by Peter Lorimer
Strikers come in different shapes, sizes and forms. Just because you play up front doesn’t mean you’re a good goalscorer.
There’s an art to finding the net and it’s not so much a case of where you play as how you play. Some forwards have a better awareness of where the net is and some are more natural strikers of the ball. I was lucky to have a good hit on me in my time and that brought me plenty of goals.
But the biggest things are positioning and anticipation. The most prolific players are the ones who get themselves where they need to be time after time.
You’ll often hear forwards derided as poachers. I laugh when people say things like ‘he got a couple of goals but they were only tap-ins.’ Yes, they were only tap-ins. But if you’re doing that 25 times a season then those tap-ins add up to an awful lot of points.
And in any case, how many sitters are you going to score if you’re 10 yards behind the ball or in amongst four defenders when a pass comes across the box? That’s the art of goalscoring – getting into space and giving yourself the chance to really hurt teams.
At the moment Brian McDermott doesn’t have that player in his squad. He’s got plenty of forwards to work with and I’m not criticising any of them but none of them have a strong track record for scoring 20 times a season.
Ross McCormack has done it a couple of times but he’s had disappointing years too so you’d probably say he’s hit and miss. I wouldn’t put him in the category of someone like Jermaine Beckford who had the knack of hitting the net time and again. Thirty four goals in one term was the best record of anyone at Leeds since John Charles which tells you everything about the type of forward Beckford was.
So if Leeds United are going to bring a proven goalscorer to Elland Road, that seems like a good thing to me. We’ve all expressed concerns about creativity but Saturday’s game against Burnley actually showed that the squad are capable of laying on a decent amount of chances.
But at no stage of that defeat did I ever feel like the goals were coming. At 2-0 down, I honestly couldn’t see the team scoring three. True, we could have nicked a draw in the end but all in all it was one of those afternoons. Burnley probably deserved the points.
It’s a little frustrating because I do feel that a lot of our football is good. There are going to be off-days and afternoons when things don’t work but I feel that Brian has a plan and is implementing it gradually. The team played well at Bolton and were unlucky to get nothing from the game at Reading. The loss to Burnley compounded that defeat.
I don’t see any point in panicking about two defeats, not when the form has been pretty stable this season, but you do have to acknowledge the fact that the top end of the Championship is moving pretty fast.
Queens Park Rangers are up to 20 points already and four clubs have averaged more than two points a game. I know promotion isn’t a concrete target for Leeds this season but it goes without saying that Brian will want to try and stay in the mix for as long as possible. Stick around for long enough and you never know. No-one ever wants to aim for mid-table.
We all thought the Championship would be a very even field again but the way the results are going, teams will get left behind if they’re not careful. The games come really quickly between the international breaks and time flies at this stage. We were all pretty happy when Leeds finished last month with 11 points but here we are, approaching the end of September, and the tally hasn’t changed. It’s a reminder of what an unforgiving league the Championship can be.
As I see it, Leeds aren’t a million miles away from being in the mix and the acquisition of a reliable goalscorer would be a big help. The team have proven that they’re capable of creating chances on their day and having someone to put them away regularly would lift the confidence of the entire squad.
I was pleased to see the club starting making moves to get a new forward this week and hopefully we’ll see some progress. But at the same time, I know what a battlefield it is out there and I’m not naive about the loan window.
It’s never easy to find quality goalscorers outside the FIFA transfer window. Why? Because by definition, club’s don’t want to lose quality goalscorers. They’re the most valuable commodity in football. And so they should be.