Friday, 17 May 2013

Tigers Squad Review 2013 - Forwards

2012/13 report

The Hull City forward line. A cause of concern and debate for the past three seasons. For all the good football we've played and for all the chances we've created, we haven't scored the goals we should have. We've scored enough (just) but aside from Matt Fryatt's near 1 in every 2 starts and Robert Koren's 8 or 9 from midfield, we just haven't had players who threaten the net enough. Fryatt missed almost the entire season this time with an achilles injury. The few games he did manage were irrelevant, he was nowhere near fit. His absence initially left The Tigers with three "natural" front players. Nick Proschwitz, the German signed for big money from Paderborn in the summer, looked to be the big front player we'd been desperate for since we dropped out of the Premier League. He never really settled though and struggled to impose himself in games. He wasn't quick enough, wasn't strong enough wasn't brave enough and wasn't good enough with his back to goal. He had some highlights. His late brace to see off Ipswich was crucial, his tremendous volley  at Leyton Orient in the FA Cup was the goal of the season and he nicked an equaliser against Cardiff on the final day that was, quite simply, priceless. Aaron McLean started only a handful of games before leaving for a loan spell at Ipswich in January. He's a willing worker but lacks the quality around the box in the Championship. Jay Simpson was the other "striker" in the squad. He's a good player, has decent feet, under-rated strength, intelligent movement and an eye for a pass. Outside the box, he brings a lot to the side but he doesn't have a strikers instinct and is erratic in front of goal. His heading is occasionally brilliant but often weak and his first touch is either sublime or ridiculous. He was often left out because he wasn't scoring goals but work his way back in because he was a good foil for others.

Frustrated with the efforts of his supposed strikers, Steve Bruce turned often to Sone Aluko and Robert Koren to play up or off the front in the first half of the season. Aluko was a revelation. He's got incredible balance and is able to evade challenges while stumbling or turn a defender while facing the wrong way. He's a really exciting player, the sort people pay to see and as a free signing from Rangers, was one of the bargains of the summer. Had he played the whole season, he'd have been in contention for Championship player of the season, he'd have got close to 20 goals and we'd have been promoted in March. Probably. As it was, his season was cut short in January by another achilles injury and he proved difficult to replace. Koren fell just short of double figures for the third season in a row. His impact wasn't quite so spectacular, probably as a result of having better players all around him.

With goals proving hard to come by despite the Tigers lofty league position and Bruce frustrated by fruitless pursuits of two muppets called Campbell in the January window, we instead took a chance on a previously unknown Egyptian called Gedo. Unknown in Europe that is, Gedo had a strong reputation in Africa having enjoyed Nations Cup success with his national team. He'd make a spectacular entry into English football. After a nondescript debut as a substitute at Brighton, he scored 5 goals in his next 5 games, all at the KC Stadium. He went off the boil a little thereafter, City losing the next 4 games he was involved in, with a foot injury being the probable reason for the loss of form. A final dip into the transfer market saw the arrival of George Boyd from Peterborough, initially on loan but with an agreement in place to sign permanently in the summer. He also settled quickly, used mainly as a front player, and scored 4 times in his first 6 appearances including a strike in the first minute of his home debut and a fantastic and vital winning goal at Huddersfield. He then faded as the long season took it's toll on the Tigers squad and ended the season with a whimper. In fact, his record of 4 win in 13 appearances isn't at all impressive. It's a wonder we got promoted at all!

The Future

Jay Simpson will not be retained when his contract expires at the end of June and neither will youth product Mark Cullen, who has never really hit the heights he first threatened to. I don't think Bruce will pursue the permanent signing of Gedo and I have a feeling Nick Proschwitz may well return to Germany if we can find a buyer. Aaron McLean will also be allowed to move on, I'm sure. A fit Sone Aluko and Matt Fryatt will provide a boost in pre-season, Aluko especially if I'm honest. However it has to be said that without doubt, we must find a goal scorer. Because of our tight defence, we've gotten away with profligacy time and again but we can't realistically expect to do so in the top flight. Good teams will punish you far too often for missing chances. We need at least two strikers, perhaps even three if a clear out ensues.

We've already been linked with moves for Jordan Rhodes of Blackburn, who we surely can't afford, and Burnley's Charlie Austin. Both are good finishers who deserve a crack at the big league. I wouldn't turn down either.

Five to consider

Peter Odemwingie (West Brom) - A real figure of fun after his ridiculous antics in the January transfer window. This overshadows the fact that he's a very good front player with a decent record in the Premier League. He has pace to burn, he occupies and worries defences, he has good technical ability and that eye for a goal. He comes with baggage and probably a bit of a sideshow but he's a proven commodity at a bargain price.

Luchiano Becchio (Norwich) - It hasn't happened at all for him since he left Leeds for Norwich in January. We were interested then but couldn't compete realistically. Norwich may well cut their losses with the imminent arrival of the wonderfully named Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and we could be at the head of the queue. Becchio is a strong front player, a big threat in the air and decent finisher. If we set up again to get crosses into the box, he'd thrive on that.

Dwight Gayle (Peterborough) - January signing for the Posh from Dagenham and Redbridge. He made an immediate impact in the Championship with his quick movement and his composed finishing. He's a nippy front player who plays off the shoulder and continues to improve at a rapid rate. Rumoured to be a target for Aston Villa.

Marlon King (Birmingham) - Just kidding.

Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff) - Kidding again! Sorry.

Adam Le Fondre (Reading) - An absolute born goalscorer. He just has the knack, the intangible that you can't really teach. He's a "right place, right time" sort of player. His all-round game isn't great, though t is improving. He's not going to win the ball in the air, pull down long balls and bring people into play but if you put the ball in good areas, he'll score goals. His asking price could be high if there is sufficient interest in him but as neither of his last two managers have shown the faith in him to be a Prmeier Legae striker week in, week out, he could be tempted.

Darren Bent (Aston Villa) - I'll admit, I don't see this one. He's on something like £80,000 a week and Villa want to recoup a decent amount of the £24m they paid for him. He'd have to take a 50% pay-cut to become the second highest paid player in our history. He's also been less than complimentary about us in his past! I'll add that I'm not a massive fan of him at the top level. I've never thought he had the all-round game to play for England or in a top four team. What's indisputable though is that with his pace and his finishing ability, when he's part of a team that's set up for him, he's a goal scorer. He has history with Steve Bruce and he needs a home and we need a goal scorer. So it fits. But it's 5% likely I think and that's being generous.

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