Super subs have always been one of the most romantic elements of football. The anticipation when the manager looks down his bench at the taut face of the man he trusts, the immense hope that fans feel when they see his number shown on the electronic board and finally the moment when he slams the ball in the net to become an instant hero, yet again.
David Fairclough was first attributed the 'super sub' tag when he scored 18 vital goals for Liverpool coming off the bench late.
But when Ole Gunnar Solksjaer came to Manchester United, he owned the term. And unless Javier Hernandez and Edin Dzeko keep going at the rate they are, it's possible that Solksjaer will still be the most feared super sub ever.
Solksjaer, or 'the baby faced assassin' scored 29 of his 126 goals coming off the bench. This includes 17 in the league alone... and of course, 'that' goal against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final. He scored his first goal for United six minutes after coming on as a substitute and (can you believe it) his last goal for United came six minutes after he was brought on as a sub against Blackburn.
But since Solksjaer retired, no player has made as much of an impact from the bench.
Until, Edin Dzeko and Javier Hernandez burst onto the scene.
Manchester City's Dzeko has hammered six league goals this season, and five of them came after he came on as a substitute. City have won all nine matches that Dzeko has scored as a substitute.
17 - The 17 players in Premier League history to score 10 or more goals as a substitute. Options. http://t.co/Z8tCVJmb
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 11, 2012
Rewind to last season, and he was the man who scored the equaliser against QPR in the final EPL match, which gave Manchester City the EPL title. There aren't any goals more important than those.
He has scored a total of 22 league goals, and 11 of them have been as a sub. His conversion rate is a goal every 64 minutes this season.
Javier Hernandez is not far behind. He does get more starts than Dzeko, but he has already notched ten league goals coming off the bench for the Red Devils. Nine of those are in away matches — something no other player has accomplished in the EPL so far, ever. He's already in the history books.
From Fairclough, Tore Andre Flo and Teddy Sheringham, super subs are a unique breed who usually don't like being known for their impact despite never starting the game.
Just like a Cesc Fabregas at Barcelona, Dzeko also wants to start from the off. And why not? He has done enough to prove what a quality finisher he is. Hernandez and Solksjaer are the other side of the coin — happy to make an impact in whatever little time they get on the pitch.
But it has a lot to do with managers understanding the mentality of the player. An ordinary fan may not see it, but Roberto Mancini knows that a Dzeko who wants to prove a point is much better a finisher than a Dzeko who is guaranteed a start. Probably Hernandez's case is also similar and he has reveled in the role.
Both strikers have shown what they are capable of and even though Solksjaer's record of 29 goals a sub may be hard to get, there's nothing which says that it's impossible.
Dzeko and Hernandez, whether they like it it or not, are now members of the super-sub club.
First Published On : Nov 12, 2012 18:13 IST