Matty Hayward – @mattyhayward96
You probably know by now that we’ve signed a striker called Rob Street, on loan until the end of the season.
The name Rob Street is, I think, perfect for banter. It’s not like his name is Jimmy Goal or Danny Shittu where the jokes sort of write themselves: the word “street” has just the right number of associated phrases (e.g. “Right Up My Street”; “Quality Street”; “Street Smarts”; “Original Pirate Material You’re Listening To The Streets” etc.) so that everyone can have their own and it still be funny, but not too many that the comedy element becomes diluted. Gary Lineker will have an absolute field day in 2022 when Rob scores on his debut for Palace, and that’s something I like in a player.
Unfortunately that’s insufficient for an article about a new signing. My job here isn’t to google “words that can proceed Street” like a question setter on Only Connect, it’s to tell you what he’s like as a footballer. So here we go.
This section will be shorter than most. What’s the opposite of “he’s had more clubs than Tiger Woods”? He’s had fewer clubs than someone who’s only ever played pitch and putt?
What I’m trying to say is Street has only ever been signed to Crystal Palace, and his loan spell with the Gulls will be the first of his career. That said, he was relative a latecomer to the professional academy route, having spent most of his teenage years playing grassroots football in London, before joining in 2019 and scoring a brace on his U23s debut.
He’s had a pretty successful 2020-21 season so far for the Eagles’ U23 side, scoring 5 times in 8 starts and helping them to fourth place in PL2 (the Premier League’s U23 league).
The standard and style of PL2, so we keep being told, is vastly different to that of men’s non-league football. That gap was evident at the weekend, where a very young Derby side were bullied and outperformed by grizzled, semi-pro outfit Chorley. That’s the main challenge for Street: especially as a big lad, scoring against lads your age is one thing, but those defences will be weaker and far less experienced than those of Notts County or Solihull who he’ll be coming up against in the weeks and months to come.
It’s time to get over-excited about a player on the basis of a few YouTube clips again! First up, at 1:55 in this video, Rob receives a through ball nicely and his finish from the edge of the box nestles in the bottom corner:
At 3:49 here, Rob does a very similar thing. This time in an FA Youth Cup tie at Reading, he takes a neat touch and finishes expertly.
We finish with a lovely goal. Street is thrown the ball from the right. He brings it down on his chest, completely outmuscles the Sunderland defender and fires past the ‘keeper.
Playing Style and Where He Fits
Gary has worked out a way he wants to play this season: attacking football with quick wingers, runs from a number ten to stretch the play, all centred around a strong centre forward who can hold the play up and get a fair share of goals. Street seems to fit that style perfectly. At 6ft1 and with the strength evidenced in those clips, it’s clear he is used to and able to play as a target man. His close control looks good, too, and his finishing (albeit from a small sample size of YouTube highlights!) looks decent. It’s as if he’s been custom-built as a younger version of Danny Wright – he even looks a bit like him if you squint!
Also, and I really don’t mean to alarm people here, Palace’s former U23 boss Richard Shaw described Street as “like a young Ian Wright”. Shaw speaks very highly of the youngster’s attitude – “I know Rob Street will come out of training, he will have me out there until 10 o’clock at night serving him balls […] a real sheer bloody-mindedness.” This is obviously an excellent sign: going straight into a successful side and playing at an unfamiliar level will be tough for a young forward, so an eagerness to work hard through that adversity will be key to his success at Plainmoor and beyond.
While it’s probably harsh on Umerah, you’d expect Rob to go straight into the starting XI for this weekend’s FA Trophy clash at Boreham Wood. That should be a good opportunity for Gary to have a look at him in a competitive environment, and for the loanee to prove himself and start to develop links with the Lemon and co.
Let’s hope Street helps us towards our coronation.
COYY – Matty