Richardson yearns for attacking role
HE has played at left-back, left midfield and central midfield this season, but Sunderland jack-of-all-trades Kieran Richardson feels he will never be able to fill his preferred position because of an English fear of fluidity. While he is confident he can be effective in many roles, Richardson's preference is to play behind a lone centre-forward. He was offered such a position in pre-season impressing in wins over Atletico Madrid and Celtic, but reverted to a more orthodox left-wing role when the campaign began in earnest at Bolton last August. He has not returned to the apex of the midfield since, and while he continues to believe it represents his best position, the 25-year-old understands why manager Steve Bruce is reluctant to change his formation to accommodate a roving midfielder. I'd love to play in the hole behind the strikers, said Richardson, who has struggled for both form and consistency this season. That would be ideal for me, but English clubs don't play that system. It's only really foreign clubs who do that. If you're in that position it gives you licence to roam, which would be good for me. But in England we play a different style and it's no good having someone wandering about in a free role. You play where you are told. For a sizeable chunk of the season, Richardson has been instructed to fill in at left-back in place of George McCartney. He has never looked at ease in the role, with his natural desire to attack clashing with a need for defensive solidity. Given McCartney's struggles at Arsenal last weekend, Richardson could yet find himself back there against Fulham on Sunday. And while he admits that left-back was initially an alien position he feels he has improved with every performance in the role. I feel as though I've got better in that position, definitely, he said. I feel more confident than I did when I first went back there, and all that matters to me is playing in every game. I still think attacking midfield is my best position. I've played virtually my whole career in midfield, either on the wing or in the middle, and that's where I enjoy playing. But if the manager feels like I can do a job there (leftback), I am more than happy to do that. Whenever I've been asked to play there, I've just got on with it and tried to do the job to the best of my ability. I've never moaned about it, I've done my best for Sunderland Football Club. It's not always about me and what I want. With Anton Ferdinand having started in the midfield holding role at the Emirates Stadium last weekend, and Darren Bent playing left midfield, Richardson is not the only Sunderland player asked to perform an alien role. The size of the Black Cats' squad means versatility is a valuable asset, and while constantly chopping and changing is hardly ideal, Richardson accepts there are precious few alternatives available. Moving around the pitch from week to week doesn't help your form, he said. But the injuries have meant lots of us have had to move positions to fill in where there are holes. There's no point complaining, what good is that going to do when the manager doesn't have any other options Aston Villa's FA Cup win over Crystal Palace last night means Sunderland's game at Villa Park, due to be played on March 6, has now been postponed.
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