To say that this season has been a hard slog for many of the new faces to the Premier League would be like saying that Ireland found itself slightly unprepared for the freezing weather in 2010. Whilst many of the big money signings have struggled for form and fitness, those sneaking up from the old second division are still adapting to their new surroundings. Gone are the days of Kevin Phillips hitting 30 goals in a debut season, and Marcus Stewart threatening to gate-crash the top-scorers chart. These days’ strikers are having a tougher time of it. How they must lust for the generosity of Championship defences.
The news on Friday afternoon of Dean Ashton’s retirement from football at the tender age of 26 was not a shock to anyone. It was met sadness within the game and beyond, with observers ranging from Piers Morgan to Arsene Wenger quick to offer their sympathy and support to the West Ham striker. While we all shake our heads in disgust at the obscene wages that are paid to Premier League footballers, it seems that there is no price one can put on having their career cut short on something that was beyond their control. However there are murmurs from Ashton that legal action may be taken, giving this tale of one man’s woe an unfortunate and sinister edge.
Euro 2008 was a hugely enjoyable tournament on a number of levels. Viewers across the globe were spoilt with a month of delightful, positive football. Spain were indisputably the best team on show, and deserved winner of their first major championship in 34 years. However, a personal highlight was the re-emergence of Croatian striker Ivan Klasnic, after he had spent most of 2007 recovering from 2 kidney transplants. It is a tribute to his strength of character and determination that he is playing the game at the highest level, and this summer moved to Premier League Bolton Wanderers. Since promotion in 2001, Bolton have searched Europe and beyond for firepower, with varying levels of success. The Hamburg-born striker will hope to enjoy a more successful tenure in gainful employment at the Reebok Stadium then these forwards endured:
Having been invaded by wingers, second strikers and midfielders last season, the Premier League top scorers chart is beginning to have a familiar look to it again. It’s populated by centre-forwards. 7 games into the season the top 10 scorers in the league are all strikers. No sign of the Gerrards, Lampards or Ronaldos. We seemed to be drifting towards an era of teams playing just one up top, but now it seems strike partnerships are en vogue again, and the league is all the more entertaining for it: 196 goals in 66 games, an average of 2.97 goals per match.