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Sharpe, 1929: The game of the centre-forward

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-01-11 21:17:53

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The game of the centre-forward
Ivan Sharpe | 04/11/1929

There were good centre-forwards of all sizes: small and large, G. O. Smith was a thin little guy; Dean is tall and strong; Gallacher is short and stocky. As a general rule, I don't recommend the centre-forward to be short, underweight boys. Too often, they can be rushed at the right time and become discouraged. A boy of average height and weight may perform well instead, provided he possesses at least most of the qualities that begin with P. If he exceeds average height, all the better and he will render better service, provided it is agile and smart. More than a Goalgetter.
Remember that the centre-forward should be little more than a goalgetter. He must, at all times, be able to take a large part in the constructive play which takes place in the middle of the field and which initiates the attacks; he must be able to change wings in a timely manner and remove his attack when the time comes.
In this regard, we can notice that most of the backs that we later tried as a centre-forward did not meet the expected success at all, although they managed to score goals and sometimes sensational way. They were not long what is called the first figure in the table. Why is that? Because the scoring of goals is only part of the functions of the centre-forward and if the good shooter is not at the same time able to lead his line cleanly, he will lose many opportunities to initiate attacks, whether it is him or a partner who ends these attacks with a goal. Hard work.
In particular, address on the ball is essential to the functions of the centre-forward. You must learn to place a small pass to a partner briskly and be ready to land it right away. You have to learn by observation and experience how best to position yourself to take back the center from the outside. You must learn to play with precision and clarity with your header, whether it is to pass or to send to the goal. Speaking of which, notice how Dean, from Everton, takes the ball with his head.
You must also have courage, because as a centre-forward, you are always in the strongest melee of the game. You are exposed, at any time, to be attacked or charged, to collide with opponents. You have to have persistence, because very often the ball will be thrown at you and you still have to take your chance, no matter how many chances you have already missed before.
You have to have patience, because you will certainly be the most carefully marked man on the whole field, three times out of four: so practice heading, dribbling, shooting and passing.
No centre-forward worthy of the name exists if he is not able to make use of both feet, to shoot as quickly with one as the other. No centre-forward will be worthy of the name if he does not take full advantage of the new off-side rule which allows him to either attempt an individual effort or give his partners a chance to score.
The best tactic is still to be always ready at the start, preferably between the two backs, at the limit of the off-side. Always be prepared to take your run between the two backs. If the chance arises, do not hesitate for a quarter of a second. Dash towards the goal, then measure your shot according to the goalkeeper's position. If you see that he is advancing towards you do not keep the ball too long; the more he advances, the more he will close the road to the goal. Also, shoot as fast as possible before he's completely in the way. Always remain calm, because only then can you take advantage of the thousand and one circumstances which vary at these times in the game and which it would be possible to list all of them.
If you are unable to score, ask yourself for what cause and watch yourself, and try to find the fault you need to correct. Gallacher's way.
It has often been said that one is born centre-forward, but that one does not become one. There is a great deal of truth to this statement. Thus, I have a much harder time giving advice to a centre-forward than to any other player in the game. This is probably because the centre-forward is always in the thick of the fight and his interventions should always be mirrored by the movement of the adversaries. It is, at bottom, a question of intelligence and presence of mind, one needs the prompt reflex, the immediate inspiration, and it is perhaps because of this that we affirm that it is necessary to be born centre-forward.
The main thing is obviously to think quickly and act quickly. Learn how to stop or place the ball and shoot almost in one motion. In this regard again, take a look at the great players. See how Gallacher goes about bringing a ball that is still a meter high in front of his foot, how he draws it to the ground and, almost in the same movement, starts the shoot.
Always, the centre-forward must have the gaze fixed on the goal, because the chances which are offered to him sometimes disappear in a quarter of a second. So, for all that is placement in the game, always reserve the possibility of leaving or shooting as soon as the slightest opportunity presents itself. For everything else, never hesitate, shoot, shoot, shoot often at goal, you will inevitably manage to score goals which will have surprised the man in charge of watching you, as much as the goalkeeper himself.
What, now, is the general conclusion of all this little advice? Here it is. The men with the ruthless shoot are not, necessarily, good centre-forwards, they still need a few other qualities. The centre-forward position is suitable, like no other, to show decision and entrepreneurship. That's why a lot of boys make a mistake in thinking they're predestinated instead.