When Guardiola or Del Bosque played with no striker, it was a means to an end. Granada might also be playing with no strikers after the winter break, but it will surely merely mean the end of their time in the top division.
One might argue, of course, that they’ve already played the first half of the season with no strikers. Thirteen goals in seventeen games would bear that argument out. Like a blunt saw, they’ve been both toothless and useless, a shame as they actually have some players who can contribute to constructive build-up play and a coach in Juan Antonio Anquela, who seems more than willing to boldly commit men forward in an attempt to create a threat. Trouble is, that attempt has looked increasingly more desperate as the weeks have worn on.
Circumstances have gone from bad to worse for Anquela. Antonio Floro Flores ought to have been a genuine spearhead. The extent to which his heart wasn’t in it was reflected in the comical manner of his departure, as he claimed he was injured and was then found to be not convalescing, but skiing! He was rightly told to pack his bags, and has already washed up at another side clutching at straws in Genoa (an indication of how bad they are: they’ve lost to Sampdoria this season, which isn’t easy.) However, while disposing of Flores was necessary, it left Granada a man down up front, and the erosion of their forward line wasn’t about to end there.
Darwin Machis looks likely to be called up for the Under-20 South American championships, which in itself wouldn’t be so dreadful except Youssef El-Arabi is also going to be temporarily absent having been selected by Morocco for the African Cup of Nations.
Cynics might argue that El-Arabi is part of the problem, a neat but lightweight striker who drifts deep, where he isn’t likely to cause problems for defenders and is pretty tepid when he actually gets into the danger area. To be fair though, he’s more of an attacking midfielder than a striker, and at least he’s El Grana’s top scorer. Admittedly, that’s with a meagre tally of four goals, but in a total of thirteen, that’s not a bad percentage!
In his absence, Granada’s forward line consists of just one man, which wouldn’t necessarily be a disaster, except that man is Odion Ighalo. The Nigerian quite simply doesn’t look up to La Liga standard. He has yet to score this season and, for all his eagerness, doesn’t really look like he’s about to start smashing them in any time soon.
So Anquela has a huge problem. Avoiding the temptation to be facetious and suggest again that, as he’s played the first half of the season with no strikers, this shouldn’t be a novel situation for him, it’s clear he either has to make a smart move in the transfer market, finances permitting, or come up with some brilliant scheme.
Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. What’s desperation the mother of, then?