One of the enduring mysteries of last season was the failure of Andriy Shevchenko to spark into form and become a force to be feared by all defenders. Instead, he became a token scalp for the backlines of Charlton, Watford and even bloody Macclesfield as ‘the world’s greatest striker’ failed to score against them. Sheva’s plight came to mind when thinking – albeit briefly – about Sunday’s Community Shield game (whatever happened to the Charidee Shield??).
In last year’s season opener, when Chelsea played Liverpool in the Millennium Stadium, Shevchenko looked every inch the deadly striker. He scared the crap out of opposing supporters every time he touched the ball, running purposefully at defenders and scoring with a beautiful chest and finish (http://youtube.com/watch?v=JYrYpmzmol0 ). Little did we know that it wouldn’t be until an FA Cup replay against Tottenham eight months later that he would reach such heights again (http://youtube.com/watch?v=AwtOY7eTwe4 ). In between he’d scraped in a few goals here and there but overall he looked like a journeyman, a nervous and fragile one at that.
This year another Ukranian striker has made his way over to the Premiership as Sheva’s international teammate Adriy Voronin signed for Liverpool. Expected to do little he has so far received overwhelmingly positive reviews. Though then again so did Erik Meijer in his pre season days (http://youtube.com/watch?v=nCCP2vR-_jc ), so we won’t be ‘Waltzing in a Voronin Wonderland’ just yet.
But for a free transfer he looks like good business; while for £30 million Shevchenko looks like a washed up superstar. Can one bad season be turned around by a man with undoubted talent? Well not by the looks of how Chelsea will play this year – most likely with two wingers and one up front. Even when they go 4-4-2 there will still be too many central midfielders present (Lampard, Essien, Ballack or Makelele) to have a fluid attacking formation, leaving only one winger to throw in crosses.
Voronin himself has chimed in with his two cents saying: “Shevchenko didn't perform as well as he was expected to last season, but he played in Italian football for seven seasons with AC Milan and that league is totally different to the English game. Maybe he just needed a little more time to get used to the English style. I think he'll do better this season because he is a goalscorer.”
It’s all possible but then nobody else – even those in the Chelsea side or their manager – seems to be voicing this opinion. We’d all like to see a world class talent like Shevchenko come back to form and score a hatful. However, the suspicion remains that he’s just an average six months away from a loan deal back to Milan or another European giant during the January transfer window.
I never feel sorry for a millionaire but we all like to see good football so let’s hope wherever he is come next May, the legend of Sheva might have been resurrected. Chelsea, it seems, is a dead end for talented men like him.
Here’s a pic of his wife for good measure… like I said, never feel sorry for a millionaire.