Teemu Pukki’s rise has been a revelation – if his form continues, our flying Finn has the potential to become a cult hero in yellow and green.
At certain stages in the Premier League last season, some things began to possess a certain sense of inevitability about them.
You see that Liverpool have gone 1-0 up – you assume Mohammed Salah has scored. You see that Manchester City romp a lesser opposition by multiple goals – you assume at least two of them were the culmination of a wonderful attacking move.
You see that Manchester United have been held to a draw at Old Trafford to a Burnley, a West Ham or a Southampton – you assume that Jose Mourinho will come out afterwards and blame everybody but his own players.
And, one year on, you’d not be deemed naïve to check a Norwich City or a Finland score and assume that Teemu Pukki has scored.
It may be an international break, but Pukki continued his remarkable run of scoring last night, doing so at an important time to secure a win for his country in Tallinn. It’s not so much the goals that Pukki scores as it is the timing of them, popping up when his team most needs him in order to secure vital results.
Cast your eye back to August 22 and Preston North End at home, a game where City so desperately needed a result after three disappointing outcomes – despite some spirited performances – in our first three games. Pukki delivered.
Then came Middlesbrough at home, another game where City craved a victory after entering the international break in a lowly 17th after the East Anglian derby. Pukki’s instinctive finish provided us with a critical three points then.
And then came Reading and Queens Park Rangers, two more games that were fundamental in City’s superlative September run and ones where Pukki’s inherent attacking instinct saw Daniel Farke’s team continue their ascent up the table. Contrary to his national identity, Pukki’s ability to score significant goals never fails to ever finish.
And, speaking of his country, Pukki delivered two more important goals in the previous international break too. His late winner in Estonia last night was preceded by his winner against the same opposition in Helsinki on September 8, while the Hungarians were the other victims of his ruthlessness as he provided his country with the goal to secure another 1-0 victory.
As it stands, Finland stand top of their UEFA Nations League group with maximum points and three goals, all of which have been scored by their – and City’s – talismanic attacker. The Pukki Party goes on.
And long may it continue.
It may be premature to draw such comparisons, but Pukki’s natural instinct for goals is not dissimilar to what we saw in City colours from a player like Grant Holt, a striker who fans adored and one who endeared himself through an ingrained ability to finish combined with his genuine passion. Such assets are what all football fans love to see, players who care and visibly deliver when it really matters.
As has been well documented, City’s season does currently stand at a crossroads, with our recent form – despite the Stoke game in which we were acutely unfortunate – placing us in a position that renders our next few games after the international break crucial.
Three points at the City Ground next weekend would put us in a terrific place going into our games against Aston Villa and Brentford. You do sense that Pukki’s performances in those matches will function as central in determining the results we achieve.
What is so striking about Pukki is his indefatigability, his relentless tenacity and complete inability to ever give up chasing a lost cause. Despite not scoring, Pukki was excellent at the iPro Stadium last Wednesday night, persistently running the channels and causing continual problems for a well-organised Derby defence.
If you’re Moritz Leitner, Marco Stiepermann or – to a lesser extent – Alex Tettey, it must be such a luxury having a player like Pukki making those sorts of runs in front of you.
But we mustn’t get carried away. Indeed, Pukki’s Carrow Road career is still in its embryonic stages, and even from the most cursory glance at his goal scoring record over the past few years it’s clear that he has struggled to maintain form over a long-term basis.
However, it’s 2018 now and his clinical exploits are showing no signs of stopping. If Pukki continues to make the runs he does, continues to receive the service he has been from our blossoming midfield and continues to commit everything to City’s and Farke’s cause, he does have the potential to manufacture the status as a cult hero who we as fans can collectively adore.
Only time will tell. However, for the time being, the Pukki Party goes on, so let’s enjoy it for as long as we can.