The return of the No.9

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Football News

If those campaigning for the reintroduction of standing areas at a football match, or for robust tackling to become common place again in the game, then inspiration that their dated concepts can work in the modern game can be taken from the success of another fabric of a bygone footballing era.

While the likes of Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney capture all the headlines as they dazzle off the front, the success of the old fashioned centre forward is evidence that the game still possesses aspects of football's old guise.

Granted, you need only look at the success of Steve Morison, whose uncompromising style has seen him rise from non-league football with Stevenage to the Premier League with Norwich City in less than three years, for signs that the role of the traditional No.9 wasn't totally benign.

However, the success of such a player in the Premier League, of late, has been limited. But this season in particular, we've seen a spate of forwards endure an enjoyable season.

The aforementioned Morison, along with his strike partner Grant Holt, Queens Park Rangers' Heidur Helguson and Wolves' Steven Fletcher are among those who have succeeded in the role.

The Premier League has been littered with stylish forwards from Thierry Henry to Dennis Bergkamp to Eric Cantona, but while these types of forwards have been the mainstay of one of the best leagues in the world, the dominance of a genuine No.9 has wavered.

In addition, while the old fashioned No.10's have flourished, the success of the traditional goal poacher has diminished, with the likes of Javier Hernandez and Fernando Torres struggling to have an impact.

The success of the forward could possibly be down to the clubs they play for. With sides in the bottom half, particularly away from home, unwilling to attempt to outplay bigger sides, the role of a target man striker can be effective to help relinquish pressure and assist in building attacks.

Furthermore, the make up of defenders in the modern day make the role of the forward an altogether easier one. Defenders of the ilk of Nemanja Vidic and Carlos Puyol are few and far between, the make up of centre-halves these days is more of a rounded footballer.

With defensive shrewdness substituted for skill, with David Luiz's plight in the Premier league the perfect example, dealing with sizeable strikers becomes more of a problem. Their current success is natural.

In an era where the comparisons between the modern game and that of several decades ago are few and far between, the return of the traditional No.9 is one for the English league football purists.

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