Friday, 28 October 2011

Rafa: we need the eggs

The big question ahead of Sunday's game is a strange one: will Rafa start?

Yeah, Rafa, the guy that slotted two fine goals and won us three points away at Blackburn. That Rafa. Our leading goalscorer, you know the guy.

It was the big question this time last week, as well, with much debate as to whether/where he should fit into the line up. And when he was announced ahead of Defoe, there were some dissenting voices. One of them sounded suspiciously like mine. In fairness, though, I am an idiot.

And yet, questions remain. Not about Rafa's quality as a player. But how he fits into our meat-n-potatoes system - and how much we're prepared to change, adapt, sacrifice in order to accommodate him.

So, let's look at the options. I don't think he should play in goal. Not unless it's a straight choice between him and Gomes.

Let's rule out the back four as well. And assume that in midfield we have Bale on the left, with Modric and one of his minders (Parker or Sandro) next to him.

That leaves the right of midfield, up front, or just off the striker.

If we play a nominal 4-4-2, then playing him wide right is a risk, as he is a free spirit/law unto himself and will go looking for work/abandon any sense of defensive responsibility (delete according to generosity of spirit/levels of Rafa fanboyism).

If you play him up front or 'just off', you negate the possibility of Adebayor and Defoe striking up a proper partnership. You could play him with Defoe, but I don't think that works; our wandering star leaves the little guy too isolated. The worst (best?) example of this was last season's home game against West Ham where we ended up playing, essentially, with one up front, at the Lane, in a must-win game against a not great side.

Finally, of course, you could play him with Pav... okay, no, you absolutely couldn't. Jesus, as a pair they'd have the work ethic of Cheech and Chong.

So, the riddle of Rafa. It's a bit like a joke told by this blog's patron saint, Woody Allen, in Annie Hall. He's discussing how love is so infuriating and irrational, whist also being the only thing worth living for. He tells a story of a guy who goes to the doctors and says 'Doc, my brothers crazy, he thinks he's a chicken'; the doctor says 'Well why don't you turn him over to a psychiatrist?'; the guys says, 'I would, but we need the eggs'.

Rafa: he thinks he's irreplaceable, he thinks he can win games single-handed, he thinks he'll score every time he takes to the pitch. We could, of course, dismiss all this vainglorious nonsense and just drop him. But, well, we need the goals.


  1. I love this article - you can write mister. Who are you?

  2. Great article... well done who ever you are.

    Hit the nail on the head..... nice problem to have though. C O Y S !!

  3. Thanks chaps. Pretty new to this blogging lark, but WHL regular since mid-80s. Season ticket in the South Stand. Permanently pessimistic.

  4. Nice write up....

    love it.


  5. Nice article. And while he keeps providing those eggs who are we to complain!

  6. So we're guessing 40 something - late-ish. Established at some profession. Journalist of some kind would be my guess - but a feature writer rather than sports or political.

  7. I'm being profiled! And quite accurately as well...

  8. If the only argument against Rafa playing off the front striker is that Ade and Defoe cannot strike up a partnership...then it is a no brainer. Ade is going to leave at the end of the season, and Rafa may still be here - so if makes little sense in building around Ade. Defoe got 4 goals last season...and Rafa has already got 4 goals this season - so it makes little sense in building around Defoe either. Ade and Rafa have already shown signs of a partnership anyway. Defoe never scores against big teams - nor even plays well against them. Why anyone is disappointed with Rafa picked ahead of Defoe is beyond me...

  9. The only thing I didn't like about the article is the generic work rate bashing of VDV. I honestly don't kn ow where this has come from... he pops up everywhere, and this isn't just an opinion, I will back it up... against Blackburn he covered more ground than any player on the pitch and scored both our goals... you don't get that by floating about anywhere without any tacticle reasoning to your positioning and you don't cover the most ground on a football pitch with a poor work rate.. he is CURRENTLY our best player and on form or not Defoe is a whole level of footballer, possibly 2 levels of footballer below VDV and will never do as much for the team as he does. I honestly believe this should be a shut and closed case and can't believe it's still debated!

  10. Good stuff - more please.

    Agree with Dan Mac re workrate, though. When playing wide right he's been shown up defensively, but when he's behind the striker he's often guilty of being too far back in midfield 'helping out'.

  11. superb article, and interesting to hear about rafa's work rate, id probably play rafa behind adebayor, he likes a knock down from a big man as we remember from his time with crouch. although ade can also get goals himself (unlike crouch - last season anyway) then have defoe coming on as an impact player or when there are injuries. seeing defoe come on with 30 minutes to play would destroy a defence who have been run ragged at trying to out muscle ade, and keep pace when leenon and bale for the last 60 minutes. darren

  12. I wouldn't normally join in the backslapping, but great article. It stands out a mile against 90% of the other keen but poorly written blogs. Hope you keep it up.
    With regards to VDV, agree completely. Only issue is I wonder if we are guilty of building a straw man regarding him. Not sure I heard that many people calling for him to be dropped or preferring JD.

  13. Great post as always. I'm for Rafa behind Ade, at least the first hour.

  14. Pah.
    I remember when I was the only person commenting on here.
    Still shit.

    I mean great.