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2019/20 Season Review - The Forwards
Tuesday, 4th Aug 2020 09:04

The big success story at Saints this season was Danny Ings, but he was ably supported by our other attacking options, all of whom contributed and showed we can be a force going forward next season.

It would not be unfair to say that our defence was bottom 3 standard most of the season, but pulled itself out of the relegation zone out of lockdown as we surged up to an 11th place finish and our midfield was solidly mid table.

But going forward we were top 8 all season and at the end were top 4.

Danny Ings was the star of the show with 22 Premier League goals making him second only to Jamie Vardy in the golden boot award and notching 25 in all competitions, but he was ably supported by Shane Long, Ce Adams & Michael Obafemi, all of whom had their moments.

But it was Ings who truly shone, a year ago there were some doubting the wisdom of paying £20 million for him, but that looks a bargain now, ironically he was a little slow out of the traps, his only goal in the opening 6 League games was against Liverpool and that was a bit fortunate in that the keeper kicked the ball straight at him, it would be wrong to say that he didn't have to react quickly to make sure it went in, but it was a bit fortuitous.

His luck would soon change as three sides of Portsdown Hillbillies watched in horror as he gave Saints a two goal half time lead at Fratton Park to kick start a rout which by the time Nathan Redmond added a fourth saw a steady stream heading for the exits become the biggest fire drill in Portsmouth history, there was not love in for Ings as the Blue Few seem to reserve that only for Arsenal drubbing them.

From there on in he would score in 8 out of 10 Premier League games, ironically one of those he didn't score in was the Leicester game where Vardy hit 3 and that won him the golden boot come the end of the season.

But Ings was now up and running and his goal early in the New Year that saw us beat Leicester on their home turf was the 12th game he had scored in out of 16 in a row he had played in the Premier League an in doing so he had fired Saints into mid table safety.

But it wasn't just his goals, his all round play was excellent whether it was chasing down and pressing or getting back and defending, he made space for others and did as much good work off the ball as on it.

So Danny was a well deserved player of the year and if circumstances had been different would have been a dead cert to play for England in the Euros.

There are already rumours surfacing of Arsenal hovering, we should not be afraid, if he stays then next season will be another good one, if he goes then it will take something around what Liverpool paid for Virgil Van Dijk to take him from us and we could use that well.

But I do feel that next season could see a new hero emerge, Che Adams took his time but I never lost faith in him, I could see that although he was not scoring, he was contributing , he like Ings is a clever player, he can play as a central player and hold the ball up and make space, but he can also play in a more wide position and cut nside.

I think now he has broken his duck, he will make his £20 million transfer fee like Ings look a bargain.

Michael Obafemi is a different type of forward to all of our other 3 strikers, he relies on pure pace, this is not a bad thing in any squad you need contrast and the ability to do things differently as the situation requires.

Obafemi is a reactive player though, Ings and Adams make space for themselves whereas Obafemi has to have the ball put into space and then let him turn the after burners on and chase it , unlike the other two he is not a player who will do a lot of work off the ball or create space for others, he is there to do his job and his job only, perhaps experience and coaching will help him get better at this, if it does he will be a hell of a player, but in the meantime he can do a job and alongside the other 3 contrasting players is a good option.

Finally Shane Long, perhaps the most underrated player in our squad according to some of the things you read online, but here he has been again in his 6th season for Saints and again he contributed, I say this every year but Long does the things that don't always get the plaudits most of his work is done early in an attack, closing down a defender, winning the ball deep and holding it up and laying it off, he does the simple things and they don't always get the credit they deserve.

He is not a prolific scorer and this season was his worst in terms of goals, but the burden was taken off him by Ings for this task, perhaps Long could have scored 5 more, but that would probably have meant that Ings notched 5 less.

So I for one applaud Shane Long, Lwarie McMenemy used to say you need violinists and you need hod carriers, Long is a hod carrier and I mean that with the greatest respect for him, in his 6 years he has started 91 games in the Premier League plus 83 off the bench scoring 27 goals, a goal every 6.44 games, but if you divided that by minutes played that ratio would half.

As I say Shane Long is the most underrated player in our squad by some, but those that look at things in a little more depth know the real truth, he is approaching the end of his career now, his role will be more and more off the bench, but when he is gone we will miss him.

So overall our forward line has done it's job and in Adams and Obafemi we have two players who will only get better and better, hopefully if the defence can be brought up to speed the future is truly bright.

Photo: Action Images

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Boris1977 added 09:30 - Aug 4
Hi Nick pretty fair round up. Agree that Che has taken a while to get up to speed but it will be worth the wait - he now realises how little time he has on the ball in dangerous areas but he needed the game time to work that out. Obefemi could also develop into a very useful player. Listening to him in interviews he's got his head screwed on so will listen and learn and is a promising prospect. Ings - what more can be added. Pure class all round.

As for Shane Long - he is a selfless player that causes all kinds of problems for the opposition and makes space for things to happen. One of my favourite players who's goal ratio suffers from his main role in the team, which is to create for others. Having said that I just wish he'd hit the target more from his easier opportunities to make the internet warriors quieten down. You are correct he will be missed when he’s gone.


davepid added 13:19 - Aug 4
Shane Long reminds me of how my 7 year old granddaughter plays football. So good at chasing the ball, hustling others off the ball, getting it but then doesn’t know what to do with it.
What an enigma he is . Most end of season reviews say the same on him: fast, tireless, disruptive to the opposition , can hold up a ball, team player BUT doesn’t quite score enough goals.

I remember he missed a sitter on 52 mins against Wolves at home ,would have put us 3 1 up. Again at home to Newcastle , last few mins when we were chasing an equaliser, all he had to do was square the ball , untroubled, to two of our players 10 yards from goal. Instead he toe pokes the ball into the crowd.

I simply don’t understand how a top professional fails to score as often as Long does from very favourable positions.

felly1 added 17:59 - Aug 4
Keeping Danny boy happy is the key to the goals flowing next season. I'm sure Ralph knows that.
You can see the difference in Vardy this season. He's playing for a manager that plays to his strengths and knows how to get the very best out of him as he understands he's his most important player. The other guys all have important supporting roles to play at different times. Please please don't get injured Danny!!!

Peterx added 18:34 - Aug 4
Good summary. I think if we can hold onto all 4 of our strikers and keep them happy for next season we are looking good. Its obvious now that Che will be starting most of the games ahead of SL, but I still think SL gives us some extra nuisance factor as a team whenever he plays and when he starts we do well. Che's first goal against Sheff U shows he has the potential to take it up a level though in terms of finishing. Very positive for next year.

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