Who remembers a left back at Chelsea called Celestine Babayaro? A tough tackling committed Nigerian International who was good at the back, but even more affective going forward. Now who else has been watching our young new recruit Baba Rahman and seeing a few resemblances, other that his looks which may I add is rather uncanny?
Now the debate on Jose Mourinho’s insistence of playing a right back at left back and a hugely under performing centre back at right back has been a pinpoint for fans discussions this season.
The main three reasons behind this decision is firstly the Manager has an incredibly loyal trust in Branislav Ivanovic, he will always be the first name on a Mourinho team sheet. But my argument here and has always been the same, first and foremost he is a natural centre back, so immediately looks uncomfortable out wide on the right. The player himself has always stated that his preferred role is at centre back.
Now you cannot fault his commitment and passion to the team over recent years as well as his dominance in the air and important goals for the club. We owe a lot to Brana, but unfortunately he has been the worst sufferer of bad form this season and has become a complete liability at the back, so much so that we cannot keep starting him. Even though I fear that Mourinho will when he returns from injury.
The second reason for Mourinho’s choices is the sheer versatility, passion, dedication and the ability to adapt of Cesar Azpilicueta. Put this guy anywhere on the pitch and he is going to do a good job. However, put him in his comfortable right back position and he goes from doing a good job to becoming an essential cog in the teams machine and a vital important player.
Most recently in Europe in the week I saw a different Azpilicueta, getting up and down the right hand flank like a vintage full back, putting in inch perfect crosses for the attackers, which were not capitalised on by Diego Costa due to the pure surprise that crosses were actually coming in! But this is what we need from our full backs, to be excellent in defence and effective on the attack. This increases swift counter attacks and gives us another option going forward, a plan B as such. We don’t have this when Brana is at right back and Azpi is at left back – they merely just do a job and we miss out on so many further options.
The final reason for Mourinho to keep playing this way is that apparently it was not his choice to sign Rahman anyway so in a typical Mourinho style, he has no faith in the youngster and will struggle to show that faith.
But albeit a couple of edgy and nervous first few performances from the young lad at left back, he has recently began to show signs of being an excellent player as he grows in confidence, stature and is getting more comfortable by the game. His last match in midweek I thought he was one of our best players. He was hard to beat, contained their so called danger man Yarmolenko, put in some great tackles, was good on the ball, excellent in attack and even provided the long range pass for Willian to cross in for our first goal.
There is no doubt that this kid is going to be a similar asset to Azpilicueta is, provided he gets his chances to play. I have been saying it all season but it is time for Mourinho to show the faith in the youth and he will reap the rewards.
I will sum it up like this – we need to be more dynamic as a team and when you have players obviously playing out of position, you lose those dynamics and miss out on opportunities and the element of surprise. Right now we are totally wasting and not utilising the full back positions and it is all because of fear.
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Simon Phillips – News Editor – CFCnet