Wenger Gets His Midget
1. “The Ewing Rule”
Chief proponent – @thesquidboylike
Patrick Ewing, a contemporary of Michael Jordan, a rival star and the mega-ego of the New York Knicks, after a protracted saga of will he/won’t he, finally leaves the club. Doom is prophesied by all. But low and behold, the team starts to play better, not worse. The other players step out of his shaddow, step up and start to play for each other. This phenomenon is quite separate from the often added bonus of having a major selling fee that the club can re-invest in new talent eg the 80m for Ronaldo to Real Madrid, (even if it only got reinvested in the Glazers debt payments.)
2. “The Reverse Ewing – Inferiore”
Just like Michael Jordan’s early years, a star player joins the team, and instead of the team getting better, it gets worse. The team plays less to the team’s strengths and more to the the demands of the star. Real Madrid took a long time to learn to play to its potential with Ronaldo, given the talent in the squad. Trying to accommodate Torres at Chelsea and Andy Carroll at Liverpool made both teams worse, not better. RvP’s return to Arsenal after injury killed off Chamakh. Gervinho in particular under-contributed last season and Walcott became an assists machine rather than a goal-scorer. Alex Song’s defensive duties suffered as his primary thought became “I have the ball, so where is Robin?”
Did Robin make the team worse? No, of course not. But we did pay a price in individual players’ contributions and development. As @goonerdave66 pointed out in his excellent blog : The FACTS suggest that statistically selling RVP now was the right decision anyway! it’s hard to win anything when you only have 1 player who scores more than 10 goals in the PL, even if he scores 30+. In fact, both Real Madrid and Barcelona have 3 or more players who score 10+ goals in La Liga despite humongous totals by Messi and Ronaldo. And now throw in what RvP’s injury record has done, not to the team, but to multiple seasons’ assaults on a title bid, and it is clear that the risk in having 1 player through which all goals flow is very high.
3. “The Reverse Ewing – Superiore” or “The Cazorla Rule”
Bringing in a star player who can make everyone around him better. Certain positions lend themselves to this. Eg the quarterback who gets the passing game firing for his new team and thereby turns receivers into weapons. With the passing game now a threat, the running option now has more of a surprise factor, and suddenly the running back starts to look like a world beater as gaps open for him that were never there before. Which helps the passing game. Everyone on the team starts to look a better player as part of a virtuous circle.
Or the point-guard in basketball.
Or in football, a midfielder. When you play a 4-3-3 of some variety you need a playmaker who can speed up the attack and create movement with vision and precision. Speed, movement and vision. Having quickness and dribbling skills and a great shot on him helps all the other passing options as his opponents back off him a little, not wanting to get egg on their faces. If the player in question for the Cazorla Rule is in fact Cazorla, so much the better. He often starts wide and cuts infield on an angled run to open up all the lanes. He plays quick and deadly triangles or swings the ball across field while continuing his run forward. He draws 2 or more defenders making space for Theo or Poldi. He makes their defense nervous and they stand off. Santi may not be fast but he is quick.
He will kick in the door of that parked bus Stoke brought, hotwire the ignition, spin a 360 before ploughing it into the stands of an ecstatic crowd of 60,000 cheering Arsenal supporters. For the first time since we talked of replacing Cesc, we may just have managed it. And when I say we, I mean Ivan and Arsene. This was the man Wenger tried for last summer to replace Cesc before looking at Mata. But he got pimped by a Sheikh, again.
Wenger Gets His Man!
Santi is not like-for-like with Cesc but the boy has an eye for a pass and a choice of feet to kick it with. He made Villareal a much better team. And then he made Malaga a much better team. He didn’t do it alone. But then he won’t have to do it alone at Arsenal, either. Finally, Wenger gets his man!
Circus Midgets Break For Freedom
But Santi is his own man. He’s not quite a Cesc or a Silva or a Mata. And yet he rivals Iniesta and Xavi for the accolades from La Liga. But he did fall off the back of the same Carnival truck which was transporting all those Spanish midgets to their next Circus performance. With their new found freedom the Carnival midgets en masse chose to redeploy their Circus trickery into careers spent in the heart of Iberian midfields. Their Leger-de-main, deceptions and eye-fooling foot-juggling now entertain crowds of 10s of thousands and millions where once they entertained hundreds of simple townsfolk. Or should that have been Leger-de-pied. Ahah, ahah, ahahahah (a joke for all my legions of magician followers.) Think what might not have been but for a freak circus transportation accident and their escape from midget servitude.
And we have Santi for his best years. Wenger has said in the past that a striker can play till he’s 30, a midfielder till he’s 32, and a defender till he’s 34. At least that’s how I remember the quote. We could have Cazorla for the best 5 years of his career and maybe 1 or 2 more if he stays off the pies and ale.
Beyond speeding up the attack, creating movement and playing telling passes, Cazorla can maintain possession under pressure which is so vital if you’re going to play a high line at the back. And he knows how to press the opposition to win the ball back when we turn it over. Our defense will like him.
Q: Xavi, Iniesta or Cazorla? A: Cazorla.
So, who was the best player in La Liga this year who isn’t called Messi or Ronaldo?? Well according to a number of reputed Spanish footie columnists (hopefully they are more reputed than the English reputed footie columnists) it was none other than Santi’s Coming to Town Cazorla. He was 3rd or 4th in a number of lists and made numerous La Liga Team’s of the Season ahead of Iniesta, Fabregas & co.
Ok. As @thedanielcowan pointed out to me, The Bleacher report is not exactly the Oracle of Delphi on footballing matters, but it does reflect the opinions of more noted journalists, while presenting it neatly.
Last year’s La Liga Signing of the Year becomes this Year’s Premier League Signing of the Year:
Santi Cazorla, Malaga (via Zonal Marking)
“Possibly the signing of the season, despite the significant transfer fee. Cazorla swapped Villarreal for Malaga – and as Villarreal went from 4th to 18th, Malaga went from 11th to 4th. He’s not the only reason, of course, as Malaga have shelled out other star names, but his consistency over the course of the season has been highly commendable. He’s not particularly fast and doesn’t score many goals from open play, but his positioning and movement marks him out as one of the most intelligent players around – he’s selfless and precise with his passing, and also one of the best free-kick takers in Europe.”
Cazorla’s Stats speak for themselves
Cazorla’s stats are impressive. But perhaps more impressive is the number of games he plays and the versatility of positions. What is more impressive still is the high regard he is held in by those who watch La Liga, week in, week out. He is frequently described as some variation of “the best midfielder in La Liga who is not called Xavi or Iniesta.”
via ESPN Soccernet