By Steven Chowdry
Has the face of football changed for the long haul? Are strike partnerships, as we know them, a thing of the past?
Steve Bull has gone down as a legend of Wolves, and rightly so after his 306 goals in all competitions for the club. But there was a sub-plot, of course, to all those heroics, including 18 hat-tricks for the Wanderers.
No-one who watched Wolves at that time will forget his partnership with Andy Mutch. The two of them formed one of the era’s most dangerous double acts across their seven years together, although they didn’t operate in the top flight.
And after Mutch’s departure to Swindon in 1993, Bull had first David Kelly and then Don Goodman and Robbie Keane for company.
And here’s a key thing…..the 1990s may have been a golden era for strikers, with the likes of Alan Shearer, Eric Cantona, Robbie Fowler and Dennis Bergkamp in the Premier League, but it was also a golden era for strike duos.
Shearer and Chris Sutton helped fire Blackburn to a surprise title triumph, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke caused mayhem at Old Trafford, Bergkamp had Ian Wright as a partner at Arsenal and, as Wolves found to their cost, Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips teamed up brilliantly at Sunderland.
It is unlikely that anyone will ever surpass the records that inevitably meant Bull was inducted into Wolves’ Hall of Fame in 2009 but there was much to enjoy in the much more recent partnership between Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez under Nuno Espirito Santo.
Then the Portuguese forward’s big-money move to Liverpool in the summer transfer window scuppered any hopes that the combination might develop further to Wolves’ benefit.
Jimenez recently overtook Jota’s tally of Wolves goals and looks likely as the leader of the line to add many more yet. As per Transfermarkt, and at the time of writing, he had scored 34 goals in 83 top-flight matches, which is a respectable enough total. He is 25/1 with football betting to win the Golden Boot come the end of 2020-21.
So, with the Mexican having passed his 29th birthday, who in the present squad might get closest to Bully’s 561 appearances? That has to be Conor Coady, on whom the international spotlight will fall again this week.
As the Legends area of this website shows, the Wolves skipper is closing in on his 250th game for the club and is now well inside their top 50 appearance-makers of all time.