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Saturday January 26 2019
Brits just don't get Jorginho

The debate within the Premier League on whether Jorginho is pivotal or pathetic shows a football culture clash with the rest of Europe, explains Elio Salerno.

“How many assists has he got this season? Around 2,000 passes, no assists! He’s not a great defender, once a game gets like this against the big teams he gets overrun in midfield. He can’t run, so he does not give you anything defensively and he doesn’t give you anything at the other end of the pitch”.

Those were the words of six-time Premier League champion Rio Ferdinand following Chelsea’s defeat at Arsenal last weekend, when asked for his opinion on Italy international Jorginho.

A sentiment that was then echoed across British media outlets, generating intense discussions between fans on social media about the player himself. An unfamiliarity of ‘Sarriball’ and the misconception around the role N’Golo Kante used to play does not help this freshly-created agenda against Jorginho.

But should we really be surprised by these hollow comments? After all, it took a majestic display from ‘Il Maestro’ Andrea Pirlo against England in the 2012 European Championships for his class to be appreciated on these shores, when he had been producing those displays on the continent for years. It was only in retirement that Premier League fans and pundits flocked to share their admiration for the effortless Michael Carrick, while their lack of acknowledgment for Paul Scholes during his playing days has been well documented. It was a similar story for the legendary Xavi or Barcelona’s current pass-master Sergio Busquets.

The midfield controller, deep-lying playmaker or now famous ‘regista’ role is a position that has been horribly undervalued in the English game over the years and still to this day is somewhat misunderstood, and in that lies the problem. The sublime Juan Sebastian Veron was perhaps one of the earliest to fall foul of this football culture clash.  There have been a number of others over the years with varying levels of success. From the likes of Xabi Alonso to Alberto Aquilani and current stars Fernandinho and Granit Xhaka.

In many quarters, a particular stereotype remains in the game here. If you are not an all-action player, bombing around the pitch, crashing into tackles and chipping in with goals, then what are you doing? Jorginho hardly excels in any of those areas. So what exactly does the former Napoli man bring? And why was he pursued by Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola before joining Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea?

Jorginho is the architect of ‘Sarriball’, he is fundamental to the plan. Implemented correctly, Sarri’s football is devastating. It is fluid, incisive and decisive with lots of quick vertical passes to progress the ball through the pitch sharply. Positioning is key and at times it does require long spells of possession and this is where Jorginho is essential in recognising how and when to change the attack. However, this product is not available in a few short months.

There are limitations in the current Chelsea XI with the technical level of the team below that of Sarri’s Napoli. The Blues line-up is less complete in that sense and this places further pressure on Jorginho, especially as he understands the system. There is a marked difference in the number of key passes Jorginho is hitting this campaign, 0.6 per game, in comparison to 1.5 last season. This would suggest the Chelsea squad are still adapting to Sarri’s disciplined system and it is affecting Jorginho’s results.

“If he’s the player with more touches, you have to make him the player with less touches,” said Jose Mourinho in reference to Jorginho recently. It is no coincidence that since Jorginho has experienced a slump, Chelsea’s performances have too. The opposition have quickly recognised that if you limit Jorginho, you limit his side because those that directly surround him, at this moment, cannot carry the load.

It has been suggested that Jorginho simply passes sideways and is ineffective. If that is the case, then why is he hounded on a weekly basis by opponents? If not man marked, he is quickly pressed or boxed off by those up against him. Not bad for someone that is supposedly not good enough to play in the Premier League.

There’s vast responsibility placed on his shoulders in a pivotal area of the pitch and it’s a position that requires a particular skill-set. Precision passing, awareness, intelligence, dictating the speed of play and organising those around the ball are all vital components of a top regista with assists, goals and defensive contributions a mere bonus.

It’s no coincidence that all of Europe’s elite clubs possess a regista, it requires a specialist. Real Madrid have Toni Kroos, PSG have Marco Verratti, Juventus have Miralem Pjanic and Liverpool recognised the need for a player in a similar mould when purchasing Fabinho last summer. All share similar traits, but play as a pivot in slightly different ways.

Jorginho has swiftly established himself in the Azzurri set-up, playing an instrumental part in Roberto Mancini’s new progressive Italy. Forging an aesthetically pleasing midfield alongside Verratti and rising star Nicolò Barella.

Constantly demanding possession and being in control of the game is a duty that should never be diminished, especially by those that have experienced the intensity of professional football. “Jorginho Is marvellous” as described by the man that sculpted modern football, Pep Guardiola, so who are we to argue with that?

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Have your say...
People love to criticise what they cant understand.
How a football match is won is by inviting pressure and exposing vacant space. Attacking/Defensive space 101 - the very concept of the sport.
Jorginho is one of few players in that entire league who has the balls to ask for the ball whilst surrounded by opponents. His teammates, pundits alike on the otherhand have a different perspective as to what "pressure" is and if there is a player 10+metres away they wont ask for it as they're "marked"
on the 4th February, 2019 at 3:05am
Never read so many comments from people I have to say make me sad
Jorginho is a class exceptional player
You people
Go and do something less interesting go and watch Rotherham united!
Utter nonsense
Jorginho is wonderful
Glad he's Italian
You don't know football if you do not appreciate Jorginho
on the 30th January, 2019 at 10:29pm
@maldini heir
Guadiola is the king of 'ready made', like mourinho, he doesn't create a team or bring a team back to life. My nan could have managwd that Barca team. His bayern wernt that great the German league is even more one sided than serie A. In England he is hardly breaking trophy records. Guadiola is clueless when things go wrong.
Ancelotti is a master he won a champions league with pensioners at Milan and has turned teams around.
Klopp has actually put together a liverpool to fear.
on the 30th January, 2019 at 8:14am
I believe Sarri made some revolution with his new ideas. But still needs to win the trophy.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 1:27pm
Amcheloti made Pirlo changed his position. He has won everywhere hes been. Allegri has overachieved with the teams he has had. Name one great English manager, I can't think of one Italy has at least 3 of the top managers today. Conte, Ancheloti, Allegri. Serie A is on the rise the only difference with BPL is the money if Italy had the money they'd be a powerhouse. The Milan teams are rising, Roma is building a nice young team Lazio is decent, Napoli will remain strong and JUve will be Juve.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 1:17am
Maldini's Heir I think you give Guardiola too much credit. Barcelona had one of the best teams of all times. I could have won trophies if I was managing that team also. What did Guardiola do at Bayern? He go humiliated in the champions league even though he had a great team. The German league is not hard to win. And Man City? They have bought everyone yet still waiting for results in the Champions League. Im not saying Guardiola is not a good coach but he is overrated.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 1:11am
@ I MISS MARCO BRANCA Yes, poor management. Which is why Serie A doesn't get to criticise other leagues.......
on the 28th January, 2019 at 11:30pm
And in the case of Guardiola and Klopp; both have created a new style of football. When was the last tactical revolution in Serie A? Who is really offering new ideas? Nobody. We can't keep kidding ourselves. Serie A needs to sort itself out.
on the 28th January, 2019 at 11:29pm
@ ARD Please try and be objective. You can't seriously suggest that Allegri, who has never won a European trophy, is a better coach than Guardiola, who created one of the greatest footballing sides in history at Barcelona, won countless titles including Champions Leagues, went to Germany and won three back-to-back titles and then the Premier League in England. Klopp too has had a phenomenal career with less favoured teams. Ancelotti has had a great career but I'm not sure he's still at the top.
on the 28th January, 2019 at 11:27pm
@Maldini's Heir: certain Serie A teams struggle based on a history of bad decisions. Take Milan, 10 mill for Constant, 20 mill for Bertolacci, Signing Fernando Torres, keeping Bonera around for 9 years not to mention Abate who can't deliver a cross if his life depended on it, hiring Inzaghi as coach, 25 mill for Kalinic, 38 mill for Andre Silva....and this team has the 2nd highest payroll in Serie A sitting in 4th while Napoli in 2nd place has 5th highest payroll in serie A....poor mgmt period !
on the 28th January, 2019 at 4:40pm
Jorginho is no Pirlo, and no Verratti for that matter. That's the issue, not the position in itself.
on the 28th January, 2019 at 10:59am
Maldini's Heir wow tough critic. England has Guardiola and Klopp Serie A has Ancheloti, Allegri who I take any day over the other two. Yes serie A has seen better days but they have been improving as of late and the Premier League with all that money is not too far ahead. This "average" Juve team can beat the best the BPL can offer. Jorginjo is nothing special but I think his style is more fitting for the serie A. Chelsea is trash anyway they aren't winning the BPL anytime soon.
on the 27th January, 2019 at 10:41pm
Jorghino is simply a plain jane. He's a holding midfielder who (usually) doesn't turn the ball over and makes crisp passes to players on the flanks. He collects the ball well in midfield and distributes it to the front line players. That's it. He doesn't make difficult passes, he doesn't defend well, he doesn't contribute in attack. He's not going to hurt a team much (other than taking up a spot on the field and doing much with it) but he's never a difference maker either. Nothing special.
on the 27th January, 2019 at 2:02pm
it took 3 years for Napoli to implement this difficult but effective style of football. Chelsea need time and a slight increase in quality and Sarriball with flourish. I miss watching his Napoli play it was so beautiful to watch.
on the 27th January, 2019 at 1:17pm
What do you expect from a country with 1 measly world cup and 0 euros?
on the 27th January, 2019 at 12:05pm
The Brits and their press have their head so high up their own backsides that they are blinded. Also when we talk about football. If more British players dared to play on the continent, if more British managers dared to try their luck on the continent, they would be so much better. But you can’t teach the British anything, cause they invented it all. According to themselves.
on the 27th January, 2019 at 11:58am
Maldini heir
Good idea. Definetly need more physicality. Serie A maldini heir has spoken, now run free and buy buy buy more players from 4 corners of the world.
on the 27th January, 2019 at 11:18am
The English league and pundits are always a good few years behind Italy and Spain. They will understand Jorginho now a striker has arrived at Chelsea in Higuain.
on the 27th January, 2019 at 9:22am
the Premier League. That no longer has negative connotations. Serie A could do with a boost of physicality.
on the 27th January, 2019 at 2:01am
physicality. This again used to be Serie A's strength (although the appalling state of the drug testing labs in the 90s probably helped). Nowadays however players in Serie A are noticeably weaker and slower. A lack of pace is a huge problem for a number of teams. Milan produced a reasonable performance this evening against Napoli but still had Çalhanoğlu out of position on the left. Whereas Man City have two layers of wingers Milan barely have one. Jorginho is struggling due to the physicality
on the 27th January, 2019 at 2:00am
winning 7 Scudetti in a row (and yes this Juve side were very average for the first 3 or 4 of those). The general play is appalling with teams unable to hold onto the ball for more than 5 minutes. The Premier League boasts at least two of the best coaches on the planet (Guardiola and Klopp) Sarri is also a very good coach and if it was given more time at Chelsea I'm sure he could do well but he's struggling because he's in a better league. Where Serie A lags behind the most is in terms of
on the 27th January, 2019 at 1:57am
Italian football commentators do not get to patronise other leagues about their style of play or tactics any more. Whereas once upon a time in the 90s and 00s maybe we could've boasted tactical or technical superiority, that is no longer the case. Italian football is in a terrible state, particularly in European competitions where only two teams got out of their Champions League group and one team made it out of the Europa League groups. The league is a joke with a pretty average Juve side
on the 27th January, 2019 at 1:54am
@a Varsavia
Higuain will have a field dayin England. There is nothing to compare the 2. Higuain is outright goal scorer, jorgihno is outright rubbish, he can't score, he can't pass, he can't run. He is talentless. What did they somwthing like 50mil? Hahhaha joke. This is the reason we didn't qualify for the world cup.
on the 27th January, 2019 at 1:25am
I wonder if the author has ever watched carefully Pirlo and Jorginho. I could recognize some talents and usefulness of Jorginho in Sarri's system. He is good at moving and getting the ball and quickly distributing it to his teammates, but he is a not good dribbler who can create space, hold and protect the ball, like Pirlo did. Not to mention the vision for long overhead passes. And I don't see we can compare Jorginho to Kroos or Alonso. I am not judging by his assist number, but his performance and effectiveness are far below expectation.
on the 27th January, 2019 at 12:32am
The english press is obsessed about kante being played out of position this is possibly why they have gone after jorginho plus he is a useful scapegoat for chelsea woes. It is fair point in some ways in defence of sarri he probably prefers a system which isn't dependant on individuals.

There is a point that he doesn't fit in to the counter attacking style the epl has based itself on the last 15 years although even this seems to be coming to end as the culture of football changes in england.
on the 26th January, 2019 at 11:58pm
The term regista is being used very loosely here...
on the 26th January, 2019 at 5:16pm
Funny how you are basically indicating Jorginho nis struggling bcos those around him are not up to the level of his former Napoli teammates. That's a load of ... !Jorginho can only dictate games when Chelsea dominate possession . Under pressure he can't cope - and that's why . Beginnin of the season ppl were waxing Lyrical about his exploits . Now he's been found out. How he can adapt and speed up his thought of play will determine how good he is. And pls don't blaspheme by including Xavi n co
on the 26th January, 2019 at 1:53pm
I am very curious if Brits just will get Higuain.
on the 26th January, 2019 at 1:40pm
The issue is not that people don't appreciate registas, it's that Jorginho is just a mediocre one

Simply overrated, both him and Sarri
on the 26th January, 2019 at 1:28pm
isn't this why Italy failed to qualify for the world cup, isn't why France won it, playing matuidi and kante together, isn't why sissoko killed inter and henderson and milner napoli, italy won the last friendly because of gagliardini he doesnt have football IQ like verratti sensi or jorginho but he went straight forward with power, football has changed Italian, how can biglia still play how can borja valero still play or bonnucci lucas leiva they would be killed in the epl.
on the 26th January, 2019 at 1:17pm

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