There always have been examples of talented individuals getting sacrificed due to team balance in sports. When done on the domestic level, an exciting career is compromised as there will not be a solid base for the recruiters to adjudge a player. Kind of such a case is TRAU’s 22-year old midfielder Meitalkeishangbam Roger.
Roger is a defensive-minded midfielder by nature. In the games he has played for TRAU this season, he has played as one of the pivots. His passing stats do justice to his role. He has a short passing accuracy of 85%. He doesn’t play long balls, but his accuracy is 83% – great numbers!
Being on the defensive side of the midfield means you will have to be involved in physical duels all the time. Roger’s duel involvement rate this season has been around 11 per game. It goes above 13 when it comes to his entire I-League career. As a side note, as per Wyscout, he was involved in 25 duels in one of the only two games he played in the 2019-20 season against the champions, Mohun Bagan. He succeeded in 15 of them. He also succeeds in a duel 57% of the time, which is above average for an Indian player.
Over his entire I-League samples, M Roger has managed a successful action rate of 72%. It goes up a bit to 75% over this season. Needless to mention that he is not someone who would contribute a lot to the scoresheet. It’s also evident by the statistics he has produced. He has taken six shots, which has accounted for only 0.28 xG. Only two of them were on target, and none went in. Players like Jahouh ping a lot of balls to create chances from deep. The same doesn’t seem to be in Roger’s arsenal. His xA account of 0.06 accounts for that. But he has recorded a sound 71.4% accurate final third passes.
Statistically, he sounds like a player who, most importantly, has the command of the passing he does. He may not slide into tackles a lot, but he knows a bit or two about winning duels for his team. But is the sample size enough? The statistics mentioned in the article are from over the range of just 5 I-League games. Meitalkeishangbam Roger is at the club for the third straight season. He played only two games in his debut season, went gameless the next, and is finally getting a few chances to prove himself.
What position suits him the best? Being one of the pivots partnered with the right profile sounds compatible. When in the pivot, he needs to be with someone who is hardworking and tackles/intercepts/blocks here and there (and could go forward at times). Someone like Suresh Wangjam would do a lot of good to him and the team balance overall.
Indeed, the sample size of 3-5 games doesn’t depict the indeed, the sample size of 3-5 games doesn’t depict the entire picture. But it does show the promise it should show. Roger may require a much more involved player around him, but he is sure of what he does. As the bottom line, it’s fair to say that he deserves more playing time on the pitch.
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