Me again. After the WAGNH-pocalypse that happened in the fallout of my Ramires Case Study, I thought I'd atone for my evaluation by doing the other half of the argument. I feel a bit bad that I seem to have upset fellow supporters, and I want to clear up any misconceptions. Do I still think we can do better at CM? Yes. Do I still think that Rami's flaws will see him fall down the pecking order as our style evolves? Yes. But I LOVE the guy, I think he's a terrific addition to the club, and I want to settle the stomachs of those whose blood I had boiling with my last post.
In that last contribution, I pulled a bit of a Rafa. I focused on facts, empirical realities, and neglected the narrative, the sentiment. My intention was good, and I meant to open eyes to a few difficulties the Brazilian plainly has, but in doing so, I may have come off a bit overly critical. For that, I apologize. And since I believe words are cheap, here's my action: a full post looking at the good qualities of our number seven.
Chillin' like Bob Dylan. - via www.chelseafc.com
I'll just go ahead and use a video from YouTube, one that presents his play in a similar style to ChelseaRDM's compilation, only this time from our home match against Blackburn two seasons ago in January, shortly after he joined the club. The 2-0 win was a solid match for the young speedster who played as RCM in a 4-3-2-1, and I'll pick out some of the key aspects of his good play.
A) Surprise - Ramires pace allows him to affect play when an opponent doesn't expect it. They believe they have time on the ball, and then a moment later, they're set upon by a flash or blue and a flurry of feet. At 0:20, when Rambo has his first real action of the game, he's able to take a failed corner and turn it into another chance, almost putting the ball away himself. This was a product of Rami's quickness and desire combined.
B) Killing the counter - For me, Ramires is at his best doing what few other players in the squad seem to be able to do: flying back from behind the ball to break up an opponent's counter (like at 0:40). In fact, Luiz, Cole, Azpi, and Moses are the only other players I can recall successfully doing this more than once (though to be fair they are more rarely in a position to do so). Mikel is too slow, and has to keep play in front of him to be effective at stopping the counter. Because of his pace, it's possible (although dangerous) for Rami to join the attack and still have a chance of killing counter attacks. The Brazilian made this contribution several times in this particular game.
C) Opportunism - When an opponent makes a mistake, guess who often makes them rue it? Rambo's burst of speed can take his marker's heavy touch and turn it into a counter-attack in a blink of an eye. Don't believe me? Watch the moment at 1:15, but whatever you do, DON'T BLINK!
If even just one of you gets this reference, it'll be worth it. - via 1.bp.blogspot.com
D) Breakaway - Still have your eyes open? Good, because you'll need them that way do see what Ramires does in the next approximately 8 seconds (after 1:22). Can you guess what it is? That's right, be the definition of a box-to-box midfielder. Sometimes, he takes his job super literally, and boy are we glad he does. Ramires picks up the ball deep in his own half and wins a free kick in a dangerous position in less time than it takes me to tie my shoes in the morning.
E) Prudence - Rami may not have the natural sense of a poacher in the box, but his build-up movement tends to be very strong, which is vital for his position in a defensive midfield role. He makes himself available, providing an outlet for the player on the ball, and does a smart job of picking a simple pass (2:00) to let someone else take on the creative burden and drive play forward. He's better at this, rather than trying to play incisive balls or over the top lobs. He's also good at taking the ball out of the danger zone when we're under pressure, which can provide the defense with much needed relief. You can see this throughout the video.
F) Heart/Drive - I hate when people use this, because it's an insult to a lot of our players to talk about the passion just one of them plays with. Spirit is often a team thing, and can have a great deal to do with the manager and crowd support. I don't believe many players take the field with apathy. They get to where they are with incredible passion and dedication, and no top athlete hasn't had to make sacrifices along the way. That being said, Ramires does possess that fighting spirit, and he's enabled to heed it's call by his seemingly boundless energy. He reminds me of Wayne Rooney in that regard, being part of every bit of the game, defense and attack. Of course, this can also be his downfall, when like the red-headed red, he let's his emotion overtake his reason. But you have to love it when he does things like at 2:15.
G) Press tackling - Although not as vital as his counter-attack assistance, his winning of possession in the press is a quality he exhibits almost as skillfully. Since our last couple seasons have been dominated by a need to apply high pressure, I've noticed that few of our midfielders know how to apply it. My dearest Lampard, for example, has a tendency to press just enough to force a pass out of his opponent, rather than risking the foul by lunging in for the tackling. While responsible, this isn't really the point of pressing. Ramires does perhaps the best job of hounding his mark out of the ball (See 2:42 and 3:42) , which gives us the benefit of more possession.
Six on one hardly seems fair. - via images.sportinglife.com
H) Pass and Run - Around 3:25, we see Rami doing something we haven't seen in quite some time. This is unfortunately probably due to him often playing as the defensive player in the 4-2-3-1's pivot. He plays a pass out to a teammate and then makes a determined run into the box, changing the defense's shape and making space for others to work with. He isn't being used appropriately if he can't do this, and that's something we lose when we don't play the Mikel-Rami pivot or another formation. Perhaps remedying this will be a good use of his skills in the future. This is a tactic that Lampard and Oscar can execute as well, but Ramires might be the fastest among them (though perhaps not the best finisher).
J) Stamina - Although he can eventually fade out of matches when the team has 60+ of them a year, this particular case shows him in what is still a normal condition for most of the season. If there's one midfielder you can count on making it through the 90 minutes without losing energy (a different thing from focus, I'll grant you that), it's our stubborn Brazilian.
Here's the video:
I hope you enjoyed this post better than the last. It bears repeating that this was two years ago, and a lot has changed since then. Still, it may be possible to find a way to accommodate Rambo, and for those who desire that, let's all hope when we replace our Interim Boos with a new Manager, we find the best Moun for the job.
Now for Aston Villa and Lamp's new record! Up the Blues!