Duncan and Glatzel: A strike partnership full of goals but unorthodox in the modern game

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By Daniel Moxon – @dmoxon_

Bobby Duncan and Paul Glatzel both carry burgeoning reputations as future star strikers in the footballing world, despite both being not yet legally considered adults.

The pair of 17-year-olds have been star turns for Liverpool u18s so far this season, with both showing that they are more than aware of where the back of the net is.

Glatzel, born in Liverpool to German parents, currently boasts 21 goals to his name, while his strike partner sits just one behind on 20.

He has been part of the Academy setup in Kirkby since before his age got into double digits, while Duncan was a signing from Premier League rivals Manchester City last summer despite being born in Whiston, similarly to his cousin, who you might have heard of – his name is Steven Gerrard.

But while Liverpool’s young duo have had a completely different path to where they are now, they both have a very similar game these days.

Glatzel and Duncan play at the sharp end of a good old-fashioned 4-4-2 for u18s manager Barry Lewtas – promoted at the start of the season to replace the aforementioned Liverpool legend who left to manage Rangers – and this is not something that we see so often in the modern game.

Academy director Alex Inglethorpe has also admitted that this is an unusual scenario.

He told the Liverpool Echo: “It’s not often you see a couple of centre-forwards playing together these days, but they have struck up a good partnership.

“What do you do when you have two talented No.9s? You can’t stick one on the bench or on the wing, you have to find a way to play them both together.

“It’s been a challenge for them as they might have previously played as a single striker. But it’s been great watching them and working with them.”

Looking at the goalscoring records it’s clearly an arrangement that is working well for them at the moment, but there is a worry that, should they become accustomed to having a strike partner upon which they can rely, then when it comes to playing as a solitary striker they may find it difficult to adjust.

Fortunately, this is not something that is likely to happen, as change is on the horizon for the young pair next season.

Both will turn 18 between now and the end of the current campaign meaning that they will be making the step up to Neil Critchley’s u23 team, in which they will face fiercer competition for places and much stronger opposition.

Critchley has been something of a tinkerer so far this term and has regularly set up for matches with different formations and systems, something that will favour Glatzel as he has shown to be a flexible player.

He has been utilised in central midfield, out wide and behind the striker as well as his regular role as Duncan’s partner, and has shown a tendency to create as well as score himself, while Duncan is more of an out-and-out finisher.

This means that, as time goes on, we are likely to see Glatzel – the current u18s captain – move into a deeper role where he can be more creative and flexible, while Duncan can continue to be deployed as a lethal poacher and likely score the lion’s share of the goals.

Both will become more independent in their play – young Bobby will become accustomed to playing as a lone striker while Glatzel will be able to find his best position and put his enormous creativity to more effective use.

We’ve seen many a young talent impress in the youth ranks at Liverpool in recent years, and both Paul Glatzel and Bobby Duncan certainly seem to have the talent to have a real chance of making it into the senior side in the future.

Though only time will tell what future relationship the pair are to have on the pitch.

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