I had an argument with my wife the other day. Having left our TomTom at home, it was one of those typical man and wife arguments about asking directions.
My wife wanted to stop and ask someone the way and I thought that was the most ludicrous idea I’d ever heard and refused to ask directions. She accused me of being a loser and I said that, being a Villa supporter, she’d know all about being a loser. Then I was given the silent treatment, which at least meant I could peacefully get on with following a car at random, which is my tactic in such circumstances.
Anyway, we got where we wanted to be and I was very smug. My wife said I was just lucky but I insisted the end result was what counts.
Which brings me to Shola Ameobi and the ‘end result’ that strikers must achieve to earn their pay packet.
The main purpose of a striker is surely to score goals. Yes, a good, ‘complete’ striker will have other attributes too, but if they don’t score goals they’re about as useful as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking contest. Or, at least, they need significant additional attributes – such as setting up other strikers, match-winning goals, holding the ball up etc. – to make up for a poor strike rate.
Here’s a list of some of our Premiership strikers – past and present – and their strike rates while at Newcastle:
Andy Cole: played 70, scored 55, strike rate 79%
Les Ferdinand: played 68, scored 41, strike rate 60%
Alan Shearer: played 303, scored 148, strike rate 49%
Peter Beardsley: played 147, scored 61, strike rate 41%
Andy Carroll: played 80, scored 31, strike rate 39%
Michael Owen: played 71, scored 26, strike rate 37%
Peter Lovenkrands: played 51, scored 18, strike rate 35%
Obafemi Martins: played 88, scored 28, strike rate 32%
Craig Bellamy: played 93, scored 28, strike rate 30%
Shola Ameobi: played 226, scored 46, strike rate 20%
Mark Viduka: played 38, scored 7, strike rate 18%
It doesn’t bode well for Shola does it? He’s second bottom of that random list of strikers I chose and I had to hunt around quite a bit to find a forward with worse strike rate (thanks Mark Viduka!).
Does Shola have other attributes that make up for his rather disappointing strike rate? If the answer to that question is no then surely he’s a liability we need to replace with someone else. If the answer is yes, please tell me what those attributes are.
I would suggest that there’s also an argument for retaining Shola, though, and that’s as a squad player; a striker who is never intended to be a first choice but is used mainly as a substitute or a backup for when the other strikers are injured. It could be argued that Shola has been used this way throughout his career and it could also be argued that it is unrealistic to expect the same strike rate from a player used thusly.
What do you think?