Monday, September 24, 2007

Essien Given Passing Lessons

File this under old news, as it's been reported everywhere.
But also, file this under strange news, because things like this should not be happening.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich gave Ghana's Michael Essien tactical instructions at the end of their 1-1 draw with Rosenborg last week, it has been revealed.

The Observer says employing striker Andriy Shevchenko as translator, the Chelsea owner instructed midfielder Essien, player of the year last season, to hit passes wide rather than through central areas where the Norwegians had compressed play.

Abramovich is expected to take an increasingly hands-on role in the team following the appointment of Avram Grant to replace Jose Mourinho and, according to several sources, will effectively select the side.

But Grant says he is in charge of the team and will pick his squad.

This is oh-so-bad for Essien, Drogba and the rest of the talented squad at Chelsea.

Love him or hate him, Mourinho was a technical genius. He also appreciated the African players, often noting their contributions to the squad.

Now, with Grant in charge (or is it Abramovich?), what will become of the team? How will they handle adversity during the season now that no one is there to deflect attention away from them when something goes array (see yesterday's match with Manchester United, for example)? What will they do with the African contingent that is leaving for the Cup of Nations come January?

A meddling owner is never a recipe for success. Grant would do well to shut the locker room door to the nosy owner. But will he have the nerve to do such a thing?

I believe Chelsea will rue the day they let a man of quality like Jose Mourinho go.

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