Will ‘forgotten man’ Victor Moses regain prominence at struggling Fenerbahce?
After becoming persona non grata for six months, Victor Moses has finally reached the end of the line at Chelsea, albeit until the season’s end.
A change of the manager at the helm always brings about a degree of alterations in tactics and personnel, and that was expected when Maurizio Sarri replaced the departing Antonio Conte in West London.
Roman Abramovich was ditching the Blues’ de facto defensive, counter-attacking blueprint that’d existed for years by jettisoning the firebrand Conte for the straight-talking Sarri, whose aesthetic football in a three-year stint with Napoli caught the eye.
A culling of the herd was expected at Stamford Bridge, with the new man in charge predicted to tweak the approach and playing personnel from what fans at the club had got used to over the last couple of years.
Moses was one of those whose direct style was clearly unsuited to the new head coach’s famed Sarri-ball, which was more possession-oriented than the Nigerian had been used to throughout his career.
It was no surprise seeing the wideman frozen out in the first-half of the campaign, in which he made a meager five appearances in all competitions.
An indictment of his appropriateness for Sarri’s way of football came in early November in the build-up to Chelsea hosting Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge wherein the Italian gave his honest opinion about the wideman being suited to a wing-back role rather than at right-back in a back four or as a right winger.
It was a somewhat odd statement, given the player had played as a winger for the larger part of his career at Palace, Wigan, in West London and at loan at Liverpool and West Ham United.
Barring another upheaval in the hot seat at the Bridge, it is likely Moses has played his final game in Chelsea blue.
While his time at the club didn’t end in a way he’d have liked, nonetheless, it should not taint the player’s fleeting period of success under Conte.
In that time, he proved he could be more than just a blue-collar mid-table winger, by playing a major role in securing the club a fifth Premier League title in 2016/17 as well as an eighth FA Cup win at the end of last season.
Admittedly, he was only centerpiece for two years, which won’t see him go down as a Stamford Bridge legend; however, his impact over the Conte-led revolution in England (which saw teams adopt more formations accommodating wing-backs) won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
Leaving the comfort of England for the uncertainty of Turkey for a temporary spell at Fenerbahce is as much of a risk as it is a fascinating challenge.
Traditionally one of the illustrious sides in the Super Lig, the Yellow Canaries have struggled badly in the top flight this season and find themselves languishing in 15th place in the table with only 17 points, having won just three league games this season.
Ersun Yanal’s side only avoid being in the dropzone by virtue of their slightly superior goal difference to Akhisarspor (-8 to -9) but know full well results must change… and fast.
The precarious situation last year’s runner-up finds itself in puts Moses in a pressure situation where he needs to settle right in and hit the ground running from the outset.
For someone without a club appearance since Chelsea’s win over BATE Borisov in October, Yanal is not only getting a player lacking a fair bit of physical fitness at the moment, but probably in mental sharpness.
Failure to hit the ground running in what is a short period could see the player questioned and fans may not be so patient to wait it out – and who can really blame them?
These fans have never seen their side suffer the ignominy of playing in the second division, but are facing uncharted waters if things don’t improve.
There’s also been lots of fan discontent regarding the average quality of the squad which they feel has been caused by mediocre foreign signings.
They already have reservations about Roberto Soldado, Islam Slimani, Andre Ayew and, to a lesser extent, Mathieu Valbuena following their failure to deliver consistent performances in their time at the club.
This is the situation the Nigerian is moving into, where things are on a knife-edge.
On the other hand, if Moses does thrive, have an amazing time in Istanbul and help Fener survive relegation by churning out awesome performances once he’s up and running, he could achieve cult-hero status.
The 19-time Turkish champions have been criticized for their recruitment, but Moses can help change the narrative.
Win can help Chelsea players find enthusiasm – Sarri
For the wideman, having never played outside the UK, there are doubts about his timing as well as the club he’s chosen.
He reportedly rejected a move to China to test himself at the illustrious Fener and join their fight to beat the drop.
Nothing is set in stone yet, and everyone is none the wiser about how this deal will pan out in unfavorable conditions, but Moses certainly has a fine opportunity to write another chapter in his illustrious career.