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Chelsea: Prolific strikers need not offer more than goals

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The fortunes of Chelsea (and any club) as a footballing entity revolve around one key metric; goals. You score enough of them at the right time and you win lots of matches and even trophies. Score too few and you lose a lot of matches and may even get relegated. Everything that happens in football revolves around goals. Tactics boards, tactical briefings, training, transfers all revolve around goals.

Centerbacks are paid to prevent goals, goalkeepers too. Likewise, center forwards are paid to score goals. Strikers are often judged on goals, and rightly so. It’s their primary job. Different strikers have varying abilities to produce goals, hence the price tag. The most expensive transfers in football history are generally strikers/forwards. Three of Chelsea’s top 10 most expensive transfers have been strikers/center forwards, if not more.

This means that players that produce goals consistently are extremely valuable to their teams. In fact, players that produce goals consistently are the most valuable players in the sport.

According to SofaScore, Erling Haaland is valued at ~£121M, Mohamed Salah is valued at ~£82M, Kylian Mbappe is valued at ~£144M, Cristiano Ronaldo, despite being 36 years old, is valued at ~£40M, Lukaku, despite being 28 years old, is valued at ~£82M. This is not coincidence. Check their goal records over the past three to four seasons and it’s easy to see why they’re valued so highly.

A team that has a player that consistently scores goals has 60% of their problems solved. A coach of a team that has a consistent goal scorer has less to worry about. he can focus on working on the other side of the game. In the same vein, a manager that knows he’s coming up against a player that consistently scores goals, has a lot to worry about. Players that have a consistent goal scorer on their team have a clearer idea of where to direct play.

“Goals change games”. That’s the most accurate phrase ever. A team comfortable keeping the ball wouldn’t be as comfortable if they were chasing the game. Likewise a team that is leading is very comfortable keeping the ball. The intensity of a game would be different if one team, say the favorites, are leading or if they’re losing.

Unfortunately a trend that has emerged mainly from Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona and Netherlands, is fans expecting every player to be able to do several other players’ jobs.

You may recognize these trends as goalkeepers and defenders being dismissed for their passing ability (or lack thereof). Central midfielders and deep playmakers being dismissed for their contributions in the final third, or strikers being dismissed for their work off the ball or for their defensive contributions.

Imagine dismissing a prolific striker because “he doesn’t track back”, or because “he doesn’t defend”. Yeah sounds silly, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.

Prolific strikers offer the single most important commodity in a football match and they do not need to offer anything else if they’re bringing that to the table. If they do, that’s a bonus and fans should be grateful.

Fans really need to listen themselves when they ask “What does Player X bring to the table other than what he’s supposed to bring to the table?”

Why don’t you also do the work of your colleagues at work? Why do you just do yours? You begin to see the silliness of it.

Granted, players are not mandated to do just their jobs. They can decide to do others, and they should be appreciated when they do. Just like your colleagues would appreciate if you sometimes do their jobs for them. You’re not obligated to though. Center forwards aren’t obligated to do midfielders and defenders’ jobs.

This point specifically applies to strikers because they have the hardest jobs on the pitch as is, and their contributions are the most valuable, and therefore when they’re delivering on those jobs, they should not be expected to do anything but that.

Romelu Lukaku is one of the most prolific strikers in Europe. His club and country records speak for themselves, in fact, he’s on course to surpass Cristiano Ronaldo’s international goal tally, hence it would be silly to question what “else” he offers, as though that’s not his primary job. This applies to other prolific center forwards as well. Center forwards should be judged on goals, and if they score a lot, they’re delivering the most important thing a team needs in a match and therefore need not bother doing anything else.

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