Santa Cruz raises prospect of twin towers for City
Following his long awaited debut on Monday night, Roque Santa Cruz has been quick to point out that there’s no reason why both himself and Emmanuel Adebayor cannot feature in the same team.
Adebayor appears to have made himself the first choice striker to lead the attack following his explosive start for the Blues. A brilliant debut goal after three minutes against Blackburn has been followed by a strike in every league game he’s played.
With the form of Bellamy and the high profile Tevez starting to establish himself, it might be assumed that Santa Cruz will be spending a lot of his time on the bench; at least until Adebayor heads off for the African Cup of Nations.
Naturally Santa Cruz doesn’t see it quite like this, and the idea of him and Adebayor in the same team is an interesting one.
“We are big guys but we both also like to play with the ball.
“The kind of football we practice won’t change at all – we play together in training and at some point we should be up front together.”
Both are mobile and Adebayor has shown he likes to work the flanks, where he gets more time to display his footwork. Santa Cruz also has a good touch, to go with an awareness of his team-mates that enables him to link play effectively.
In addition, the Premier League is the most physically demanding in the world, and aerial strength has always been a strong feature for many teams. It’s not just sides like Stoke and Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn that look to high balls into the box as a source of goals. Martin O’Neill has long been renowned for a direct style, as has David Moyes at Everton, where our own Jo lines up alongside Yakubu and Fellaini to provide the 6-foot plus goal threat.
“You get teams who are very physical, and then you will need two big guys up front but to still play good football. That will come and we will take it when it happens.”
At present, the best example is probably at Sunderland, where Steve Bruce has paired Darren Bent and Kenwyne Jones to great effect this season.
Hughes himself never shied away from using the direct approach at Blackburn, and often lamented the absence of an effective target man last season. On bad days, we could be seen launching balls forward even when there was no-one to aim at.
Following the introduction of Santa Cruz on Monday, Hughes spoke about having the option of putting balls into the box and “seeing what happened”. This is hardly the kind of line you’ll hear from Arsene Wenger, but Hughes does have a point.
With the fitness and organisation of modern teams, it is possible for them to come and park the bus, and sometimes we do have to look at other options. Even Barcelona, the best footballing side around last season, failed to break down a Chelsea rearguard action at the Nou Camp in the Champions League.
At the other end of the pitch, it can be equally useful in having big men drop back to defend set-pieces. One of the most surprising features of Adebayor’s play so far has been the number of times he’s produced headed clearances. It’s noticeable that we’ve been more vulnerable in his absence.
With players of the ability of Adebayor and Santa Cruz, it would hardly be the death of football to play them together. It’s likely Hughes will try it at some point, and it could prove another impressive weapon in our armoury.