It only takes a glance at the sixteen goals scored by Klose in World Cups to understand what kind of forward he is.
All goals were finished from inside the area. Almost every single one was executed perfectly from within 12 yards, and almost half were headers. He seems able to beat defenders in the air with ease, despite often being at least 2 or 3 inches shorter. In fact not only is he not particularly tall, he’s also not quick, pretty poor creatively and has an unremarkable work rate. But there are two areas where he stands well above the rest.
In terms of both finishing and positioning there are very few modern strikers who can compare. His clinical nature in the box is what carried both his international and domestic career. He is not alone in this; throughout the post-war era of football, this type of striker was always prevalent. Gerd Muller, Hugo Sanchez, Romario, Felipo Inzhagi, Ruud Van Nistelrooy … the list goes on.
However, with the retirement of Klose scheduled for next season, presumably alongside 37 year old Luca Toni, is this the end of the “6 yard box striker”?
Undoubtedly there are other players in the international scene who have a similar knack for being in the right place at the right time. Ronaldo is one who immediately springs to mind; somebody who seems to be able to find space in the right place at the right time.
But, perhaps due to the evolution of the game in recent years, these players are much more rounded. Take Rooney as an example. 20 years ago, a centre-forward would never be seen tracking back to his own left-back position to dispossess an opposition player. The modern forward with brilliant positioning has plenty of other skills to boot.
To a certain extent this is due to age. Of course the strikers who are about to retire rely on their positioning more because of their tired legs but sharp minds. But this argument does not stretch to the lower leagues. It takes a quick look towards David Mooney in League 1 or Jack Midson last season in League 2 to see that there are plenty of “6 yard box strikers” in the football league. But they will not advance because all they have is their ability to finish a chance. 20 years ago this was enough, but not now.
Yes, there are some players such as Mandzukic and Javier Hernandez who have excellent positioning, and will rely on it as their main goal-scoring weapon. But these players are a dying breed. And none are world beaters akin to those of yesteryear. In the modern era, positioning and a brilliant footballing brain may not be enough