And so it starts.
The preverbal howls from the most pessimistic of Blues towards one player lets loose an unstoppable train of tirades, tantrums, and condemnation towards those they deem responsible for any failings on the pitch.
The likes of Willian, Gary Cahill, and Marcus Alonso have all had long stints on the train, with slight glimpses of escape only to be extinguished soon after and their journey was extended. The latest to arrive on this locomotive of disdain is Chelsea’s big summer signing, Jorginho.
The howls started shortly after Chelsea’s first defeat of the season in mid-November away to Spurs. Despite Maurizio Sarri overseeing the best start by any Chelsea manager in the role by games without defeat, it seemed some were just waiting to pull their triggers, lurking in the shadows. Jorginho’s first sign of weakness was jumped on by many corners.
“A limited player..” cried one big account on social media minutes after the final whistle, as the first cry of frustration had been let out, and soon many would follow.
As Chelsea’s form stuttered and Sarri’s honeymoon period came to its close, the hyperbole began.
Football fans are always eager to find someone to blame, in a lot of ways it is human nature, though with the current state of debate on social media it seems even more prevalent.
Despite Chelsea’s goals in attack beginning to dry up as the clear need for a potent striker over winter was craved, it seemed people had other places to put their fury, and that was at the feet of Chelsea’s Regista.
Ah yes, the “Regista” – Italian for “Movie Director”, the architect of play.
With a new manager in the door and a new freshly branded style of football after his name, Sarri wasted no time implementing his vision into his new club. Jorginho was the poster boy for Sarri’s new Chelsea and people soon made a connection that the whole system was predicated on the Italian midfielder’s arrival.
Add to that the fact that fan-favorite and world-class talent, N’Golo Kante was forced to shift forward in a midfield three left many scratching their heads. As soon as the results soured, the blame was only ever going to be directed at one player.
People wanted to backlash against Sarri’s biggest admirers online, a backlash against Sarri, inter-fan warfare online. “Sarriball” had been used a stick to beat people with, a comical term smugly tweeted out whenever Sarri’s team would falter on the pitch.
Although football is a team sport and all eleven players are equally as responsible for their clubs success on a Saturday, individual player performances are now scrutinized to a microscopic level. Even given Jorginho’s clear drop in form, some of the cries have been outlandish.
Some of my personal favourite anti-Jorginho quotes have been:
“He does nothing”
“What does he do?”
“He’s so slow”
“All he does is pass sideways”.
Now before those against my opinion get all mad, am I sitting here and saying Jorginho has been perfect? No. Do I have my own critiques? Yes. Though I do feel people are overlooking other areas for concern and trying to come up with the easiest explanation they can muster.
A great tweet popped up compiling a lot of Jorginho’s best play so far this season; highlighting that he is much more than just a pass merchant. Bear in mind a lot of these clips go up to November before Chelsea lost form and our goals dried up.
Watching Jorginho pick up the ball from deep currently and seeing barely any movement ahead of him is in stark contrast to what’s shown in these clips. Its almost as if just punting the ball long aimlessly, most likely losing possession is what some want. (Which I know is not true, and would cue many groans from the home crowd).
As the season has progressed Chelsea’s play from the back has improved, attracting a press to create space for a quick counter-attack. As was used effectively in the wins against Manchester City, Watford, and Newcastle. A big part of this comes from Jorginho’s direction, calm nature, and skill on the ball.
No assists is not a good look for a player presented as the creative hub of Chelsea’s play, though with the introduction of Gonzalo Higuaín, Chelsea fans may find themselves reevaluating their harsh judgments on the No.5 if goals start going in again.
Patience, is a virtue.