Football: Wright a model for modern striker

Ian Wright needs two goals to eclipse Cliff Bastin's 58-year scoring record for Arsenal. Glenn Moore looks at the art of scoring and the Gunners striker's place in the pantheon of hit men

The goalscorer of the week, Germany's Oliver Bierhoff, said after his five-minute hat-trick against Northern Ireland that his art was simply a case of "closing your eyes and whacking that ball".

Jurgen Klinsmann took a more considered line. "Goalscoring has to be within you but, while it is a natural talent, it has to be developed and nourished with a lot of work."

Ian Wright, who hopes to overhaul Cliff Bastin's 58-year-old Arsenal goalscoring record at Southampton today, is inclined towards the latter view. Always a natural goalscorer, even while playing amateur football in south-east London, he has refined his skill as a professional, learning much from partners like Mark Bright, Alan Smith and Dennis Bergkamp.

Goalscorers are the glory boys, the ones with the highest transfer fees, highest wages and highest profiles. Team-mates may sometimes resent this but they know they cannot do without them. Ronnie Moore, newly installed at Rotherham, echoed the lament of managers everywhere when he said on the season's eve, "we could do with a 20-goal-a-season striker."

There are not many about. In England only eight players have scored 20 goals in each of the last two seasons: Wright, Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand, Robbie Fowler, Dwight Yorke, John Aldridge, Shaun Goater and Kyle Lightbourne. Look back four seasons and all but Shearer, Wright and Aldridge have dropped out. Only Wright has scored 20 goals in each of the last seven seasons.

Wright's obvious physical quality is his pace, others, like Ferdinand, have great heading ability while Ronaldo has supreme ball control. Some, like Aldridge, have none of those aspects in abundance but are gifted at simply being in the right place at the right time. "It's all about movement in the box, getting away from your marker," he said, adding: "It's a matter of instinct."

Consistent goalscorers are cool finishers with a range of executions. They are usually mentally and physically strong and brave with plenty of confidence.

They are also, admits Wright, selfish. In his recent autobiography, Wright owned up to the greediness required. "I have never seen a top striker who has not had the selfish streak in him," he wrote. "Anybody who plays up front and says they're happy to see the team win even if they don't score is a liar. Sometimes you say that because you don't want you don't want a big-headed image but deep in your heart you know its rubbish. I'm desperate for goals: they're what my job is all about, and if I'm not scoring - even if the team is winning - I sulk."

This is a lot more believable than Shearer's refrain, "as long as the team wins I don't care who scores" but it does create problems. Smith, Wright's first partner at Highbury, said this week "it isn't easy for partners to develop a two-way relationship since whenever he gets the ball near goal only white posts, not team-mates, come into focus."

It is hard to argue with this approach when you consider his record. With 177 goals for Arsenal (after 117 for Crystal Palace) in all competitions, Wright is one short of Bastin's total, set in 1939, and way ahead on strike- rate. This might be expected since Bastin was a winger but, of all Arsenal's established forwards, only Ted Drake scored his goals more quicker. Drake scored 139 goals at one every 1.32 games, Wright's Arsenal goals have come in 265 games, one every 1.5 games (a strike-rate of 0.67)

Given the difficulty of scoring goals in the modern era it could be argued that Wright's achievement is the greater even if he has had more competitions to score in. Sixty years ago defences were far less organised, goalkeepers less protected and midfielders not often inclined to track back. The balls and equipment were much heavier and more cumbersome but that also applied to defenders.

On the other hand the game was more physical and medical knowledge less advanced. Dixie Dean, who scored a record 60 League goals in 1927-28, even lost a testicle from a defenders' boot and Brian Clough's career was finished by cruciate ligament injury similar to those Shearer and Paul Gascoigne have recovered from. "I accept the game is quicker now but it was bloody hard physically when I was a centre-forward," Clough said a couple of years ago. "You'd get whacked from behind and never get a free-kick."

Such is Clough's reputation as a manager it is often overlooked that he has the best post-war goal ratio of any striker. Playing for Middlesbrough and Sunderland mainly in the old Second Division he scored 267 goals in 296 games, a strike-rate of 0.9 (a goal every 1.1 games).

Unsurprisingly, he was very single-minded. At Middlesbrough his manager, Bob Dennison, told him "there has been a complaint from one of the lads that you yell `give it to me' every time he gets the ball, even when he has the chance of a shot. Why?" Clough replied "Because I'm better at it than he is."

Clough's record is just ahead of Dean who, playing mainly in the old First Division for Everton, scored 408 League and cup goals at one every 1.15 games. By way of comparison, Ian Rush's 366 goals have come at one every two games and Gary Lineker was only marginally better.

Those figures make Wright's record with Arsenal even more impressive, but while he accepts his team-mates have also played a big part they are not getting much of a mention. However, as forwards get the blame when they are not scoring they may as well accept the glory when they do. As Klinsmann, 11 and a half hours without an international goal, reflected this week: "People expect goals from me but forwards need help from others, in some games I have not had one chance."

TOP 10 CURRENT SCORERS

(Premiership and Nationwide League: League goals and appearances for all clubs)

Apps Goals S/R

1 John Aldridge 595 324 .54

(Tranmere)

2 Ian Rush 539 246 .47

(Newcastle)

3 Steve Bull 432 242 .56

(Wolves)

4 Kerry Dixon 593 231 .39

(left Doncaster this week)

5 Steve White 617 221 .36

(Cardiff)

6 Ian Wright 424 210 .49

(Arsenal)

7 Tony Adcock 560 207 .37

(Colchester)

8 Peter Beardsley 592 200 .33

(Bolton)

9 Tony Cottee 463 187 .40

(Leicester)

10 Mick Harford 583 186 .32

(Wimbledon)

In a league of their own

How the Premiership clubs' all-time record League scorers compare with their current leading marksmen

Appearances Goals Strike rate

Arsenal Cliff Bastin (1930-47) 350 150 0.43

Ian Wright 199 121 0.61

Aston Villa Harry Hampton (1904-15) 342 215 0.63

Dwight Yorke 202 61 0.30

Barnsley Ernest Hine 288 124 0.43

(1921-26 and 1934-38)

Neil Redfearn 257 61 0.24

Blackburn Simon Garner (1978-92) 485 168 0.35

Chris Sutton 80 29 0.36

Bolton Nat Lofthouse (1946-61) 452 255 0.56

John McGinlay 186 87 0.47

Chelsea Bobby Tambling (1958-70) 298 164 0.55

Dennis Wise 219 43 0.20

Coventry Clarrie Bourton (1931-37) 228 171 0.75

Dion Dublin 101 43 0.43

C Palace Peter Simpson (1930-36) 180 153 0.85

Bruce Dyer 107 32 0.30

Derby Co Steve Bloomer 474 293 0.62

(1892-1906 and 1910-14)

Paul Simpson 186 48 0.26

Everton Willie Ralph `Dixie' Dean 419 349 0.83

(1925-37)

Dave Watson 370 23 0.06

Duncan Ferguson 75 23 0.31

Leeds Utd Peter Lorimer 504 168 0.33

(1965-79 and 1983-86)

Rodney Wallace 182 43 0.24

Leicester Arthur Chandler (1923-35) 393 259 0.66

Steve Walsh 311 47 0.15

Liverpool Roger Hunt (1959-69) 401 245 0.61

Robbie Fowler 140 83 0.59

Man Utd Bobby Charlton (1956-73) 604 199 0.33

Brian McClair 342 88 0.26

Newcastle Jackie Milburn (1946-57) 353 177 0.50

Robert Lee 182 39 0.21

Sheffield W Andy Wilson (1900-20) 502 199 0.40

David Hirst 288 106 0.37

Southampton Mike Channon 507 185 0.36

(1966-77 and 1979-82)

Matt Le Tissier 357 140 0.39

Tottenham Jimmy Greaves (1961-70) 321 220 0.69

Gary Mabbutt 466 27 0.06

West Ham Vic Watson (1920-35) 462 298 0.65

Julian Dicks 253 50 0.20

Wimbledon Alan Cork (1977-92) 352 145 0.41

Robbie Earle 295 77 0.26

SCORER OF THEM ALL

(Career League goals and appearances)

Apps Goals S/R

Arthur Rowley 619 434 .70

(West Bromwich Albion, Fulham, Leicester, Shrewsbury. 1946-1965)

how SOME OF TODAY's leading strikers compare

(Career League goals and appearances for all clubs)

Apps Goals S/R

Robbie Fowler 140 83 .59

(Liverpool)

Alan Shearer 287 160 .56

(Newcastle)

Andy Cole 197 109 .55

(Manchester United)

Les Ferdinand 236 122 .52

(Tottenham)

Stan Collymore 178 83 .47

(Aston Villa)

Teddy Sheringham 435 183 .42

(Manchester United)

Mark Bright 440 159 .36

(Charlton)

Chris Sutton 182 64 .35

(Blackburn)

Mark Hughes 412 135 .33

(Chelsea)

Brian Deane 403 126 .31

(Sheffield United)

News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story