The role of strikers | Vital Football

The role of strikers


Vital Football Hero
Hi all. I was listening to a football podcast last night and it got me thinking about the current role of a striker in this era. Every club up and down the country want the typical 30 goal a season striker and the bench mark of a good striker is always set at being proven to score 20+ in the division they play. I thought the last striker I can remember us having that got anywhere near that was probably Jamie Cureton which must be at least 10 years ago now. (Unless I've forgotten someone else?)

We all know our striker situation has been left to get worse for far too long, possibly by the fact we scored so many in Alex Neils last year smoke screened the weak strike force we actually had. However, the podcast was talking about the old idea of a striker who consistently scores you 20-30 goals every year is mostly a thing of the past now, and how the modern game has progressed. I investigated further and found there is only two players in the Championship that managed to get over 20 goals this year - Lewis Grabban (for the first time in his career) and Matej Vydra (the second time, he reached 20 goals in 2012 season but then went 3 years scoring just 22 goals in total)

Interestingly, of the top 5 top scorers in the championship, almost half are midfield players. The same is found in League 1 , with Jack Marriot being the only real exception after plundering 27 goals this term (but again, first time in his career, before this year he has managed just 25 goals over a 3 year period).

The same is also found in the Premier league, with 2 of the top 5 highest scorers being midfielders, and Kane and Salah aside (exceptions) only 2 players managed 20 goals (Vardy and Aguero) - All of this research into the top 3 leagues, certainly over the last half a decade is pointing to me that strikers are not really the main source of goals anymore for any club. (Which does seem bizarre). If you work out that at best, a striker you have may score you 20 or so goals, over a course of a season this will likely only make up 30% or so of your goals, meaning every club has to rely on outfield players to score the vast majority of their goals.

Considering that only 1 or 2 clubs in each division actually possess one of the couple of strikers that do get 20 goals, 90% of each division has to probably rely on something more closer to 80% of their goals coming from outside of the striking positions. It's just made me realise more than anything that actually, if we can manage a striker that can get around 10-15 goals a year, that is about as good as anyone has it. Jerome was achieving between those figures every year with us. Nelson just about achieved it last year with 11 goals, and hasn't this season with 8 goals.

I found this information surprising so thought I'd share here. What it shows for me is we are not alone in terms of lack of a proven striker in the striking department, it seems 90% of every league is - and if you look at the above, it isn't a case of the odd 2 clubs who do have them have done well and done their homework to get them in and we just haven't, as none of the current strikers who have done it have ever done it before. So it is purely down to luck when deciding who you buy. Who'd have thought Jack Marriot would net more this season than he's managed in 3 whole years? Same goes for the others. By these stats, he likely won't do it again! (although I'd like us to take a punt on him).

So.... the question is, are strikers really the be all and end all in these times for getting the majority of your goals? Based on the above I don't think they are crazily, and that makes the task for us a little easier at least. Surely it's cheaper to find a 10-15 goal a year striker.


Vital Football Legend
Very interesting information Nathan.

I would expect Grant Holt to be the most recent highest scoring striker we have had. I have not looked up anything at all but recall he scored over 10 league goals in the premier league season after our double promotion under Lambert. In league one and championship he scored many more. I think Martin also scored many in the league 1 season.

My amateur thinking has always been to not copy the tactics / line ups of the clubs with much more financial power than yourselves as matching up one for one means you will be second best all over the park.
I was only saying to another fan yesterday how interesting it would be to have the crazy gang in current premier league and how all teams would be scared stiff of Fashanu and their other players.
I am not suggesting long ball football but based on the tedious slow build up play most clubs employ, a different approach would be a breathe of fresh air.
I recall going to Stamford Bridge after our double promotion seasons and Grant Holt scared the life out of Terry and scored an equaliser.

What I am trying to say is if I was a manager I would play 2 strikers
( one big and one a finisher ) and see how much it confused the opposition. It is not acceptable to play a lone striker who cannot score and struggles to hold the ball up and ones who can do those things are the best strikers in the world.
Due to the Smiffs lack of ambition and amateur set up we are a million miles away from signing a good striker and will never sign a lone striker who can score 15 / 20 goals a season so we need to play
2 up front and hope the strikers can get 30 between them.
Last season 3 strikers added together got about 11 which is totally unacceptable.

Steve from Oz

Vital Football Legend
I guess the lack of goals automatically conjures up the word striker and sure it was in the past that strikers were the expected goal scorers. Now Messi plays in a new position called SS, second striker, classed as a forward but plays behind Suarez who is the striker. Messi can also play in any of the traditional forward line positions and has being a great right winger. Ronaldo is also a forward. Becuase of their abilities they actually dont have set positions and are allowed to wander anywhere which they do. So goals these days come from anywhere in the traditional two top lines, forwards and midfielders. Now we have overlapping full backs and even they score, especially the big centre backs. What we actually need is a sharpshooter who can shoot on a sixpence in next to no time and with accuracy between the posts and under the bar and either side of the keeper. Accuracy seems to be a problem with many skied balls,some not even getting uner the stands fascia. Leaning back seems a consistent problem. They also need to be closer to the oppos goals more often and not back in our own box all the time. We await our new news from DF and SW


Alert Team
Staff member
You’re right about Grant Holt, DG. He got 30 in League One, 25 (I think) in the Championship and 15(!) in the PL.
Very interesting, Nathan. I did note that only a couple of strikers got 20 goals in our league this last season and I also noted that Norwich were 3rd in the league for most shots at goal with 650, only Fulham 675 and Brentford 803 we’re above us.
However, we were not in the top 8 for shots on target.
Brentford were first with 240, Cardiff 2nd on 225 and Fulham 3rd with 223.
Seems that we need to either get some finishing practice in or been more composed on the ball.
Interesting stuff though...

yellow belly

Vital Football Legend
The clubs in our League who are successful play fast free flowing football that involves the striker and midfield as an attacking force . Our trouble is that under one trick Farke our build up play is boring ,slow and laboured , and our single striker is isolated . The only player we have who can link midfield and striker is Maddison and he won’t be here next season

A well written and fascinating article Nathan


Vital Football Legend
It is also the fact that the old number 10 has changed into an attacking midfielder. When I was a kid I don't remember attacking midfielders just number 10s. In the championship, the old big man small man used to work well but times have changed.

I still think we need someone who can score goals up front and our front me this season our forwards failed and next season we need to see a massive improvement.

There were other players who might not have scored 20 but still got a fair amount and had we had a forward who could score more than 10 might have helped (how was our top scoring forward...was it Oli with 7?)
Leon Clark (scored 19) a guy who has had an up and down career, Martyn Waghorn bloody Ipswich (scored 16) and Britt Assombalonga (scored 15).

The rest of the guys on the list are mainly attacking midfielders who would be considered number 10s back in the day

We just need one of these types of forward who can bag us 15 goals minimum and a number 10 who can score and hopefully others can chip in too (without Maddison scary).

The thing is I don't think that our current system is helping our forwards and we don't have the type of forward who can work in it. Oli always drifts out wide and comes deep. Srbeny I am not sure and it was the same with Jerome he ran about but when we got forward he wasn't in the box. Maybe the system needs to be looked at.


Vital Football Hero
Ahh yes DG, how could I forget Holt! I knew he had got 20+ in league one, but for some reason I didn't think he did in the Championship (under 20) and knew he was under in the Prem. I mentioned Cureton as I thought from memory he had got close to 30 but having looked into it my memory failed me on that - he managed 16 with us but close to 30 with Colchester just before joining us!

I do agree with all of the above. I think we will probably need 2 strikers who are capable of both getting around 15 each - trouble is as said above, we likely will only play one a time , as do most nowadays so that's the problem then with relying on one striker, but clearly one that is not limited to NCFC, every other club have the same problem it seems! The answer may well be to improve on finishing to balance it out. Regardless, based on the above I don't think a striker specifically will be the golden difference in the end! But we definitely need another 2!


Alert Team
Staff member
Nathan, as you’ve written such a great, insightful article, I was wondering if you’d mind me putting it on the main site as a blog piece?It brings up some great points and would be a good read for those not involved in the forum. Would that be okay?


Vital Football Legend
Chris Martin got near to 20 goals in league 1 for us, didn't he? and I am sure Jerome got about 19 in the championship for us.

The thing is we had players like Jerome scoring goals, Grabban scoring goals and Hooper scoring goals so the load was spread out that is what we need now. You look at the front line we had for the promotion season and it looks and basically was very good - Grabban, Jerome, Hooper, Lafferty and Loza - some pace, strength, knowledge of the championship able to adapt to different style/ many goals in that group? and then factor in the goals from Johnson, Redmond and Howson.

We can't go into another season with 2 forwards and both who are exactly the same type of player - big and strong type. We need a pace forward someone who will cause issues for the defence and if on the bench can come on and go up against tired players. We need different types of players so if needed we can change the system during a game.

When you think of the forwards we have had in the recent past and how many have failed it is crazy - Vaughan, RvW, Elmander, Bamford etc.


Vital Football Legend
Nathan has created a great thread response which should be read by one trick pony Farke. :clap::clap:
It is not easy to sign a goal scorer but he should play fast attacking
football which allows a striker to be ready to take chances as oppose to being offside as ahead of play or behind it as part of slow build up.
Also he needs the right wing play to get in crosses not too many short passes. CB 's can score from corners to help total but due to Farkes crazy short corners we have no chances in air but usually the CB 's contribution is running back towards own goal to stop the counter attack.

We do need better strikers but as we will not sign a proven championship striker, one tactic Farke needs to become Two tactic Farke to at least play quicker more direct football.


Alert Team
Staff member
I think I can answer the short corner business.
I read somewhere that Jurgen Klopp favours a short corner every now and again because percentage wise, more goals come from them than a good old fashioned cross into the box.
The new breed of coach is all about stats and I've heard Farke quote stat after stat about shots at goal and he's not wrong. He will be aware of the short corner stat and that's why I think we use them.
We do still score from the odd orthodox corner, like against Villa, but if the opposition do their jobs properly, it becomes harder and harder.
Grant Holts total For NCFC was 68 Goals..As for Cureton!!!
Dont overlook Iwan or Earnshaw...Fleck, Sutton, Robins & Bellamy are our top Guns over the last 20 + seasons...Jerome hit 21 2014-15 season making him our most prolific scorer since Holty.
Terry Allcock (37) 63-64 season Div 2...Terry Bly And Ron Davies were our most prolific scorers in a season albeit in the late 50s early 60s

Wolfswinkle scored....ONE

Just saying!