With pundits and fans alike in the Welsh capital crying out for a striker, Paul Trollope delivered on Deadline Day with the signing of former England international Rickie Lambert. The 34-year-old, best known for his goal-scoring exploits with Southampton and Bristol Rovers, has struggled during Premier League spells with Liverpool and West Brom. However, many believe a move back down the Football League could reignite the career of a man who was once one of the country’s most prolific goalscorers.
As Lambert has previously worked with Cardiff City manager Paul Trollope at Bristol Rovers, many fans believe that this partnership could prove fruitful as Trollope will be familiar with his strengths and weaknesses, knowing best how to utilise him. He has been traditionally known as a target-man and goal-poacher and this seems to be the type of player that the Bluebirds have been sorely missing not just this season, but for many years.
However, some remain sceptical about the impact that Lambert can have on the Championship. In his ageing years, his fitness will need to be carefully managed and as all players know, the later years of a career can prove frustrating for many. Despite this, given the type of player that he is known to be, age should not have as much of an effect as it does with some players. He has rarely relied on pace, instead on instinct and positioning to make his name as a striker.
This does, however, bring a new question on his role at the Bluebirds. An overall lack of speed in the squad is only amplified by building an attack around him. Whilst players such as Lambert and Lex Immers often get away with below-average pace due to their experience and work rate, having too many of these type of players can cause problems. With these two up front, a lack of pace could make striking options difficult as replacements Frederic Gounongbe and Kenneth Zohore are similar players who rely on physicality over pace.
With this in mind, it can be assumed that Anthony Pilkington’s days as a striker are far from over. Whilst far from the fastest player in the squad, his direct approach and flair will offer a different attacking option over the ‘classic number 9’ option of Lambert.
In general, this signing is a huge positive for the Bluebirds who look to use the international break as a springboard to improve on a below average start to the season. Having a seasoned and experienced goalscorer in the squad can only be a positive, but only time will tell whether he is enough to bring positivity back to the disillusioned fans at the Cardiff City Stadium.