With the change in tactics in Football, recently we have seen teams veer away from the classic two up top structures favouring another midfielder to help control the centre of the pitch.
In this season’s SPFL Premiership we are seeing an abundance of teams either predominantly using two strikers or at least flirting with it.
St Johnstone have started the season with a bang mainly due to the combination of Michael O’Halloran on loan from Rangers and the ever consistent Steven MacLean. Rangers are using Alfredo Morelos as a conventional number 9 to relevant success pairing him with Kenny Miller who tends to play just off Morelos. Amongst others, Hibs have also used two strikers with all action Simon Murray and Anthony Stokes who drifts more to the left but is still creative and shot-happy.
The team I’d like to focus on is Motherwell. Motherwell finished last season just three points above the relegation playoffs in 9th place but not due to their strike force. Motherwell scored 46 goals but conceded a whopping 69 goals which was the second worst league record.
Their strike force featured the classy finisher in Louis Moult and the underrated, more build up orientated and general nuisance Scott McDonald. Louis Moult averaged a goal every other game in 16/17 but more importantly when you remove the striker’s penalty goals his goal rate drops to just under a goal every other game. Impressive considering the only strikers to better that were Liam Boyce, Leigh Griffiths and Moussa Dembele.
Scott McDonald who now plies his trade in the Scottish Championship with Dundee Utd was one of the most underrated players in the whole league last year. McDonald was an expert in linking the play with players that had more energy and dribbling ability to take the game into the opposition’s box. Moult benefitted hugely from the guile and awareness of McDonald not in direct assists but in creative build up nonetheless.
We’re only 4 games into the 17/18 Scottish Premiership season but Louis Moult has carried on where he left off last season scoring in a win over Ross County and more impressively scoring a curling beauty from the edge of the box against Hearts.
As I said, Scott McDonald has left for pastures new and his squad spot has gone to Alex Fisher. Last season Fisher was a small sample star for Inverness averaging 0.66 goals per 90 over 1092 minutes. Why didn’t he play more? Inverness were relegated winning just 7 games and Motherwell snapped up Fisher on a free. Since starting against St Johnstone on the second week Fisher has found minutes hard to come by only playing 58 minutes from a total of 180 possible. There’s a reason for that.
Recently we have seen the emergence of Ryan Bowman. Bowman completed just 1142 minutes last season, playing more rotationally. His performances with Moult this season have been tremendous creating the perfect foil for each other. Bowman is a hard working speedy forward that loves spinning defenders and chasing through balls. They have worked superbly as a pair with Moult being more of the link player and Bowman stretching the field.
The best example of the combination play they have when playing together came against Hearts on week day 4. After the play had moved to the right-hand side Moult expecting a cross drifted into the far post unmarked where he very composedly headed the ball back into the danger area for Bowman to head in from close range. Previous to that there was only a passage of play where Moult had control in a seemingly harmless area but he spotted Bowman in space and played a half volley that Bowman took in his stride, used his pace to breeze past Hearts’ defenders and go one one with Hearts keeper Jack Hamilton. Moult, Bowman and Fisher is no doubt a good trio to have but if Robinson places in faith in Bowman Motherwell will reap the rewards.
Motherwell are streets ahead of the team they were last season, there will be no relegation fight for the steelmen and their strike partnership will be the focal point for that. Moult is the star man for Motherwell and they’ll rely on his goals to have a successful season but if featured with Ryan Bowman they have the potential to be a very potent strike force in the SPFL Premiership.