Striker..Front Man..No9..Frontrunner.. Centre Forward..Goalscorer..Deep Lying Forward..False No9
All different ways to describe a Central Attacker..but last week I was asked if they are different jobs..and the decline of forward partnerships
In my experience there are different kinds of Central Attackers who perform different jobs.
A Centre Forward is someone who can be the focal point of attacks, can hold the ball up threaten with pace and cause the opposition defense to stay honest and drop the necessary depth to allow the whole team to dominate possession. Ideally pace, power, strength, fitness are needed. In the age of many teams playing 1 up front..this type of Attacker is in vogue.
Drogba is the epitome of this striker..
Natural Goalscorer..call it what you like but players like this come alive in the box..they are focussed on the goal at all times, sometimes to the detriment of hold up play, open play runs..but his currency is goals. You may have to accommodate him with the correct partner to supplement his game, and he probably will not be able to be relied on to play up front on his own but he will reward you with goals..there was a time when every team had at least 1 or 2 of these, but at the moment this type of player is not in fashion. Due to tactical demands.
Romario is my favourite example
Deep Lying Striker
This Player traditionally needed a striker to balance with, but in the era of False 9′s teams are playing with a player like this up top on his own.. Touch, technique, appreciation of space and movement are key to this type
Zola is an example
The Strike Partnership is dead because of rotation, not allowing a duo to develop a relationship (can you think of a strike partnership that play regularly in the Premier League) Teams are being picked on the premise of tactics, balance and affecting the opposition
This has affected the Goalscorer more than anyone..for instance, in what era can a player with Jermaine Defoe’s goalscoring record not start every week, in the past teams would be made around his type of player. Lineker, Rush, Allen, Owen whatever they could not do you would find a partner to balance their talents..
Now make no mistake in the end all Central Attackers will be judged on goals, and the best players will always come out on top regardless of their type but losing 3-2 but scoring a brace will not keep you in the team, tactically Managers will make decisions based on how they can win games, not by how can they assist a front unit to score goals..at Bristol Rovers myself and Jaime Cureton scored 52 Goals in a Season, but the balance was not right and we did not make the Play-offs..I would have swapped half of our goals for success..
At Wigan my partnership with Nathan Ellington was hugely successful because we could both cover most bases and our understanding was incredible, the team balance was excellent..and in truth we just tried to pass to each other as much as possible
A frustration for me at Blackburn was that myself and Benni McCarthy did not get more game time together, I don’t know our stats but I remember we scored 9/10 goals in 4 games at the end of one season, and I always felt that partnership would have been successful, but a mixture of form, tactics and Roque Santa Cruz’s amazing performances put paid to that. I played up front on my own for a Sam Allardyce team at Blackburn and it was a tough lonely job..winning free kicks and troubling the defence was a large part of the brief..goals were hard to come by, but results were good..a top ten finish was justification enough, although at times it felt like I was sacrificing myself for the team.
Like any Fashion, the Striker will be back in vogue soon enough..but he will be asked to do many other jobs too, or he will find himself out of the team without doing much wrong..
The Strike Partnership is dead in my opinion though..2 strikers at the top level is seen as a luxury now and being outnumbered in midfield is unthinkable, I do not agree with that as I think a responsible 2 will ensure that 1 drops into a position to attach himself to the deep lying midfielder and hell maybe I am just a romantic..I miss every team having a partnership that would just roll off your tongue.
Yorke & Cole
Shearer & Sutton
Collymore & Fowler
Stoichkov & Romario
Hasselbank & Viduka
Klinsmann & Sheringham
Owen & Heskey
Now…how could that be a luxury…