Patience and Persistence pays off for Moses
Written by Lewis Redmond
At the start of the 2015/16 Premier League season, it seemed that Victor Moses’ short and anti-climactic stint as a Chelsea player would at last be coming to an end. He had been loaned out by manager Jose Mourinho for the third successive season and it looked as though this may be the last loan spell before he finally departed Stamford Bridge for good.
Fast forward little over a season and a half and Moses is loving life under new boss Antonio Conte, with him playing an essential role in the Italian tactician’s new 3-4-3 system; taking the Premier League by storm playing in a supposedly unfamiliar right wing-back role and earning himself a new long-term contract with The Blues in the meantime.
The deal signed by Moses on March 1st 2017 was a two-year extension on to the end of his current deal in West London and will keep him with the current league leaders through until 2021, paving the way for future development and success in what is looking like a revolutionary first season in the Premier League for Conte, with Chelsea looking like runaway league champions while also still in the reckoning for FA Cup success.
Upon signing for Chelsea in August 2012 from Wigan Athletic for a rumoured fee of £9 million after heavy interest and 5 previously rejected bids, a 21-year-old Moses enjoyed a highly successful and developmental first campaign with the then Champions League holders. In the 2012/13 season Moses scored 10 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions, with this return being made even more commendable when considering his age and the fact he was competing for starts with players such as the likes of Oscar, Juan Mata and the mercurial Eden Hazard. In his first season at Chelsea under Roberto Di Matteo and the interim manager Rafael Benitez once the former had been sacked, Moses was rated extremely highly by pundits and analysts up and down the country, with his performances being closely monitored and widely tipped for further success at Chelsea in years to come, being a hugely important member of the team and playing an essential role in the club’s Europa League triumph come the end of the campaign.
However, the start of the 2013/14 season saw the return of cult hero and fan favourite Jose Mourinho to Chelsea, with the Portuguese manager deeming Moses surplus to requirements with regards to the upcoming first season of his return to SW6 and sending him out on loan to eventual title rivals Liverpool. And the next two seasons after this followed suit for Moses, with his season long loan at Liverpool being followed by spells at Stoke City, where Chelsea won the league and League Cup domestic double and West Ham in the 2015/16 season, where Chelsea made a mess of defending their crown as English champions leading to Mourinho becoming the latest victim of the Stamford Bridge revolving managers’ exit door. Some believed that Mourinho’s exit would possibly give Moses a second chance at Chelsea, with the door opening for a new manager to come in and include him in his plans. However, the majority simply thought that it was too late for Moses and, even should a new manager come in and choose not to send him out on loan, the sheer mediocrity of his performances while on loan and precious years already wasted as a Chelsea player showed us that it may be the harsh reality that Victor Moses just isn’t cut out to be a successful Chelsea player and it would be best for him to move on and start a new career at another club where he would be given more of an opportunity to prove himself.
This turned out not to be the case however as, in Moses’ first season playing his football for Chelsea since 2012/13, he has been a sheer revelation. The season may not have got off to the best start for Moses personally, with Antonio Conte mainly leaving him out of the starting line up with him mainly having to make an impact from the substitutes’ bench in a 4-2-3-1 formation hugely familiar to the modern-day English top flight. However, losses against fellow title challengers Liverpool and Arsenal in the month of September in addition to a 2-2 draw away to Swansea led to claims Chelsea’s season was falling apart before it had even got properly going, prompting Conte to switch to his preferred but more unfamiliar formation of 3-4-3, with Moses and Summer signing Marcos Alonso being drafted into the starting 11 and being deployed as wing-backs flanking the 3 defenders and 2 central midfielders in Chelsea’s new system. Although being deemed as a huge risk and drastic action by Conte, it worked a treat for Chelsea and for Moses, with him starting every game for The Blues in the league since starting with a 2-0 win away to Hull on October 1st, a victory which kick-started a remarkable run of 13 consecutive wins over the course of over 3 months, earning Conte 3 successive Premier League Manager of the Month awards (the first manager in Premier League history to achieve such a feat) and players such as Victor Moses receiving huge acclaim for his performances from experts all over Britain.
Since the run has ended Chelsea, despite dropping a further 5 points to date have continued the strong foundations built by Conte in the form of the winning run and switch to the 3-4-3 system, remaining 10 points clear of their nearest rivals at the top of the Premier league table at present, with each game they play solidifying how much of a transformation they and Moses have undergone since last season and, even more recently, the start of the 2016/17 campaign. Moses has been fantastic throughout this run and has demonstrated a perfect show of patience and persistence along with confidence that he would have always received another chance at Chelsea, and when he did he grabbed it with both hands, becoming an integral part of The Blues’ pursuit for silverware this season and more than establishing himself as a regular in the starting 11, not least being one of the first names on the team sheet.
Although formerly known as an attacking wide player prior to the start of this season, it is the muscle and power in Moses’ game that has come out as one of his main assets in the wing-back role, with his impeccable physical condition allowing him to continue to perform as well in the first minute as he can in the last, with him being incredibly effective when Chelsea are attacking, and just as important for the team when quickly tracking back and defending to help shut goals out as well.
This is proven in statistics taken from Chelsea’s 13 game winning run where, in these 13 games, Chelsea only conceded a stunning 4 goals while scoring an impressive 32 at the other end, much of this down to Moses’ ability to chip in with goals and assists when attacking while also defending heroically to stop goals from going in, shown in the 2-0 win at St. Mary’s against Southampton at the end of October where the Nigerian tracked back over 30 yards to keep the ball in play and help the defence, before evading 2 Southampton attackers and mounting a counter attack of his own, with this coming just minutes after coming to aid at the other end of the field to set up a goal scoring opportunity for team mate Diego Costa. This has shown just how effective Moses has been for Chelsea in both an attacking and defensive sense, with his defensive work coming to the rescue to save Chelsea on many an occasion while his attacking prowess has also guided them to success this season, with notable goals against Leicester, Burnley and at home to bitter London rivals Tottenham Hotspur where he scored the winning goal to earn him the Man of the Match award. And these performances have also been reflected in statistics on the whole team where, with Moses starting in the league for Chelsea this term up until the 1st March, The Blues have won 85% of their games (17 wins from 20), however in the 6 games where Moses hasn’t been in the starting line-up, Chelsea have only won half of these games showing the starts more than support Antonio Conte’s decision to keep Moses in the starting 11.
And still at only 26 years of age, many would suggest that Victor Moses still has many years left in him at the top level of the game. Whether he has the natural technical ability and willpower to stay here and succeed remains to be seen. However, one thing is for sure, maintain the same level of tenacity, patience, persistence and hard work that has got him to where he is at present, then a career at the top some would say is destined.