Perhaps there is something of value to astrology. For my chart suggests I am an egomaniac, berserk Romeo with a monstrous intensity in the 12th house. My dreams are never something to simply shake off as the creation of the brain when the vital function is resting and recuperating, for I wake often reeling from the scurrying of the eyes wide close realm, with as much reaction to adventures had they happened with the curtains drawn. And last night, rather than find myself repeating the understandable yet hideous devotion to my estranged and now likely forever removed from my grasp pixie queen, I spent time with Paulo Dybala…
Of course I can relate the dreamscape adventures with my wakefulness, for I had watched, endured mainly, the haphazard outing in Moscow. Where we were outclassed in cohesion and hunger. Not sure if the latter can truly appear absent of the former? Yet as usual, I had asked my football loving comrade at work, a mentalist greek aussie Lady named Ellie, whose roaring at a game we attended together many moons ago, left my ears and the ears of her husband, cowering for protection. She is a passionate sort, and I turn to her when I am in need of deciding whether to invest my evening in watching the full replay. I ask her various questions to try to avoid a win/loss/draw inkling, but to gauge whether I will be engaged, and my connection with the club nourished…She had told me to watch it.
I wish she had told me to skip to the highlights, for our performance was horrid. The side have been virtually indistinguishable from Max’s offering of last term, which was his worst. Mainly since the international break.
For we had shown before that break, plenty of signs of a new style, a new identity, a swifter than expected embrace of Sarri football; one touch fast paced attacking endeavour and many sublime passages of play. All of which has been absent for the last few games, and the only logical explanation is that the connection was broken and must be started again from zero.
Back to the dream...which whilst my logical reasoning suggests as the meandering of the brain which probably needs more rest than anything else of my essence, always makes sense to me when I gather the fragments as my eyes open to the daylight.
I was representing the juvefc site. And had an interview with Dybala, somewhere sunny. We were near a training pitch. Paulo was cheeky, playful, and I was impressed with his English. Which he laughed at, and asked if I spoke Argentinian, to which I replied ‘yes of course’, but meant I often speak with a Lady from your realm whose voice is wonderful music to my soul as I was thinking at the time of an Argentinian lady from work. Just hoped, uncomfortably, he would be fine to continue in English.
Dispensing with any formal questions, I had wanted to know him and the club from a personal perspective, not to be regurgitated for public consumption as an official club endorsed statement, something real
‘So, Daniele…what do you think is my best position?’
‘Well, I had wanted to ask you the same, compadre…and I am unsure, for you were splendid playing off Higuain in the recent past, and it seems Sarri is leaning towards using you as a roaming hybrid striker who sometimes operates on the right wing, the central channel and wherever Ronaldo is not roaming, and I am unsure if this is for the best, as to have two roaming, let alone three as it seems when Bernardeschi plays, is too much roaming, with no focal point in attack to play off..not enough presence in the box.’
laughing, Dybala replied…
‘Cristiano eh?? We manage him as much as the boss…’
‘what do you mean??’
‘well, we are set up to play for not with Ronaldo…if you know what I mean..and many of us understand this is time sensitive, and are waiting till he moves on with the circus he brings’
‘What are you saying??? I think the same, and you are confirming my worst assumptions’
‘Cristiano is good for the club, he is great for business….he is also the reason why Paratici was offering me around for sale, I understood, took it to heart a little, but I understood, as did others who were offered around…Its business. And it hasn’t ruined the family feeling, just made it feel different. A bit awkward at times. Its great we have him, and the boss is not going to ruin his own chances at staying in the best job he has ever had by failing to tow the line. Up to a point…Its just that…we play for him. Rather than for the club and each other, not always, but more often than not. You get me?’
‘Yes…I have watched us always since and before he joined, and I often describe the club now as Ronaldo FC’
Chuckling like a child…
‘Ronaldo FC!!!…yeh, something like that, but I believe in the boss. We might have to wait till the galactico leaves to show what we are capable of but I reckon a battle of wills will win out in his favour maybe before, which will lead to Cristiano departing…we cant have a player set in concrete in the system and team sheet…it won’t work long term. We earn enough money to deal with it, we are professionals, but we want to win, and we want to win in black and white…’.
‘Did you consider leaving in the Summer?’
Again, that cheeky smile…
‘There are ways, Daniele, with the right representation to make moves to appear as if you are putting club before your own career, your own desires, but with cunning, you are standing your ground, not out of selfishness, more out of a deep love for a club and your part within it which you know remains valuable…It’s a game I don’t like, but I had my family around me in black and white…whilst the men wearing suits, not shorts or tracksuits, went about their work…No, I didn’t consider leaving.’
‘Welcome news to the part of my heart still somehow, – after all this horror I have chased, mainly in woman form of course – naive and innocent…and I imagine your answer could be applied, loosely, to how Sarri is playing a similar game?’
A wink and sparkle in those famous blue eyes…
Back to reality.
Both in my dreams and wake, I feel we have a problem in Ronaldo. Who remains – I have no doubt – a potentially world-class match winner. Yet his form this season has been average to poor. He misses more chances than he converts. He is far from lethal, and closer to profligate. And this is in a system which is set up to provide him with goalscoring opportunities, which it does.
His mentality is questionable, and it’s difficult to shake the sensation that his mega ego (the same mega ego which has been hugely responsible for his glorious success) is dominating not just his own performances on the field but impacting the rest of the squad.
For all his legendary achievements, no player should be above the club. And whilst its probably happened before, many times, I cannot recall a player leaving the stadium early, before the end after being substituted. Which would possibly be tempered by his value to the club on the field proving exciting and potent. This is not the case. He should have come out and said he made a mistake, apologised to the club and the fans. Yet such an admission is below him.
Sarri seems far too wily an old weasel fox to not see the issue. His beautiful philosophy of football forced to change to accommodate one player. A system devised with every player doing their job, all working for the team, as any great system should seek to achieve.
When we have Pjanic – one of the finest free kick specialists in Europe – demoted from such duties to accommodate Ronaldo’s desire to take them and seek the glory, we are moving clearly away from attempting to get the best out of the squad. For Ronaldo’s conversion rate is appalling in comparison to Pjanic. I suppose an argument can be made that Ronaldo is happier when allowed to take the free kicks, and a happier Ronaldo may be a more prolific Ronaldo. Yet this is a stretch and still leads to the same conclusion. Namely, that we have moved too much to become Ronaldo FC.
I trust Sarri. I believe he is doing everything he can to appear to be maintaining the ‘yes, Cristiano is special, he is not a normal player’ whilst gradually moving to treat him a little more like any other player. Protecting himself and the team. I hope so.
Maybe he is not fully fit. I would say its more in his mind than body, which Sarri knows already as he is also well aware that he will lose the battle with any failure to follow management orders to treat our most lucrative asset off the field…differently.
I will be happier when he has gone. Though cannot see him leaving next Summer. He won’t go to China or the US, and no elite club in Europe, of those who could afford his wages alone, will want him. So that leaves us stuck, with an ageing superstar past his prime determined to stay in the limelight as long as possible, with a club hierarchy determined to keep him there as long as possible to squeeze out every single possible penny and pound from what has been the most gargantuan marketing ploy of recent history for the club.