Tuesday, January 13, 2009

When good form goes bad

On hearing the news that Hull City are hoping to snap up the West Ham striker Luis Boa Morte by the end of the week, I have to say I felt a tangible sense of relief rippling through my body. Boa Morte has without doubt fallen well short of the form we saw when he was at Fulham where he scored one goal in every six appearances. Having made 66 appearances for The Hammers over the last two years, the former Portuguese international has scored just once, and that was back in April 2007.

Not exactly the sort of return West Ham would have wanted on their £1.7 million outlay, and it's fair to say that with financial investments like that, who needs a credit crunch? But Boa Morte isn't the only player currently dabbling with anonymity having earned a reputation as a hot shot striker.

Robbie Keane's faltering start to his Liverpool career has been well documented thus far and for good reason. Having signed from Spurs at the start of the season, Keane didn't hit the back of the net for The Reds until his eleventh game against PSV Eindhoven and had to wait until his twentieth before he scored in the Premier League.

It's fair to say that Robbie Keane is now gradually turning a bit of a corner in his form, scoring three times in Liverpool's last three games. His goal ratio is now one in every 3.1 appearances - not quite up to his Spurs standard of one every 1.2, but it's early days yet.

Bobby Zamora was West Ham's saviour when he scored the play-off goal that earned them promotion back to the Premier League in 2005 and his form at Upton Park reflected that, but since signing for Fulham last Summer, things haven't been quite as exciting for him. A solitary goal in twenty appearances for Roy Hodgson's men is but a shadow of his ratio for West Ham where he bagged one every 3.8 games.

Go back a few years and you'll remember all the talk surrounding Kevin Philips and whether he was good enough to play in the Premier League, let alone the England team. At Southampton he knocked in a goal every 2.7 appearances, but at Villa that average was down to one every five and the next thing you knew, he was heading back down to the Championship with West Brom.

As it turned out, this proved to be a great move for him. In under two years, he hit the net 46 times in 71 games, and even after signing for Birmingham last summer, he's still scoring about once every other game.

So when a player's goal supply suddenly dries up, what's the reason? Is it because different clubs have different abilities to maximise the skills of these strikers? Is it because they never get enough matchplay under their belt as they constantly try to avoid the substitutes bench? Or is it because some players have to accept that they're just not cut out to play in a higher league?

Usually one of these three is the answer. Certainly if Luis Boa Morte starts scoring for Hull City we can put a tick next to Option 1 and if Kevin Philips is snapped up by a Premier League team next summer we'll find out whether Option 3 is true. As for Option 2... well that may require a call to Marlon Harewood.


Lord Of The Wing said...

I just think, apart from Keane, the players that you have mentioned are just journeymen strikers who have been signed on the back of purple patches for teams they are the star in.

They move and fail. They move on keep the same money and earn a signing on fee.

Make a living through being average at their joab.

If only we could all get away wie that.

Keane is just paying for Rafa's tactics.

Chris O said...

Well there's certainly an element of truth in what you say there, LOTW. Such is the way of the modern game that you can earn a reasonable living by trading on past glories.


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