Striking out

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Goals, that’s what this game is supposedly all about and yet so many clubs in this division survive without the mythical 20-goal a season man that can make all the difference.  However when your defence is shipping them in like nobody’s business all eyes turn to the strikers to redress the balance and if the goals don’t come it’s the front men who so often take the blame.  With the departure of Roberts over the summer, Latics’ forwards were always going to come under closer scrutiny than perhaps they deserved.  So how did they fair?  

Emile Heskey
We can talk all day about whether a forward is there to score goals and nothing more but the fact is that debate has little bearing on Heskey’s performance for Latics this season.  A striker can only score when he’s getting chances and the stats show that Emile did ok in that regard, around a goal every third chance is up there with the best in the league.  So why didn’t he get more opportunities to disprove the media cliché that he is a forward who doesn’t get enough goals.

Most obviously, he has been playing in a poor team.  Chances have been thin on the ground all round, so why should he be any different.  Secondly, we should have learned from previous years that Jewell’s style of play is about getting the ball to the strikers and then looking for them to create chances, either for themselves or for others.  Heskey has had to carry to much responsibility on that score. 

Too often he’s been left upfront on his own, asked to play the channels or partnered with someone who won’t (or can’t) do some work for him.  His hard work and commitment to the cause are what have put him head and shoulders above his team mates this season, but they are also a major factor in the doubts that still remain over him.

Henri Camara
So much of an ‘impact’ he deserves his own article read it here

Caleb Folan
A Premier League club signing a lower league striker, without many goals to his name, is bound to raise a few eyebrows, even more so when he’s just that bit too old to be considered a young prospect.  Then again, Latics fans were just grateful that the £500k wasn’t chucked in the direction of Dean Windass.

Folan has shown a great attitude and provided a dose of commitment just when it was needed at the club, but has also looked a long way off being a top notch striker in terms of control and speed of thought.  Caleb has got a lot of work to do this summer, if he is going to prove himself more than just a stop gap signing in a time of panic.

Julius Aghahowa
The only thing that pretty much everyone knew about Aghahowa when if signed in January was that he did back flips when he scored.  For all we know, four months later, that was just a rumour put about to get the kids excited.

It’s fair to say that Julius hasn’t set the world alight at Latics but it’s equally true that he’s not had much chance to.  He looks quick and fairly good on the ball and there may be more to come from him yet.

Whilst it’s clear that our side lacked goals this season, it’s also true to say they lacked chances.  There isn’t one reason for that and basically the safest thing to say is that we’ve not scored enough goals because we’ve not been good enough as a team.  In some ways the strikers probably deserve less stick for the dearth of goals than the rest of the team, definitely less than the manager.

In Heskey we’ve got a player we can build a real strike force around, but the big job is finding the players that can work with him, will bring the best out of him and most of all want to be on the pitch with him.  At this moment in time it doesn’t look like we’ve got anyone who fits all of those criteria.

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