Why is Aiden McGeady thriving at Spartak Moscow?

The Ireland winger might want to leave, but his performances have been pretty good

Giovanni Trapattoni will be announcing the next Ireland squad in my native Leitrim tomorrow and after an injury-enforced absence of six months Aiden McGeady is likely to be in it even though the Russian league just slapped him with a lengthy ban.

However thinking beyond the upcoming qualifiers and friendlies, careful consideration should be given to the way in which certain players are deployed for the Boys in Green.

And McGeady could be one of those whose role could be examined thoroughly.

Gifted with searing pace and tricks, the former Celtic winger often flatters to deceive in an Ireland shirt with his return of two goals in 52 caps, although he does compensate this with 14 assists in that time.

However his crossing and general end product can sometimes be lacking on the flanks.

That is a stark contrast to his form at Russian club Spartak Moscow. Since moving to the Russian capital in 2010, he has amassed 10 goals and 19 assists in the Russian Premier League.

Not an elite league by any means, it is still a far higher level than the Scottish Premier League where he made his name.

He has been a regular for Spartak, making the headlines last week for a fantastic goal against Mordavia Saransk, although this was marred by an unfortunate sending off that has resulted in a six game ban for allegedly “thrashing the dressing room” and making a gesture to fans. With the season drawing to a close, he may have played his last game in Russia.

Apart from that incident, his time in Russia can be defined as a success.

Part of this stems from the fact that Spartak play with a formation that seems ideally suited to McGeady’style of play.

The 4-2-3-1 formation instituted by manager Valeri Karpin leaves McGeady less isolated on the flank than the brand of play espoused by Trap.

In a rigid 4-4-2 with target men, the wingers need to be strong crossers of the ball with the power and athleticism to cover the flanks.

As a two-footed striker of the ball starting on the right wing for Spartak, McGeady is able to get involved in interplay, combinations and vary his movement.

There is less emphasis on crossing than the rigid 4-4-2. It also requires less defensive work and tracking back, while he is encouraged to cut inside and shoot on goal.

Consequently his pass completion rate in his forays in the Champions League is 79 per cent, while he completed just one of eight crosses in this season’s competition. In those three games, it resulted in one assist – a good rate at that level for a club which finished bottom of its group.

Take a look at his very central positioning for Spartak against Celtic: 

In contrast Trap has mostly deployed McGeady on the left wing, whereas placing him on the right could allow him to form an exciting partnership with the buccaneering Seamus Coleman.

Of course there is a need for caution as McGeady is set to exit Moscow in the summer to try and secure a place in the Premier League with Everton leading the chase.

If his prospective new club deploys him in the correct position and he gets some rhythm, there is scope for experimentation for Trap’s eventual successor.