Date: 27th January 2008 at 9:06pm
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The days in which a player can score 40, even 60 goals in one league season are over.

The older amongst us might remember Dixie Dean getting 60 for Everton in there title winning season of 1927-28 (the very old that is), or jimmy greaves’ 41 for Chelsea in 1960-61. And these are not just exceptions picked out of a hat; in fact, I can find a record of over 20 times when a player has scored over 35 goals in a season (to win the golden boot)! However, to find such examples, you have to go back as far as 1966, when Ron Davies of Southampton scored 37 to find such an example. And you have to go back a further few years to 1963 to find an example of a real teams’ player going over this amount (the legendary Jimmy Greaves.)

So why is it, that since the mid 60s, no player has managed to score over 35 goals in one league season? Surely it is not through lack of talent, as you would expect players these days to be possibly more talented, as such large amounts of money flood into scouting, youth football, and academies. And equally, with improved, lightweight footballs, flat, flawless playing surfaces, and much higher wages, you would expect more goals – but it is not to be.

The explanation lies in something that seems to come naturally to the English – the ability to produce some of the best defenders in the world! And as footballing standards have improved, rather than see a rise in goals in the league, we have seen a reduction, as players get better and better at defending. And you only need to look at the national team to see this is true, Ashley Cole, arguably the best left back in the world, John Terry and Rio Ferdinand, arguably the best centre back pairing in the world. Gary Neville (well, not any more) – another legend!

And then look at the defenders trying to get in, Jamie Carragher cant even get a sniff, Micah Richards has been pushed to the right to accommodate him. Glen Johnson, in my opinion, the most impressive right back of the season so far, hasn’t been played since, well, the “Sven” era. Then there is Matty Taylor, Nicky Shorey, Sol Campbell, Joleon Lescott, all waiting for a chance. All capable of getting into almost any national side in the world!

And then add to them the “defensive midfielders” that the country is producing, and you end up with a very defensive squad! Almost to the point of wondering where your goals will come from, with Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney probably the only two respectable forwards the country has to offer!

Last year saw Drogba weigh in with a massive 20 goals, and can we really expect a player to do better than this? Ronaldo is on course, but we can probably expect to see increasingly fewer and fewer goals scored in premiership seasons as time moves on.

Written by pompeycarpet.

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15 Replies to “It’s a Defensive league!”

  • Carpet good read and it balances the old stuff Chix and I write about. In The Toast in new few weeks I hope to have some more recent players and games. Perhaps to prove your point we need to look at goals per games stats.

  • Rug, A pretty good article but 3 points missed. The first; the divisions had more clubs in them so the players played more league and cupgames. I know we now have European football but that shouldn’t be included as not all clubs get to play it. The second; players are more prone to injury now and often miss a number of games because of it.In the days you are going back to, the only time you didn’t play is if you broke a leg. The third; and it hurts me to say this, 1966 was about the time the FA came down on match fixing. It was rife until then, so how many goals were not genuine. I can remember a certain Pompey goalkeeper letting in 3 soft goals (later he was banned from playing again). The players would have all got credit for the goals but they were not scored, they were given by the goalkeeper. All of this throws out the validity of statistics. I saw Jimmy Greaves and Dennis Law at their best and they would be top players if they played todays style of football, but I doubt they would score as many goals. Having said all of this aren’t there 1 or 2 players who look like scoring 30 or more goals this season in the EPL.

  • theres a guy called ronaldo who may get 40, this season. mabye 50, I think hes on 28 in 24 appearances, so if he keeps that up, he will get over 50 in all competitions.

  • How many did Guy whittingham get then? Thought that was 40 or something, spose that wasnt the top division tho.

  • frattonaussie, it wasnt me that wrote this – i merely published it but it was written by pompeycarpet…

  • On the whole I agree with a lot of what was said, although if memory serves me correctly Clive Allen scored 49 in total, league and cup, for us, Spurs, in 1987 breaking the Tottenham club record set by Jimmy Greaves. Even given the strikers at the moment I wouldn’t mind seeing the likes of Allen and Greaves at the lane again. Greaves scored 220 in 321 appearances for Spurs whilst Allen scored 60 in 105. Interesting article though.

  • great article carpet, I think scoring has gone down in every one of the top five leagues in Europe tho (England, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany). If you check out the golden boot winners, there hasnt been a winner from one of these leagues who has scored over 35 goals, the last one to do it was Gerd Muller back in 1971/2, so i dont think its the English game necessarily its the coaching, coaches have figured out a different way to win games, sure its not pretty to watch but what can you do.

  • actually I stand corrected, Hugo Sanchez did it before in 1989/90 for Real Madrid, he had scored 38 that season

  • another reason would be that teams are more competitive instead of one team being the best in one league by far they are closer

  • sorry fratton aussie that i missed out those 3 points, and to a great extent i agree with you! gleams – i was looking at golden boot winners, and i think ronaldo is on (only!) 16 goals or so in the league, which still puts him on course for under 30! (although i could be wrong about that 16…)

  • Good article Carps and some good debate since .. My take is that I don’t think the game is more defensive … I think it’s less attack minded.. not the same think if you think about it. In the good days to teams played formations which enabled a lot more goals ..

  • I think it’s perfectly fine to add Euro goals – and often we have strikers going over 30 when you count those. By the way Guy Whittingham got 48 goals in one season for Pompey in the early nineties.

  • Stu, thats what i said about Guy. I suppose the stats will show different, but i actually thought there had been more goals in the league this year, there have been a few fantastic scorelines, Pompey7 Reading 4 (not much defending going on there!) Reading were on the end of another against..spurs? But there have been many 4’s and 5’s scored this season tho, havnt there?

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