2004, April 2002
It was with great excitement that I profiled Macca last season. Just after the Derby game, when he had played three full games in succession, it really seemed that his career was going to take off in the way we all expected it to four years ago.
To recap, he emerged on the scene as a bright spot… no, the bright spot at the end of Vialli's shambolic effort, smashing in a twenty-five yarder in the season's finale at home to Gillingham and generally leaving everyone - us, his colleagues, his opponents - in a spin with his ability to dance around defenders twice his size and with ten times his experience. A promising season followed, the problem being that it was never really anything beyond promising. And now, after it all seemed to go wrong (the low point being a disappointing loan spell at Barnet) and then go right again, it still isn't really anything better than promising.
When Graham Taylor returned as team manager in 1997, he said of Craig Ramage: "He's got a lot of potential. The trouble is, at twenty-eight, you shouldn't be talking about potential." Anthony McNamee isn't twenty-eight. He doesn't seem to be afflicted with Craig Ramage's over-inflated sense of self-worth either. But equally, he's not eighteen, and at twenty-three years of age, it's really time to see something.
Not that we haven't already seen a lot. The brilliance of McNamee is that there is an end product to his tricks. Plenty of players have got so far on pace and trickery alone, but few can whip in a cross like Little Ant. It's no wonder there is a sense of anticipation when he gets the ball, and even more so when he works his way into a crossing position. The problem is the same as it's always been: He doesn't get the ball very often.
That, and the fact that he cannot defend to save his life. Perhaps this is the reason for his increasingly sparse starts last season, but then, did Chris Eagles offer a fat lot more in that regard? Plus, playing Macca on the left allowed Young to operate on the right, which always seemed to work better. Maybe if Paul Robinson was still around, or someone else a bit more solid than Jordan Stewart at left back, Macca's defensive inadequacies might have been less of an issue; it's not as if the ability to defend appears to be top of Aidy's checklist when looking for a winger.
This is not to erase from memory the contributions Macca did make last season. He did see a fair bit of the ball in some games. He did put the ball into the box. He did make defenders look stupid. Sticking in my mind, his cross for Paul Devlin's goal at Stoke was a thing of brilliance, the like of which belongs on a bigger stage. Perhaps you recall his display at home to Southampton, one that I was not fortunate enough to witness, but that had one of the co-editors drooling.
Oh yes, Anthony McNamee can have a major impact on the outcome of a game. That is not in doubt. But now - and this time, I mean it! - he has to show he can do it in most games. I hope he does, because I'm sure this is it now.
Tune in next year for Anthony McNamee's latest profile. Or his 'Gone But Not Forgotten'…
Last updated: August 2006