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Why always there are more strikers than midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers? Majority players from childhood wanted to be striker becasue striker scores a goal.

While football’s hottest debate at this point, or rather at any given point is regarding who’s going to win the coveted Fifa Ballon D’or award, this article is specifically written tending to ONLY those football fans who consider football to be larger than just debates about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The reason that I felt adressing this issue is important is because of the simple fact that though it is a tendency that is noticed on a global scale, yet it has hardly caught enough attention which drives one to write on it.

My basic argument in this piece is on a general trend in football which seems to place all the attacking and goal-scoring talents above all other gifted players who possess their abilities in different aspects of the game. Examples of these reflect on the highest levels, as apart from Oliver Kahn and Fabio Cannavaro, all those who managed to win the FIFA World Player Of The Year Award in recent years have all done it by their merit of scoring and creating goals on numerous occasions. This trend permeates into the our very basic system and thinking patterns, as we all know that the fattest or slowest kid is always chosen as the goalkeeper!

One of the most clearly visible examples of this attack-oriented bias is demonstrated in the price lag between attackers and defenders. While goal scoring machines such as Bale and Ronaldo, the two most costliest football signings ever have costed Real Madrid in excess of 90 million euros individually, the worlds costliest defenders including the likes of Thiago Silva, Rio Ferdinand, Dani Alves among others have not even crossed the 50 million euros mark yet. If this isn’t enough, a comparison of the wage distribution pattern in most team is more or less likely to show definite existence of such a bias. Therefore, despite similiar contributions to the team, more or less equal amounts of ability and skill, strikers and other attackers appear to be more crucial to the functioning of any team, which drive many serious accusations against partiality and favouritism.

Having been a central defender and a defensive midfielder myself, I personally believe that these two positions are the most under-rated of all, as they largely form the backbone of any team structure. While a strong attacking threat is undeniably the basis for winning, which is essential for any team, a sturdy defence reflects much more about a team. It represents a disciplined side, a side not plagued by lapses in concentration or tactical weakness, a side which is physically as well as mentally well balanced. In one way of interpretation, it can also be said that Defence embodies football’s very nature, which is not a game of individual brilliance but rather of perfected coordination and chemistry.

The role of a defender in recent years also seems to have become more dynamic, simply because of the aerial attacking threat that they effortlessly seem to provide at set-pieces. Infact, sometimes the managers tend to play such defenders in games just because of their attacking prowess! The foremost example of such a player can be found in the Chelsea Defender, David Luis whose defensive qualities are usually overshadowed by his attacking and skillful style of play. Therefore, this large-scale rise in multi-faceted defenders such as Vermaelen, Terry, Lescott, Ivanovic etc. have often lead to criticisms for tradional shot stoppers such as Jamie Carragher, who despite offering good tactical defencive qualities often receive bad press for their lack of goal scoring initiatives. Resultantly, though as ironical as it sounds, the fever of goal scoring has even reached out within the defensive sphere and has also become an important paradigm to judge a defender.

Thus, this bias towards the attack minded players seem to be growing unfavourably, which is not just encouraged by the very institutions on which football stands, but is also percieved and reinforced by those which football supports.While I do not have a problem with the strikers taking all the glory, I do certainly feel that there needs to evolve a better criteria to judge the ability of a player, one which is relatively more uniform and standard.

Until such a time comes, I guess I just have to accept the fact that I’m never going to see my football heroes like Alonso, G.Inler or Carrick ever truly receive the recognition that they so rightly deserve.


 Akhil Goswami 

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3 comments

  1. A brilliant piece on the 'strike-centric' nature of football. A hierarchised grading of different aspects of the game is not what a holistic sport like football demands.

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  2. Very truly written.

    Its going all towards a "goal scoring - centric" nature of football, where your identity and recognition depends on the goals you score, where as the true values of what a team should be like is overshadowed by the goals they score instead of how they score !

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