Álvaro Morata scored on his Premier League debut for Chelsea. He scored on his Champions League debut for Chelsea as well. He scored with his head and with his feet. He scored early and late, and he even assisted a couple. Through the end of September, he had 7 goals and 2 assists in 8 games. And it was good. He was clearly not Diego Costa, neither in style nor demeanor, but the goals were flowing and it was just the beginning.
As it turned out, it would only get progressively worse from there. Hamstring injury struck in early October, perhaps a consequence of short preseason and too much work. He missed one game, but it may be worthy to note that the national team doctors diagnosed a much more severe strain than the club doctors.
Morata did score 5 more goals through December, but then calendar turned over to 2018. He has a grand total of 4 since, including Saturday’s. A mysterious back injury, the loss of a close friend, a change in family circumstance — factors that all have played a part in what can at best be described as a “mixed” first season. Also, playing a part was of course the Premier League itself and the requirements of the position from Antonio Conte, neither of which seemed to suit Chelsea’s then-record signing.
Sarri-ball seems to be much more his thing, at least in theory.
“For me the most important things is the way we play. Last season it was direct balls and for me to protect the ball in the air and I think it’s not my best quality.
“Now I can attack the space, I can play one touch and go in the area for the crosses. I think it’s better for me and we play better. We need to improve little things, but I think in this way we are very dangerous and can play against any team in the world.”
We’ve talked many times about the plight of a publicly introspective footballer like Morata, who allows more complex feelings and thoughts to bubble onto his public façade than just the usual rah-rah machismo and unbridled optimism and short/repressed memories of most players’ public personas. We don’t necessarily want our sporting heroes to be that complex.
But perhaps this season, Morata, now in his mid-20s, can also tell a simpler story, a story of redemption, a story of proving his critics wrong, a story of doing his best, and winning things. That’s a sport story that never goes out of style. It’s a story that plays to the crowd, and the crowd will love him for it.
Win the crowd and win your freedom, Gladiator.
“Yes, when the ball goes into the net everything changes. My mind is not blocked anymore and I hope now I can score lots of goals.
“It’s not been a good period for me over the last year. I missed a penalty in a friendly game and seemed like it was the final of the Champions League. But I always feel the support and love of Chelsea supporters and it’s very important for me to keep working and fighting. It’s very important for me to do my best and I keep working to improve and I think this year will be better.
“For me, it’s easy. I could have gone back to Spain or Italy, all the people believe in me there but I want to change all the things here. I want to, not for all the haters, but for me and for Chelsea. Chelsea gave me everything in one moment that I needed and now I have a lot of time to give back all that Chelsea give me and I can’t wait to win trophies and to play again.
“I am looking forward to buy a house and I can’t wait for the babies to grow up to put them into school. I am very happy and it’s just the beginning of the new season. Why would I not be happy? I want to change all the thinking from the people who say I’m not.
“It’s the only reason I stay here and Chelsea give me the chance to stay here, otherwise if Chelsea said you are not in our plans I move. But if Chelsea want you I think every player wants to stay in Chelsea.”
-Álvaro Morata; source: Mirror
So say we all.