Alexander Sorloth: Curious case of the Crystal Palace striker
Alexander Sorloth, by Jarle Vines [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Crystal Palace striker Alexander Sørloth hit out at manager Roy Hodgson during the October international break, admitting to a Norwegian outlet that it was “frustrating to sit on the bench”.
The 22-year-old has spent nine months at Selhurst Park after joining the Eagles from FC Midtjylland, but he’s struggled for playing time under Hodgson this season which could raise questions about his long-term future.
Sørloth had scored 10 goals in 19 Danish Superligaen appearances for Midtjylland before Palace paid £9m to procure his signature in January 2018, but he just hasn’t had the impact or the opportunity he would’ve hoped for.
Injury cut his debut season short
Sørloth was an unused substitute against Newcastle just four days after his arrival at Selhurst Park and made his Premier League debut against Everton six days later, playing a full 90 minutes on the wing – despite concerns of fatigue due to him coming off the back of a lengthy winter break. He nevertheless impressed in games against Everton, Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea before a hamstring injury would all but end his season.
The centre-forward returned to the matchday squad after missing three league games (Huddersfield on March 17, Liverpool on March 31 and Bournemouth on April 7) but wasn’t introduced from the bench in the four matches that followed. Sørloth, despite earlier promise, didn’t play a competitive game in the final two months of the season. Fatigue was the line coming out of the club at the time, and chances have been few and far between for him ever since.
Hints of a fractured relationship with the management
Despite a less-than-perfect debut season, Sørloth was actually singled out by Hodgson in pre-season. In July, the Palace boss said: “we have great hopes for him”, but months later he’s failed to build on such trust from his manager who once regarded him as a “top target” and can’t get more than a cameo appearance from the bench.
The Norwegian has featured in seven of Palace’s nine league games this season but has averaged only 11.5 minutes of playing time-per-match. After speaking out about his frustration, Hodgson responded with a message that suggests his lack of minutes are down to a lack of hard work. He said: “He is not playing for Norway either at the moment so he has obviously got some work to do”.
It was only in August that Hodgson was singing his praises for his performance against Swansea City in the EFL Cup but things have changed for the worst.
Barely a last resort under Hodgson
Sørloth’s only starts this season have come in the EFL Cup where he’s managed to get himself on the scoresheet. It’s ironic how little game time Hodgson affords him in the Premier League given how impotent Palace have been. The striker’s treatment is somewhat insulting considering only Huddersfield (4) have scored fewer goals than the Eagles (5).
The likes of Christian Benteke (4 appearances, 0 goals), Andros Townsend (9 appearances, 0 goals) and Jordan Ayew (5 appearances, 0 goals) are all firing blanks while Connor Wickham (1 appearance, 0 goals) spent the campaign injured until Saturday, but still Sørloth is only getting ten minutes at the end of games.
More hard work in training is clearly needed for the centre-forward to get himself back in favour, but can he turn things around to rise back up the pecking order?