I hope I am wrong, the boy is still not much more than a kid after all, but I have a hunch that Junior may be destined to play out his career in the lower divisions.
His rise to prominence under Zola was certainly meteoric. One moment he was out on loan at Southend and not really being talked about as a future first team player, the next he was being press ganged into plugging a hole in the team because of injuries and a threadbare first team squad.
Undoubtedly there was early promise, with a return of 6 goals from his first 19 appearances, but since then, the goals have dried up and the lad has looked either very short on confidence or a little short on class. In fact, since he scored in the 5-3 victory over Burnley back in November of last year, Stanislas has only completed a full 90 minutes for the first team once, either being used as a sub or being subbed off if he has started.
Can anybody remember a convincing Stanislas performance since the Burnley game? He was even withdrawn against Oxford in the League Cup game, having looked pretty ineffectual when on.
I argued through last season for him to be switched from the left flank to the right, on the basis of him being naturally right footed. Zola declined to do it and Grant has arrived and used him on the left too. The trouble is, the boy is so easy to mark when wide left. He automatically positions himself to come inside as the ball is passed to him, so the full back knows that there is no danger of being skinned on his outside.
I heard Lee Dixon talking on the radio about how, as a full back, he hated wingers that he couldn't read. He explained that, although not quick, he could handle the speed merchants who always tried to do him for pace on the outside, because he knew in advance what they would try to do. Equally, it was easy to mark a winger who always sat high, or always dropped deep, or always came inside. In Dixon's words, "Variety is the winger's most potent weapon and uncertainty is the biggest threat to a defender", or words to that effect. And there, in a nutshell, is why Stanislas is so easy to mark when played wide left. The defender KNOWS he will drift inside and so can read his next move.
Against Oxford, Stanislas tried to receive the ball wide left and dribble up the left flank. He used his right foot to control the ball and play it forward, and promptly kicked the ball into touch three feet in front of him. It was comic to watch because it was so pathetic. The Oxford full back was a big lump and I would have fancied my chances of skinning him, but Stanislas didn't do him down the outside once.
To be a success in the Prem, I am convinced that Stanislas either needs to switch to the right or be moved inside, playing on the shoulder of the striker. The trouble is, the one time he was tried on the right by Zola, he looked all at sea and utterly disinterested in the game.
Will he come again, or like others before him, will Stanislas simply slip down into the Championship to play out the remainder of his career?