Thursday, 16 June 2011

Chelsea's mechanics


There’s a term, widely used in Italian football, known as the fantasista. It’s a term generally used to describe attacking midfielders and some false no.9s, who are the creative heartbeat of their teams. These players are blessed with exceptional technique on the ball, an incredible eye for the pass, the ability to get past opponents, moments of sheer genius, the mandatory brilliant goal from time to time, and above all a certain swagger that can’t be coached.

As far as I know, there’s no English equivalent word for fantasista, probably because England isn’t in the habit of producing such players. If they did, they’d call them wizards. We all know these kinds of players, the Tottis, the Baggios, the Rui Costas.... Italians believe every successful team must have a fantasista. Some even believe Juventus and The Azzuri have suffered in recent times because of lack of one such talent.

From my understanding of the fantasista, I would assume the opposite is a mechanic. Mechanics typically have two right feet... it almost impossible to find left footed mechanics; they can hardly pass the ball further than 10 feet away, they can only pass to open men and above all they are routinely the victims of fantasista brilliance.

So it turns Chelsea is looking for one such player this off season. All I can say is (expletive) duh!! I can’t believe it took that long! Chelsea is like a basketball team with just centers, or a rugby team with only forwards. Even Avram Grant could have figured that out! For the uninitiated, Chelsea has a midfield of 4, sometimes 5 players who are carbon copies of each other. They have never heard of a through ball in their lives. Their idea of a long pass is just like Terry’s; hoof it up there and let those black guys chase it, it’s what they do in Africa. None of them can get the ball past my grandmother. Lampard’s moment of genius is blasting his ‘free-kicks’ well off target- lulling the keeper to wait to take the goal kick- but while praying it finds someone to get a deflection off of. One needs to look at his face, and the keeper’s, when his ‘free-kicks’ go in. They’re both shocked! John obi Mikel can’t hit a shot on target if the entire stadium stand behind the goal - was the target. I can’t believe it took that long!

CFC’s best attacking player has been left back Ashley Cole for the last two seasons. Before that it was Jose Bosingwa, a right back. The last truly creative player at Stamford Bridge was Arjen Robben. The most imaginative pass played by the entire team, all of last season, was by David Luiz to Torres in a dour draw against Fulham. The less said about Torres’ first touch, to control that pass, the better.

Firstly, I think it says something about the English game when such a team wins a domestic Double. Unless, of course, one chooses the other explanation: Mourinho. He built his Chelsea team based on a miserly defence, solid central midfielders (mechanics), lightening fast wingers (Duff and Robben earlier), a strong and quick lone striker (Drogba); and vitally, Lampard’s goal scoring and his understanding with Drogba. All the team’s subsequent success has come with that particular template. The managerial appointments have all been cosmetic. Buying Torres was never going to help in a team built to Didier’s striking specifications. When backed into a corner, the team goes back to what made it tick. This explains why Hiddink is to-date, is the most successful manager of the post-Mourinho era. He recognized that Jose’s template worked, and let it be. And it worked for a time....

By the time of last season’s implosion, the wingers were no more (Malouda isn’t a winger, period); Drogba was still strong but had lost the legs. Lampard looked all of his 32 years...injuries and all. And JT was probably the only defender Drogba could outrun in the league. So now the mechanics were left to conjure up something. Why the fans are disappointed that Chelsea ended up second is beyond me. I believe they need a commendation for finishing ahead of the likes of Man City who are brimming with creative talent.

Imagination is what you lack

The crossroads has arrived. Does CFC buy a couple of wingers and continue with the Drogba template/dynasty; or do they get with the program and get a Sneijder? Knowing the Russian oligarch and his cabal of advisors, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next signing were a mechanic in the mould of Massimo Ambrossini! The Italians may have fallen out the footballing conversation, but they are right about one thing, successful teams need a fantasista. Roman, go get yourself a fantasista before a ‘Top Four’ finish becomes the annual season agenda. It’s beginning to look like the fourth spot in the league is a rotational position. Slipping behind Arsenal is precarious territory.

Watch this space for in-depth analysis of fantasistas and soccer prima donnas



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I think Liverpool is one of those teams that has made top 4 finish its priority, since Istanbul 05-06, and i must admit i am shamed to say "In true Scouser spirit i think (not believe) at top 4 finish is possible next season!!"

  3. you need to start getting money from this stuff, we have many newspapers, radios and of late TVs