Here we go again. In the aftermath of Glenn Murray’s two goals for Brighton and Hove Albion in the 2-2 draw with Fulham on Saturday we heard that question again – Murray for England?
I don’t want to get into the debate again here in this column but do want to discuss the role of the striker.
I guess being a man of a certain age means I do remember the days of the big man, little man combination. There were also real classic number 9’s like Bob Latchford, Malcom Macdonald, and more recently Alan Shearer. There were the foxes in the box like Gary Lineker or Tony Cottee. It seems now, however, that modern day football in the Premier League has meant some of those types of players have been moved to the fringes of the squad or even squeezed down to leagues below or return to the continent.
The role of the current top-flight striker is obviously to score goals but individuals like Sergio Aguero are asked to do so much more. Most clubs (Watford appear to be one exception) seem to adopt the sole striker with two either side running from deep.
The frontman also has to link up play, come deep, run channels, make an impact at set-pieces, oh and score goals. Latchford and Macdonald were big and strong. Lineker was quick but relatively slight. Which brings me back to Aguero. Anyone who has trawled through the sanitised schmaltz in the All or Nothing documentary on Amazon Prime about Manchester City will have seen the close ups of Aguero. He’s fast but he’s strong. He comes short but also plays on the shoulder.
On Saturday we saw how effective Fulham’s Mitrovic can be with his back to goal, we also were given our regular reminder about everything that is great about one of the Seagulls’ highest ever goalscorers.
Give Murray service and he will score. Yes that’s true. He has a record of over one goal per two career league starts. He also holds the ball up very well despite his relatively smaller frame compared to say Mitrovic.
However, in winning the first penalty he showed his awareness to draw the foul, in the second he showed his ability to deliver from the spot. His first goal showed how cool he is in front of goal then towards the end of the game he was chasing down defenders more than Jurgen Locadia who had not been on the pitch long as a substitute.
His aerial prowess is obvious in both boxes and has been a vital defensive screen across his Albion career. So should he still be considered for an England call-up?
Ian Wright thinks he and Troy Deeney should have been. I think it’s unlikely as Gareth Southgate looks to younger players and Murray turns 35 later this month after all but every player who does get the call could take something from Murray’s game.
And therein lies the reason why he should be heralded as one of the club’s greats like Peter Ward or Bobby Zamora as discussed recently on the Albion Unlimited show on BBC Sussex.
He has shown longevity, why? He has natural talent. In my view he has also shown flexibility adapting his game as he has matured. I don’t get to see it but I’m sure his training and match preparation must also help.
When he eventually hangs up his boots he will look back at a career where he has scored goals at every level and it would seem a shame if he wasn’t given just one go with the Three Lions on his chest, even if it was just for pure symmetry.
Given two games the chances are he would score.
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