Ivan Klasnic underlined his value to Bolton Wanderers side with his second FA Cup winner in a week to send Owen Coyle’s through to a sixth round date at St Andrews. It has been a stop-start season for the Croatian who recently returned to the side following a lay-off with a groin problem, but he again reminded Wanderers fans and the rest of the Premier League of his ability in front of goal.
Stop-start is probably the best way to describe the Croatian’s career following his kidney transplants in 2007. Klasnic was first diagnosed with kidney failure four years ago and following an initial operation with his mother as the donor, was forced to have a second procedure just two months later, after the first kidney failed to take. Following the operations, Klasnic showed a real desire and persistence to make his comeback for then club Werder Bremen just eight months later, and it is his persistence on the pitch which is so admired by Coyle. Following his striker’s winner at the DW stadium last Wednesday, Coyle had the following to say:
It is not the first time Klasnic has been hailed as a top striker, having won the Bundesliga title with Bremen and coming to Europe’s attention during a purple patch of goalscoring form in the 2004/05 Champions League. It is clear he has the attributes to score goals in the Premier League but at 31 and considering the injury-ravaged nature of his career it is difficult to see him as a regular first team starter for the Trotters. However, his use as a squad player is what has proven so successful over the last two games.
On loan and in-form striker Daniel Sturridge was cup-tied for the two FA Cup fixtures this week with Klasnic starting in his place for both matches. The Hamburg-born Croat partnered first with Johan Elmander against Wigan Athletic and then Kevin Davies against Fulham and ensured Coyle could rotate his other strikers whilst relying on Klasnic. The fact that both of these matches were away from home and Bolton were able to keep a clean sheet, winning by a one goal margin, reinforces the value of a goalscorer to any team.
Movement is one of the greatest attributes of his game as he is able to pull opposition defenders into dangerous areas, then either being able to get a shot off himself or create space for others. This is similar to the type of role he enjoyed in his most successful season with Bremen, 2003/04, where he was able to link up with the likes of Johan Micoud and strike partner Ailton. In scoring 13 goals himself but also creating 11 for the Brazilian, Klasnic highlighted his worth to a double-winning team.
Given the serious interruption his career had to endure, it may be a difficult task for Klasnic to perform like this week in, week out, but Coyle will be well aware of the benefit a fit and firing Klasnic brings to the side.