The Return of the Goal-Hanger

by admin

Friday, March 25th, 2011

I hate to use the word goal-hanger when talking about professional football, but there is a lot to be said for the Fillippo Inzaghis of this world.

The Milan veteran, scorer of over 300 career goals was of goal-hanger of epic proportion, so much so Sir Alex Ferguson once famously said of him; “That lad was born offside.”

The Manchester United manager had a point. Inzaghi walked the tightrope game after game. He became an expert in timing his runs along and through static defences.

The image of a man 20 yards clear, in acres of green became synonymous with Inzaghi-rounding the goalkeeper and tapping in at a snail’s pace, his trademark.

A solitary linesman with his flag in the air became the most frustrating image associated with the player.

However with 70 goals in European competition, just one behind former Real Madrid hero Raul Gonzalez, it has to be said, he must have done something right.

Inzaghi has befuddled coaches and purists around the world, almost from the moment he rose to international prominence alongside the mercurial Alessandro Del Piero and Zinedine Zidane in his Juventus days.

Alongside those two he was always going to look like a rusty tin man trying to find himself a heart.

But the fact is, he has divided opinion for a reason. And in my opinion if you don’t rate his talents, as abstract as they may be, you wouldn’t know a goalscorer if you were Manuel Alumunia.

The same is true for a certain Aston Villa striker by the name of Darren Bent. Many of you aren’t fans, I know, mainly because you either support Sunderland or were, much like me, completely flabbergasted by the £24m Gerard Houllier decided to outlay in his desperate bid to stave off relegation.

For me, Bent has always been a 90-minute player. His perceived failures whilst playing for Tottenham Hotspur were due to a lack of playing time, and a lack of belief from Manager Harry Redknapp.

He did manage 18 goals in 60 appearances for Spurs – many of which lasted less than 20 minutes.
Bent is a player that reminds me of Inzaghi, though infinitely more blessed physically. Pace and power, with a decent header on him, Bent has thankfully, managed at least one goal from outside the box during his career.

Bent tries to run in behind defences for England and should be preferred to partner Wayne Rooney against Wales on Saturday. His goals against Switzerland and Denmark are evidence, the goal-hanger is back.

His insistence on pushing forward allows Rooney the time and space to do what he does best. Rooney’s ability to create and prod his team forward from deep can be a driving force for both England and Manchester United.

For England he will be able to bring wide players such as Ashley Young or James Milner in more effectively as well as using his pace and physicality as an extra man in midfield areas.

The rise to prominence of Javier Hernandez for the Red Devils has led to a permanent substitute role for Dimitar Berbatov, despite this being his best season at the club.

Chicarito or ‘little pea’ has an energy and movement in his game that has terrorised defences in recent weeks, particularly against Marseille in last week’s Champion’s League tie.

Like Inzaghi and Bent, Hernandez forces a high attacking line which has led to a number of close range goals. The mexican undoubtedly has a great future ahead partnering Rooney ahead.

Expect the former Everton man’s goalscoring to stay relatively low in the coming months but rest assured his influence will grow.

Key goals like those against Arsenal and Chelsea will return as England’s talisman gets back to his best – starting at the Millennium Stadium this Saturday.

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  • Michael Somerville

    Darren Bent will never shine a light to Fillipo Inzaghi! “Infinitely more blessed physically” haha 😀

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