For years, Bolton Wanderes fans have bemoaned the team's lack of a natural goalscorer, of the kind of forward that know where the goal is by instinct, a player that can create something out of just about nothing. When the club signed Marvin Sordell last January, we thought that he might be that solution. A year came and went with Sordell watching from the sidelines, often not even making the 18-man squad.
When given his chance against Sunderland in this year's edition of the FA Cup, Marvin Sordell took it -- twice. Over the course of the 147 minutes that Sordell saw on the pitch at the Reebok Stadium and Stadium of Light, Sordell managed three goals. The goals he scored showed versatility: a header, a penalty, and an instinctive finish.
With Simon Mignolet's punch that half-cleared Martin Petrov's ball into the box, Keith Andrews calmly headed the ball back into the area. Marvin Sordell's back was to goal but he rose highest in the box and glanced it home to the far post. This is important because it shows that even without looking at the goal, Sordell knows where it is and knows where he has to put the ball.
Thanks to Darren Pratley's surging run into the box, Bolton Wanderers were awarded a pretty clear-cut penalty. With Keith Andrews not featuring in the replay and Chris Eagles' confidence from the spot shot, it was Marvin Sordell who grabbed the ball and placed it 12 yards from goal. You couldn't really ask for a more composed finish as Sordell saw which direction Simon Mignolet back moving in and placed the ball dead center with the side of his foot. Cool as you like.
Tyrone Mears was the one breaking into the box this time to seal the game for Bolton at the Stadium of Light. His low cross was deflected and bobbled to Marvin Sordell, again with his back to goal. This time, Bolton's young striker showed immense strength to hold his man off, quickly turn, and fire under Mignolet.
With the exceptions of Ivan Klasnic (whose work rate was questionable at best) and Daniel Sturridge (who was only with Bolton for six months), the Trotters have long been crying out for a forward that just knows where the net is. What Marvin Sordell adds to the mix is youth and pace, something that Bolton have missed for, well, just about forever. His pace isn't blistering but it's more than enough to trouble opposition defense, as he did against Sunderland.
Dougie Freedman has questioned Sordell's fitness but, by all accounts, the striker is working hard to get back to it. Fitness wasn't really a thing under Owen Coyle and when Jimmy Phillips/Sammy Lee stepped into the mix, they instantly implemented two-a-day training sessions in. According to a member of the club's press corps, Sordell has stepped that up even further and has been known to partake in three-a-day sessions in order to get up to snuff.
What every Bolton fan should really hope for is that Marvin Sordell kicks on from his pair of FA Cup performances and shows that he's worth every pence Bolton paid and then some.