Victor Moses repaying Antonio Conte's faith at Inter
Background image: oscar federico bodini, CC BY-SA 2.0
Roberto Di Matteo didn't last long as Chelsea’s permanent manager after leading the club to Champions League glory as interim boss in 2012. But one player he signed that summer has been ever-present in the team. In fact, Cesar Azpilicueta has risen to become club captain for several years now. But the Spanish defender is not the subject of this piece. It’s actually Di Matteo’s second signing; Victor Moses.
After the Italian manager was booted out of the Blues’ dugout three months later, Moses was left in the wilderness. The former Wigan forward found trust difficult to find in subsequent bosses at the club. From Rafael Benitez to Jose Mourinho and even interim coach Guss Hiddink, it was all the same. He went on some loan spells, then returned at the end of each term hoping to finally cement his place in the team. It took four years before someone finally showed up that saw potential and the required quality to succeed at a big club like Chelsea in the former Nigerian international.
Consequently, Moses went to war for Antonio Conte. The winger was ready to do whatever it took to help his boss succeed. Fortunately for him, that is the very characteristic the former Juventus gaffer seeks in his troops. Deployed as a wing-back, the Nigerian put forth top-notch performances that went a long way to help his boss lift the Premier League title in his very first season in English football. As is always the case at Stamford Bridge, the fairytale did not last long. Roman Abramovich is not one to exercise patience with managers. Disagreements behind the scenes led to the Italian gaffer’s departure with a year left on his deal.
He resurfaced back home, this time around with Inter and is set to repeat the same heroics that have accompanied his career since leading Juventus to three consecutive titles between 2011 to 2014. A fierce battle against a friend-turned enemy over the Scudetto has ensued. The defending champions are bent on continuing a new-found habit of complete dominance of the Serie A.
Fearing he could lose the war if desperate measures are not taken, the 50-year-old decided to stock up on ammunition in the winter transfer window. Ashley Young, Christian Eriksen and Victor Moses are the latest additions. In Moses, Conte has found an old ally who is ready to go the extra mile to repeat the feat achieved in England.
In fact, Ronaldo Fenomeno needed 31 games to achieve same goal tally in all competitions.
So far, it’s working like magic. The team is currently occupying top spot in the division and is looking more and more like a genuine contender for the title. Moses will like nothing more than the pleasure of snatching the title from Maurizio Sarri, who refused to give him a chance to continue his career at Chelsea after Conte’s departure. The 29-year-old has slotted into the team perfectly and has played a significant role in helping the team secure back-to-back wins in his first two league appearances. He even provided and assist for Romelu Lukaku’s goal that sealed a 4-2 comeback win in the derby against AC Milan.
Although he tasted defeat with the side for the first time as the team fell down 1-0 Napoli in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday, it could be seen as a temporary setback. After four games overall with the Nerazzurri, he has enjoyed victory thrice. But the team’s resolve to go all the way will be given a stern test as the team returns to league action away at third-placed Lazio come Sunday. It will be a difficult fixture that could go either way based on the Rome-based side’s form this term. But whatever happens at the end of the day, the team has demonstrated an ability to claw back to an advantageous position.
Despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s blistering form in front of goal that has seen the five-time Ballon d’Or winner score in the last ten league games straight, the Turin-based side has shown a weakness not seen in the last several seasons. The team has been inconsistent, losing unexpected matches like the recent 2-1 defeat to newly-promoted Hellas Verona.
That could prove to be Inter’s and Conte’s biggest advantage in the end as Sarri struggles to lead a team to achieve what he has never done before in his career - win a league title.