The False Nine-And The Missing Ones
A very interesting article in yesterday’s Independent,written by Miguel Delaney,got me to thinking. It pointed out that there are very few centre forwards of the type that we would recognise as such plying their trade successfully in the game these days.
The author and his sources suggested that the reason for that may be the emphasis on coaching,especially at the development stages of a young man’s career. That it is easier for most coaches to explain to their charges the importance of being in position to receive a pass,get the body shape right,be aware of those around you for the next stage,than it is to teach any of them the most important yet most instinctive skill in the game.
After all,instinct cannot be taught. It can only be curbed. And the inference is clear that without the required coaching,those instincts are indeed being curbed at a young age for aspiring strikers.
It isn’t only the youngsters either. Harry Kane,for example,certainly amongst the top strikers of his generation,has had to adapt his game to suit the demands of how his side are set up. He has become not so much a false 9 as a false 10. That he has achieved it without being to the detriment of his game is a credit to him,but I’m sure that Spurs fans would prefer him to be on the end of moves rather than creating them.
It will be interesting too to see how he adapts if Son is absent for a period,for there is nobody else in that side capable of receiving and finishing.
The article also mentions that with the signing of Nunez by Liverpool-after ONE good season in Portugal-Mane by Bayern and Haaland by Man City,there are few options available for other clubs. The improbable palindrome Ekitike might be available from French side Reims next season,and they might be tempted this summer instead. And that’s about it at the top level!
But what has this got to do with Celtic,you ask? Well,clearly sides are not used to playing against an old style rummel-em-up centre forward. How do defenders cope with a player who is on their shoulder and then makes the run while the defender still has to eye the player in possession? We managed outstandingly well last season without a Number 9 for most of it. We had the likes of Kyogo,Maeda,Jota and Abada running the legs off defenders and scoring a fair number of times too.
But that big G-Mak phenomenon when he finally got his fitness back and hit his stride? Scottish defences simply couldn’t cope-especially as we still had those other options! He wasn’t the type of player they were used to playing against anymore,and had he not been targeted unfairly by the usual refereeing double standards-reminiscent of Paul Elliott-I’m positive he would easily have scored even more. And he will do,next season.
But our aims for next season should also aspire to progress in Europe. And while the defences we meet there will be of a higher standard than in Scotland,they too will rarely have come up against the likes of G-Mak.
This could be a very interesting campaign indeed if we can keep our players fit. Motivation and tactics are unlikely to be a problem,as Ange is completely in control there. The dying art of the traditional Number 9 is certainly to be lamented. But we’ve got one,and he could be a real eye-opener next season.
Above article by BMCUWP