March 4, 2013 by Made In Brum
Marlon King has been ruled out for the season. He has been forced to undergo knee surgery, in what looks like an attempt from Lee Clark to get him fit for pre-season next summer.
The 32-year-old striker was our top scorer last season with 18 goals, and has looked well on his way to beating that tally this, having already scored 14 by early March. When considering this achievement, we must also bear in mind that he has done it with a constant niggling injury, which Clark has admitted has worsened in recent weeks.
The full story is on the BCFC website, but basically the situation is that he’s going to have an operation today to see what the problem is causing all these injuries, all of which have been on the knee. Clark is hopeful that it’ll just be a case of cleansing the cartilage, so that he’ll be ready for next season.
But in the meantime, where does that leave Blues? Well first of all, we’ve lost a player who has scored 13 of our 45 league goals and has averaged more than a goal in two games this season. He’s on 0.54 goals per league game, to be precise. So straightaway, the statistics tell you that a sizeable chunk of our goalscoring prowess has gone.
I believe that King offers the team more than simply goals. He’s strong and holds the ball up well, which has been vital when he’s played up front, without a striker alongside him. His experience means that he’s got a more dynamic football brain, so he’s a decent passer, he has good movement. I also think he’s an important character to have in the dressing room, because he can help the younger players coming through and he’s another leader on the pitch.
I’m not denying that he will be sorely missed in the short-term. He brings a lot to the team in his physical strength, his football brain, his experience and of course his goals. On the other hand, I don’t think his injury is the end of the world, and reckon it could bring longer-term advantages.
I’m of the opinion that, barring the worst possible luck in the final third of the season, we don’t have to worry too much about the threat of relegation. From that point of view, we don’t necessarily need Marlon as urgently as we would if we were locked in a 50/50 battle, that went down to goal difference. 6pts clear is a fair cushion to have. In addition, I would argue that the start of next season will be more important than the end of this, and the plan is for King to have his cartilege cleared once and for all. It means that for next season, there’s the prospect of a fully-fit Marlon King to aid our cause. Considering the number of goals he’s scored with a hampering injury this season, just think how effective he could be with next to no fitness problems next year?
Furthermore, the loss of King may mean that someone younger will be promoted from the lower ranks – such as Henry-Thomas, Reece Hales, maybe even Akwasi Asanti who’s returning from injury – and perhaps be given more first team opportunities. I just think that if they excel, without the added pressure of a full-on relegation battle, then we’ve either discovered a star for the future, or we get a few million pounds from a Premiership club that wants to snap them up. Looking at it on the flip side, if one of the youngsters comes in and doesn’t do so well, then we’ve hardly lost much. We’ve still got Thomas, Lovenkrands and Zigic for strikers, with safety more than likely whatever happens. I would describe it as a win-draw situation.
Of course I certainly wouldn’t have chosen to have King injured, and the reality is that his absence should have a negative affect on the team’s results short-term. However, I don’t think it’s worth grieving over, because the injury could potentially bring unexpectedly long-term benefits.
Firstly, it may mean that for the final few years of his career, we have a fitter and better Marlon King. Secondly, him going means the opportunity is there for some of the younger kids to come in. They may become our secret weapon, who we can sell for more money, in order to improve our long-term financial situation (assuming the money goes into the club, that is). Finally, the injury is unfortunate and it I would expect it to mean our results drop marginally. However, I don’t think it’ll be season defining, with 5 teams more likely to go down than us, and let’s not forget we’ve got a couple of winnable home games coming up. I believe we’ve got enough to stay up this season, with or without Marlon King.