Brighton & Hove Albion wide man Solly March takes a look at the role of the winger in football and the progress he made last season.
Tell us about that last-gasp equaliser against Millwall last season – your free-kick was going out of play, wasn’t it?
It wasn’t that bad! It was obviously our last chance to get something out of the game; I wanted to put the ball deep in the box, but it was a pretty poor connection really.
It kept drifting higher and higher and thought it was going to be comfortable for the keeper, so I looked down at the ground in frustration.
I then looked back up and the ball was in the back of the net! It was obviously a goalkeeping error but with it being so late in the game, it was such a good feeling and really gave us a massive lift.
At the start of last season, you said you wanted to be starting games rather than coming on as an impact sub, and on the whole, you’ve managed to do that…
I played a lot more games and started all but a handful, which is a big improvement on last season.
I understand, though, that wingers – even at the top clubs – don’t play every game. In fact, there are not many forward positions where you play week in, week out, but you’ve always got to be ready.
It’s a position where sometimes you don’t see a lot of the ball, so you can be quiet for no fault of your own right?
It can be frustrating. Sometimes you can get the ball loads, other times you only get the one opportunity to do something and if you don’t do it, your time can be up and someone else will come on in your place.
As a winger, you are often relying on other people to give you the ball and give you good balls as well. You can make a movement but if the ball doesn’t come to you then there’s nothing you can do about that.
That’s not something that’s unique to me though, that’s something wingers at every club will say.
So, it’s something that comes with the territory then...
I think it is more of an up-and-down position than anywhere else on the pitch, for the reasons I’ve mentioned.
If you look at someone like Mo Salah at Liverpool, he has been unbelievable this season but in more recent games people have said he’s been poor. It’s hard to produce every game, set up others as well as score goals.
A midfielder might be expected to make ten 15-yard passes and that’s your job but if you’re not beating players as a winger, getting balls into the box or scoring goals, then you’re more closely scrutinised. That does come with the territory though and it’s something you accept and get on with.
You’re also expected to put a shift in defensively, so do you feel that side of your game has come on?
Yes, massively; it’s definitely been noticeable over the past two seasons.
Obviously, it’s not the most enjoyable part of the game, and you don’t want to be defending all game – it’s a part of the job that has to be done though; even the City and Liverpool players do that side of the game.
You rarely get wingers who are just going to stand on the halfway line and wait for the ball these days.