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Patsy Gallacher, 1939: Inside forward

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2023-02-01 03:13:35

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
— Patsy Gallacher | 28/01/1939 —

It may well be said that I have got the whole thing wrong, being unduly swayed by the position on the football field which I have occupied for quite a long time. Quite honestly, however, it does seem to me that of the members of a football team the inside wing men have the most interesting jobs: they move in the places which provide the greatest scope for the development of individuality.
By that I don't mean to suggest that the inside wing men can play as units. They must always adapt themselves as part and parcel of the general scheme. MAIDS OF ALL WORK.
That there is a lot of difference between the play of the inside wing men in various teams is sure to have been noticed by all followers of the game. It is also true to say that ideas concerning the work of the fellows in the position which I favour seem to be subject to repeated changes.
There is one point, however, concerning which there is general unanimity, and also about which, so far as I have seen able to discover, there has been little change through the years. The inside wing man must be a worker.
As the result of information received I am forced to the conclusion that the idea that it is only the modern inside men who play a part in defence is wrong. Old-time inside lefts and inside rights have told me that in their day, when the side was hard pressed, they had to fall back to help the defence.
I am also assured — and this is a part of the helping business — that right down the line the inside men have been the fetchers and the carriers. It is concerning the extent to which the inside men, having done the fetching and the carrying, shall follow up and take a real part in the attacks of their own side, that there is difference of opinion. INFLUENCE OF ALEX JAMES.
Great players have their influence on the sport. With my mind specially on the inside lefts, we can take Alex James as an example to illustrate this point. At no time during his first-class career did Alex James play a prominent part, either for Preston North End or for Arsenal, in the goalscoring part of the business.
The reason for this was not because as I have heard Alex say with a broad smile he was about the world's worst shot, but because, in the ordinary way, he did not go far enough up to make goalscoring, so far as he was concerned, a reasonable possibility.
Alex James was content — if that is the right word to use — to stay back. pick up the loose balls in the centre of the field, draw opponents with his clever tricks, and then send one of his own forwards away with a long pass. ALL THE FORWARDS UP.
So far as my judgment goes, there is no exact counterpart in any of the leading teams of to-day to the James idea, perhaps because we don't many players with the genius of James. Ronnie Starling plays much the same sort of game on behalf of Aston Villa, and there are other inside forwards who play nearly all the time, as far back as James used to play.
Always bearing in my mind that in every team the inside men must work, and often fall back, to keep their forward colleagues in the game, it is also a fact that in some teams the inside forwards make a point of being in position when the time comes for attacks to be finished off.
It would not be right to say that while I was with Sunderland the team played five forwards up all the time. I doubt if any side could adopt such methods consistently. At Sunderland we did have the five attackers more or less in a line when attempting the finishing part of the business. GOALS WHICH WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP.
In the season of 1935-6, when Sunderland won the championship, "Bob" Gurney and "Raish" Carter each scored 31 goals in League games, and I managed to get 19. Interesting figures, those — 81 goals in all by three inside forwards, with none of us able to play every match.
Those goals could not have been scored if the inside wing men had not been well up at the finish of the attacks. Indeed, I think I scored about 14 of my goals with headers, and you have got to be near the goal to get that sort into the net.
Many of those goals — and much of the success of Sunderland that season — was due to the switching, in actual play, of the three inside forwards. Just an attempt, of course, to baffle the stopper centre-half.
That is a part which the inside wing men can play — and must play — in modern football. They must help the centre-forward to beat the stopper.
Isaque Argolo: Not to be confused with the Irish international Patsy Gallacher.