Goals For, Goals Against

Amid the speculation of the return of Paul Dickov to Leicester City, the attention of the blog this week turns to goals. Fans were well within their rights to quaff remarks involving barn doors and banjos with regard to the Foxes’ derisory goals for tally last season. City were woeful in front of goal; no team in the Championship scored less.

What has continued to baffle City fans during the early Person era is the lack of attention to this side of City’s game. The only striker to make it into double figures last season, Ian Hume, has left for Barnsley and we’re yet to see a single replacement. Steve Howard, DJ Campbell and Barry Hales all disappointed last term, yet currently the responsibility of scoring the majority of Leicester’s goals next season lies with them.

Yet before negativity seeps into yet another post here is a reason to hope: teams promoted in second place from League One have not historically scored many goals. In each of the last three seasons the team in the second promotion slot has scored relatively few times and based their promotion on a solid defensive record.

Let’s look at the teams who have finished 2nd in the last three years. In 05/06 Colchester United were promoted having scored just 58 times (1.26 per game). That season they conceded just 40. In 06/07 Bristol City scored 63 (1.37 per game) and conceded only 39. Last season, Nottingham Forest scored 64 (1.39 per game), but conceded only 32. Each of these sides conceded fewer goals than the play-off contenders below them.

To put it another way, in 05/06 Colchester were the 11th most prolific scorers in League One but had the best defensive record. In 06/07 Bristol City were only the 8th highest scorers but had the second best defence. Nottingham Forest were the 5th most potent attacking force in the division, but crucially conceded six goals fewer than anyone else.

The lesson: keep it tight.

In buying up defenders like Morrison and Tunchev, Nigel Pearson might not be acting quite as strangely as might first appear.

Yet there is still a case for Dickov to be made. Firstly, it would be foolish, not to mention incredibly dull, to rely on City’s defence. Second, Dickov’s first full season at Leicester was the most successful of his career. 17 league strikes ensured he was the club’s top scorer with 23% of the team’s goals that year. Even at 35, he has energy levels that would surely shame the likes of Steve Howard into playing with renewed effort. Dickov is a fans favourite, unafraid of getting stuck in and chasing every lost cause. He is a player who makes opportunities instead of waiting for them. Dickov, in short, is just the sort of player Leicester will need in League One. Every effort should be made to bring him back to the Walkers Stadium.

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