Date: 12th November 2018 at 5:44pm
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In his latest column for the Fancast, Dean Mears discusses ’ current predicament.

Now in his fourth month as manager Mauricio Sarri is starting to mould his team into his style. Players such as N’golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas have had to learn and understand new roles.  While the defenders and attackers alike, have had to understand the nuances of what Sarri is asking of them.

If you compare their stats, you can see those who have been ever-present in Sarri’s team, Hazard and Rudiger, for example, you can see that they have fully grasped this. Some players, however, have found themselves victim to something that I like to call, Square Peg Syndrome.

Each manager has a set of round holes where his players fit in their formation and way of playing. Some players are easily moulded to fit those holes because the position is natural to them. Some players take a bit longer to adapt to these roles and for a while can look out of shape, hence the saying, square peg in a round hole.

Managers have two choices, stick with them and try and change their shape or move them on and bring in somebody more suited. This couldn’t be more apt for Victor Moses.

The former Crystal Palace and Wigan winger signed for Chelsea in 2012 and had a decent first season scoring ten goals across all competitions. However, a change in manager before the start of the 2013-2014 season meant that Moses was no longer a round peg for the new system.

Moses spent the next three years on loan at Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham United respectively. Then in 2016, Chelsea, then managed by Antonio Conte, decided to keep Moses with the team after impressing in pre-season training.  Conte had seen something in Moses that made him believe that he could fit a hole in his system.

Moses was deployed as a right-wing back, and his strength and athleticism meant he was a crucial part of the team that went on to win the league with a record-breaking 30 wins. Unfortunately for Moses, Conte lasted just two seasons before current manager Sarri replaced him.

Arriving with a brand-new set of holes, Moses found himself with a natural place in the team. Sarri has said he is better suited to a wing-back position than a winger or a full-back.  Which probably explains why it’s only now Sarri has decided to give up on Moses after seeing if he could improve him enough to fit into the system.

And it’s not Moses’ fault that he has found himself positionally homeless, the fault lies with a club that lacks any sort of footballing philosophy.  During Roman’s reign, not one Chelsea manager shares a similar vision to the other.  From Mourinho to Ancelotti to AVB to Conte and Sarri, they all want to play the game differently, and that’s why he always seems to end up with lots of square pegs.

When Pep Guardiola took over at Barcelona and implemented the new system, he had similar issues with players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto’o. However,  since Guardiola left, Barcelona have hired managers who play similarly, and their squads have been stable as a result of this.

With Sarri, Chelsea have an opportunity to follow a model like this.  Everyone seems to enjoy the style of play that Sarri has implemented, and after a couple of transfer windows, we may see what a Sarri squad properly looks like.

But what’s most important in carrying on the work that Sarri is doing is hiring a manager after him that follows on from his blueprint.  Otherwise, you’ll have players like Jorginho who could so easily fall victim to Square Peg Syndrome.

There’s a team out of there for Moses, but sadly for him, that team isn’t Chelsea anymore. Because if a team wants to be successful, then it needs round pegs in round holes. And what shape isn’t round? Square.

What are your thoughts? Let us know!

Written by Dean Mears -@DeanMears