Throwback Football

It’s getting harder to believe but there was a time when playing two up top was the norm.

Modern football is so concerned with tactical fluidity that the rise of a ten or nine-and-a half playing behind the main striker has all but killed off the traditional strike partnership.

Gone are the days of Shearer and Sutton, Rush and Dalglish, Shamsurin and Hunter.

It seems then, that two men up top have simply become unfashionable. The influence of Total Football, Guardiola, the squad rotation policy, have meant the old-fashioned strike partners, inseparable terrors who cause the greatest defences sleepless nights, just have no place in the modern game.

The best strikers are expected to be consistent goalscorers, but their managers often want them to press the opposition, hold up the ball, and create chances for others as well.

The Malaysian game is however a throwback to much simpler times where teams have shown a penchant for playing two upfront.

The 6-3 win by Sarawak against MISC-MIFA in the last 32 of the FA Cup on Valentine’s Day epitomized the advantages of two peas in a pod playing alongside and off each other.

Mark Hartmann’s hat-trick was the highlight of the match but the growing partnership between Hartmann and Mateo Roskam is something for Sarawak fans to cheer about.

Hartmann has been prolific throughout his career and was the darling of Global FC as well as Geylang International while Roskam is not new to Malaysian football having represented Sime Darby FC.

8 goals between them (5 from Hartmann and 3 from Roskam) in three games together shows a mutual understanding which will benefit David Usop’s side. The sometimes derided David Usop is sticking to his 4-4-2 and it has benefited the two men upfront, with the style of play suiting both to a tee.

Both possess strong physical presences and have been clinical finishers in and around the box with Hartmann having a penchant of scoring spectacular goals, as evidenced against Kedah and MIFA.

It is important for their speed, movement, and deadly finishing be complimented by the likes of Shreen, Bulu, Tommy, Shamie and Dalglish Papin Test (with a name like that, he could be a deadly combination on his own) who must be given their chance to prove their worth in the league.

All is well and good in the Sarawak camp but the real test comes from Melaka United who are visiting on Saturday.

A football junkie…

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