Majewski in Pole position to emulate midfield maestros
Without question, the 2009/10 Championship season was the year of the goalscoring midfielder. The top goalscorer in the division was a midfielder, Cardiff’s Peter Whittingham. In fact, six of the top fifteen marksmen were midfielders and the three promoted teams all relied heavily on goals from the middle of the park.
Champions Newcastle United had Kevin Nolan, who struck 17 league goals to match the tally of the Magpies’ chief centre-forward Andy Carroll. They were joined by West Bromwich Albion in the automatic promotion places when the final, final whistle sounded and the Baggies were largely indebted to the 14 goals scored by their roving midfield man Graham Dorrans.
Arguably the best performer of all was Charlie Adam of Blackpool, a £500,000 outlay which contributed greatly to the eventual reward of many, many millions upon reaching the Premiership in May. Adam hit the net 18 times in the league and was central to the Seasiders’ success, scoring one of the most important goals in the club’s history when his free-kick sailed past Cardiff’s David Marshall at Wembley.
The big question is: who can replicate these feats this season?
As things stand, Whittingham will get another shot at firing Cardiff to the top flight and the other sharp-shooting midfielders in that top fifteen, Reading’s Gylfi Sigurdsson and Crystal Palace’s Darren Ambrose, will also be back at their respective clubs and ready for the rigours of the new season.
While the six names mentioned above are definitely not out-and-out strikers, the recent vogue for deep-lying attackers and advanced wingers has muddied the waters somewhat. Attacking players utilised mainly as forward-thinking wingers last season, such as Swansea City’s David Cotterill and Leicester City’s Paul Gallagher, can hope to get among the goals for teams who are aiming for the top six.
Further north, the Argentinian midfielder Hugo Colace will be looking to build on an impressive season at Barnsley having just renewed his contract at Oakwell. Both Swansea and Leicester were said to be interested in Colace, who scored seven times during the last campaign, but he has committed his future to Mark Robins’ improving side and could be a good bet to hit double figures this time out.
The three sides relegated from last season’s Premiership are still something of an unknown quantity but, even so, there is a notable lack of potential goalscoring midfielders in each of Portsmouth, Hull City and Burnley’s respective squads.
Middlesbrough, many neutrals’ pick as favourites for the title, can expect plenty of goals, both directly and indirectly, from the talented Barry Robson while new addition Nicky Bailey could thrive playing in an experienced side which should create plenty of opportunities.
However, the player with the greatest chance of emulating the achievements of Nolan, Dorrans and Adam last season is Nottingham Forest’s Radoslaw Majewski. The previously little-known Pole made huge strides forward in his first year in English football, scoring the Championship’s best goal in Forest’s impressive 3-1 success at the Hawthorns to add to an earlier thunderbolt against bitter rivals Derby County at the City Ground.
Majewski has so far been inconsistent for Forest, leading manager Billy Davies to publicly question his mental strength. As a first boss to work for in the English game, the demanding leadership style of Davies is quite a baptism of fire for any young foreigner but the Scot quickly recognised Majewski’s talent and ensured that he was given a platform to display it.
There will be no wholesale changes on the red banks of the River Trent this summer. Forest fully realise their proximity to Championship greatness, especially given that it promises to be a less competitive fight for the top two this time out. An excellent squad only needs supplementing with one or two players of the highest quality to turn Davies’s men from promotion possibles into Premiership probables.
Majewski should be a prime beneficiary of the tweaks made over the next few weeks at the City Ground, while he may also profit from the experience gained by Guy Moussi. The combative Moussi is another foreign player who has adapted well to life in the Championship and will again play alongside the experienced Paul McKenna to allow Majewski to roam forward.
For Majewski is hunting the greatest prize of all – the goals that could take Forest back to the Premiership.