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Every game that Port Vale struggle in (and they play tonight, so I’m fully expecting this to become moot) I am more and more reminded of Newcastle’s season 1995/96 season, with Lee Hughes poised in the Faustino Asprilla role. It’s a spurious comparison, but the arrival of both heralded strikers should have improved both teams, but both wound up hitting the skids somewhat.

Do you fancy a graph?

Have a graph.

Bringing in a wicked-smart striker isn’t all about points, though, is it? Its about goals. Think of it this way, you’ve got one striker in red-hot tip-top form banging in goals week after week, so you bring in another… it can only end well? Well, no, the number suggest otherwise. Here’s a goals per game chart for both Tom Pope (27) and Les Ferdinand (25) before and after their strike partners arrived.

(goals per game; not points, of course)

Instead of helping them along with the scoring, Hughes (5 in 10), and Asprilla (3 in 13) seem to scupper the goals. Funny business. As it is, Newcastle imploded from top spot and finished second, whereas Port Vale seem to be imploding and finishing… well, not top as it stands.

Keep your eye on Pope and Vale, if the player finds his form, the team might do so, if not…the omens are bad.