EPL 2016/17: Why is no one talking about Joshua King?
Who in his sane mind would have thought that the Cherries would finish above former champions Leicester City this season? But they did, and Joshua King, in particular, deserves to be appreciated for the crucial part that he has played for Bournemouth.
In the 2015/16 season – Bournemouth’s first ever in the top flight in their 118-year history – they somehow avoided relegation despite losing six of their last eight league games. The Cherries conceded 67 goals, the highest in the league during that season and finished a lowly 16th on the table.
Thus, before the start of the 2016/17 season, it was justifiable for the experts to feel they would be one of the three teams to be relegated come May.
But, the story has turned out to be quite different, not one many English football pundits would have predicted. Bournemouth finished the season with their highest ever league position and highest ever points tally and a big thanks must go to their 25-year-old Norwegian striker King.
The man for the big occasion
King has been to Bournemouth what Hazard has been to Chelsea this season. He scored some very crucial goals for his side and stepped up his game on many occasions to win games for the south-coast side.
The Norwegian bagged equalisers in crucial away matches against Manchester United and Liverpool, and also scored a dramatic 90th-minute winner against West Ham to complete his hat-trick and in the process, become the first Bournemouth player to hit double figures in a top-flight league campaign.
He deserves to applauded because he hit his purple patch at a time when the club needed him the most – after the injury to star striker Callum Wilson.
His goals have been of extreme importance to the Cherries this season; they have been directly responsible for them collecting 12 points. Only Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero have earned more.
With 16 goals in his bag this season, he is the Cherries’ top goal scorer for the second time running. King’s prowess in front of goal is one of the major reasons why Eddie Howe’s men finished in the top of half of the table in 9th position with 46 points, bettering last season’s finish by an astonishing seven places and four points. Prior to this astonishing run, he could only manage 17 goals in 147 senior league appearances.
While King’s story might not be a fairytale like Jamie Vardy’s, it is, however, one of sheer hard work, will and determination.
He started off his career at Valerenga, before completing a dream move to Manchester United at the tender age of 16 in January 2008. However, he never really got a chance to prove himself at Old Trafford and that kick started a string of bad loan moves to Preston North End, Borussia Monchengladbach, Hull City and Blackburn Rovers. He signed permanently with Rovers in January 2013, before arriving at Bournemouth in May 2015 for a mere £1 million.
All his life, he was described as a raw talent, someone who had the necessary tools to make it big, but just couldn’t really get things moving. He was hampered by injuries and bad loan moves, just a few years into his professional career.
He could have easily joined the likes of Federico Macheda, Gabriel Obertan and numerous others who never really made it big after leaving Manchester United. However, King continued his hard work, and finally, under the tutelage of Eddie Howe at Bournemouth, showed off his true footballing abilities.
Although he started a bit slowly at the Cherries, bagging his first goal for them in his 13th outing, he proved his worth with time. He started this season in similar fashion, scoring just two goals in 17 league appearances initially. Amidst strong criticism, he kept a cool head and worked in silence.
The hard work paid off as he scored an astonishing 13 PL goals in 2017, a stat only bettered by the likes of Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku.
Talking about the leading goal scorers in 2017 from the top five leagues, King is joint 11th, tied with likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Interestingly, he has scored just one goal fewer than Cristiano Ronaldo.
It is his penchant for hard work and his never-say-die attitude that have enabled him to outscore the likes of Christian Benteke, Vardy, Olivier Giroud and Jermaine Defoe. More importantly, he doesn’t have world-class midfielders on his team to provide him with a plethora of goal scoring opportunities. He really has to hop on to every other chance that comes his way and that is what he has done this season. Thus, it comes as no surprise that he’s being linked with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United.
Retaining King for the next season would be manager Eddie Howe’s top priority as he looks to lead Bournemouth to a European spot. Although the Norwegian has committed himself to the south-coast side, you never really know in football.Published 23 May 2017, 11:04 IST