I am not sure how this is going to be recieved. And yet the frustration building up inside me for the past few weeks vis-a-vis the Pharaoh's continuing struggles to score a goal, needs to be crystallised into a proper post and not a bunch of long winded comments on different threads.
Let me start of by first listing all he has done for us this year. From his goalline clearances as a quasi 5th defender in the home Juve game and countless others, to his blistering goals against Napoli and Udinese, that 20yr old took the Serie A by storm after the first few games. IF the first month of the campaign was characterised by the Pazzini show against Bologna, the next 6 months were what i would like to call , 'The Reign of the Pharaoh'. From that pulverising missile of a goal against Udinese that started it all to the stinging double blow against Napoli and the singularly ballistic performances in the UCL against Zenit and Anderlecht, the guy was turning into a goal machine. By the time we met Juve, it was expected of him to score all the time. I remember the Curva Sud chanting this against Juve ' Siam Venuti Fin Qua, Per Segna Vedare El Sha'. Hadnt heard that since Kaka left the team.
What sold me on the guy wasnt his goals this year or his superhuman, almost unique ability to play like a born defender when out of posession, any suprise then that Galliani said as much after a game against Genoa i think.
No ...what sold me was that supreme show of confidence, that divine bit of skill against Lazio in the Coppa, that flick off the heel to release Seedorf to score. Even Ibra stood up and gave him an ovation worthy of a true wizard. I thought i saw the spark of what was to become a real star the coming year .
Not to mention his dogged , singular determination to drag the team out of the mess at the start of the campaign, and lets be blunt,. we were in deep, deep shit, like flirting with relegation deep shit. It took a player playing his first proper season with Milan, discounting his stop-n-start last year, to will our way out of the woods. Allegri responded by tailoring the formation to fully exploit the napalm that was El Shar in November, A 4-3-3 would morph into a 4-2-3-1 or a 3-4-3 and even those changes in tactics did nothign but elevate his game to a level where he would race to the 15 goal limit set by Ambrosini and make Capitano pay for his vacation. Boy was i psyched.
Then came the peaks and troughs. or every Torino and Catania that he roasted , there was a Malaga that resisted his charms. His form just like his stamina was starting to hit a plateau .And then come New Year , the arrival of his buddy Balo, all the drama, the Milanman fed vitriol against Balalal and the bagging doubts about whether they would flourish together,
Doubts that have solidifed in recent weeks. Balo crossed 5 goals long ago and Els has hit a goal drought that honestly irritates me. But what riles me more is the reasons that contributed to this situation.
Now Allegri faces the unenviable task of deciding whether to pick him or drop him, something that would have been blasphemous around Halloween is now reality. Dropped against Napoli when most of us thought he would return and terrorize the Vesuviani like way back when.
I have my own theories about this situation. Let me list the factors in think are critical to this matter.
1) Balotelli's arrival and the slight change in formation to focus more on the CF as the focus of our offense instead of the free roaming, bulldozing nature of Els early season outings.
2) The apparent lack of understanding and link up between Els and Balo compounded by what i notice is apathy on the part of Balo to try and link up more with El Shar on counter attacks or building up play.
3) The piss poor nature of our wide midfielders when it come to supporting our wide forwards. (Im lookign at you Noce, Flamini, Muntari(for the first few game after his return from injury))
4) The stoic refusal by anyone besides Monty to try and play the ball quickly to Els before he gets shunted out by two sometimes 3 markers.
No while these may seem to abdicate responsibility on the part of Els, i think otherwise. Els' defensive output has not sagged during his goal drought. He still defends well, a slight drop in energy levels at the fag end of the campaign is understandable. What's unfathomable however is that there have been countless instances in recent games where a simple give and go with Els would have resulted in a goal at crucial times, and instead of doing the obvious our midfielders either punt the ball to Balo or shoot it at the roof hoping to perhaps kill some pigeons.
IF i was a conspiracy nut, i would call it a concerted attempt to marginalise Els, but i think not. He still finds space and makes his runs. Its lack of simple short passes and intelligent support from midfield necessary for him to really shine that is central to his current predicament.
I am afraid it wont end till Allegri is able to field a squad that plays atleast 75% of the game together and is consistently playing at a high level. His early season miracles, were as much a byproduct of his ability, will as the team's trust in him. Somewhere along the way the team found a new toy to play with(Balo) and forgot what made them look so good. I hope sanity prevails and our offense is channelised through Els more once again.
I wanted to write this post in terms of the tactical changes and changes in the way Els has played this year over the course of the season, but somehow an attempt at generating a coherent tactically oriented piece turned into a post full of regret on what has transpired over the last few weeks. Perhaps the comments on the post may allow me to substantiate my points better. Cheers.