Season Review: The Forwards

Eto'o and Pazzini - star forwards for Inter

Ok, everyone, I know the season has been over for a good month, but as the market is neither here nor there right now (and not even officially open), we thought we would take a look back at the season. It may not have turned out quite as we expected, but it is all we have, so damn it, review it we will. I think the format we used last year worked quite well so we will do it again. As such, this is a collaborative effort between me (Johonna) and MAD. I tried to get Kirby in on the action, but he was otherwise engaged. Hopefully, he will be there for the other portions of this review. The team is huge and there are many days to fill, so today, we will start with the forwards.

Just as we did last year, MAD' comments will be in black, Johonna's will be in blue.

{Kirby, if you join us, pick a color}

This team is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde syndrome when it comes to attacking players. Eto’o and Pazzini were incredibly effective almost record setting in Eto’o’s case. Milito and Pandev had disappointing - to say the least - seasons. David Suazo continues to draw a paycheck, but not for long, HA!

Ok, you know something is wrong when a team's top-four scorers include two midfielders. Let's be clear here, Eto'o and Pazzini carried the attack of this team. Still, with 69 goals, Inter was the top scorer of the season. Considering that Eto'o and Pazzini account for less than half of those (32 to be exact), the love should really be spread around a bit. Inter had 15 different scorers in the Serie A so clearly our attack is larger than our forwards (thank goodness).


David Suazo

I have a six pack chilling in the fridge waiting for the day that I can write that he's been let go.

Poor David. I dont know if he will ever play to his Cagliari levels. Basically, he has just been drawing a paycheck for the last season. I dont wish him ill, but I can't wait to see the back of him.

Biabiany scores at the club world cup
How adorable was Biabiany at the Club World Cup? Here he celebrates after scoring against TP Mazembe the Club World Cup final.

Jonathan Biabiany

Technically speaking, Jon played as a forward for us, even though he spent most of his time as an winger in the 4231 last season. I was rooting hard for Jon to come good because it's easy to see when you watch him play that he has so many of the physical gifts to play this game.

What I saw was that his speed allowed us to put a lot of pressure on opposing fullbacks but once he got them to give him space, or once he was able to gain territory on them up the field there just wasn't a whole lot he was able to do, technically, in that position. Also, when he was actually used as a forward in a 4312 he just didn't seem comfortable on the ball, nor did he seem like he had a knack for scoring netting a grand total of 1 goal in 22 appearances. That goal came in the World Club Cup game against Mazembe - not exactly Serie A material. In fact Jon didn't score at all against Serie A teams.

It's possible that he just wasn't a good fit. He seems like he would benefit from teammates booting the ball forward or giving a half field through pass and letting him run on it on the counter. And we just aren't that club anymore, really. Soccernet says that he made 3 assists for the club, but even if that boosts his stats to 1 goal, 3 assists in 22 games that's still not a great half season.

Jonathan was supposed to be the local boy done good. He was the youth product who was returning after a successful loan spell to make it big back at the club he grew up in. Well, that didn't happen. He may have been a victim of Rafa - who know what may have happened under a different coach - but for whatever reason, MAD's stats above dont lie. He just did not work out. And I so wanted to like him. Hopefully, he will do a bit better at Sampdoria - maybe even help them to return to top flight football.

Score:

3.0 Very disappointing season for the youngster in Inter colors. Apparently he scored and made an assist in 16 appearances with Sampdoria after the transfer. I hope he's able to hone his skills a bit more in Serie B.

3 for me as well. It isn't nice but he just utter failed at Inter. Sorry.

Milito finally scores  - this time against Palermo in the Coppa final
It speaks volumes that his goal against Palermo brought Milito to tears.

Diego Milito

A nightmare season for Milito ended with his only goal in the tournament to close accounts in the Coppa Italia Finals and a relative high note. The last of Milito’s 5 Serie A goals was in January against Cesena and he scored his only Champions League goal of the season in the Schalke debacle.

Add one more goal from the Club World Cup and you have a grand total of 8 goals for Sylvester on the season. In contrast, last seasons tally for Milito was 30. He also had 34 appearances this season compared to 52 last season. To say that there was a loss of form that haunted Milito from his poor showing in the World Cup earlier last summer would be an understatement.

This season he frequently looked upset and worried regarding his lack of goals and shots that he would have put in last season were inches wide this season. He also showed a decided lack of fitness in several games as he would visibly slow. In other words… he’s got the yips. He’s gonna have to spend a lot of time in the offseason relearning how to shoot over and over again.

I will say thing for Milito, his scoring touch was wearing gloves this season but he still managed to chip in with 6 assists which makes him a different option than Pazzini who simply isn’t able to pull off that kind of interchange with another forward up front.

Milito was a hero last season. This year, not so much. It was agonizing to watch him flub those shots he would have easily made just six months previously. Still, his heart was clearly 100% there which is always worth extra points for me. He wasn't too popular with the fans this season, his average score for the season is only 5.82. It wasn't all bad, though, and I would direct your attention to the Inter-Bari and Inter-Bologna games. According to some, those were his best games of the season.

I was against selling him last summer, and, even though he had a disastrous season, I stand by my opinion. I know I am hopelessly nostalgic, but I like a little heart in a team - sue me.

Score:

5.0 Subpar for what we have seen from Milito in the past. However, I wouldn’t throw him under the bus – I think he has another year or so in him.

5.5 - He had a bad season but I just can't sock it to him. And have you seen his eyes? They are lovely. That is worth half a point at least

Goran Pandev

Pandev was often set on the far right in the 4231 when he was used with regularity and it didn’t really lend itself to huge scoring totals. The fact that he played poorly almost every time he set foot on the field didn’t help either.

Skimming through my past post game reviews shows that I didn’t think much of Pandev’s season and as it went on I got less and less enchanted. Pandev was used a lot this season, he had 42 appearances this season with 27 shows in Serie A games. All told he had 5 goals in all 5 competitions. For an attacker, 5 goals in over 40 games is a pretty putrid season. It doesn’t help that he received terrible ratings in roughly half the games that he’s played.

According to the label on the box, with the occasional goal scored, Pandev is supposed to be able to help in the assists department since his skill set is more of support striker or winger. Unfortunately that didn’t really happen either as he only assisted in 4 goals.

Poor Pandev. As near as I can tell, his biggest contribution to the team is drawing fouls near the opposition's goal. That's it. I mean, I guess he works hard - he is another youth product come in from the cold - but it just isn't enough. For all his minutes, he only played 8 full Serie A games. For the rest of the season, his role was more of a "super sub" who, sadly, was not so super (Pandev effect or not). As it stands, he is probably our most expendable forward.

I dont know, I guess Pandev didn't really do it for me this season. I dont have a single strong memory of him doing anything other than falling to the ground - which may have resulted in a free-kick goal or two but doesn't speak much to his ability as a football player. As will Biabiany, I just dont think this coach with these tactics really showcase his talents. I wish him all the best, but I think he may be done at Inter.

Score:

5.0 All this being said, it’s no surprise that he’s been rumored to be on the transfer block since March, but he gets a bonus point for the incredible goal against Bayern Munich. If he could only produce more than one extraordinary goal a season I think we would have a lot more faith in him.

4.5 I wish it could be more. The goal is not enough - there just has to be more. This is a really hard score for me, my fingers are literally itching to raise it - but I just cant. Sorry.

Pazzini's first trophy
Pazzini's first trophy. I hope he has a taste for them now.

Giampaolo Pazzini

I didn’t watch any Sampdoria games from earlier this season so I don’t know how Pazzo did in the first half of the season. I know that he scored a few goals for Sampdoria in the Champions League qualifier. If you were to ask me where Pazzini would transfer to in September of last season, I would have said that it’s inevitable that he would have gone to JuBentus in this summer. I think that most people would have said the same.

He didn’t. Branca swooped in January and was able to secure Giampaolo for a veritable song of 12 million-ish cash + struggling youngster Biabiany. It surprised me at the time, even though Branca came out and told everyone at an awards dinner, “I am going after Pazzini.” I just didn’t think that he was going to do it.

But Pazzini had a great 5 months for us. Starting in the last week of January he gathered 11 goals in 20 total appearances, 17 of which were Serie A games. The remaining 3 games were Coppa Italia games where he didn’t score.

Pazzini, in my mind, is a classic striker – a penalty box opportunist really - who has a deadly shot and a nose for goal but indifferent technical skills. He’s not a burner by any means but he shows that he’s fast enough to keep from being overtaken too quickly. He shows incredible short area suddenness and has a feel in front of the goal. There are those that complain that he can go 89 minutes of mediocrity for one goal… but I will take it.

Frankly, I dont know where we would be right now without Pazzini. Certainly not in second place, that's for sure. He came in when we were struggling and gave that last little burst of energy that was so desperately needed. I have wondered more than once what might have been had he been available for the Champions League (sigh).

Anyway, I love this signing. He was just exactly what we needed when Milito wen through his little... erm... difficulty. His goal against Lecce got 60 thousand people on their feet (me included) - you have to love that (and I do!). He has this amazing ability to hold off a defender, turn, and shoot that leaves me almost breathless. And if that wasn't enough, he also seems to be a team favorite. He is full of enthusiasm and joy and you can see that when he plays. What could be better?

Score:

7.5 At 26, Pazzini made the jump from midtable team to Champions League team about as well as can be hoped for. Now all he has to do is prove that he can do it again. I am really looking forward to what he could be doing over the course of a full season with us.

8. I really dont know what more we could ask of the man. I mean, that injury time double against Cesena deserves half a point at least! Like MAD, I cant wait to see what he brings next season.

Samuel Eto'o - our hero
Our Hero!

Samuel Eto’o

Previous to Eto’o coming to Inter, I would have pinned (HA!) Alessandro Altobelli as the most elegant striker to ever wear the Black and Blue. Eto’o has skills that Spillo only dreamed of, though. Able to play out on the far right so that he can either beat the fullback or cut inside, Eto’o is the very definition of the modern forward with pace, technical skill, defensive help and of course scoring.

Looking around there are plenty of forwards who can do any one of the things that Eto’o can bring to the table better than he can. There are faster forwards. There are more deadly marksmen. There are more technical dribblers. But the package that Eto’o brings to the table is immense. Without a doubt in my mind the season would have been disastrous – cataclysmic even – without Samuel Eto’o, arguably the single best African player of all time.

Let’s get to the numbers, because they are mind boggling. Eto’o had 53 total appearances this season and scored a total of 37 goals. 21 of those 37 goals came from 35 Serie A games or 3117 minutes played. With the help of a calculator I put that at 1 goal every 148 + change minutes, or a little less than 1 goal every game and a half. Oh yeah, according to soccernet.com (take from that as you will) he’s also responsible for 9 assists. Eto’o also chipped in with 8 Champions League goals in 10 games. 8 goals in 10 games. 8 goals in 10 games is pretty incredible. I don’t think that it’s any coincidence that we have been able to advance farther in the Champions League with Samuel Eto’o than we have without him.

As everyone here knows, I was quite upset when Inter traded Ibra to Barcelona for Eto'o and all that cash. I was wrong. As wrong as anyone could ever be. He made a believer out of me last season, this season he has made me a devout follower. Quite simply, Samuel Eto'o is Inter's hero. As the stats show, he is there with staggering consistency in every competition. He is practically always there - whether it is scoring or goal or fighting for possession deep in our own half - he does it all. I think he is the best forward in the Serie A this season, scudetto or no.

And that's not all. He is also a hugely inspiration person. He is nearly always a gentleman on the field (and when he isn't, he apologizes). Not that he isn't passionate and driven, he just does it all with a charm and sense of true sportsmanship that is infectious. He does have an off day or two (the second derby comes to mind), but the fact is, he is so wonderful that one tends to overlook the flaws. He is that good. The only thing that is stopping me from buying a jersey with his name on it is the curse that follows (strangely, if I get one as a gift - hint hint to the Significant Other - the curse does not apply). I dont want even the tiniest risk of him leaving. I love him that much.

Score:

9.5 He’s nearly the perfect forward. It’ll be a joy to watch what he can do next season with a (hopefully) rejuvenated Milito and Pazzini for a full season.

10 How could I not?


Well, that takes care of the forwards. Overall, I think this part worked pretty well for Inter. But what do you think?

FORZA INTER

And how could I resist, more Eto'o

Dont forget, you can now follow this blog on twitter @InterOffside. Slowly but surely, I am joining the 20th Century.

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