Lucky legs 11

Toon's new number nine, complete with corn rows
Newcastle United yesterday awarded their lanky, ex-corn rowed striker Andy Carroll with the famous number nine shirt for next season, but is the number, traditionally worn by a club’s goal-scoring forward, that lucky at all? Will you immediately score a massive amount of goals? At Newcastle it seems so, as the past dignitaries to hold the shirt have been Jackie Milburn, Andy Cole, and Alan Shearer amongst others. Granted the most recent player to trot out onto the turf at St James’s was Obafemi Martins, but you can’t question the legacy the number has left behind it. Although is it right that such a commotion is being made over this number?

If you look at the statistics from last season’s Premier League season it creates for harsh reading; the way you feel when you’re being made to study some 700-page novel for Literature that you quite literally can’t stand. This makes the statement made last season by Newcastle boss Chris Hughton, that the shirt was ‘rested’ as he didn’t feel any player was worthy of the honour, all the more unbelievable.

To start off with two clubs (Chelsea, and Man City) didn’t even have a number nine on their squad list, and they’re not exactly small fodder. Last season they did have one each but it was Franco Di Santo – who was loaned to Blackburn, and Valeri Bojinov – injured for five months in one season, and then six months the next. This does little to dispel the rumour that the number may well be cursed.

Look at the last season’s most successful custodian of the number, Liverpool’s Fernando Torres, who, although he managed 18 goals in 22 games, was injured for large parts of the season and performed dismally at the World

Scotland celebrates his only goal
Cup. Not the player you want leading the line of your fantasy team I’m sure you’ll agree. Then there’s the rest of the ‘cursed crew.’ One of the others joined Torres on double figures but that was a man who seems more bothered by a nice Saturday afternoon stroll than a football match. Yeah, you’ve guessed it, Man United’s Dimitar Berbatov.

Apart from that there’s Arsenal’s injury plagued departing Croatian Eduardo (two goals in five games), Villa’s Marlon Harewood with his two big fat lonely zeros, but the best comes in the shape of Jason of the Scotland and Jozy ‘USA, USA, USA’ Altidore. The former managed a solitary goal in 32 appearances, and Jozy didn’t fare much better with one in 28. What’s wrong with all of you? A combined 80 goals in 380 games is quite ludicrous. What were they doing for the other 300 games?! Who knows where they’d be at without the mercurial Torres.

What of the most successful number then?

Drum roll…

Legs 11! That’s right, the traditional left-winger’s number managed a total of 102 goals. Usually reserved for players predominantly siding with the devil over on the left, it’s been embraced by a growing band of strikers, and numbers as many as three in the top ten Premier League scorers from last season. It does of course help that these three are Didier Drogba (29 goals), Darren Bent (24 goals), and Gabby Agbonlahor (13 goals), however it does seem that there’s something lucky about this number. Ryan Giggs, 11 at United for the best part of 20 years, has managed to prosper for that long with the blessed number, and Arsenal’s Robin van Persie adorns the number, who, without a bevy of injuries, would have been another in that top ten.

Don’t fear Senor Torres, Albert Riera’s on his way so you can have his number 11, si?

And just one last note the best player in the world? Leo Messi. World Cup Golden Ball? Diego Forlan. Both number…10. And even more weirdly the Golden Boot went to Thomas Muller…a number 13!