Whilst I’m never one to get carried away and my pessimism might have been picked up on these pages once or twice, particularly when it comes to scrutinising our players, I like to think it’s healthy to be objective. I certainly don’t assume my opinion is the be all and end all, and that allows me to change it occasionally. Which brings me on to the subject of this article – Deco.
I’ll be honest, he’s never been a favourite of mine, in fact, whenever his name was connected with Chelsea in the past I’d usually welcome it with more than a few unsavoury words. Don’t get me wrong, I knew he was a good player, I just didn’t like the bloke. For a start, I always thought he was a diving little cheat and besides, by the time he was linked to us this summer, as far as I was concerned he was simply too old – why buy another 30 year old?
But what do I know? Because not only did he have a very good pre-season, but he also made enough of an impact during his first game in the Premier League to suggest the Portuguese Brazilian was a very shrewd buy.
After all, he wouldn’t be the first 30 year-old we’ve ever bought who’s had the ability to bring Chelsea’s football to life. A certain little Italian who’s skill in manipulating a ball made everyone sit up and watch, the flashes of genius with the quality to produce something special that saw home and away supporters alike applaud. Not that I’d be expecting the opposition to actually enjoy anything they see from Deco of course, because football just isn’t like that anymore and to be honest, if he wasn’t playing for Chelsea I doubt I’d be changing my mind about him either.
But he is at Chelsea and even on the evidence I’ve seen so far, I’m really starting to believe it’s a good thing. He just adds something that seems to have been missing for so long. We’ve got a good squad, with plenty of quality in it but Deco just seemed to bring that together. His vision and passing appeared effortless, picking out every run – to the obvious appreciation of his team-mates. And he slotted into the Chelsea side just as effortlessly, be it from his starting position wide or moving into the centre when required.
Credit to Scolari for giving him the freedom to roam because when he got hold of the ball, he inevitably kept it, looking comfortable in possession and with the end product of both creating and scoring – sublimely. Add to that the distinct absence of the amateur dramatics I’d always associated with him, and he was an absolute pleasure to watch. Not only that, but the £8million we paid for him was looking like a potential bargain by the time our Portuguese playmaker picked up the Man of the Match award on his Premier League debut.
And I’m sure there’ll be plenty who’ll question whether we’ll see the same sort of performances from Deco when he’s having lumps kicked out of him on a cold, wet night in December, that’s in the back of my mind as well if I’m honest. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the cold, wet nights in December to find out, but he certainly didn’t look like he’ll be pulling out of too many tackles to me. And I’m not naive enough not to realise he won’t always get as much space or time on the ball as he got against a pretty poor Portsmouth side, because I’m well aware there’s much, much better opposition than we faced on Sunday.
But whilst I still won’t let myself get too carried away because there’s a long way to go (and obviously I’m an eternal pessimist), for now at least, I’m just grateful the addition of Deco allowed me to really enjoy watching Chelsea again.