Prior to his injury time goal against Manchester City, Nikica Jelavic had gone 12 games without a goal. Recalling his own goal drought, Everton legend Graeme Sharp has been talking to the Liverpool Echo, explaining the mental turmoil suffered by a top class centre forward when experiencing difficulties in front of goal.
…Sharp hopes that Saturday’s drought-ending strike which clinched victory over Manchester City will spark the same kind of goals deluge which heralded Jelavic’s arrival at Goodison 14 months ago.
After 11 goals in his first 14 games the Croatian has endured a difficult second season.
After a steady, rather than sparkling goals return in the first few months of the campaign, a man who couldn’t stop scoring last season, whatever the opposition, couldn’t buy a goal.
The last minute strike against City ended a 12-match drought since he struck at Cheltenham in the FA Cup third round.
It was also his first goal in 13 Premier League appearances, since a dramatic last minute winner against Tottenham which was so typical of last season’s first-time strikes.
Sharp knows exactly what he went through.
In the spring of 1984 a striker who went on to become a club legend struck twice in a 4-4 draw at Watford – then went 12 games without a goal.
It was a sequence which even threatened to compromise his place in the Cup Final team – until a goal at Villa Park sparked a late season flurry.
Two goals followed against Queens Park Rangers, then Sharp famously opened the scoring in the Cup Final at Wembley with a precisely finished shot past Steve Sherwood.
Sharp remember the mentally draining affects well.
“It’s really hard,” he said. “People don’t realise how much it affects strikers.”
“You could be playing well and the team could be winning, as it was in 1984, which is always the most important thing.
“But as a striker you are always judged on your goals return and if you are not scoring you don’t feel like you’re doing your job properly.
“It affects you mentally.
“You are always thinking about it and you start trying too hard to score. You start doing things differently rather than reacting naturally.
“It doesn’t matter what people say to you and whether you’re still working hard for the team, you do worry.
“You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel like that.
“Nikica Jelavic has been going into every game with added pressure. He’ll have been going out there feeling he has to score and you could see the relief in his celebration last Saturday just how much that goal meant to him.
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