Second Season Striker Syndrome

After his awful miss against Southampton last night, Nikica Jelavic now has just 2 goals in his last 12 Premier League games. It’s a complete turnaround to his form when he signed for us this time last year when he was on fire. However, he’s not the first striker that David Moyes has brought in that has suffered from “second season syndrome”

Marcus Bent

1st season – 6 in 37
Afterwards – 1 in 18

NB 6 in 37 might not sound that impressive but compared to the scoring records of some of the players a couple of years earlier when Walter SMith was in charge, it makes Bent look like Gerd Muller

James Beattie

1st season – 10 in 32
Afterwards – 2 in 33

NB Beattie actually joined at the end of the 2004/5 season but didn’t really become a first team regular until 2005/6 so I counted that as his first season.

Andrew Johnson

1st season – 11 in 32
Afterwards – 6 in 29


1st season – 15 in 29
Afterwards – 10 in 53

Louis Saha

1st season – 6 in 24
Afterwards – 21 in 73

NB Saha actually had a much better 2nd season scoring 13 in 33 before scoring just 8 in his final 40 games.


1st season – 5 in 12
Afterwards – 0 in 15

NB As well as scoring no league goals in his second loan spell, he also took a trip back to Brazil without permission.

Jermaine Beckford

1st season – 8 in 32
Afterwards – 0 in 2

NB Moyes clearly decided to get rid before he succumb to second season syndrome!

Nikica Jelavic

1st season – 9 in 13
Afterwards – 6 in 22

Even if the drop-off isn’t statistically significant, it’s still a bit of an oddity that Moyes very rarely gets three full seasons out of the strikers he buys. So, why could that be? Well, personally, I think that there are a couple of reasons for this second season syndrome and they’re related to each other.

Firstly, even though a lot of the players above were at the club at the same time, there were very few occasions when they were actually fit at the same time. With Moyes preferring to play one up front, this has meant a lack of competition for that single place. If we look at the current squad, who is there to pressure Jelavic? Naismith, who Moyes prefers on the wing, Mirallas, who has unfortunately been injured, Vellios who is still learning the game and Anichebe, who has also had injury problems.

Of course the other upshot of not having options is that there is no opportunity to rest Jelavic. I think that it’s in the second season that strikers get what Moyes wants from them – running into the channels, challenging for the ball, holding it up, pressuring defenders. It’s not an easy task to perform on your own and all of that intensity is bound to have an impact on your sharpness, which is crucial for when the ball comes to you in the box.

So, is there a solution? Unfortunately, unlike some clubs, we can’t go and spend £18 million on a new striker. However, with Big Vic looking like he’s back to fitness, I’d like to see Jelavic given a couple of weeks off. Hopefully, he’ll come back fit, fresh and firing on all cylinders…

3 thoughts on “Second Season Striker Syndrome

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