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Musiq2010-05-04 16:20:59 +0000 #1
Hey guys,

For a very long time, I've wanted to post blog-style articles on Inter and football in general, and no better place to do it than here, is there? I'll probably post one of these essays every couple of weeks or so, and I hope more of you guys will share your memories.

The first one is going to be about my favouritest player - Il Grande Capitano Zanetti. But I warn you, its not going to be all praises. Nothing like a controversial view-point, is there?

So here goes:

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A young number 4, playing at wing-back, tirelessly chasing down balls and foraying up the flank. Slight in build, mammoth in spirit - but no one's eyes are on him. After all, when the 22 year old World Player of the Year Ronaldo is dazzling with his tricks and flicks, who really notices the hard working ball winners that chase up and down to lay the ball at his gifted feet? No one noticed the steel in Zanetti's eyes, the passion that rages on as strongly today as it did that day, the kind of will that says, "This is my game, this is my night." And when Ivan Zamorano headed back a long free-kick into the area, not even the cameras initially noticed the industrious 25 year old charging towards the ball and hitting one of the finest half-volleys ever struck. The power and precision of that shot took my breath away, and at the incredibly mature age of 10, I realized that day that this was a man to be admired, a man that Inter will look to for strength. That goal not only sealed Inter's UEFA cup final victory, it sealed this man's place in Interista hearts forever.

When he wept after the crushing defeat on May 5, 2002, a defeat that put that elusive Scudetto into our hands and then snatched it away, I wept with him, and I dare those of you who were there that afternoon, from wherever in the world you were then, to mock my tears. I know you wept too. But with his typical strength, he dried his tears and went to face the storm with Cuper. I admired him more that evening than I ever did. He did cry again 5 years hence, (not 4 - not the Calciopoli Scudetto), when he finally did lift the Scudetto, and I looked on with rapture, because I knew without doubt that if ever a man deserved a prize, no one did more than Javier Zanetti that day. 12 years of sweat, blood and dedication, that's what he gave for that trophy. The one ever-present figure in Massimo Moratti's tidal wave of transfers.

When I jog my memory back over the last 11 years I have followed Inter, it seems like blasphemy to ever question this man's importance to us. And yet, the perverse, highly unfaithful nature of the human mind ponders me to just that. Its something that's been a nascent thought for years, and I've finally decided to get it out of my system.

That night in 1998, I rememeber thinking that this man should play in midfield, where his runs and his thunderous shots would come more frequently. He's scored a number of crackers over the years, and we all know how sublime his runs can get, whether its down a flank, or its near the area where he dribbles his way away from 3 attacking opponents, or its in the middle of the park, where its a free-for-all. Had more people, and importantly, more coaches seen this potential, our captain would have been much more than the right-back that occasionally stormed up the flank, he would have been something like Steven Gerrard, the driving force in our midfield, the spark that we had lacked for years.

Why then, did so many coaches - Simoni, Lippi, Tardelli, Cuper, Zaccheroni all fail to notice this? I mean, come on, if you have Farinos, Dalmat, Cauet, Di Biagio, C. Zanetti, Jugovic, Winter as your options (taking nothing away from the last four - great ball-winners, but playmakers?), then why not try plugging in Zanetti and see what he has to offer? In fact, the only 2 coaches who have actually used Zanetti in midfield are the latest two - Mourinho and Mancio.

The answer's pretty simple, although maybe not what was best for Inter in the long run. Quite simple, there was no other wing-back at Inter. For years, Zanetti has been the only real wing-back. The left-back story is another long sad one, which I'll save for an entire article on its own. On the other hand, there was an abundance of central midfielders, not many great ones, but abundance all the same as compared to the number of options on the wing. That pretty much robbed us of the talent that Zanetti seemed to possess as a complete end-to-end style midfielder, a la Gerrard. But the question is, would Zanetti actually have managed to play that way for us? My heart tells me yes, but my head says no, and for the following important reasons.

Number one: Passing. Its something that becomes more and more obvious to me as I watch him play this season. He can chase down opponents and win the ball and pass it on to the next player, but he'll never make that killer pass that will setup a goal. Cambiasso, Stankovic, Figo are all players who can do that, but not Zanetti. I'm not saying Zanetti is a bad passer, he can distribute the ball as well as any other player, but he's not a good one either, and that's his greatest shortcoming. Think about it - over the years, how many great through balls or crosses have come out of Zanetti? You can probably count them on your fingers and toes.

Number two: Confidence on the ball. Now this might seem ridiculous, especially as I just praised him earlier for being able to dribble with grace and style. But the fact is, 90% of the time, Zanetti is not confident enough on the ball to take the initiative and drive forward on his own. It only happens on those rare occasions, and when it does, its a joy to watch and if its at the San Siro, 80,000 roars raise those hallowed rafters when he in his stride. It makes you wonder why he doesn't do it more often, especially when everyone knows he can. The answer, as far as I can see it, is just lack of confidence on the ball.

For both the above weaknesses, I'd like to make a comparison with our present right-back Maicon, a guy they say has effectively stripped Il Capitano of his traditional role. In 2 short years, he has produced many more terrific crosses than Zanetti has all these years. Also, everytime he gets the ball, he doesn't shy away from taking on his man. He knows he's got the technique and pace to beat him, and does it too. Sure, he makes the occasional mistake, but who doesn't? I wouldn't hesitate to say that Maicon's proving to be a better right back than Zanetti ever has been.

So when Ibra and Maicon lose the ball lots of times, why does Zanetti shy away from taking on his man? Lack of confidence yes, but why? Why would a man who no one at Inter would ever criticize, no matter how horribly he played, not want to take a few risks? My amateur psychanalysis tells me that's the answer. Zanetti's not a risk-taker. He would rather make a successful, but useless short pass than risk taking on an opponent losing the ball. This I believe stems from years of defending in Italy. Maybe 35 is too late to change that mind-set. A pity, seeing that no one quite lights up the San Siro the way Zanetti can when he runs with the ball.

As for me, I'll have to make do with those precious few moments as well, screaming with joy at the telly in sync with the masses at the Meazza. You've made me proud, Javier, proud to be Interista even when the world's ridicule was poured on us, and even if you were just standing in one spot, I'd rather have you on the field than anyone else.

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Comments? Criticisms? Abuse? Bring it on...


ilcapitano2010-05-04 16:30:49 +0000 #2
Well done, I enjoyed reading this,

and I'd say you're right about Zanetti being careful in comparison to Maicon.

I also agree this is because he has accustomed himself to playing in serie A and knows how badly fans react to silly mistakes in Italy.

But usually our capitano does start to run with ball when the midfielders are having a bad game. He becomes more offensive when he sees that the others are not doing their job. The Liverpool matches in CL last season offer proof of this.

So he does what a captain is supposed to do...leading by example.

Maicon really has been a revelation for me, likely for everyone else here. No one expected him to be so important in attack. But then again Maicon belongs to a different generation of full backs and is expected to attack more than Javier.
Musiq2010-05-04 16:55:56 +0000 #3
Quote:

Originally Posted by ilcapitano

Well done, I enjoyed reading this,

and I'd say you're right about Zanetti being careful in comparison to Maicon.

I also agree this is because he has accustomed himself to playing in serie A and knows how badly fans react to silly mistakes in Italy.

Thank you!

Quote:

Originally Posted by ilcapitano

But usually our capitano does start to run with ball when the midfielders are having a bad game. He becomes more offensive when he sees that the others are not doing their job. The Liverpool matches in CL last season offer proof of this.

So he does what a captain is supposed to do...leading by example.

Well why he doesn't try it more often this season - I mean, he's got a midfield role, and he has a line of defenders behind him to back him up if he does lose out. Its a proper puzzle alright.

Quote:

Maicon really has been a revelation for me, likely for everyone else here. No one expected him to be so important in attack. But then again Maicon belongs to a different generation of full backs and is expected to attack more than Javier.

True, in Javier's generation, there were only a handful that did attack much - himself, Roberto Carlos, Maldini on the rare occasion. Whereas today - good Lord, you're not a full back if you can't attack!
Sebastian2010-05-04 16:34:09 +0000 #4
I will read this pretty soon...It is a long post,so it'll require "surgical" concentration and a bit more time...
Zek2010-05-04 17:25:09 +0000 #5
i loved this blog! Emailed it to my friends, who said basically better get Musiq to channel4 instead of the likes of Susy Campanale )
Ryan272010-05-04 16:56:05 +0000 #6
This is a great idea. I like anything that generates more discussion. I wonder if we could get Musiq some sort of 'sticky' power so that if he does more of these, he can always move them to the top right away. Or some other way to 'feature' it so it gets the attention it deserves. Ideas?

And I agree on Zanetti's passing. Definitely likes to play the simple ball. Lately I've noticed that Maicon's crossing hasn't been so hot either.
Musiq2010-05-04 17:10:07 +0000 #7
Wow, thanks guys! I enjoyed writing it too, brought back so many memories as I recalled stuff that happened over the years.

@Zek: I find Susy Campanale's anti-Inter blogs quite funny actually. Its amazing how often she forsakes reason just to spite Inter...

@Ryan: Agreed, Maicon hasn't been crossing that well in recent games, but that could just be a form thing. Man, did you see that shot he took against Lazio in the second half? Right before Brocchi got booked... Outrageous, it went out for a throw in!

And one more thing - this doesn't necessarily have to be my blog alone. Knowing how you guys all love to express your opinions, I'm pretty sure each one of you is capable of writing blog articles, especially on Inter, even if not as long as the novel I came up with. If you get the time, say on a lazy weekend, just type something out.
ilcapitano2010-05-04 18:51:08 +0000 #8
Quote:

Originally Posted by Musiq

Well why he doesn't try it more often this season - I mean, he's got a midfield role, and he has a line of defenders behind him to back him up if he does lose out. Its a proper puzzle alright.

Well, you know what they say about old dogs and new tricks

Zanetti will always think first like a defender, that knowledge runs in his blood.

It's amazing enough that he has played so well in the CM position and especially in some "big" matches. It's likely that he will also be thinking about his physique as he gets older. He still runs a lot but not so much as he would in Maicon's position.

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