Whisper it quietly but Fabian Schar has been the key player in this 135 minute improvement
It cannot be a coincidence that our improved display over the last game and a half ( I refuse to take Villa into account, despite what our esteemed ‘manager’ said) has seen Fabian Schar playing more like we know he can.
Granted, everyone played well against Everton, quite possibly linked to Graeme Jones acting like he’d come up with a game plan and was directing it from the touchline like any decent manager (e.g, Rafa, Klopp, Ferguson etc), as opposed to just standing there looking useless (e.g, various Steves, Sven etc).
However, one of the great sights in football is a ball playing centre back or sweeper striding forward to instigate attacks and Fabian Schar has started to do that again recently.
He clearly got fed up of the awfulness of Bruce’s tactics against Leeds and thought he’d better sort it out himself. A few runs up the pitch later, we’d equalised and actually looked vaguely decent. Schar did well again yesterday at Everton and so did the team. Can’t just be a coincidence!
Being 50, I’m clearly far too old, but not old enough to have seen Beckenbauer or Bobby Moore live. However, the old clips show them calmly striding forward and setting up attacks and goals – e.g, Geoff Hurst’s third in the World Cup final, when normal players would just hoof it. As Jack Charlton always said, he was yelling at Moore to do so!
Before anyone starts questioning my sanity, I haven’t lost my mind and started comparing Schar to Beckenbauer or Moore. However, he does remind me of two players for us that I have seen live.
The great Philippe Albert was a superb ball player at the back. I was sat in the main stand at Maine Road in ’96 surrounded by City fans as Albert scored by starting an attack, then ran the length of the pitch to receive a return pass on the volley and float a superb chip into the net. Absolute class! Then he scored in the last minute to draw the game. It was possibly the most exciting game I’d been to, though we needed to win it really and it probably contributed to losing the 12 point lead but it was a fantastic game.
Years later, I was in Bruges and some random drunk Belgian started chatting to me in an Irish bar. There were various football shirts around the wall and in classic ‘Bobby Charlton!’ style, I pointed at our shirt and said ‘Newcastle United’ and he said ‘Philippe Albert!’ My rugby mad, Scarlets supporting Welsh other half was wetting herself laughing. The international language of drunken football conversation.. .
Fabian Schar also reminds me of the first ball playing defender I’d seen. Glenn Roeder! The ‘Roeder shuffle’ was a part of the QPR cup final run in 1982. We tried to do it on the field and all ended up in a heap with vaguely dislocated kneecaps.
I was pretty amazed that he left the Cup Final runners up to join us but that’s the lure of The Messiah. Roeder was a good platform for the Holy Trinity of Waddle, Beardsley and Keegan to attack from in our superb promotion team of 83/84. He played a good six years for us and was an elegant and exciting player. Which was in contrast to how he sounded when interviewed because he always seemed slightly uptight and stiff lipped. Though, to be fair, he probably had PTSD by that point as he’d been sent to Italy as Gazza’s ‘minder’ when he was at Lazio. Dear oh dear…
So, hopefully, Fabian Schar can continue this good form and we can start to look like a vaguely competent team again.
No thanks to Ashley or Bruce though.
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