Not a patch on 2004/05 Review pt 4

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Well, what can you say?  Allegedly the best strike force in the division and 45 goals between our front line strikers. Sounds good doesn’t it?  Then again, we’ve spent all season worried that the Duke would get (more) injured and that Roberts’ mouth would get the better of him and he’d get suspended.  The Duke’s shoulder injury has been a real concern all season and yet despite being linked with a number of forwards and being involved in one of the silliest transfer wrangles of recent times, the nearest we got to a replacement was a month and a bit of Brett Ormerod.  It’s definitely been a case of ‘if you scratch beneath the surface’ of our front line there’s a whole different story.

David Graham
For a player who scored so many goals at a lower level expectations are always going to be high, whether that’s you’ll fall flat on your face or go on and do it all again.  Graham managed to do neither really.  He showed a good touch in pre season and looked as if he could do the job of replacing Lids quite well, but in reality there was little chance of him ever breaking the Roberts/Ellington partnership.  Most of his performances this season have been out of position on the right wing and whilst he managed to provide a steadier option to Teale, Graham didn’t exactly set the world on fire.  Like a few of the squad David’s future relies on the success of Jewell’s shopping this summer.  He’s done enough to stick around for a bit longer but the prospect of being fourth or fifth choice striker may mean he starts to look elsewhere for football.

Nathan Ellington
He keeps doing it.  24 goals this season despite playing most of it with a shoulder injury, and with a two month barren spell for good measure, says a lot.  Every time a striker makes a step up, questions will be asked; hopefully the Duke will be spending the summer revising the answers.  One 3 Championship strikers that started the season with genuine aspirations of top flight football; of the others Darren Bent has made a big splash at U21 level and will probably be in the Prem either way next season and Robert Earnshaw has had a fair to middling start with West Brom.  Ellington has done it the hard way and we’re all hoping he can top the other two next season.

Jason Roberts
Pretty much all you can say about JR has been said elsewhere.  He’s featured in everyone’s best player list, bagged 21 goals and a sack full of assists along the way and held the team together for big chunks of the season.  You would hardly believe that he was the same fellow that West Brom warned us we were getting.  He’s always had pace and power but this season seems to have added a tenacity and leadership that wasn’t apparent before.  He’s, without a doubt, the player with most to prove next year and I for one am backing him to come out on top.

The number of top strikers you need in the prem seems to go up every season.  The one thing that’s for certain is that 2 isn’t enough and whilst Graham looks like a decent footballer, the best you can say about him is that he’s unproven at Championship level.  The trick with forwards is signing one’s that are good enough but won’t a) upset the applecart or b) spit their dummies if they don’t play.  Luckily that’s Jewell’s job not mine.

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