Taking Shape

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For a side who have consistently struggled on the goal scoring front it’s a bit worrying. We’re a week away from the start of the season and Roberto Martinez’s first team squad looks like it will contain a grand total of, erm, two strikers. At the same time Latics seem to be collecting midfielders like they’re going out of business.

It’s not clear what’s going on. I would suggest that the lack of strikers has as much to do with the transfer market as it reflects Martinez’s faith in the potential of Scotland and Rodallega, but I’ve read a couple of things recently that suggest he perhaps won’t want too many Strikers on the books anyway, they’d probably not get a game.

What first got me thinking was, on the face of it, a throw away comparison between Bobby and Arsene Wenger. The Arsenal manager has never had an over reliance on out and out strikers, preferring to support a single focal point with a mixture of wide forwards, attacking midfield players and that strange creature, the second striker.

In the past week, Bobby has painted both N’Zogbia and, new signing, Sinclair as players in that wide forward mould and he has previously stressed to importance of getting the best out of Jason Koumas. The most exciting signing of the summer, Jordi Gomez, is apparently best played ‘just off the strikers’ which does little to dispell my burgeoning theory that we ‘ll mostly be playing with one striker this season.

Yep, it ‘s a worrying thought innit? One up-top, five in midfield and half the crowd asleep by half time is the usual pattern. Think visits from Fulham, Boro and the like in recent seasons. Those comparisons are natural; after all they ‘re teams of a similar standard to us, teams that needed to secure safety before they could do anything else.

But there are other, more favourable comparisons. All of the top four sides have, at one stage or another, shown that playing one centre-forward, with the right sort of support; can produce good and successful football. Of course their “right sort of support” is of a higher quality than ours, you can play pretty much any formation with a Gerrard or Ronaldo to work with, but success is relative and who ‘s to say that an inventive manager can ‘t get a flexible, imaginative system to work with lesser players?

If my instinct is right, then it ‘s another example of the fearless approach that Martinez is taking to this whole managing in the top flight lark. He might end up bald and grey by Christmas, but as things stand, he ‘s showing no signs of self doubt and looks prepared to do things his own way. Let ‘s be honest, that will make things way more exciting than the run of the mill, scared to lose, identikit premier league side, that we looked like becoming over the past few years.

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