Cavani's take on the centre-forward's art
A cursory look at the leading scorers across Europe's major leagues this season reveals a number of experienced forwards smashing in the goals on a regular basis.
While the old adage was always goalkeepers get better with age and do not reach their peak until their thirties, maybe there is something to be said for strikers learning their craft and doing likewise.
Certainly, Edinson Cavani has brought nous and quality to United's attack and blown people away with his movement, scoring in the 2-1 win at Fulham and working his socks off. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo all looking as good, if not better than ever, Jamie Vardy again among the top Premier League marksmen and others such as Luis Suarez and Ciro Immobile recording good numbers, we asked Edi if he felt this could be a new trend.
"I always think that, in all aspects of life, a person’s maturity is important because it helps you to resolve problems more quickly," Cavani told United Review, in an exclusive interview for Sunday's matchday programme. "As they say, to find a short-cut and make things a little more straightforward.
“And it’s the same in football. I think that, in football, you start to gain in maturity, and begin to grow in experience and confidence. That means that, as the years pass by, you feel better in yourself, and feel in good nick and you start to feel that you can really compete, having been constantly involved.
“So yes, I feel that experience is hugely important. In spite of the fact that there are many talented guys out there, lots of gifted youngsters, I firmly believe, and I’ve always said that in football, it’s not all about having one, two or even three good games. What you really need in football is to compete hard and to be consistent. It takes a lot of self-discipline to enable you to become really consistent. For one, two, three, four years, that’s how you gain in the maturity which will enable you to get to that required level you need to compete."
We asked Cavani if his extraordinary movement off the ball was instinctive or whether it could be taught so younger forwards could learn from him in this respect.
"Yes," he replied. "A bit like I was mentioning just now about time and years in the game helping you to mature, to develop and to learn. But it all depends on your self-discipline and your sense of responsibility and that desire that you have to grow and to learn.
“You can only achieve things by playing and competing, you know what I mean, through hard work. Talking about the movements a striker needs to make, the first thing on your mind is to steal a march on your defender. It’s about knowing intuitively, the key for an attacker is to have that intuition.
"On many occasions, there are lots of strikers who score goals from more static positions," he explained. "The ball comes to them, they can finish well, and they score goals. But you also have the other kind of striker who has the ability to sense things and anticipate where the cross is going to end up, or the ball in behind. Or when that through-ball is going to be played.
“I’ve worked really hard on anticipating the play intuitively. Looking at my team-mate to see where he’s going to play the pass, and watching the defender and how he’s moving so that I, in turn, can make a run or a move that will give me the advantage. And that’s something that you have to work on, and it’s also a question of focus and concentration on what you’re doing, and not just doing it naturally or for the sake of it. "
Read the full interview in United Review, Sunday's official matchday programme, which is available to buy now.