By Tony Attwood
Do take a look at the link to the Indy video at the end. Try not to laugh. At least not too much. You don’t want your boss to know you’re watching football rather than working.
In June 2014 Cesc Fabregas signed for Chelsea.
At £27 million, he was cheaper than Alexis Sánchez, Diego Costa, Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera. He cost Chelsea only £2 million more than Liverpool paid Southampton for Adam Lallana
Many of the people who love to see everything Arsenal does as a sign of their decline and a witness to the club’s pathetic inability to get even the simplest thing right were apoplectic. The only thing that could have worked them up more would have been if Arsenal had turned up at the wrong ground for a match.
Not everyone however was taken in by the hype. Some, it is true, were restrained. Lee Dixon tweeted at the time I loved Fabregas. I feel we had the best of him. We don’t need another midfielder like him. Good player but priority elsewhere. Move on.
Yet at first it might have seemed that Fabregas was making things happen for Chelsea. But by last weekend we had the headline in the Independent
That was in the game that Jose Mourinho said was Chelsea’s “best performance of the season”.
But there has been no escaping there has been some sort of decline in Fabregas’ play. A decline in his ability to pass for example which is also reflected in his decline as a goalscorer – from a highpoint of 15 in 27 games in 2009/10 at Arsenal to 11 in 32 as his best in three years at Barcelona, and down again to 3 in 34 last season for Chelsea.
The first thing that was spotted generally was his tendency to have an alarming second half of the season slump. Now the more knowledgeable supporters of football clubs know that lots of players can have a dip, but some fans are a little less unforgiving, and this was certainly the case with Chelsea fans who have watched the aaa and seen it as a blueprint rather than a dire warning.
By March last year, even in the midst of a Championship winning season, were really getting on Fabregas’ back. This happened particularly in a 1-1 draw against Southampton when those at the ground made it quite clear that this decline was not acceptable to them. They were the fans, they had paid, they knew, and they were going to tell him.
Even Jamie Carragher, a man not noted for noticing anything much, commented how Fabregas’s slump was then having an effect on the whole Chelsea team after the defeat to PSG. And that was true. Fabregas was no longer keeping his decline totally personal – he was spreading it around. (There is a perfect example of that in the video that concludes this little resume).
In March 2015 even the Telegraph – a regular supporter of Chelsea and its oil based ownership – were forced into making excuses, saying that “Cesc Fabregas has experienced late-season dips in …all competitions – that drop has been evident in a decline in his passing.”
But the problems began way before Chelsea.
When Barcelona wanted to explain why they were letting him go given that he body was packed with the club’s DNA, the club’s official website, the Catalan, noted that he seemed to have growing problems.
“There has been a downward trend in his stats every season at the club,” the statement read. “He slipped right back into the FCB system as if he’d never been away. But despite glowing starts to each campaign, Cesc’s contributions to the cause gradually decreased as each season drew to a close.”
But there was more, for the big worry for anyone who thought of employing Fabregas was that late season decline is getting earlier and earlier each season and it was affecting others.
This season as early as September Sky Sports ran the headline Cesc Fabregas struggling for form at Chelsea: What has gone wrong?
Then Gary Neville, a man who always knows a soap box when he sees one, claimed that Cesc wasn’t strong enough, even during his time at Arsenal. Carragher weighed in with “He lacks tactical intelligence, especially defensively. That’s one of the reasons why Barcelona let Chelsea take him.” Well yes, that is what their web site said. Well done that man, for reading the internet.
But even Guillem Balague, a man who knows more about football in his little finger than most of the rest of the pundits put together, said, “The demands of a Barca midfielder require a lot of discipline and a tactical approach. Guardiola tried to convince him [Cesc] for a long time what he had to do, but couldn’t.”
And yet what is Fabregas’ role at Chelsea? He plays the deep role. At first it didn’t work, and Chelsea conceded six goals in their first four games in 2014/15. But then they settled down, and Fabregas just tailed off towards the end.
Now that sort of year could be explained in two ways. One is that Fabregas could after all play more defensively and get it right, so 1-0 to Mourinho for seeing how to make it happen. Or it could have been that Fabregas put every ounce of his energy and know-how into making it work, but it was an effort that could never be maintained all season. Add that to his usual end of season dip and he faded away even more.
So the curious fact is that Fabregas got six assists from the first four games last season, more than any other player. It made everyone scared of Chelsea, and gave everyone at Chelsea time to believe and fit in. By the second half of the season as Fabregas started to fade, everyone else in the club was on such a high that they carried the momentum forwards. The refs were frightened of doing anything against the media’s favourites, (just look at Chelsea v Arsenal last season or indeed this) and so Fabregas fading talent was masked.
What has gone wrong now is that he can’t start the motor running again this season – the end of last season has morphed into the start of 2015/16. Commentators were quickly aware of how his pass completion rate was down and sliding right from the start and got on his back…
Cesc Fabregas struggling for form at Chelsea announced Sky Sports on 4 September.
Cesc Fabregas has become a liability for Chelsea said the Telegraph on 14 September.
Cesc Fabregas’ Chelsea decline highlighted with stats this season vs this point last season announced the Metro at the end of October (spelling it out in the headline just in case the readership didn’t have the stamina to read further.)
But just how bad has he got?
Well, now we know thanks to a video from the Independent. It really is extraordinary viewing. Can you imagine what the aaa would be saying if Arsenal really had spent even the bargain price that was highlighted at the start of the article?
Do take a look at the link to the Indy video. Try not to laugh. At least not too much. You don’t want your boss to know you’re watching football rather than working.
1 – 5 December 1886: Extrapolating from the dates of other events we can take it that between these two dates a meeting was held to form Dial Square FC ahead of their first game on 11 December against Eastern Wanderers.
- Are all muscular injuries, muscular injuries?
- This wouldn’t have happened with a better manager, like… Guardiola