That night at Hillsborough when Collin Quaner came on and changed the game against Sheffield Wednesday was the first demonstration of Quaner’s unorthodox effectiveness.
Undoubtedly, there is something unorthodox and unique about Town’s well-liked winger and yet, he has proven his effectiveness in the Premier League now as well as the Championship.
Yesterday’s performance, as well as his display against Brighton & Hove Albion was another example of Quaner’s effectiveness.
For some, Collin Quaner is a cult hero. He is the man who hit himself on the head with his playoff winners medal. To others, he is a caricature of a footballer, akin to a giraffe on ice or other comedic metaphors.
Despite the many perceptions or arguably misconceptions that are construed about Collin Quaner, over the past six months, he has successfully made the transition from the 2. Bundesliga to the Premier League.
Many Town fans, admittedly myself included, were unsure if Collin Quaner had what it took to step up to the Premier League level and perform in one of the most competitive leagues in the world.
However, if yesterday’s and recent performances were a benchmark to go by, then he very much is capable of not just stepping up but thriving in the Premier League.
Strength of Character
Facing fierce competition in the shape of newly-arrived Tom Ince, Town’s top goalscorer from last season Elias Kachunga and the improving Rajiv van La Parra, Collin Quaner has had to bide this time and show great patience to get his opportunity.
On the opening day of the season, Collin Quaner came off the bench to set up Steve Mounie’s second goal and Town’s third as Town climbed to the top of the Premier League table.
Since then, Quaner has only made four Premier League starts.
However, after an impressive performance against Brighton & Hove Albion, Quaner was rewarded with another opportunity against an out of sort’s Watford side and he took that opportunity.
It was apparent that Watford’s switch to a variation of the 3-4-3 to accommodate their growing list of absentees was an uncomfortable one.
Not only that, if there was a blatant chink in Watford’s armour, it was the channel between Adrian Mariappa and Jose Holebas.
Over the course of ninety minutes, as the touch-map above shows, that channel and the space that was left behind Watford’s wing-back Jose Holebas was fully exploited by Collin Quaner.
The touch-map above shows that Quaner was heavily involved and influential going forwards. He also showed the discipline to track back and demonstrate his dominance in both boxes.
A genuine threat
What was most impressive about the performance was simply the threat that Quaner posed.
As well as providing the perfect cross to a beautiful move for Aaron Mooy’s first goal of the afternoon, he also created numerous chances for himself and his team-mates.
There was a blend of deft touches and moments of quality which isn’t often associated with Quaner. This in addition to his raw physicality that causes full-backs so many problems.
Just after half-time was an example of that as Quaner showed once again that he had far too much strength and athleticism for Jose Holebas as he burst past the Greek defender and almost laid it on a plate for Tom Ince.
Quaner also had numerous other opportunities. This included a lung-busting run into the box which inadvertently led to Town’s third goal as his battle with Jose Holebas created the space for Laurent Depoitre to stroll through and fire his shot beyond Heurelho Gomes.
As well as that, there was also a header that flashed just wide of the post and a strike that was brilliantly cleared off the line by Abdoulaye Doucouré in the final minute.
After a string of away performances where Town looked extremely blunt going forward and vulnerable defensively, Collin Quaner epitomised everything successful about Town’s comprehensive victory against Marco Silva’s Watford side.
Whilst many wouldn’t have predicted Quaner to be one of Town’s most potent threats in the Premier League, in recent weeks, he has shown that he is exactly that.
After the cruel twist of fate which saw Elias Kachunga score his first Premier League goal and Town’s first Premier League away goal in seven matches, the energetic winger was then stricken by an innocuous knee injury.
This unfortunate injury which could see Kachunga sidelined for some weeks may have opened a window of opportunity for Collin Quaner to solidify his place in Town’s starting line-up. He can also continue to forge an excellent partnership with Town’s young blossoming full-back, Flo Hadergjonaj.
In a tight-knit squad with limited resources, David Wagner is in need of strong characters and when he has been given the opportunity, Collin Quaner has shown he has that character in spades.