Sometimes in football you have to score goals

by   |   01/05/2019  30 Comments  [Jump to last]

"Sometimes in football, you have to score goals" — Thierry Henry once said, in a moment of transcendental clarity. It is stating the obvious, to say the least, and it's an achievement doing everything else perfect, but it's the goals that count.

At the time of writing, AFC Bournemouth, Leicester City and Watford have scored more goals than us this season. Crystal Palace have outscored us 29/22 on away goals. It is clear that we need a more clinical goalscorer, with the pace and confidence to score away from home too.

Importantly, Dominic Calvert-Lewin should not be vilified for his lack of goals because he contributes like a trojan to the team. If he can add the Drogba-style finishing prowess to his game, he will become a top player. We need to help him get there, opportunities for him will be ever-present.

The need for goals though is there for all to see. The games against Fulham and Crystal Palace recently bring it into sharp focus. Getting the right man in, though, is far from straightforward.

The game has changed. It is not about an old fashioned centre-forward anymore. Take a look at Gonzalo Higuain, a world-class centre-forward struggling in the Premier League. Lacking a bit of pace and mobility, he looks average over here. Defenders can take care of him.

To try and find a 'type' of player that would fit the bill, the missing link, I have looked at this season's top scorers list. Aguero, Kane, and Vardy I think would score 20+ for us. All killer players, there is no loss of focus with these 3 when it comes to scoring a goal. It is the kill of a predator on a weaker beast, an act of nature.

Even at 32, Vardy on a 2-year contract would be interesting. Not as a direct replacement, but to act as a bridge and a foil, sharing games while Calvert-Lewin improves.

If not, can Mr Brands find us the right man?

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Andy Crooks
1 Posted 01/05/2019 at 21:53:06
A very interesting post, Tony. I believe that the most prolific goal scorers have one thing in common: selfishness. Scoring is more important than the team but it helps the team. Shearer, Owen, McDonald, Rush, Latchford – add a hundred more – did not break sweat for the team, they scored goals for their ego.

There is nothing wrong with that because the by-product was wins for the team. It is a mental thing. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is not selfish; he is selfless. He will work to create for others. Can you imagine Shearer or Ian Wright doing that?

Dominic is not lesser, he is different. Marco Silva does not want a goal hanger. I would suggest that Calvert-Lewin is doing exactly what our coach wants. It is selfless, often unrecognized, and why I hold him in the highest regard.

Terence Leong
2 Posted 02/05/2019 at 10:55:28
A few thoughts:

1. It's too early to say if Higuain will continue to struggle. He's only been in the league for 4 months.

2. Vardy is very one-dimensional in his play, though very effective at that. The question is whether his play would suit our team. If we play only a counter-attacking game, that's where Vardy will excel. However, games like Crystal Palace require guile. That's not to say that he won't be a welcome addition.

3. Pace is often cited as critical, but I think it's the eye for goal which sets goalscorers from others. There is still a goalscorer in Tosun; if only his backheel resulted in a goal. Not many on our team can do what Tosun does.

4. A lot depends on what Silva wants from his frontman. If it's about playing the ball to feet, I think Tosun can hold up the ball, and lay it off. But if it's aerial balls to the centre-forward to hold up the ball, then Calvert-Lewin is the go-to guy.

5. It depends on whether and how Calvert-Lewin can develop. He seems to want to develop strength and play like Henry, with blistering pace and then drive forward to score. He might be better off developing traits like Drogba, hold up, lay off, and strike hard/fast. His heading ability is something we should exploit more often.

Paul Goodchild
3 Posted 02/05/2019 at 12:19:27
I would certainly give Bassala Sambou some game time in the next 2 matches and maybe start him tomorrow night. It would give Silva useful insight to see where he is in his development.
Stan Schofield
4 Posted 02/05/2019 at 15:45:51
It's questionable whether Vardy would fit into our team's more flowing skillful style under Silva. Leicester are more direct and workmanlike, which fits Vardy. In contrast, Calvert-Lewin fits us like a glove, and if he could add goals to the space and time he makes for his colleagues, then it would be great.

When we had Lukaku, we were too dependent on one man scoring goals, and wanted that to be spread. Now, we've got Gylfi and Charlie scoring a decent number, so if DCL can add to it, then we're progressing.

Dave Bowen
5 Posted 02/05/2019 at 16:02:31
Watching MotD against Palace, Shearer highlighted Calvert-Lewin's lack of movement for crosses into the box.

Shearer believed he could be taught the correct runs, especially with Big Dunc at the club. I disagree, I don't believe he thinks like a striker. He was a midfielder until 19/20.

In home games against Arsenal & Man Utd, he bullied their defences without offering a goal threat. Away from home, chances are much fewer and we need to be far more clinical. Now, I don't know what the answer is, but sadly it's not Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Ray Robinson
6 Posted 03/05/2019 at 09:47:12
I really like DCL, so don't want to knock the lad who works tirelessly, but I would question the notion that he can be taught how to become more predatory. I firmly believe that top goal-scorers are instinctive and you either have that or you don't. You can be taught how to make better runs, bulk up, be more selfish and, as a result, score more goals but you can't teach that all important striker's instinct.

I think we have to learn how to include DCL in a team that also possesses a natural striker – if that is the way we choose to go forward. To me, DCL is more Shane Long than Aguero! Both players have their merits!

Eddie Dunn
7 Posted 04/05/2019 at 08:20:04
Part of the problem is our shape. We usually rely on Siggi to get up to support DCL or the wide men cutting inside. Tosun is a clinical finisher but he is most suited to playing off a striker. Watching him play for Turkey would suggest he has goals in him. If DCL had his technique he would be a top player.
If we would find a guy who can do the hard work and good hold-up play of DCL but add good finishing to the package then I would expect to have to pay an awful lot of money.
We do need more goals from Bernard and the odd one from Gomes and Gueye...if they are still with us.
Clive Rogers
8 Posted 04/05/2019 at 14:55:23
Calvert-Lewin has improved his build-up play recently, but unfortunately not his box play. He has only scored two goals in the period where he has played from the start, and none for the last seven games. He just doesn't threaten the goal enough.

Against Fulham, Mitrovic had seven shots on goal in the first half. I doubt Dom has had that in the last seven games.

The best strikers are born not made. It is unlikely he will develop the knack. Several times in the last few games he has received the ball in the box, only to turn and play the ball backwards. He can't take the defender on and get a shot in. He is better at heading the ball down for someone rather than at goal.

Darren Hind
9 Posted 05/05/2019 at 10:45:39
Reasoned posts Tony

One of the most intelligent posts I've seen regarding the DCL issue came unsurprisingly from Rick Tarleton on a recent thread.
Rick put up a lists of forwards who, though not prolific themselves, had made an enormous contribution to the goals the team scored, usually by forming great partnerships with natural born predators.
The point being; it doesn't matter who scores the goals as long as you are scoring them.

Those calling for Calvert-Lewin to be replaced are in for a bit of a shock. If by some miracle, we managed to find a natural born finisher, he will be playing along side him, not instead of him. Anybody watching Everton since the turn of the year will know DCL is one of the best footballers in the team.

I'm not sure about Vardy. . Actually I am. He'll be thirty three next year and although he has would undoubtedly score a few, in Calvert Lewin and Richarleson we have two players who are playing at a level Vardy could only dream of at their age.

Richarlison has scored 14 goals, Calvert Lewin 8 (after playing wide or being on the bench much of the early part of the season) even minimal progress will see them improve. Thirty goals from these two next season isn't just a possibilty is a likelihood.

At 22, Richarlison and DCL are doing incredibly well, Despite his immature attitude, Richarlison has proved his worth. . and I don't know of another 22 year old in world football who is being asked to play up top on his own. let alone against the best defenders in the most competitive League. Its an incredibly big ask. Yet we as a team are scoring more and creating more since he was given the role long term. Remember all those games under Sam last season when we could even create a chance ?. . . . Would we have scored those two goals on Friday without his contribution ?

Twenty two is a tender, tender age for forwards. I know there will be some who will point to the rare teenage prodigies like Fowler and Owen over the park. . but they were both burnt out by the time they reached their late twenties. At the other end of the scale people like Wright, Ferdinand and Vardy himself were still scratching around the lower leagues at our boys age.

Money as ever will be tight. The emphasis will be on bringing in more potential whilst developing the potential we already have.

There is a rather touching naivety about the belief that we will be bringing in a proven Marksmen who will guarantee 25 goals.

Call for it all ya want, but it aint happening.

Tony Abrahams
10 Posted 05/05/2019 at 11:13:56
Honestly can't believe that people are prepared to give up on Calvert-Lewin becoming a goalscorer just yet, but I suppose it wasn't that long ago when people were saying he was absolutely cack.

He's filled out, he's getting stronger, he's full of running and he's working his tripe out for the team. Who's to say once he's got a bit more experience, that he might reduce his work rate just a little bit, and this might just bulk up his goals in return?

Brian Harrison
11 Posted 05/05/2019 at 11:39:36

I don't think most people have given up on Calvert-Lewin, as he has made massive improvements to his game this season. Certainly I haven't given up on him, but do I think he should be our first choice striker? No.

Being brutally honest, I doubt that Calvert-Lewin would even be a regular on the bench at any of the top 6 clubs. Now seeing that is the group we are trying to break into, we need the best striker we can get and also, for those who suggest Calvert-Lewin would benefit from having a striker alongside him, I don't see Marco changing his current set-up to 4-4-2.

I would hope that Calvert-Lewin keeps improving, as I am sure he will, and, maybe in a season or two, he can be our 15- to 20-goal striker.

Danny Broderick
12 Posted 05/05/2019 at 11:49:20
Calvert-Lewin brings a lot to the table and has played a big part in our improvement this season. The one thing he doesn't bring, yet, is goals.

I think the solution is to still bring in a striker in the summer, hopefully an experienced one, who can be rotated with Calvert-Lewin to keep them both fresh. There must be a 30-year-old striker out there who can score some goals and take the weight off Calvert-Lewin a bit?

Calvert-Lewin has a real chance of being a proper Premier League striker. We've invested a lot in him, and we don't want to shut off his opportunities completely now. But I think it would be good for his development if he could play the odd game at U23s and bang in some goals.

Tony Abrahams
13 Posted 05/05/2019 at 12:50:03
Maybe he might not get a game for a top 6 side because of his goals return Brian, but I’m sure most teams even in the top 6, wouldn’t mind the rest of this kids game though?

He wouldn’t even make the bench? Fair enough, I’m not going to disagree with that mate, because at this stage of his development then he needs to be involved every week.

Look at his improvement since he’s started playing regularly, and I honestly think if Lewin was scoring more goals then there are very few players I would want to swap him for.

I know the topic, football is about scoring goals, but only the great players keep adding to their game, so I repeat again that maybe once this kid becomes a bit more selfish about his own game, (rather than just killing himself for the team) then he might just start scoring more goals?

I think we need another two strikers though, simply because of the title of this thread!

Kevin Prytherch
14 Posted 05/05/2019 at 12:55:09
One comparison that could be made (not in terms of attributes, but in terms of unselfishly getting others into play) is our former target Olivier Giroud.

He was described by someone at Chelsea as being one of the best in the world when he signed for them; however, he has not been an out-and-out goalscorer for a while.

He didn't play top-level football (French Ligue 1) until he was 24, and Premier League football until he was 26.

Calvert-Lewin is extremely good for his age.

John Daley
15 Posted 05/05/2019 at 14:38:09
The role of a striker has been completely redefined. It is no longer sufficient to simply be a poacher of goals. Once upon a time that is all a striker had to be because that could be considered the sum total of their job (or, at least, they could consider themselves having done their job if they scored). Now, it's an added bonus to occupying an entire back line on your own, battling for flick on's, bringing others into play, closing down from the front, holding the ball up and getting involved in the build up.

Forwards firing in 20 goals a season in this country are fairly thin on the ground. If you look at the total number of goals that have been scored across the Premier League over the last decade or so, there has not been a notable decline at all, as many are hitting the back of the net now as there were then, but there has been a sharp drop off in the number of goals being slotted by strikers.

More modern formations have obviously played a part, with the traditional 4-4-2 being dragged out less than Howard Hughes in his hermity heyday. The popularity of 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 with two wide players deployed to come inside and link with a single centre forward has led to a striker having to get through a shitload more hard slog than they were once required to, whilst simultaneously serving to slowly erode the single-minded selfish streak once seen as a positive for any prospective predator. Allied to teams becoming more tactically astute, organised and tougher to break down, this has led to coaches having to come up with alternative means of scoring goals other than relying, in the main, on the man in the middle getting on the end of a cross.

Look at the criticism Lukaku got whilst here. His goal scoring record could not be knocked but he was still considered by many not to be contributing anywhere near enough in terms of graft and general play. Goals alone were not enough for him to be given a pass by every Evertonian. 10 to 15 years ago people wouldn't have given a fuck as long as he was firing them in on a regular basis.

When Pep Guardiola arrived at City he stated that Sergio Aguero had to give him more. Sergio Aguero. One of the most prolific scorers in the modern game. Goals alone were not enough for him, his manager demanded a greater all round contribution to the teams cause.

Someone like Tony Cottee would be completely screwed in today's climate. He wouldn't even be getting the starts in the Premier League as it is now, because there were no plus points to his game other than a bit of pace and the ability to finish. Playing on his own, without a strike partner, having to harass, harry, run into channels, hold up the ball, track back, link up with midfielders looking to bomb ahead of him, getting buffeted all over the shop by blokes whose ball sacks could sit on his barnet from a standing position, with chances being created for him in front of goal at an all time premium, he'd probably be considered a pudgy powder-puff little prick (with only someone like the Steve Walsh/Koeman combo willing to spunk a record fee on securing his services). You might think 'well, his pace could be used on the counter or to stretch the game' but he lacked the work-ethic to do it consistently with no reward coming his way. Unless turning out for one of the top 6, surrounded by quality capable of creating plentiful chances per game, then striker is now the most demanding and often unrewarding role to play.

Simply 'scoring goals' is no longer enough and not scoring no longer automatically equates to failure, as long as you're fulfilling the role your team demands of you and bringing something else to the table.

Calvert-Lewin currently falls into that second category. He didn't get on the scoresheet on Friday but his contribution was such that the score could have been completely different if he had not been selected to lead the line. It's no coincidence that the improved form of Silva's men has coincided with him being given a concerted run of games. His work ethic, athleticism, pace, power, aerial ability, increasing bravery and often deft touches and flicks all make it far easier for his teammates to get up field in support and get in and around areas from which they can actually hurt the opposition. His presence prevents pressure being put on the midfield and defence as soon as the opposition pick up the ball. He has contributed as much as anyone over recent months without getting the headlines to accompany the hard work. Yes, he needs to become more ruthless when chances come his way, but to believe Calvert-Lewin not netting negates his all round contribution to the team currently picking up far more points than when he was sat on his arse is short-sighted nonsense.

Paul Tran
16 Posted 05/05/2019 at 15:28:17
Let's go back a couple of years. Koeman had lined up Giroud, the archetypal lone striker up front who gets a few goals while bringing others into play to score their share. He was never going to be the 20 goals man, but I could see him creating space for Sigurdsson, Rooney, Klaassen to cash in.

But Mrs Giroud said no and Koeman's plan fell like a wet sandcastle. What did he do? He played Calvert-Lewin up front, a young kid doing Giroud's job. Unselfish, works his socks off, in many respects I'd say Calvert-Lewin is a typically modern lone front man - at a very young age for a striker.

Sigurdsson & Richarlison score goals. We need at least one more to chip in a dozen per season. Could be the surprise unheralded striker, more likely another forward-type player. I like Bernard & Gomes, but they've never scored plenty of goals. That tells me that if Gana goes and Gomes goes elsewhere, the scoring midfielder is a priority.

Comparing Calvert-Lewin to Vardy, Aguero et al is unfair. See how he compares to Rashford, Martial and the other younger strikers.

He's largely doing his job. Now that the team looks solid and is pressing properly, he's creating space for others like the much more expensive & mature Giroud was meant to.

If Brands finds a top scorer, great. If he doesn't, and I'm not betting on it, I think Calvert-Lewin can carry on and save us a fortune, leaving Brands to find a scoring midfielder.

Darren Hind
17 Posted 05/05/2019 at 15:30:45

You are being blinded by the performances of world superstars. It's affecting you judgement.

Let's have a look at some of these players who get on the bench for these top six teams.

Jesus - cost Man City nearly £30M. Has scored 7 league goals.... playing for City?

Martial could end up costing Man Utd £58M – he's got 12 goals with only 2 assists.

Origi cost £10M – scored 4 goals, although he has suffered a long layoff.

Liorente cost Spurs £12M – he's got 2 goals in 32 games.

Giroud - 2 goals. Although nobody knows how much Chelsea paid for him.

Wellbeck cost Arsenal £16M. He's scored 16 in five seasons

Iheanacho cost Leicester £25M. He's forgot where the net is.

And if you want to go down to 8th place, look no further than Walcott and Tosun. £47M and they are only just edging out Tony Hibbert in the goalscoring stakes.

Joe McMahon
18 Posted 05/05/2019 at 16:10:24
Tony, I like your optimisim, but there is more chance of me getting a BlowJob off Dita Von Tease than Calvert-Lewin becoming Droga Mk II.
Darren Hind
19 Posted 05/05/2019 at 16:28:10
At the age of 24 (two years older than Calvert-Lewin), Drogba left Ligue 2 club Le Manns for lowly Ligue 1 club Guingamp for a fee of €80,000. He then took a couple of seasons to settle in.

Funny how some people have no idea about the past but have an uncanny ability to see into the future.

Gerard McKean
20 Posted 05/05/2019 at 16:35:21
In a post on the same subject a few days ago, I applauded Calvert-Lewin's all-round contribution and suggested, similar to Darren on this thread, that it might be better to twin him with another striker rather than replace him.

As a bit of a wild card and maybe to get people talking, I threw in the name of James Norwood, a 25-goal-a-season 28-year-old “selfish goal-hanger”. Little and large, a double act worth taking a punt on because, although Norwood is not proven at the highest level, nor were Vardy or Wright until someone took a chance on them.

I did say all of the above and, to the best of my knowledge, there was not a single response. Today, in another thread, I was shot first and asked questions later about people I had not mentioned in an earlier post. It's a good job I can see the funny side of ToffeeWeb...

Ray Roche
21 Posted 05/05/2019 at 16:43:41
And don't forget Solanke, Darren, the £19M Bournemouth and England “star” with 1 League goal to his name. Yet he gets an England Cap before Calvert-Lewin.
Joe McMahon
22 Posted 05/05/2019 at 16:44:58
Darren, I assume your little dig was aimed at me, but this site is about opinions. I may be wrong as you point out, he may become useful? But I don't see any signs of a beast like Drogba, or just simply awesome like Aguero.
Sam Hoare
23 Posted 05/05/2019 at 17:35:17
The one thing in football more important than goals is points. And we have got a lot more of them since Calvert-Lewin started his run of games. No coincidence. I genuinely think if Lukaku has been our striker for last two months he'd have more goals but we'd have less points.

Calvert-Lewin is doing nearly everything Silva demands of him. Though I'm not sure he'll ever be a prolific goal scorer I think he'll get more next season.

Reliable goal scorers who also work that hard for the team are practically mythic, cost the world and demand/deserve Champions League football.

I think we do need more goals next season but that onus falls on the whole team, not just the striker. Bernard and Gomes (if he stays) especially need to contribute more. I expect Calvert-Lewin to be our starting striker next season with perhaps a new, stronger option than Tosun off the bench.

The last time we came 4th, our striker was the hard working Marcus Bent, think he got around 6 goals in 37 matches.

Tony Hill
24 Posted 05/05/2019 at 18:05:42
Calvert-Lewin looks to me like he is going through a tricky mental phase where he's overthinking his efforts on goal and is paralysed by that. Barkley had, and I think still has, the same problem in his play. Many professional sports people have it, listening to the terrible little voice which tells them they're going to fail.

I believe this young man is going to get through it, though, because he has the core hardness of mind that is required, he's a bright lad too. We must support him so that the little voice does not prevail.

We must also be careful not to put him in a box which says that he isn't a finisher and is a good trier with a good all-round game. That is limiting and could seal his fate. I can see him scoring lots of goals over the next 10 years with us, thank you very much.

It will be great to see him flourish and it's going to happen; at the moment he's serving a very difficult but invaluable apprenticeship – all on his own.

Martin Mason
25 Posted 05/05/2019 at 18:28:14
I don't believe that we need – or that we can get – a "striker" who will score 20+ goals a season. What would be as good is to get 10 more from a couple of other players.

Bernard is wonderful but doesn't really do goals or assists so why do we keep him? Sigurdsson apart, we don't have any midfielders who can make or score goals and it is from them that we need more goals.

Vardy would be a dream but where we'd struggle is getting the ball to him in the right places and even he may struggle in our team. Remember though when quoting stats that we had a bad half-season and a lot of the problems being discussed aren't so bad now. I really trust Brands and Silva to identify where the problems are and where the solutions may come from.

Dominc Calvert-Lewin is going to be a very good player, probably never a great score,r but we just have to harness his skills like getting other players to pick up what he lays on. Maybe he will never be what we need?

My advice is "Don't worry, we have a great management team, an improving playing staff, good players coming through and panic buys, especially of has-been strikers, is the last thing we want.

The people we need are out there, Brands know them... but there are hundreds of teams now worldwide that can also buy them. The resources in the end may need to come from within. Yes we have some weak areas but we can sort them out.

Peter Gorman
26 Posted 05/05/2019 at 18:49:23
As others have noted, we already have a 'natural goalscorer' in Tosun. He hasn't produced.

The most recent English 'natural goalscorer' I've seen is honestly Dwight Gayle.

Admittedly enjoying a fantastic season on loan at West Brom, he has made very little impression for Newcastle or Palace before that.

The modern game requires much more, things that DCL possesses. I will happily stick with the lad as the raw material is there and he is a decent lad to boot.

James Hughes
27 Posted 05/05/2019 at 19:01:14
We should get Lukaku back. Great team player, amazing workrate and gives more than he takes. Just ask down the East Lancs Road... they'll agree.
Jay Harris
28 Posted 05/05/2019 at 19:16:42
DCL rightly gets a lot of support for his contribution to the team.

His selfless running and ability to win headers against big defenders is a major plus.

His attitude and behaviour are exemplary but regrettably a goalscorer he isn't.

He has 22 career goals including none league and lower league appearances.

He may develop in time but, as other posters have said, you're either a goalscorer or you're not... and I doubt Dominic will ever be one.

He looks more suited to a support role in a 4-4-2 but we don't play that formation.

Getting a prolific goalscorer in is even more problematic as many find it tough in the Premier League and some of the better goalscorers are not team players.

Over to you, Marcel, I don't envy your task.

Andrew Ellams
29 Posted 05/05/2019 at 19:27:26
The problem with Dominic's lack of goals is the lack from elsewhere. Bernard has notched just 1 Premier League goal playing in a front 3 and Gana and Gomes the same from midfield. The striker is the main source of goals in any team and he's never going to be that.
Darren Hind
30 Posted 05/05/2019 at 20:35:57
Peter @26

I've long since advocated Gayles partner in crime - Jay Rodrigues.

Not an out and out striker, but he'd have been a fantastic sidekick for DCL and would have brought something we have lacked for years. Intelligence.

22 Goals this season so far. and about a dozen the year before in the Premier League playing for a West Brom side which didn't attack. Not bad for someone who plays off the man up top.

Unfortunately, that ship has sailed. He must be about 30 by now, but I hope those who put up the bet that Tosun would score more than him will be sending their checks to Cancer Research – provided they haven't already done so!

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