Cardiff City do not need to sign a striker.
I know, that’s not quite what you’re expecting. You’ve seen all over Twitter the need for somebody to come in and sign goals. People have been throwing Matej Vydra, Lee Gregory and a few others into the ring with the hope of one joining before the transfer window shuts.
But I feel those wanting a striker are being blinded by the lack of goals from open play. They see a lack of goals and instantly look at the striker. But what is the true root of the problem?
Well, Cardiff strikers have struggled for a number of years. Seriously, who was the last City striker you remember thriving? Frazier Campbell? Heidur Helgusson? We’re talking 6-7 years ago.
City strikers have struggled for a number of years. The root of the problem? We simply don’t do enough to bring them into play.
Robert Glatzel has scored four goals this season. Danny Ward has scored six. Does the blame for this lie with them> Absolutely not.
So what is going wrong with Cardiff City’s strikers?
Neil Harris needs to decide how he wants to play
There’s been a lot of talk about Neil Harris’ Cardiff City and the side’s identity. Some say that he has tried to introduce better football to Cardiff, whilst others argue that not much has changed.
A lot hinges on whether Lee Tomlin or Callum Paterson plays in the number 10 role.
Against West Brom, when Paterson played in that #10 role, the most common passing combination amongst Cardiff players was Alex Smithies to Calum Paterson.
In fact, three of Cardiff’s five most common passing combinations featured a defender passing to Callum Paterson. If you compare that to the game against Birmingham, when Lee Tomlin played in the 10, the two most common passing combinations featured Marlon Pack. City are much more likely to play football with Tomlin in at 10 instead of Paterson.
If City are going long, they have to get Paterson central
That’s certainly not a dig against Paterson, either. The Scotsman grabbed a goal and won more aerial duels than any other player on the pitch (5/16).
But just look at where he won those headers. Paterson, playing as a number 10, is being dragged out to the wings to win his aerial duels. These are not bringing the strikers into play.
The wingers need to get balls into the box
Talking of wingers, they’re not being brought into the game enough either. Against Birmingham, Lee Tomlin managed zero successful passes out to the wingers.
When the wingers are getting the ball, they’re not linking up with the strikers. Against Birmingham, neither Junior Hoilett nor Gavin Whyte managed a pass to Robert Glatzel. Both of them passed back to a midfielder more than putting a ball into the box.
City managed just three successful crosses – two came from corners.
Against West Brom, it was largely the same story. Whyte managed just one pass into Glatzel – Will Vaulks was his most common combination – while Hoilett did manage to pass twice into Glatzel, but both were balls played down the channel away from goal.
City’s strikers aren’t receiving the ball into the box
In the West Brom game, Glatzel received just one ball into the box, from Will Vaulks. In the Birmingham game, Danny Ward received zero in the box.
Seriously, how do you expect the strikers to score when just one ball in 180 minutes was played to them in the box.
What City actually need
The bottom line is this; Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski wouldn’t score goals in this Cardiff City side. So those crying out for a new striker are simply papering over the cracks.
Until the Bluebirds can find a way to create chances in dangerous areas for their strikers, it’s a losing game. The priority this window should’ve been on a progressive midfielder and a winger who can get balls into the box.
City’s strikers are just fine. The service to them is not.