Conte gives Moses a new lease of life
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. –