Striking Problems

Last updated : 24 July 2006 By Firparkcorner

The trouble is finding the combination that works. We now have a multitude of attacking players – Hamilton, McGarry, Clarkson, McCormack and, of course, McDonald. Even Richie Foran could be considered and Adam Coakley's pre-season goal might give him an outside chance too. The trouble is that from the five likely picks, only two have properly proven records. Jim Hamilton is an excellent number two striker. He will contribute ten goals a season, a barrel load of assists and do all kinds of useful aerial work at both ends of the pitch. He formed a good partnership with McDonald for long spells last season but there were also rough patches. However, unless we are changing tactic for a particular opponent, Jim's place up front should be secure.

So who is to be the other striker? McDonald was the natural choice – the exciting if inconsistent superstar beside regular Jim – but his form and more worryingly his attitude have reached an all time low. He is undoubtedly an exciting player who can make goals from nowhere but if we play him in his current state it is like being a man short. It is a catch 22 since he'll be going nowhere without more goals but unless he is happier we won't be playing him to get those goals. You wonder whether we could persuade anyone to take him off our hands at the minute even if we weren't looking for a decent sized fee.

Of the other options, Clarkson has had one good season and may improve by playing with Hamilton rather than McDonald. It would be a brave manager to stake his future on Clarkson getting 15 goals this season though. McGarry has talent but previously struggled to focus it. Can we make him the player his talent suggests he could become? Possibly, but he is no spring chicken. If others have failed there is no guarantee we will succeed. McCormack does look to be one for the future but relying on such a relative novice would be another courageous decision. It seems as though we have three potential players to use as a partner for Jim, assuming McDonald is a lost cause. One of them should step up, hopefully, but it could be months before we find the right pairing and they click – by that time the top six may already have vanished over the horizon.

The alternative is to abandon the 4-4-2 and attempt something different. Possibly we could have Hamilton as a lone target with the more mobile McGarry and McCormack playing behind him. That would require some serious changes to the midfield of course but given how our midfield looks at the minute, that could be no bad thing.

The Rangers game is important but we must not lose heart if it goes wrong. We don't succeed by being good against the Old Firm, we succeed by being good against our peers. However, should the striking combination prove problematic and we have no goals or points by after the Aberdeen game, the pressure will be well and truly on.

Who'd be a manager!