Journalists often canvas CFCnet’s opinions on various matters and when they phone we often ask questions back – one of the most interesting views we heard this week was about Sheva. The journalist in question, a broadsheet regular, let us into a few secrets about Andriy Shevchenko.

Before we disclose them, we need to rewind to December 2004 when Sheva picked up the European Footballer of the Year trophy. This was a golden period for the Ukranian International. Already a Milanese legend, and without question the most talented Serie A marksman since Marco Van Basten, Sheva scored 17 goals that season and only a fluke Jerzy Dudek ‘flap’ stopped Sheva winning the Champions League for Milan in Istanbul.

However, the following season, his last for Milan, Sheva’s form took a dive off a cliff. Turning 29 in September 2005, his final season was plagued by injuries and he only played 22 league games. Admittedly, he scored 19 times but that masks two key points.

Firstly, our journalist friend told us that during Sheva’s final season, the ‘Milan Labs’ (which are Milan’s player profiling science labs) flagged up that Sheva was a declining force with his runs per game/kilometres per game/tackling stats all well down on the previous seasons.

Secondly, during the 2005/2006 season, the most substituted player in the whole of Serie A was Andriy Shevchenko.

There is no question that in the summer of 2006 Chelsea bought a spent force. The fact that it was for £30 million is even worse. Our journalist contact informed us that Milan are ‘so rich that they never needed to sell Sheva, ever – they just offloaded him for a king’s ransom when it suited them’. And didn’t they do well? Milan knew that Sheva was on a downward slope.

A quick glance at Milan’s fans message boards shows that Sheva’s reputation is incomparable. Think Dixon, Zola, Osgood rolled into one. The problem is that they haven’t seen him play for eighteen months. Slow on the pitch, a mediocre tackler and with a shot that is as likely to miss as hit the target, Sheva must go down as probably the most single disappointing buy in Chelsea’s history. Think Robert Fleck and you’re not even close.

Even worse is the open fact that Mourinho didn’t want him and when Sheva’s form declined, Roman blamed Mourinho and that was the beginning of the end of Jose’s reign. The fact that Grant doesn’t play him, except for a late substitution, says it all.

We’ve given Sheva his chance. He can’t cut it. What to do? Well, there’s no point booing him. It works against the team, against Sheva himself and encourages opponents. It kills team spirit – look what happened when England fans booed Frank.

Sheva will always get a cheer from Gate 9, Matthew Harding Upper, but it will be a cheer based on his reputation; the fact that he is a genuinely intelligent and nice guy; and not least because he rarely complains to the media and tries his heart out.

He can’t be faulted for effort. But let’s hope someone comes in for him in January’s transfer window. It’s too painful to watch otherwise.

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