Hi Charlie, what advice can you give us to help improve our finishing?
Hi. It’s all about composure. When you’re in front of goal don’t panic. I think a lot of people get into that position and freeze and take too long. If you’re one on one with the goalkeeper it’s important that you don’t change your mind. If you feel like you’re going to go round him, go round him and if you feel like you’re going to take an early shot then go and do it. If you want to chip him, do that. All of my finishing is about committing to it. Relax, pick your spot and commit.
More after the break
What’s your favourite way to score?
They all count, so for me it’s probably a nice first time finish in the box. It’s quite easy to say beating three men and putting it in the top corner from 30 yards but it doesn’t really happen. But, a nice cross in and a header or a good first touch and a controlled finish, is what I do most often.
How important is movement when you’re trying to lose a defender?
Movement is massive and I think it’s something many players neglect. You have to make a movement towards or away from a defender to create space for yourself. You need to be on the move at all times. You can trick a defender by pretending to switch off and as much as a defender thinks you’re switching off, you’re not. You can walk around looking uninterested and then bang, you’re away. You’re playing cat and mouse with the defender and that’s really how I work.
Do you have to be selfish to be a striker?
Of course. Every time I go on the pitch I think I’m going to score a goal. If you don’t think like that then you doubt yourself. Every time I play I think I’m going to score a goal or that a chance is going to come my way. If that chance doesn’t happen then I think another one will come. If I’m on the bench and I feel like I’m going to come on I always think of that one chance and make sure I’m ready for it. It might be a half-chance or a quarter-chance but you have to be ready to put the ball away. OK, when you’re one-on-one with the goalkeeper and your team-mate is right there you slide him in, it’s a team game, but for a striker it’s all about goals. Strikers are judged on goals.
Having you got to be willing to take a bit of flack from your team-mates for not passing?
Of course. When you don’t pass and you don’t score then it’s possible that you’ve ignored the better option. As a centre forward if you run through on goal, take your shot and score then all your teammates are celebrating, so it’s a bit of catch-22 situation but that’s where the selfishness comes in – you have to believe you’ll score when you get a chance.
Which strikers did you idolise as a child?
Ruud van Nistelrooy, Alan Shearer and the Brazilian Ronaldo. Van Nistelrooy scored goals for fun and I think he only scored about five from outside the box in his whole career. That just shows what a clinical finisher he was. I remember asking Rio (Ferdinand) about him at QPR. He said if people weren’t crossing the ball in, Ruud would tell them he needed it in the box, because they had someone strong in there.
If you look at Alan Shearer, he was an old-fashioned No.9 and was just superb. He wore the armband for his country and was a player I looked up to because most seasons he was top scorer almost every season. He scored 260 Premier League goals, and I don’t think that number will ever be beaten.
Then you take Ronaldo, he played for Brazil, Milan, Inter, Real Madrid, Barcelona. You have to wonder how good he would have been if he didn’t have the injuries. He was special and an expert when he was one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Whether it was a double step-over, the single step-over, the flip-flap, he had so much variety. For me, he was the ultimate finisher.
Who is the toughest defender you’ve played against?
Phil Jagielka. When I played against him for QPR at home to Everton he was very good. He was someone who I though ‘Wow, I really need to be on my game here’ and I didn’t play well on the day. You go away and think that next time you’ll have a right go.
I don’t think he’ll mind me saying this but he’s not blessed with blistering pace. I’ve spoken about strikers’ movements but he read the game really well. As a forward it was very hard, my movement had to be at the top of my game to get any chances against him.