MOST people in football, when it comes to the professionals and the knowledgeable supporters, usually agree the spine of the team is one of the most important things.

That is the goalkeeper, centre-back, midfield general, and, of course, the goal-scoring forward.

The modern way, with defending in numbers, means often the striker doesn’t always have the same support around him that others do and often have to battle against a number of opponents.

A successful forward, consequently, is of huge importance.

That is why managers and scouts all around are always looking for the individual who can score against all the odds.

Clubs look everywhere for these players and if he’s been discovered at lower level, the big question and the risk may be, can he do it in the Premier League?

If you look at our own striker situation for instance.

On paper, Mr Pellegrino is fairly spoilt for choice, with proven strikers like Charlie Austin and Shane Long, who have both played previously in the Premier League.

And then there’s the latest addition to that, Manolo Gabbiadini.

He made such a terrific impression in his first few games with his ability to get in to the important positions faster than the defenders marking him.

Everyone at St Mary’s thought ‘here we go, we’ve cracked it’.

However, in many ways we can compare Manolo with Jamie Vardy at Leicester, who surprisingly won the Premier League and was outstanding in that campaign.

But he doesn’t get on the scoresheet so much now and the reason for that is, as Manolo is finding now, that initially they take managers and defenders by surprise.

But then the opponents start to focus more on what they are doing to catch opponents out and work harder to clamp down and make sure they don’t have the space they need to score.

In Vardy’s case, when he was famous for his speed when his team-mates knocked long balls to him over the top, he now finds the space he once had isn’t there and the defenders are ready for his exploits.

The consequence of this is that Vardy is not scoring as much. The same can be said for Gabbiadini.

Leicester have little chance of winning the Premier League again, but full marks to them for their achievements.

So, I was watching the game against Manchester United last weekend, which we completely dominated in the second half.

Saints did enough to earn at least a draw there.

But Mr Mourinho, who always does well in his second year at a club, got his defence well-organised and with one goal already scored were too difficult to break down.

Talking about goals and back to the striker topic, United’s new striker Lukaku was bought from Everton for around £75m.

It was a fee that certainly raised a few eyebrows.

But as we speak he has plenty of goals in the Premier League and in the Champions League, netting ten goals in nine games so far.

It looks as if that money was very well-spent indeed and he’s proving now that he can do it any level.

Unlike others, even with opposition defenders and managers knowing what he’s all about, Lukaku has been able to keep scoring so far. Nobody has been able to stop him.

The same applies to Harry Kane at Tottenham, who is now getting hat-tricks as much as some people are get single goals.

This ability to score no matter what is something that singles out these top, top players, even though their reputation goes ahead of them and why managers and scouts will not stop trying to unearth the next one.

I was speaking with Kevin Keegan this week and we were reminiscing about his days at The Dell.

We had both heard Darren Gough, the ex-cricketer, spouting forth on his radio show about football.

He was talking about the multi-passing game nowadays and comparing it to the ‘kick-it-as-far-as-you-can’ old days.

We had a wry smile talking about some of players Kevin played with at Saints.

As if we had to ‘kick it long’ back those days.

We had players such as Alan Ball, Peter Osgood, Mick Channon, Ted McDougall, Frank Worthington, Charlie George, Jim McCalliog, Dave Armstrong and more.

And defenders such as Peter Shilton, Nick Holmes, David Watson, Mick Mills, David Peach and Chris Nicholl If they were around playing now, they could fit in to any team.

As Mick Channon would say, ‘I’m not as quick now because I’m a bit older’, but the quality always shines out.

But you’ve got to try and get the best out of the players at your disposal.

In the case of Vardy at Leicester, the manager then used long balls because it suited the players he had at the time.

No matter how teams play, even if they had three quarters of the spine they needed, it always finishes with the striker. That’s why they cost more, get more wages and the likes of Lukaku, Kane etc are in very high demand.