Do We Really Need A Goalscorer?
With the signing of Jonny Russell seemingly progressing to a positive conclusion, Rams fans should be blessed with all manner of striking options to enjoy next season.
Subsequently it was with some surprise that I saw in my inbox an article submitted by Ramspace reader, Shaun Dowey, asking if we really needed a new striker. Check out Shaun’s thoughts here and see if you agree.
“It seems as though the general consensus amongst Derby fans is that what we need is a centre forward who is going to score us 20+ goals per season, and it appears that the man most people want to see is Billy Sharp. Unfortunately it seems that he is out of the wage range that the board has set, and that in my opinion is the problem we are facing.
Any player who is a ‘guaranteed’ goalscorer (if such a thing exists) will be snapped up by clubs who don’t have such a rigid wage structure, for proof of this just look at Blackburn’s purchase of Jordan Rhodes and Sharp’s transfer to Southampton the previous season.
Below are the goals for / against for the teams that made the top six last season
Top Six Teams:
1. Cardiff – 72 / 45
2. Hull – 61 / 52
3.Watford – 85 / 58
4.Brighton – 69 / 43
5. Palace – 73 / 62
6. Leicester City – 71 / 48
10. Derby – 65 / 62
1. Murray (Palace) 29
2. Rhodes (Blackburn) 28
3. Austin (Burnley) 24
4. Vydra (Watford) 22
5. Wood (Leicester) 20
6. Deeney (Watford) 20
7. Ince (Blackpool) 17
8. Nugent (Leicester) 16
9. Becchio (Leeds) 15
10. Vaughan (Huddersfield) 14
It’s worth noting that neither Cardiff nor Hull had a goalscorer in the top ten, and we scored more than Hull who were promoted automatically.
So, as a fan of the book and film ‘Moneyball’, I’ve been interested to see how some of the principles that are applied to Baseball could be applied to football, and in particular Derby County. This is extremely difficult due to the nature of both games but I think the thing we can take from it is that instead of focusing on something we can’t change, we need to concentrate on something we can.
What I believe the stats above show is that our emphasis should be on our goalkeepers and defence in this close season, not necessarily the midfield or attack. Our away record is one of the worst in the division, and tightening up in defence will turn away defeats into draws or even wins.
Clough has already addressed the goalkeeping department with the signing of Lee Grant (however his quality remains to be seen), but there’s no doubt that high quality defenders can be bought a lot cheaper and on much lower wages than their striking counterparts.
He’s already proved that he and his scouting staff have an eye for a good defender with the purchase of Barker, Brayford, Keogh and Shackell, but I believe that the problem has been that we’ve been extremely week at left back (Rogers) and that other ‘squad’ players (O’Connor, Buxton) simply aren’t good enough to be making the first team. It remains to be seen if Forsyth can address the issues at left back or if Barker will come back from his horrendous injury as the player he was before.
My opinion then would be to buy a proven and experienced left back and centre back and build from there. We have options throughout midfield and up front (even if some are currently ‘frozen out’) and I believe that goals will come from that group.
As Watford proved, it does you absolutely no harm to have one (or in their case two) 20+ goals per season strikers, but in reality the chance of finding two players on a budget that can do this are extremely slim.
It’s totally pie in the sky, but just roughly guessing I’ve come up with us having the potential to score 70 goals next season with the strikers we’ve already got.
Sammon – 10
Martin – 10
Ward – 10
Midfield – 20
Defence – 10
Misc Subs/Others – 10
If we could only cut out five of the goals we conceded last season this would give us a 70 / 57 record and should be good enough to see us into the top six at least.”