He may not be the biggest, most recognizable name in the Chelsea squad, but ever since his arrival in the summer of 2016, Marcos Alonso has been one of the most important players at the club. As the tireless left wing-back of Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 or 3-5-2, Alonso plays a crucial in the successes and failures of the squad.
This season did not turn out as well as last, at least collectively, but on an individual level, the 27-year-old has had perhaps the best season of his career, culminating in a long-overdue Spain call-up and a spot on the PFA’s Team of the Year.
Earlier this week, he gave an interview to Diario AS, wherein he reflected on the 12 months just gone, and looked ahead to the 12 coming up next.
“Individually [the season] is not bad, it got better compared to last season. I found myself playing well. Collectively the team have been a bit inconsistent, after we were champions last year it is tough to face the fact that we failed to get in the Champions League.”
“I do not know [why Chelsea missed out on the Champions League], to be honest. We played lots of very good matches at the same level of last year, at times even better, like when we took Atlético Madrid at Wanda Metropolitano [and won 2-1]. Also the two matches against Barça, we played well despite the results.
“Maybe we had, as the manager [Antonio Conte] said a while ago, to be more clinical, to have better aim in front of the goal. I have to think that next year we have to be better to compete for the Premier League once again.”
It is perhaps telling that unlike Alonso, who settled in almost straight away and never looked back, last summer’s signings did not immediately hit the ground running, and more importantly, were not able to maintain a consistent level of performance. They are mostly young however, younger than Alonso was when he joined, so they should improve, which bodes well for the future.
“[I have maintained my level] simply by working with desire. A winning team that do not keep the core [of players] from last term makes it all harder because the [new] players need some time to adapt.”
“[Manchester] City’s consistency is what hurt us at times, when we were looking to draw closer [to them] we faltered in the ensuing game. In truth, it is a year to give [City] their due credit and this is what affected us emotionally.”
“I think we did not start [the season] very well, and here [at Stamford Bridge], City and United took some points fro us, but after that we had a good streak. I believe it was the game against Bournemouth at home that hurt us the most: we had plenty of chances and in three counter-attacks we lost to them 3-0.”
“Since that game, I will not say we threw the towel because at the end we tried to compete until the end. But it was when the possibilities started to decrease.”
What’s done is done however. The FA Cup remains, which will see Alonso play his 46th game of the campaign. And After that, he would of course love to play another month at the World Cup, too (Spain will announce their squad on Monday).
“Given the league matches against United this season, they have less ball retention but clear ideas [with it] and bringing loads of danger in counters. With the quality, lethality and speed that they possess upfront it will be difficult if we are not concentrated.”
“Here they give a lot of importante to the cup, they are very proud that it is the oldest football tournament in the world and supporters, clubs and players alike give it a lot of value.”
“Yes [I would play for another month]. The truth is that physically I find myself quite well. And now, after a three-game suspension I had two weeks to train hard and with this coach there are no days of rest. So I believe this has helped me arrive well in these final days [of the season].”
As far as the future beyond the World Cup, Alonso says he’s settled and happy in London, though realizes that the manager who brought him here, may not be around for too much longer.
But, that is life at the top level of modern football.
“Nowadays it is difficult to see a manager lasting more than one or two years, patience with regards to that has been lost. But this is what it is. The player at the end of the day stays [at the club] and it is not possible to give him all time of the world, or for him not to stay focused.”
“This [motivation] does not have to depend on the manager. It has to come from each player, to be always ready to give 100% [on the pitch]”
“[Conte’s exit rumours] can affect us a bit but not as much to leave us in the position we are in. At the end the players are the ones who play and if we are not there [at the best positions] it is because other teams were better than us.”
-Marcos Alonso; Source: AS
The players will have a chance to show just how unaffected by it they all are in just a few hours. Alonso, as usual, will be key.