Lacking Up Front?

Last updated : 04 November 2004 By Andy Green
Those who believe we do need to make a signing simply point to the record of our current strikers who have netted only 2 goals from 28 starts.

Everyone would agree that it's a pretty abysmal record and as every game passes without the tally being added to, the records worsen and confidence drops even lower. It is extremely rare that a team manages promotion without one, if not two, of its strikers hitting double figures. With a quarter of the season gone this target looks increasingly unattainable. It's not that there haven't been chances either. Allsopp's had at least three one-on-one's with the keeper and has proceeded to obligingly pass the ball to him on each occasion. Without Burgess he looks a mere shadow of the player from last season. Barmby looks happier dropping deep and creating opportunities for others rather than getting on the end of things himself.

In Wilbraham's case it is not just a lack of goals, but his inability to win enough high balls and hold the ball up sufficiently that has disappointed. Walters on the other hand has done everything right. Always making himself available, finding space and closing down defenders. Unfortunately, and rather crucially, it's just when he gets a sniff of goal that everything goes pear shaped. Last but not least there's Facey. We'll reserve judgement on the burly front-runner for now as he has clearly been unfit during the early stages of the campaign. It looks as though he may now be given his chance and we've all got our fingers tightly crossed.

On the other hand, should all the blame be placed directly at the feet of the strikers? You could argue that most forwards would be struggling for goals at the moment in a team that isn't creating too many opportunities. Elliott and Green are blazing a trail in the goal scoring charts. They've scored their goals, primarily from wide left and right respectively, which is great, but suggests they're attacking the area themselves rather than delivering crosses into it.

We don't really have traditional wide midfield players in our squad. By that I mean tricky, quick players whose primary objective is to beat the fullback and deliver a ball into the box. Elliott would rather run into the box, France concentrates on his defensive duties, Green drifts into the middle, Price can't find last season's form and Barmby and Keane - the only other players to have turned out in wide midfield this season - would rather be playing in a different position.

Another angle on the issue is to look at the current situation and say: ‘Why does it matter who gets the goals, just as long as someone does?' It seems very feasible to me that Elliott could equal Burgess's record of 18 goals from last season. Green could get Allsopp's 15 and a couple from amongst the strikers could get Elliott's 12 and Price's 9 come the end of the campaign.

I for one hope we don't sign another forward. We haven't seen what Facey can do yet and Barmby is back soon. As long as Elliott and Green continue with their current form and we remain in the top six we should persevere with our current crop of strikers. If come late November, results are suffering and no one looks like emerging from the pack then fine, we should step up our efforts to change things around and bring someone in.

I hope this action isn't necessary, but if it is I also hope that we manage to move on one or two strikers, rather than just add to their already sizeable number.