The need for greed
Lower-league legend Nicky Forster kicks off his blog by telling us why goalscorers are so special...
Last Updated: 05/10/10 9:26pm
I have never professed to being an authority on all things football - far from it.
In fact, like many others I spend part of my end-of-season time off attending coaching courses run by the PFA in order to learn more about the game, but if there is one thing that 18 seasons and over 700 games has taught me, it is simply that goals win games.
It is the toughest job on the pitch and its no coincidence that the top paid players are generally those relied upon to put the ball in the back of the net.
A striker is only ever as good as the service they get, but when that service is produced with quality and regularity then goals will follow. It's a great feeling as a goalscorer knowing that a feed of decent deliveries are coming your way each game.
There is often friendly banter within teams arguing the point like schoolkids that 'my job is much harder than yours', but I love winding up defenders by saying that they are the only players on the pitch that can be congratulated for smashing the ball upfield or over a stand without aiming for anyone. Mind you I've done the same in front of goal too many times to remember!
My ex-Reading team-mate and good friend Steve Brown always used to say that a team of defenders will always beat a team of strikers in a game, and I agree; mainly due to the fact that most strikers cannot defend to save their lives (me included!). But there is more to it than that.
Defenders are where they are for a very good reason, like goalkeepers and midfielders most players find their place on the field at an early stage in life and stay pigeon-holed.
I've often joked with team-mates that goalkeepers are crazy, defenders level headed and boring, midfielder either creative or workhorses and strikers are selfish geniuses. Whilst at Birmingham assistant manager Mick Mills labelled the midfielders as labourers fetching bricks and water for the craftsmen (strikers) to create something. I remember thinking smugly I rather like that!
Strikers are often temperamental characters who can frustrate for long periods, driving both their managers and fans to a point of pulling their hair out before conjuring up a bit of magic capable of winning a game - Brighton's Glenn Murray is a perfect example.
In truth we all love to see both sides of these guys, the magic and the madness. Eric Cantona celebrating with his trademark arrogance was awe-inspiring - but his kung-fu karate kick on a Palace fan equally entertaining.
Ask a proven goalscorer if they would be happy to lose a game 4-3 whilst scoring a hat-trick and they will flatly deny while actually thinking 'I would settle for that'! Greed is a necessary ingredient for any goalscorer and that is a key element which sets them aside from others on a pitch.
I learned this early on in my professional career at Gillingham. I stood at the front of the queue during a shooting practice and asked for balls to be passed to the front and top scorer David Crown came to the from the back of the line and stood in front of me and said 'if you havnt got a ball then you cant have a go'.
It is fair to say that pressures on a striker are very different to that of say a goalkeeper. For example if a striker misses a chance then it invariably isn't as costly as one made by a keeper. The one thing that makes a difference to all players is confidence and its impact is massive; just look at Fernando Torres and Wayne Rooney at present compared to Dimitar Berbatov and Didier Drogba.
In League One this season you need look no further than Peterborough who, with Aaron McLean and Craig Mackail-Smith being fed by George Boyd and Grant McCann, will almost certainly be favourites for the title come May.
A manager once said to me that goals win games and clean sheets win leagues. to which my response was: "You cant win a game 0-0 Gaffer!"
Point proven I think!
Strikers or defenders? Which side of the fence are you on? Let us know by filling in the feedback form below...