Oscar is a talent - but where will he fit in?
Published: 03.08.12 / Written by: David Gold
Chelsea´s signing of Oscar is an impressive coup.
One of the most promising of this talented generation of young Brazilians, he undoubtedly has the ability to be a key player for the Londoners in the coming seasons.
However, nothing is ever decided on paper, and though Oscar is clearly a huge signing, one wonders how Chelsea intend to fit him into their system. So far this summer Chelsea have busily recruited, having signed Marko Marin, Eden Hazard and the Belgian's brother Thorgan. This means that they have bought three creative midfielders who like to operate through the centre. And then there is Juan Mata, another creative midfielder who plays best centrally. And what of Frank Lampard? He is a player who bursts from deep, but may find the space increasingly congested in front of him.
It adds up to a confused strategy from Roman Abramovich. It is understandable that he wishes to pepper his squad with talented, creative and dynamic players who can make the team more attractive, and good on him for that conviction. But in signing the players he has without thought for tactics or how they may fit in, Chelsea are essentially embarking on a scattergun approach without considering the basic principles of football, and team building. Where are the fast full backs who will create space with overlapping runs? That is absolutely essential in a team where the wide midfielders cut inside, as Chelsea's would.
And then there is the other major problem. If Chelsea are to play this expansive game, how do they do so without compromising their solid defence? Last year was notable for how poor John Terry, David Luiz and then Gary Cahill were under Andre Villas Boas. Not to mention Jose Bosingwa and Ashley Cole. They all looked vulnerable and unable to cope playing a high defensive line. When Roberto di Matteo took over and they retreated the defensive line nearer the goal, where they are more comfortable, all of those players looked good again. Suddenly Ashley Cole looked like a world beater, as did David Luiz and Gary Cahill, whilst Terry's lack of pace no longer appeared a concern.
That is simply because Chelsea were playing a deep, defensive and narrow game. But if you want to play expansive football, and get the best out of Hazard, Mata, Marin and Oscar, you cannot play such a system. You need to press high up the pitch, harass the opposition all over the field and have fast defenders who can both get forward to create space for the more creative players to thrive, as well as get back to prevent counter attacks.
There is a complete lack of cohesive tactical thought behind Chelsea's recruitment this summer. Which is ironic given how tactically astute manager Roberto di Matteo has proven himself so far. But it appears he has little control over the club's purchases, seeing as they started before he was confirmed in the job. This lack of thought may cost Chelsea. There is no point buying a player like Oscar if you do not have a system in which he will thrive to the best of his ability.