Vilanova’s New Song

Two days ago I sat down to write a scathing comment about the purchase of Song from Arsenal. The general premise was that a summer ago we bought Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal’s best midfielder. This was a player who was going to fit perfectly in our midfield right off the bat, a player who was grown in our system, a player with Blaugrana imprinted on his DNA. Yet, by his own admission, he struggled to adapt to our midfield. One description that was bandied about was that he was too “anarchic.” His positioning was often poor, he looked confused on the pitch, and he lacked tactical awareness.

A year later and we’ve stopped by our favorite shopping area in London to pick up the newest model of their best midfielder. A player who by all accounts is a physical marvel that could have been sculpted by Da Vinci himself. On the other hand Song has been described as tactically poor and prone to mental lapses on the pitch. If Fabregas, a player who was custom made for Barcelona’s midfield, struggled to adapt then how confident can we be about Song adapting?

However, I realized I was judging Song based on his ability to fit into Guardiola’s system. There have been hints and rumors throughout the summer and preseason that Vilanova was going to institute a more direct approach. It is often said that you can tell a lot about a new manager’s style and philosophy by looking at the characteristics of their first signings. In signing Jordi Alba it was obvious that Vilanova had identified the left side of the pitch as an area where we needed a stronger attacking threat. He also added pace and directness to the team (his directness was highlighted perfectly in the Euro Championship final) – something we were lacking at times last season.

The signing of Song is an even greater indication that Vilanova wants the team to be more direct. As my brother, a long time Arsenal supporter, described it – “Song loves to hit Hollywood passes.” His completed through ball and assist statistics from last season confirm this – they are some of the highest in Europe. After watching us attack at pace in Vilanova’s first official match we may come to love those “Hollywood passes” instead of dreading a loss of possession.

The signing of Alba and Song eerily mirrors Guardiola’s most successful first season signings – Alves and Keita. Keita became one of Guardiola’s favorite players because he fit Guardiola’s philosophy perfectly – he pressed strongly, retained possession well, and kept it simple. Alex Song is no Seydou Keita, but he may turn out to be Vilanova’s equivalent.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Posts

Written by:

10 Comments

  1. Srini
    August 22, 2012

    If sMasche and Keite were Pep’s ninitas, Song & Alba are Vilanova’s Ninos.

  2. Dani_el
    August 22, 2012

    “The signing of Alba and Song eerily mirrors Guardiola’s most successful first season signings – Alves and Keita. Keita became one of Guardiola’s favorite players because he fit Guardiola’s philosophy perfectly – he pressed strongly, retained possession well, and kept it simple. Alex Song is no Seydou Keita, but he may turn out to be Vilanova’s equivalent.”

    Spot-on Calvin! Let us hope these signings come as handy as the ones in 08′.

  3. If Cesc Fabregas signing does look like a not so successful one, it’s because of the attitude of Barca fans and management. I was against signing Cesc from the beginning as I was convinced that he will not fit into the Barca system. I don’t know why have a feeling that the only group of fans who don’t appreciate the impact of Iniesta and Xavi in Barca midfield is Barca fans.

    Simply put Iniesta and Xavi cannot be replaced by any midfielder, not even Cesc. Thiago looks like a more logical option atleast as replacement of Iniesta and Iniesta moving to Xavi’s position. Cesc has no positioning issue as far as I know. The only issue he has that he is a more attack minded midfielder than Iniesta and Xavi. In Iniesta and Xavi we have not only two absolutely marvelous creative midfielder, but also two midfielder who is on top of their defensive duties. That is the reason why our defense looks very good when those two play in midfield. Cesc is not that kind of a player. He will not fit into the 4-3-3 system. He will more or less fit into another variation of the system – 4-3-1-2 system. He is a pure attacking midfielder for Christ’s sake.

    He may eventually may get perfectly fit into the system. But I have doubts about it. Because Cesc is a World Class players, and those kind of ones always stay true to their natural instincts. In our match against Sociedad, you could see what happens with Cesc in midfield. he plays too far up giving us a brilliant opportunity in attack but vulnerable to counter attacks because the left side of midfield is free.

    Appreciate what you have in Iniesta and Xavi, then you will understand why other midfielders struggle when cast in their roles. Don’t sign a Hleb again and ask him to replace Ronnie. This is the only reason why I argue to judge JDS after giving him a decent stint in the starting eleven in the deep lying midfielder role. From whatever I have seen of other midfielder kid – Roberto, Espinosa, Thiago etc all will suit into much more of Iniesta role as they are more attack minded. Luckily for us we have Iniesta to take over the Xavi role. But still give JDS a proper go in Xavi role along with other first eleven players and then judge him. He is the only one adapt among the kids who could play a little deep down in midfield.

  4. Skipper5
    August 23, 2012

    Thiago-Fabregas
    Song
    thats not a bad midfield against most opposition in la liga when rest is needed for XavIniestaSquets. it is important to allow Song to play his own brand of football too. lets not look for iniesta or busquets in him. look for Song and the qualities brings to the table.

  5. Gogah
    August 23, 2012

    Everyone seems to agree that Song has an eye for the killer pass but it remains to be seen how good of a shot taker and header of the ball he is. Remember that although we never got to see too much of Keita’s abilities around the box, he had an absolute belter of a left foot and was also an exceptional header of the ball, almost always winning the challenges in midfield and almost always on target in the box. Can Song also replace these skill sets effectively?
    It seems to me that Song’s success will depend largely on how he is able to cope in the center of defense, as our midfield is stacked. It really helps that he has the work rate and strength to match Keita.

  6. nia
    August 23, 2012

    Marca reports that Ozil and Marcelo have been pardoned. How true is that?

    • Richzorz
      August 23, 2012

      Yeah I’m sure that’s been confirmed for a while, but don’t worry David “played 20 min of competitive football for the first time in 8 months this week” Villa will also be available for selection…TOTALLY equal and fair 😉

  7. Judas Pissed
    August 23, 2012

    Is it such a bad thing that Song may not fit into a midfield that DIDN’T win La Liga & the Champions League last year? The difference he brings is PRECISELY what I’m looking forward to…

  8. Roberto Senyera
    August 23, 2012

    “The signing of Alba and Song eerily mirrors Guardiola’s most successful first season signings – Alves and Keita.”

    Very astute observation Calvin. Scary even.

    I know I’ve voiced my concerns about the Song signing but I’ve gotta get over it and wish him every success here on in. After all, he’s a blaugrana now.

    Visca Barça!!

  9. Roberto Senyera
    August 23, 2012

    I’m very much looking forward to the 1st leg later today v LWBs. The last I’ve read Pepe is out. That’s good for our team and Messi’s knees and fingers 😉

Leave a Reply