The Monday Profile: Alberto Bueno
If Derby County have stuttered to another unconvincing season, prolonging Nigel Clough’s honeymoon period to the lengthiest in history this side of Alex Ferguson (remember his poor start from the late eighties?), Saturday’s defeat against Reading caught my attention for the performances of two galacticos.
Daniel Ayala was imperious at centre half and the Rams will do well to keep him – he exuded calm and, having already spent a spell on loan at Hull City, will be on the radar of many a club from today – in all likelihood those of the Premier League variety.
But it’s another on loan Hispanic whom I had at first been most keen to see. Alberto Bueno received rave reviews before Christmas and, operating skilfully behind an energetic front two of Jamie Ward and Callum Ball, has a touch that recalls another playmaker dear to Derbyshire hearts, Iñigo Idiakez.
It had been a productive few months. The Rams welled up with belief in August and September and the Spaniard was prominent indeed in a run that saw 14 points garnered from 18 games. This led to talk of a transfer to Wigan – unsurprising given that club’s stewardship and the Madrid born man’s playing philosophy – but Derby managed to retain their grip.
But a few months on and Clough recently hinted that the extension of the temporary agreement with Real Valladolid was unlikely to stretch into a second season. Surely a club that will be shorn of the midfield promptings of Robbie Savage needs all the players it can get?
The Reading match in many way represented a microcosm of Bueno’s season – initially bright but fading as proceedings drew on. Above all, the presence of a player “in the hole”, unrequired to carry out any defending is a luxury in modern football that needs to be compensated by a scoring total better than five for the campaign. It can work with one up front as part of a 4-2-3-1 formation and this has often been the manager’s preferred approach; but with two out and out men, the one behind becomes an advanced attacking midfielder sans tackling, and with the likes of Alejandro Faurlin, Andy King mixing guile with grit this year, Bueno’s attributes lend him the air of a soft touch.
So, despite 22 goals at an equivalent level for Real Madrid’s B Team between 2006 and 2009, it seems Bueno will be striking out for meadows new in 2011-12.