Conte gives Moses a new lease of life

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS - BY GLENN MOORE

VIC­TOR MOSES al­ways had tal­ent, but his trans­for­ma­tion to ta­ble-top­ping wing-back will have caught a few for­mer team­mates by sur­prise. Moses scored the win­ning goal as Chelsea de­feated Tot­ten­ham, once again, at Stam­ford Bridge on Satur­day. This was his sev­enth suc­ces­sive Premier League match and he was fi­nally able to state af­ter­wards: “I feel like I have found a home here. It’s my club.”

Moses joined Chelsea in Au­gust 2012, for £9m (RM49m) from Wi­gan, and un­der Roberto Di Mat­teo and Rafael Ben­itez ac­tu­ally played 43 matches that sea­son, in­clud­ing more than 25 starts. This was de­spite dis­ap­pear­ing mid­sea­son to win the African Cup of Na­tions with Nige­ria.

Then Jose Mourinho re­turned and, as is his wont, quickly de­cided Moses was not his kind of player. The winger was swiftly ban­ished on loan, to Liver­pool, then Stoke, then West Ham. He had a sea­son at each, but never seemed to set­tle.

This pre-sea­son, how­ever, new man­ager An­to­nio Conte saw enough to re­tain Moses at Stam­ford Bridge. He gave him a se­ries of sub­sti­tute out­ings in the league, and starts in the EFL Cup.

Then came Conte’s re­shap­ing of Chelsea to 3-4-3 and Moses’ un­ex­pected de­ploy­ment at right wing-back. As an at­tack­ing coun­ter­point to the more de­fen­sively-minded Mar­cos Alonso on the other flank, Moses has been re­born.

Conte must have rare per­cep­tion, for few other man­agers would have trusted Moses in a po­si­tion with such de­fen­sive re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

Seven years ago I was priv­i­leged to spend an evening on the Crys­tal Palace bench dur­ing a Foot­ball League Cup tie against Manch­ester City.

Vic­tor Moses was then a young player of po­ten­tial, a few months shy of his 19th birth­day. He had tricks, he had pace, he had de­sire; but time and again, as he ei­ther lost pos­ses­sion or was out of po­si­tion, the old lags on the subs’ bench be­side me would shake their heads.

Moses, how­ever, is a de­ter­mined man who has forged a ca­reer at the high­est level de­spite a trau­ma­tis­ing child­hood in which both par­ents were mur­dered in a re­li­gious riot in Nige­ria.

Smug­gled to Eng­land as an 11-yearold asy­lum seeker his foot­ball abil­ity was the mak­ing of him, earn­ing him a schol­ar­ship to a pres­ti­gious pub­lic school and a con­tract with Palace. He has been pre­pared to learn, graft, and wait his chance

Now it has come. There have been some un­ex­pected di­ver­sions on the jour­ney, but Moses at last has the op­por­tu­nity to show his tal­ent.

“I’m pleased the man­ager has given me a chance to ex­press my­self,” he said.

He is, though, still learn­ing the role and can ex­pect the bet­ter op­po­nents to ex­am­ine that ed­u­ca­tion.

On Satur­day Moses was aided by the sus­pen­sion that ruled out Danny Rose, whose at­tack­ing for­ays from left-back may have tested his de­fen­sive abil­i­ties. With space to at­tack he was in­stru­men­tal as Chelsea ral­lied to win af­ter a chas­ten­ing first 40 min­utes in which Spurs were man­i­festly su­pe­rior.

Next Satur­day an­other test awaits against a Manch­ester City team with pace and pen­e­tra­tion on the flanks. Moses, though, will not shirk the chal­lenge. – The In­de­pen­dent

Chelsea’s Vic­tor Moses (L) tries to hold off Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur’s Moussa Dem­bele dur­ing their English Premier League match at Stam­ford Bridge on Satur­day. –

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