In the final part of our recent ‘series’ on Alfredo Morelos, having looked at his recall to Colombia and his improved temperament, we wanted to focus purely on his contribution on the pitch this season.
Forgetting any extraneous causes of variables, what is it that’s different on the pitch about Morelos this season compared with last, making him easily Scotland’s best all-round striker?
Well, if we remember, Morelos, chief attributes last term was his goals and team work outside the area.
Despite all the many missed shots, Morelos was the most potent scorer last term, while also being an excellent team player outside the box.
So what changed?
1: Well, his ability now to keep out of trouble is helping a lot – whatever the reasons, Morelos is now staying away from bother, and not being wound up by targeting, and that new calm focus helps him keep his mind on football, and not SPL hatchet men. Instead of letting himself be riled by a Kirk Broadfoot, Morelos just lets the ref do his job and doesn’t try to assist him anymore, and allows the opponent to do what he will without responding in kind as much.
So that’s a big one, and one Steven Gerrard has been at paints to point out.
2: El-Buffalo has also matured in his play balance – as we said before, outside the box a great team player, but inside the box he used to erase team mates mentally and always go it alone. This season we’re seeing a different approach – outside the box still 100% team focused, with occasional and newly added solo runs which absolutely do damage, and inside the box he now passes more – who could forget the pullback v Feyenoord which just evaded Sheyi Ojo? He’s seeing his mates and trying to find them, bringing assisting and team ethic strongly into his game.
3: And those deeper runs are a new dimension – Morelos drives at opponents with unreal strength and surprising pace – sometimes he puts too much in and commits a foul, but frequently he beats his man, showing his dribbling has improved exponentially.
4: And let’s not forget the crucial component of this – upper body strength. The man’s thighs might be the width of the Atlantic, but his torso and arm power is now of a man maybe half a foot taller with similar bulk – he is absolutely tormenting and bullying defenders with sheer strength – rather than just causing mischief and annoying them, he’s now outright breaking them – his physical ardour makes mincemeat now of the backline and he’s hurting in opponents in legal ways.
5: He has also majorly improved his clinical finishing on the big occasions. Particularly in Europe – against teams of the quality of Midtjylland and Legia he scored an astonishing four goals – that is the kind of quality and experience that will stand him in good stead to finally break his duck v Celtic, and he’s demonstrating the mental capacity now to deal with the pressure on that occasion.
6: And of course that team ethic and attitude we mentioned before – he seems to be ingratiating himself to the squad more, with team mate Jermain Defoe especially complimentary about the improving quality of his integration and spoken English.
7: And the sheer goal numbers are stunning. 4 in 6 in the league, 7 in 9 in Europe. Not much more needs said on that.
So, whatever all the causes behind all these improvements, Morelos is a much better striker this season than last. In every sense.