There is no such thing as a good or bad player, only a right (or wrong) system.
At one point things got so bad that even Marcos Alonso’s father was asking him to leave. His result at Chelsea with his coach Frank Lampard was great and it was a total. Alonso was substituted at halftime during a game at West Bromwich Albion, but instead of dutifully filing in to support his teammates, he instead set off to wait on the team bus, seeing the injustice of it all. Had done it.
When Lampard found out, he was furious. At first, he reprimanded Alonso for his infidelity, in front of his teammates, a public embarrassment that often serves as a nuclear alternative to football, and then he excommunicated him from his team altogether. For four months, Alonso played not so much as a minute of football.
His father – Marcos Alonso – was also a professional, playing for Atlético Madrid and Barcelona. His grandfather – you can probably guess his name – spent eight years at Real Madrid. Both, Alonso’s father told him, “to tell the manager where to go,” and then would have demanded the club owner to allow him to go.
It was not the first time that Alonso’s Chelsea career seemed to be stalling. He thrived under Antonio Conte – the coach who signed him in 2016 for $32 million – for two seasons, and started well under his replacement Maurizio Sarri. But then, as the club’s form declined, by his own admission, so did Alonso. Sarri had asked for “something different” from him and he found it difficult to adapt. He found it difficult to regain his place in the team after an injury-ridden spell.
Alonso had persevered through this, and she decided to ignore her father’s advice and do the same after the collapse of her relationship with Lampard. It paid off: In January, Lampard was fired. Alonso was reinstated to the substitute bench for Thomas Tuchel’s first game as his successor. He returned to the field a few days later, scoring Chelsea’s second goal in a win against Burnley.
However, he has re-emerged as a regular presence at the start of the current season. His rival, Ben Chilwell, returned late from his summer stint with England for a left-back role in Tuchel’s team; It is only in the last week or so that he has been deemed fit enough for selection.
A year or so later it looked like his Chelsea career was over, with Alonso thriving in Chilwell’s absence. Arguably, he was Chelsea’s best player in their win against Tottenham last week. Earlier in the month, Tuchel’s side had neutralized Liverpool – despite playing the entire second half at a loss – at Anfield.
His skill set seems uniquely suited to the needs of Tuchel’s system. His height strengthens Chelsea’s back line in defence; Their diesel endurance allows them to cover vast tracts of turf for long periods of time; His attacking instincts make him a valuable offensive outlet; And his precise delivery makes him a key supply line for Romelu Lukaku.
Alonso is not an easy player to admire despite his full potential. In 2011, he was at the wheel of a car that collided with a wall in Madrid while traveling at more than twice the speed limit in wet conditions; A girl died. Alonso’s blood alcohol level exceeded the legal limit. Five years later, he was told that he would not be given a prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter, but fined $71,000 and banned from driving for three years, all of which had already been served. It was over
This week, he revealed that he had decided he would stop kneeling in protest of discrimination, preferring instead to point to the officially sanctioned “No Room for Racism” badge that adorns every Premier League jersey. Is.
It is her right, and Alonso has made it clear that she is “absolutely against racism” and has no desire to make a political statement. But even so, it’s not what you might call a great look: Deciding a white player to kneel is to “lose a bit of strength,” and to act unilaterally without consulting any of his black teammates, including Many have been victims of casteist exploitation.
Alonso’s case is worth considering, though, as a purely sporting phenomenon. He is a relative rarity in modern football, in that he is a highly tuned position specialist in an era when versatility – for the vast majority – is a professional requirement. It’s not that Alonso only plays in one position, but it seems that he only succeeds in one interpretation of a position.
He’s not particularly effective as a traditional left back—in the eyes of an outsider, he lacks the acceleration to recover—and he isn’t creative enough to play as a left winger. As a left wing-back, however, blending the two roles, with his rear cover and forward options, he is perfect.
Furthermore, he is a compelling example of a truth that bears repeating: whether he appears to be a key factor in Chelsea’s success or an additional part does not depend on his basic ability – which, within reason, we inevitably May assume to remain consistent – but on the identity and nature of their coach. He flourished under the leadership of Conte and Tuchel. Under Sarri and Lampard, he swayed. As always, there is no such thing as a good or bad player, there is only one in a right or wrong system.
But above all, he stands as testament to the work that Tuchel has done at Chelsea. It is staggering to think that it has only been eight months since Alonso was under the curtain under Lampard and Chelsea are at risk of missing out on qualifying for the Champions League.
Tuchel has turned the team around at a pace that really shouldn’t have been possible, a pace she might have thought was a little too ambitious. When he arrived, he spoke of closing the gap between Manchester City and Liverpool within a season. Instead, they did it almost immediately: Chelsea go into Saturday’s meeting with Pep Guardiola’s team as champions of Europe and City’s clear equal, if not better, then even in the Premier League.
What makes it all the more impressive is that Tuchel has done this without any major changes to his squad. Chelsea added Lukaku and Saul Siguez to their ranks this summer, but mostly Tuchel has only reimagined the instruments they’ve inherited, even the odd, enigmatic ones, like Alonso’s. .
His victory is not so much in fitting square pegs in round holes, but in changing the location of the holes so that the dodecahedron can work, as well as carrying all the raw materials he handled – all players who have Those who might have thought their time had run out of writing might have gone the other way – and turned them into a pure, smooth-running machine.
The standards of a player and a manager are not the same; Even more, they are widely protesting. A player can only thrive in a system best suited to his abilities. A manager’s toughest test, however, is finding that system regardless of the players.
If you build it, they will come. Sometimes.
The end of Manchester City’s goalless draw with Southampton last week was, as was always the case, just a little bit of joy. Just days earlier, Pep Guardiola was busy scolding the club’s fans for not making enough numbers in City’s Champions League game with RB Leipzig; This was not, as was ridiculed, the best way to persuade them to heed his call.
Sticking to the details of that curious little brawl wouldn’t amount to much – Guardiola complained that the stadium wasn’t full; A representative of City fans suggested that perhaps not everyone can afford a ticket to see soccer once a week; Guardiola said he didn’t complain so he didn’t have to apologise – but there’s a lesson at its heart that football as a whole will need to be addressed sooner.
It’s easy to understand why Guardiola is disappointed that the team he’s built – one of the best in City’s history, one of the best England has ever produced, a side that not only guarantees victories essentially every week, Rather does so with a style impossible not to admire – a game against a (recently established) European power cannot sell for.
And yet this is not the whole story. Guardiola was upset to tell the club’s fans that his team “needs” him, but this is not true. The city, more than anyone else, really doesn’t need external, emotional encouragement. It’s a smooth, slick, incredible machine regardless of its surroundings. This is not a criticism; This is a testament to both the club’s investment and its coaching. This is what makes the city so successful.
But the guarantee of victory, and the victory achieved through dominance, is not necessarily the thing that attracts fans. It lessens the urgency to participate: Why go and watch this win, when another victory is just around the corner? Why spend that money on a low-stakes game – a Champions League group-stage opener – against a team that isn’t particularly familiar when you can save it for one that means a lot?
It is not certain what attracts fans, which generates atmosphere. Instead, it is something that Guardiola has tried his best to remove from every aspect of the city’s existence: danger. It sounds like an obvious point, but it begs: a 3-2 win is far more memorable than a 5-0 win, especially if you’ve had a series of 5-0 wins over the past few weeks and months and years. .
Deep down, fans don’t do much in the form of drama and risk and doubt. This is what makes victory even sweeter. The idea of an endless series of processions is tempting, but only up to a certain point; After a while, it loses its edge. Fans like to feel the need, as if they’re making some difference to the end result, whether it’s true or not.
This doesn’t happen often in the city. This has always been true for all the elite teams – Chelsea and Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid and everyone else – and it is becoming more and more true as the wrongdoings in the sport are increasing more and more. Some clubs have always hoped for victory. Even worse, they now get it almost every week. On the surface, a goalless draw with Southampton may have been the last thing Guardiola wanted. In reality, it might just be what he needed: a little reminder to City fans, that nothing is completely guaranteed.
This time it looks like it really happened. Enrico Preziosi has come close to selling the famed Serie A team Genoa, which he has run like a medieval fiefdom since 2003, twice in the past few years. There was a memorandum of understanding with at least one US finance house. There was an alliance with a union with ties with Qatar.
It’s worth noting reports that he’s sold a majority stake in the club to 777 Partners, an investment firm based in Miami, with only a pinch of skepticism: Preziosi, after all, won’t be the first old-school Italian owner to sell up. Then change your mind. Both Silvio Berlusconi and Maurizio Zamperini, men cut from the same fabric as Preziosi, apparently managed to reappear after separating themselves from their teams.
Most Genoa fans will, of course, hope that this is the last sighting of the 73-year-old toy magnate. After all, he hasn’t been what you’d call a model owner. In what may, in a kind of light, be called their leadership, the club has recruited and fired managers. He has been found guilty of match-fixing. He has proved completely incapable of taking the club anywhere.
Although the record of Serie A’s other North American owners – now seven teams owned by either US or Canadian – is mixed, it won’t take long for the 777 Partners to upgrade: a little consistency, and some thinking only a touch more strategic “same man.” By repeatedly appointing…