The Owen Question

By Sam Bartfield
Last updated : 08 October 2008
I'm about to make a statement which I am frequently ridiculed for, so here goes 'A strikers job is not to score goals'. Ok so I'm exaggerating to emphasise my feelings on the topic but let me explain.

If you want a more apt summary of a strikers job then it is 'to win games', as is the job of any other player on the pitch. However, I also appreciate the obvious need for goals to win games. It all seems fairly obvious so far, so I imagine your still with me.

Here's where it gets a little more complicated. I put a much higher premium on a striker who is involved in all the teams goals, than a striker who scores twice as many but does nothing else. I'd sooner have the striker who is involved in every goal a team scores than a striker who scores a handful of penalties and gets on the end of a few ricochettes but does nothing else.

This is why I would always pick Heskey ahead of Owen. Owen may score than Heskey but to any reasonable observer you can understand that having Heskey in the team may result in more goals overall over the course of 90 minutes. Ask Rooney, Defoe, and even ironically Owen, and they would all agree, although Owen might be hard pushed to admit it.

Its easy for these kind of players to get overlooked. I can understand to the lazy supporter its much easier to stare at the 'goals scored' column on a sunday morning and say oh x is better than y because he's scored more goals and thats the job of a striker. This attitude doesnt require any understanding of the game and it certainly doesnt require any effort to actually watch the matches and look at the contributions made of each player.

There are a couple of cases in point. Heskey has been lauded everywhere he goes despite the meagre return, because those who actually watch the games can see how his contributions result in goals regardless of whether he gets the final touch or not. Liverpool fans will all tell you how much Robbie Keane is contributing to their success this season. His beautiful back post chip for Torres was a glimpse of his genius and required more skill than the finish from Torres, yet all the papers can talk about his goal drought completely disregarding his contribution to the goals they score.

Another perfect case in point is Kevin Davies. Hardly prolific but again ask Kevin Nolan, Diouf, Stelios etc why they scored so many for Bolton down the years and they will all refer to KD, an absolute beast in the air and a clever link player, dare I say it good enough for England. KD is frequently named their fans player of the year down at the Reebok.

Rooney is another example. Not prolific but take him out the team and watch the goals dry up.

In summary the cry for Owen to get a call up because of his goals this season is such a limited view of what a striker is meant to do. If Owen isnt scoring you can guarantee he wont be doing much else, and so what if he pops up with a last minute winner, the chances are with more team minded strikers on the field more goals may have been scored up until that point.

It just frustrates me that strikers get judged solely on goals. If your not prepared to stray away from the premise that 'a strikers job is to score goals' at least judge them on goals scored because of them, rather than just goals scored by them.

Bradford City Match Reports

Sky Bet League One Sat 9th December 15:00

Bradford City 4 - 3 Rochdale

Last game - Match Centre


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