Date: 16th March 2008 at 9:48pm
Written by:

Fly Eagles Fly is a US based Latics fan, here he gives us a his thoughts on a magnificent day for Latics fans all over the world:

During the final days of Chris Hutchings’ spell as manager, there was one outstanding question sticking out in everyone’s mind – how do you fix a team that both can’t score goals on offense and can’t prevent them on defense?

Enter Steve Bruce, with an answer that has since seen us rise out of the relegation zone, and up, as of this hour, to the twelfth place in the table: one at a time.

The new, stalwart, zero-goals-a-game team that Bruce has created might be best exemplified by the game today, one in which we played for a good 86 minutes – more than 90, if you count added time – without letting in a single goal.

Yet recent results and solid defensive performances have to date overshadowed the underlying problem that still exists, even as the team have gone from the worst Premiership team at keeping clean sheets to one of the best, our strike force remains nearly as impotent as it was when Chris Hutchings was the man in charge, Emile Heskey was injured, and the head man saw fit to give Julius Aghahowa start after start after start, with the underlying belief that maybe this time the Nigerian would finally get on the scoresheet (which turned out to never be the case).

Despite our new 4 million pound striker, we have scored more than a single goal in exactly 3 of the 17 games that Bruce has been in charge – vs. Derby, at Sunderland in the cup, and of course vs. Blackburn – and we really lack any sort of potency up front. In other words, our defense is better and we’re out of the relegation zone for it. But we’re still only halfway there.

As a final segment, I’d like to suggest a quickly-researched proposition for a summer target at striker: Maksim Shatskikh, an Uzbek forward playing at the moment at Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine.

He’s already 29 and will be 30 on transfer deadline day, but his strike record for club and country is excellent – 87 goals in 186 games for Kiev, and 27 in 35 for Uzbekistan.

While he does already play for a great team in Kiev, he has already sort of conquered the Ukrainian league (he’s a 2-time scoring leader) and I think there’s a good chance he’d be keen on a big-money, high-visibility move to ‘the best league in the world’ during the twilight of his career.

From our position, he’s a successful striker who seems to have a nose for the goal, and if we do manage to stay up, I think he’d certainly be worth the gamble.

(That is, after the obligatory annual Michael Owen bid, of course.)