Last week Michael Owen, appearing besides former Liverpool team-mate Steve McManaman on the set of the BT Sport’s weekend preview show ‘Fletch and Sav’, decided to claim that Charlie’s Adam’s goal against Chelsea was an overrated piece of skill.
Owen scoffed at the idea that the goal should be considered to be Goal of the Season, an opinion that was laughed at by McManaman and Robbie Savage, but was met with a mixed response from the general public.
I find myself agreeing with Owen in this instance. It’s important to remember that dismissing the idea that Adam’s strike deserves the accolade of Goal of the Season doesn’t in any way suggest that the goal wasn’t of high quality, but Owen’s point, however brash, is a good one. It was just a ‘big boot’.
Sure, goals of this ilk have been immortalised in the past (Beckham’s goal against Wimbledon instantly springs to mind) but Owen’s point was that the level of skill required to score such a goal was relatively low. He argued that most players have the ability to hit the ball hard and straight; the only thing preventing them from achieving what Adam did being their ability to hit it quite as far.
All Savage and McManaman could argue is that neither Owen nor they themselves had ever scored a goal of similar description. But this argument falls flat. After all, how many goals did Owen, McManaman or Savage ever score directly from a corner kick for example? Such a goal would widely be considered a great piece of skill but not doing so in a match certainly doesn’t suggest an inability to actually do it, after all, I doubt Owen ever really attempted it. Shooting from a corner would be frowned upon, just as shooting from the half-way line usually is (like when Xabi Alonso scored from the half way line against Luton Town – Steven Gerrard is seeing waving his arms in disgust before noticing that the ball is trickling into the net). Most of the time they’re a waste of possession, and so attempts from the halfway line are few and far between.
The only reason we occasionally see shots from the halfway line attempted is usually because the goalkeeper is out of position. Thibaut Courtois was out of position and Charlie Adam cunningly took advantage. A clever goal, but not an incredible goal. Had the Belgian been in position expecting the shot and Adam had beaten him from 65 yards then the Goal of the Season tag would be a far more acceptable one, but in a cynic’s eyes all Adam did was put the ball into an empty net from the half way line – something which most footballers would be able to do.
We don’t celebrate free kicks taken when the goalkeeper is out of position as fabulous pieces of brilliance, because what beats the keeper is the cunning of the strike, not the quality. The best strikes are the ones where the goalkeeper and/or defenders know what’s coming but can still do absolutely nothing about it.
It must be pointed out however that Courtois didn’t exactly make a mistake, he could never have expected a shot from that distance and was looking to anticipate any through balls that might fall his way, and Adam must take credit for taking advantage – but the strike itself wasn’t something out of the ordinary.
I’d like to stress that the strike was brilliant and pure and Adam deserves praise for such a hit, but to be considered Goal of the Season, we have to be certain that this goal stands out as the best piece of skill produced all season. For me, it definitely does not. In fact there were at least two goals scored during that weekend that were far better pieces of individual brilliance. Jermain Defoe’s volley against Newcastle and Wayne Rooney’s strike against Aston Villa were better. Those were shots where if attempted another twenty times wouldn’t reproduce goals. You have to believe that Charlie Adam could lob Thibaut Courtois again if he attempted it a few more times. And that for me is the clincher.
Adam’s strike was a brilliantly cunning one and a great goal, but certainly not Goal of the Season. As Michael Owen said: “Do me a favour!”