Goals From Midfield

In the 2014-15 season, Melbourne City should have something that has previously been lacking: consistent goal-scoring midfielders.

Photograph by Jason Heidrich

Especially with the arrival of Robert Koren, the former captain of Slovenia and EPL side Hull City, and to a lesser degree with the arrival of Aaron Mooy and Erik Paartalu, Melbourne City will possess talented midfielders that know how to find the back of the net.
With the noteworthy exception of the Dutch giant Orlando Engelaar, who impressively scored 5 goals over 12 appearances (791 minutes), at a remarkable rate of 158 minutes per goal, the club’s midfielders have been inconsistent at best when it comes to being goal-threats, as the table below indicates:

Goal scoring stats for midfielders

Matt Thompson currently holds the record for being the club’s top-scoring midfielder, with 7 goals. However, it took Thompson 82 games and over 7000 minutes for him to amass the record number of 7 goals, meaning that Thompson effectively scored only 1 goal every 1003 minutes, which makes Thompson the least efficient goal-scoring midfielder out of the list of midfielders who got goals across Melbourne Heart’s 4 seasons.
Thompson can be consoled by the fact that he found the back of the net (and to his credit, on several occasions), whereas about half of the midfielders who have worn the club jersey have failed to get off the mark, with that list of midfielders including: Josip Skoko, Kliment Taseski, Wayne Srhoj, Paul Reid, Marcel Meeuwis, Massimo Murdocca, Stefan Mauk and Paulo Retre.
Other goal-scoring midfielders have been inconsistent, and haven’t threatened goal regularly during their respective stays at the club. The most lethal goal-scoring midfielder after Engelaar has been Andrea Migliorini, who on average scored a goal every 217 minutes. Yet he didn’t play consistently, with his short stint at the club comprising less than half of a season. Kristian Sarkies’ respectable minutes per goal ratio also masks his inability to regularly play in the team.

Germano and Kalmar effectively represent the best goal-threats that the club has had in midfield, with both players scoring 6 goals overall, and both averaging approximately 1 goal per 6 full games of football. If either player could make the starting 11 and hold down a midfield position for the whole season, one could expect that either Germano or Kalmar would score 4 goals over the season, if they maintained the form they have previously shown at the club. 4 goals across a whole season would be good, but not great (and then, of course, what else the midfielders bring to the table would have to be analysed).

Robert Koren has scored over 100 goals at club level. Having been a mainstay in every club team he’s played for, Koren has played somewhere between 400 and 550 club matches, which can also be attributed to the impressive fitness and remarkably few injuries that Koren has had throughout his distinguished club career. But what stands out when surveying Koren’s club career is his goals.
Koren has been a prolific goal-scorer at every club he’s played for. And what will please Melbourne City supporters is Koren’s prolific goal-scoring form at Koren’s previous club Hull City, where Koren scored 1 goal about every 4 games in the Championship (the English 2nd division) and 1 goal every 5 starts in the English Premier League. Koren scored 7 goals over the 40 games he played during his first season at Hull (in the Championship) in 2010-11, 10 goals over 41 Championship league games with Hull in 2011-12, and 9 league goals with Hull over 40 games in the 2012-13 Championship season, enough to beat Hull’s strikers to be Hull’s top goal-scorer that season! And given that the likes of the Championship are a cut above the A-League, one could not unreasonably expect Koren’s prolific goal-scoring rate to increase in the A-League. As prominent Hull City blogger Rick Skelton simply put it when asked by the Melbourne City blog Noisy Neighbour what Robert Koren would bring to Melbourne City: “Goals. He’ll get at least six from midfield every season and some will be spectacular”.

Aaron Mooy and Eric Paartalu seem set to play slightly deeper roles in midfield, but nonetheless both have a history of consistently chipping in with goals from midfield. Youngster Aaron Mooy found the back of the net 3 times last season with the Wanderers, while last season he also claimed a goal in the Asian Champions League, despite playing a mere 168 minutes in that competition. Also, Mooy’s goal-scoring prowess has been displayed in the Socceroos, where Mooy got 3 goals over his 3 Socceroos games to date, with all 3 goals demonstrating Mooy’s impressive ability to score goals from distance. And there’s no reason to believe that young Aaron Mooy’s best goal-scoring days are behind him.
Despite Erik Paartalu often playing as the deepest midfielder, he obtained 4 goals every season at Brisbane, and got 4 goals in the 2013 Chinese Super League season with Tianjin Teda. He is also capable of scoring a variety of goals, such as important goals like his massively important 2010-11 Grand Final equalizing header, and spectacular goals, such as his sumptuous volley in the 2010-11 A-League season (which was named goal of the season).

The question can be asked: is it important if midfielders score goals? The answer is a clear yes. Last season, midfielders scored goals in half of the games that Heart picked up points in, that is in 7 out of 14 games. And if the nil-nil draws are subtracted, the more impressive ratio of 7 out of 12 games is revealed. So whilst it perhaps isn’t the foremost criterion on which to judge midfielders, it is a big bonus that this Melbourne City team includes the likes of Koren, Mooy and Paartalu. These midfielders all possess ample ability to score goals, and if history is any guide, they all could be the difference in games with their goal-scoring ability, and a significant amount of valuable points could be won by the goal-scoring ability of Koren, Mooy and Paartalu.

So with the most attacking and goal-threatening midfield that the club has ever fielded, expect the midfield to be a consistent goal-threat, and a provider of important (and possibly dazzling) goals in the 2014-15 A-League season.

This article is by Melbourne Football community member Murfy1.

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