Do we need specialist Front Strikers in the modern game? I don’t believe we do.
This is a question I have pondered over for a considerable time as the increase in positional interchange by teams’ means less importance on positional specialization and throws more emphasis on individual playing qualities. Players of tomorrow will be expected to ‘find’ different positions and play varying roles in a single game as tactical systems become ever more ‘fluid’. Improved levels of individual skill that can satisfy the needs of any outfield position when occupied will produce a fuller range of tactical options in the game.
Up to today, the game has seen the consistent use of front player(s) who are literally ‘confined’ to the front area of teams’ formations. This often leaves these players isolated for long periods of games and results in both their under-employment and unavailability to join in a team’s preparatory play. This ‘loss’ of player involvement can be seen as a tactical waste and clubs’ are gradually drawing front players away from front positions and asking them to search for deeper spaces that allows them to combine more easily and frequently with their colleagues. Ball possession and player overloading have become increasingly obvious in the game-styles of numerous leading clubs located here and abroad. The use of strikers who are expected to ‘wait’ and compete (fight) the defensive ‘guards’ set against them, must surely become a tactic of the past, for their must be a transition towards multi-position rotations into and out of forward striking positions in the future game.
To take the game into the next tactical phase, higher levels of teaching (coaching) to provide ‘total’ playing standards will be required. I have always imagined a team that consists entirely of talented mid-field type performers who would have skills in conjunction with the physical and tactical qualities necessary to play ‘total football’
It may not be too far ahead before the often bloodied and bruised ‘waiters’ who have ‘lived on the shoulders’ of opposing defenders and fought them throughout the history the game will be just a memory of the past. I believe a preference for more flexibility in tactical thinking to promote players capable of ‘arriving into’ and ‘departing from’ forward striking positions will gradually force the gradual demise and eventual disappearance of the striker role we have become accustomed to seeing.
I can’t wait for it to happen!