There’s a beautiful phrase in Brazilian football that was applied to the national side a few years ago. “They have too many Piano carriers and not enough Piano players.” When I first heard it I instantly integrated it into my vocabulary because I liked it so much.
So as I watched Chelsea take on Manchester United this week, that phrase began running through my head. Of the big four, Chelsea managed to secure a fantastic prospect in Fabricio Coloccini lookalike David Luiz. Calm, composed and tough tackling, he is the ideal replacement for the Ricardo Carvalho.
Their other foray into the market saw them break English records for money spent on one player. Unfortunately for Chelsea and that man Fernando Torres, he is still to score for the club and it’s beginning to affect his confidence.
Now the problem is, if you watch Torres at Liverpool, a lot of his goals were based around through balls and chances created. He is not the complete forward like teammate Didier Drogba who can create his own chances, he requires that ‘piano player’ behind him. That’s why I found it perplexing that with Yossi Benayoun still injured Chelsea made no efforts to secure a creative midfielder.
After all when was the last time Frank Lampard or Ramires slid a through ball in for Anelka or Drogba. Even the aforementioned Anelka has looked to drop deep and fashion chances, but he isn’t able to do so. The commodity of creating chances seems underrated in the modern game. It may be because I played midfield as a youngster, but for me a good through-ball is just as important if not more so than a goal.
You just need look at midweek’s opponents Manchester United to see why a playmaker is so important. Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, even Wayne Rooney, have the capacity to create for their teammates.
It would seem that some managers are beginning to realise the importance of this position. With all the speculation regarding Charlie Adam, the likes of Sky Sports cited the Scotsman’s brilliant array of passing as his best attribute.
In the wider context of the game if we look at the ‘best’ team in the world right now, Barcelona, you have a team full of those piano players. When you have so many players able to create a goal, it makes the task even harder. If you were to play Blackpool you would look to nullify Charlie Adam but with Barcelona there are essentially 10 Charlie Adam’s.
The question I would imagine on most Chelsea fans minds is where next? After spending close to £80 million in January, will Abramovich sanction another big money deal? After all they aren’t blessed with many sellable assets with which to offset the price. The likes of Drogba, Anelka, Lampard and Terry are all older than they once were.
If they had been more proactive in the summer and secured Mezut Ozil, who knows how the season could of panned out. Of course, I speak with the blessing of hindsight which allows for perfect clarity.
I’d be interested to see the suggestions of readers on who Chelsea should sign to fill that void. Who knows? Your suggestions and predictions may even come to fruition.
What is for certain though is that without a player holding the key ability to unlock defences, Chelsea will always struggle when playing against top opposition who don’t make the mistakes teams lower down do. This past Wednesday typified that.