HILLSBOROUGH’S announcer asked for a car to be moved the other night: it’s registration included the letters ROD and it was a Mondeo.
Surely this couldn’t be the latest signing’s personalised number plate and his unexpectedly unexotic motor?
Of course it wasn’t, though it was an amusing thought.
I’m sure Rodri could afford a classy model of some sort.
In him, Wednesday have landed a classy footballer without having to break the bank.
Early in the summer, Dave Jones told me that he was targeting at least one exciting player from abroad, who could make a difference to the club’s prospects in the Championship. Rodri, it turns out, was one of them.
The Wednesday manager has contacts in Europe and is clearly on the ball. A loan deal with an option to buy is a great way of bringing in a quality player. You can have a good look at him, and even if you can’t afford to buy him now, that may have changed by the end of the season.
The Owls’ successful pursuit of the Barcelona striker is a sign of the ambition of Jones and Milan Mandaric. I guess that this and other deals also owe something to the seasoned negotating skills of chief executive Paul Aldridge, who likes to stay out of the spotlight but is a key man in the club’s set-up.
When you get a Premier League manager ringing Jones and asking him how the heck he had managed to prise Rodri out of Barcelona, it is a real compliment.
Apart from displays of the striker’s skills on Tuesday, apparently he has made a favourable impression on club staff and players in training. At Hillsborough on Tuesday, there were a few signs of him not quite being on the same wavelength as teammates, at times, which is only to be expected when he’d had little time to settle in and get to know people.
He speaks virtually no English, and the Owls have lined up some assistance so he can pick up the lingo. Mark Beevers said after the Birmingham game, with a smile: “You don’t communicate with him. He hasn’t got any English at all. But, a player like him, you don’t need to communicate with him. He did everything spot on, and he took his goal really well.
“He made himself available to receive the ball, which is exactly what you want from a player in his position. He did really well.
“He’s exactly what you’d expect from a kid from Spain - technically gifted. He got into little pockets of space a lot of time. When he got on the ball and turned, he caused their back four problems.”
The language issue should not be a major obstacle. Foreign players tend to either have a basic grasp of English, or learn it pretty quickly.
A classic example was Dejan Stefanovic. He spoked no English when he arrived with compatriot Darko Kovacevic from Yugoslavian side Red Star Belgrade in the 1990s. Kovacevic could not settle in Sheffield and did not last long, but Stefanovic made a real effort to absorb the language and integrate himself into the life of the club and the city.
If someone can really play, then that is the key thing - and that was the main reason why Rodri was given an instant debut.