Much has been said in the German media about Thomas Muller and his ongoing goal drought. Eleven games into the 2016/17 Bundesliga season and the German forward is yet to find the back of the net, even though he has played in nine of those games. Is this just a lean spell that every forward goes through inevitably at some point? Or is the beginning of the end for Thomas Muller?
A lot of the noise that is being made about this barren spell is because of the impressive goal scoring exploits of the German forward last season. At this similar stage of last season, he had plundered nine goals in the Bundesliga and 11 in all competitions.
But looking at his numbers from previous seasons, the German forward has never been a pure goalscorer. In the six previous seasons before the 2015/16 season, his goal returns in the league have been; 13, 12, 7, 13, 13, 13. An average of roughly 12 league goals a season.
While these numbers are not shabby for a player who hardly plays as the spearhead of the attack, it is evident the Die Mannschaft forward isn’t the most prolific of scorers – and 25 games is more than enough time for the German forward to attain his league average.
Three of Muller’s most prolific scoring seasons have come under the stewardship of Pep Guardiola. It is safe to say that the reason why the goals are not flowing as yet this season, is that he is yet to get accustomed to Carlo Ancelotti’s new setup fully.
Pep Guardiola always favoured a ball playing winger on the other flank to Thomas Muller. This ensured play was biased to the other wing, leaving Muller to drift into important spaces.
Thomas Muller is one of those quality players who is good at a lot of things, but not excellent at any of it. He is neither very quick nor an accomplished dribbler, not an astute header of the ball. His hold up play is good but not exactly excellent; same goes for his technique.
Muller is nicknamed “Rumdeuter”, which translates to the interpreter of space. This ability to ghost in between the lines, to arrive in the right place at the right time was what served him so well amidst Pep Guardiola’s legion of technically proficient players.
While Bayern lead the league in possession stats, they don’t recycle possession and move it around as they did under Pep. This means there is less space to ghost into from the wings, ultimately hampering his efficiency.
Even less than average players eventually find the back of the net after a goal drought, and Thomas Muller is among the most talented forwards of this generation. The goals will come soon enough for the German attacker.
Bayern Munich, however, need their beloved local hero to find his scoring form quickly. The defeat to Borussia Dortmund over the weekend was the 3rd consecutive league game which Robert Lewandowski has failed to find the back of the net.
If the Poland marksman is to go on any sort of goal drought, then the Bavarians will need Thomas Muller more than ever.