As a point was picked up in Sunday’s 2-2 trip to St James Park, Graziano Pellé scored his first Premier League goal of the season.
The burly Italian has started the 2015/16 season with admirable form, showing all his critics why he deserves to keep his spot as the focal point of the team. In a Europa League debut season for Southampton, Pellé has ensured to keep the fans dreams of European nights alive – scoring a goal in each fixture against Eredivise side, Vitesse Arnhem. Now, fans are wondering if this stunning form can continue into the season that lays ahead.
Last season was a record breaking year for Southampton and new boy Pellé was at the very front of it all – finishing the season on what looked to be a respectable 12 goals. However, those fans in the red and white stripes know that he so easily could have been a 20 goal forward. The only issues that seemed to stand in his way from reaching that target was both confidence and well… luck.
Its no secret that once Pellé gets that first goal, his confidence hits the hights and good fortunes soon follow for Southampton. But as we found out last year, getting him back on the score sheet can prove to be a tricky task. So much so that the Italian international faced a troubled 1,245 minute goal drought last season; match that statistic with just one away goal and it’s clear to see that Pellé thrives on confidence.
As for the luck, he struck the woodwork 9 times in his debut season.
To simply label Pellé as a goalscorer however, wouldn’t give him the credit he so deserves. Standing at 6ft 4 in and holding the ability to embarrass any of the strongest defenders in the league (with almighty strength and looks), he has a dominating presence as the spearhead of Koeman’s army. At times when the goals weren’t flowing and shots were being shanked, his beautiful flicks and through balls continued to put points on the board for Southampton. Without Pellé in the side, our attack can only be described as toothless.
Above: Graziano Pellé in comparison to the league’s top forwards
For a player to become so influential after just 12 months at the club is an astonishing achievement by both Koeman and Pellé, giving fans great confidence that there is yet more to come from our top goalscorer. After all, he can only gain more Premier League experience and greater understanding of his team mates. Oh, and did I mention he is beautiful?
Pellé will not be the only player going into his second season at Southampton with something to prove; Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mane will also be looking to add an element of consistency to their game. With all three attacking players having incredible Premier League debut seasons, it’s an exciting thought to consider how they may influence the Italian’s season and vice versa.
A once again fit and creative early season Tadic, mixed with a mid season goal scoring Mane is enough to make your mouth water. If Southampton can strike a tune out of Mane and Tadic at the same time – something we are yet to see, Pellé will be in a strikers wonderland.
Then we have the new boys who can help push Grazi into the next tier of Premier League forwards. One of which, Portugese International Cedric Soares, has already shown his qualities in supporting Pellé from the fullback position.
In past seasons, Southampton fans have bared witness to Nathaniel Clyne’s often poorly drilled and disappointing looping crosses. Instead, just 25 minutes into the new season, Cedric’s inviting ball was met by the head of none other than Graziano Pelle’ to put the away side 0-1 up. One game and one assist, he’s already beating Clyne’s zero assists for Southampton in the previous campaign.
With Cedric’s high quality crossing ability and Southampton putting high importance in wide play, this won’t be the last time these two combine.
As for Spanish International Juanmi, Pellé has another much needed pacey forward to add to his arsenal. Juanmi will look to build his play, off and around Pellé, making darting runs in behind the defence.
In return, Pellé can expect the service that Shane Long received during his goal in the home fixture against Vitesse Arnhem. This frontline relationship between Pellé and others, is one that can only benefit all of those involved. The more options that we hold, the more opportunities that Pellé has to improve upon last years records.
The only worry of Pellé’s importance is the matter of his age; being 30 years old and becoming such a key figure for the side, is an idea that worries some fans. Short term gain but longer term pain perhaps?
Yes, until you remember the kind of forward that Pellé is. With age, comes the loss of pace and mobility that was there once before; these are effects that hunt down and kill the quick hardworking wingers, darting midfielders and skillful mavericks of the game. Not the Pellé’s. Miroslav Klose (37), Dimitar Berbatov (34) and Aritz Aduriz (34) are living proof that as an ageing forward within the correct set up, you can’t lose the knack of being in the right place at the right time.
Fans are still raising questions over the Italian’s head, but most calming of all, Ronald Koeman believes Pellé is the right man to keep us moving forward. Besides, with the year on year progress that Southampton make; would it surprise anyone if Pellé rose to the challenge?