After the first instalment of the Technical View where I looked into ‘The Art of Defending’. This time I’m targeting the other end of the pitch as it were, and looking into whether the goal getting Striker is facing extinction from our game.
Take yourself back to when you were at school, what position did every kid want to play in within the school team? Striker.
That’s right the position where you get to score the goals.
Every kid wanted that feeling you get when you score a goal in a match. Heck, doesn’t matter if it’s in a U10 school game or a University 5-aside game – Yes that’s right I’m name dropping the hat- trick I scored in 2nd year for The Honey Badgers.
But anyway. No one ever seemed to remember the stellar goalkeeping displays or majestic defensive performances only the goals scored – I’m not bitter but it’s the truth.
The game we love shifts effortlessly between defence and attack, and with each manager applying their own unique philosophy.
Some believe success will be found from an all-out attack formula like AS Monaco’s manager Leonardo Jardim (Being the leading goalscorers in Europe you can’t blame his theory!)
Whilst others believe success will be found from swift counter attacking football such as what Chelsea are playing under Conte at the moment – Which again you can’t argue with either.
Even with the colossal range of philosophies out there, there does seem to be one common theme – Where have all the poachers gone?
The strikers with born intuition of where the goal is and ready to pounce on a goalkeeper’s mistake at any moment. We’ve seen them in the past with Gary Lineker and Ian Wright as prime English examples – but where are they now? Surely the modern game can still accommodate for players of this ilk.
Players who are in the team for one reason and one reason only – To Score Goals. Strikers who are always composed on the ball and know their angles inside out back to front.
Take last night’s Champions League game for example – Robert Lewandowski is arguably one of World Football’s Premier Strikers – and his movement off the ball was incredible, pulling apart both Gunner CB’s. But from multiple chances he only converted from the penalty spot. What has have happened to the clinical strikers in our game?
It would appear within the modern game there is no place for this mould of striker anymore. With the Total Football brand appearing to shape how a large majority of teams over Europe want to play their football – which fundamentally suggests that every team member needs to be able to contribute going forward but also needs to be able to defend.
Has this led to managers overlooking a genuine goal scorer for another player who has superior abilities in holding the ball up or being able to contribute to a defensive approach?
Yes, the argument will come back to me and suggest that if you have players surrounding the striker who are quick footed and creative they will magic plenty of chances up during the game and you would fancy a striker to put at least 1 of them away. So why does it matter?
I just would like to see more poachers in the game, real live wires in the box – not just happy to get on the score sheet once but hungry for the full 90 minutes
Take last night’s Champions League game for example once again, there’s no denying it – Arsenal in the first half were impressive and created multiple chances and on another day, they could have gone in 2 or even 3 – 0 up.
But just stop for a minute, roll back the clock. If you had replaced Giroud a more physical combat striker for the Arsenal legend that is Ian Wright a real fox in the box – In the starting line-up, you have to think the opportunities Arsenal were creating in the first half – Wrighty would have bagged 2 goals at least.
I think sometimes managers are too quick to opt for the bigger physical presence upfront because of the overall game they can bring to the team. Even if that means hindering the team’s attacking options.
Now I’ll get some stick for this next part, but personally I believe that Jermain Defoe has been England’s Premier Finisher for the last decade. Before you begin cursing and muttering under your breath. Hear me out.
He may not have been England’s best complete forward, but in terms of giving him an opportunity to finish – Defoe has rarely let down his club or country. In a 1v1 situation against any keeper in the Premier League, you’d have to fancy Defoe’s chances.
His 150 + Premier League goals have come playing for an array of clubs with Tottenham being probably the biggest of those clubs – It’s interesting how a bigger club has never come in for him.
I think it’s the ability to score all kinds of goals, tap in’s, right foot, left foot, headers, screamers & instinctive goals. The full package. Yes, it might mean the rest of the team needs to work harder as a defensive unit to cover the striker, but surely that’s a price a manager is willing to pay for a somewhat guaranteed return of goals.
It’s understandable that manager’s want to share the attacking responsibilities around, which is why a striker who can hold the ball up well is a valuable commodity but I personally would rather see a striker who turns on the ball and drives forward towards the oppositions goal instead.
Anyway seeing as it’s 10-2 now, this seems a good place to leave it for today.
As Always Ta for reading,