If you listen to most pundits and commentators they will tell you four Strikers are required when you are in 4 competitions; the League, FA Cup, the Capital One Cup and Champions League. However it’s noticeable Manuel Pellegrini spent his entire transfer budget of £107m on Kevin DeBruyne and Raheem Sterling – creative midfielders. Man City have so far persevered with 2 recognised strikers in Aguero and Bony.
Equally Wenger has persisted with Giroud and Walcott in Danny Welbeck’s injury absence, Wenger chose not to buy another striker towards the end of the transfer window either.
Creativity is king, and the managers in places no1 and no2 in the League have reinforced that theory with their purchases and squad balances. This can be contrasted with Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal who seem to have a mistrust of creative players. Mourinho benched their most creative player Eden Hazard vs Dynamo Moscow only bringing him on as sub with 20 minutes to go in the recent Champions League game. Equally LVG has benched his £25m buy Memphis Depay, he plays Juan Mata out of his favoured position and chose to loan out Adnan Januzaj to the Bundesliga. Van Gaal didn’t trust their £60m most expensive midfielder Angel Di Maria, who was jettisoned after one season.
Very early in his reign Jurgen Klopp has trusted Coutinho, Lallana, Firmino and Jordan Ibe, the creative nucleus of Liverpool. Klopp has a history of getting the best out of creative players, with Nuri Sahin and Shinji Kagawa excelling at Borussia Dortmund.
Even lower down the league managers trusting in creativity are thriving; at Leicester City Ranieri gives Albrighton and Mahrez license to roam and create; Koeman allows Tadic, Mane and Clasie license to create chances at Southampton; Spurs under Pochettino have improved with Lamela (2 goals 3 assists) and Eriksen (2 goals and 4 assists) making their biggest contributions to the Spurs cause to date. Watching Lamela and Eriksen you can intrinsically see the faith Pochettino has in those two to create the chances for Kane, Son and NJie. West Ham have given free license to create to Dimitri Payet, allowing him to score 5 and assist 4 goals. 7 goals 4 assists for Mahrez and 1 goal and 5 assists for Albrighton speaks volumes for the creativity of Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester.
There is no doubt the lack of trust in creativity is harming Man United and Chelsea. Chelsea’s highest scorer is Willian with 4, all from set pieces, astonishing in a squad with Diego Costa, Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy – 3 international strikers. Man United recently went 430 minutes in all games without scoring a goal. The creative players Depay, Herrera and Mata have been sidelined for a more workmanlike midfield.
Both Chelsea and Man United have become far too predictable and therefore a lot easier to defend against. It’s a shame for the neutral fan to watch such mediocrity from such stalwarts as Chelsea and Man United.
The Belgium national coach, Marc Wilmots recently voiced his concern that Eden Hazard will be “burnt out” by Chelsea and the defensive duties Mourinho requires from Eden Hazard. Fabregas has looked a shadow of himself this year, compared to 3 goals and 19 assists last season. Pedro an outstanding talent at Barcelona has had a negligible impact; one goal in seven appearances.
With either Chelsea, or Mourinho, rejecting Schurlle, DeBruyne, Salah and Cuadrado, all creative players, in the last 3 years, it is no surprise Paul Pogba of Juventus is thinking twice before accepting the Chelsea offer.