Despite his underwhelming first campaign in west London, the Chelsea faithful should get behind Alvaro Morata before discarding him too quickly.
They are all players who, after difficult starts, were shown the exit door swiftly by the club’s hierarchy. Morata could be added to that list and those lambasting him now will soon change their tune if he finds form somewhere else.
The landscape of modern football is an exceptionally hyperbolic one that has little time for patience and second chances. No one felt the wrath of this storm more than Morata at Chelsea last season.
Coming in for a club record fee after failing to be given the leading roll at Los Blancos, the Spanish striker traded Madrid for London in an attempt to kick start a burgeoning career.
Many have now forgotten what was, an extremely promising start for the forward – netting six times in the same number of Premier League games. Chelsea fans were quickly dropping any regrets over Diego Costa’s departure as their new number nine wrecked havoc in the early months of the campaign.
A stunning header to defeat rivals Manchester United indicated further proof of Morata’s talent and gained him more admirers, though a bitterly cold winter would soon sweep over the Blues and Morata’s goals would dry up.
A drastic collapse in form saw the Spaniard spurn several one-on-one chances in a high profile encounter with Arsenal. This brought about the start of a steep downfall that never let up for the rest of the season.
By the end of May, Morata found himself warming the bench, having to watch Olivier Giroud lead the line for an FA Cup triumph over Manchester United; a fixture he so triumphantly starred in only six months previous.
Missing out on his nation’s World Cup squad and with rumours swirling over a return to Italy or Spain all summer, things aren’t looking rosy for Morata’s Chelsea career.
A 30-year-old Gonzalo Higuaín as a replacement seems to be the only realistic option, which for a hefty fee seems a foolish investment. Whilst acknowledging his proven track record, Higuaín is not the future. Splashing upwards of £50m on a player who might only have a couple of good years left at the top, feels like a quick fix rather than a long term solution.
At 25 years old, Morata is still to reach his prime and under a new system that favours attacking football, Morata could thrive.
It is worth noting Morata spent several months of last season injured, stating after that he played through pain when needing time off. This could be huge factor and having a full season of fitness might prove pivotal in restoring his form and confidence.
However, Morata needs to take responsibility himself. The forward still looks lightweight in a physical league, and throwing himself to the ground at the first point of contact irritated fans last season. Opponents have spotted Morata as a weak link and will mark him out of a game – leaving Chelsea with no focal point.
The fanbase also have a part to play in this situation as well. All football players get abuse on social media but the obsession over the player’s Instagram posts with his girlfriend were simply embarrassing and was one of the low points of last season online.
Chelsea fans rallied around Fernando Torres during his time at the club, despite the forwards persistent struggles. Why can’t Morata have the same support?
Overall, a possible sale of Morata would be indicative of a culture problem at the club. A culture which sees managers sacked prematurely, players sold on before finding their feet and youngsters shut out from opportunity.
All of these things need to change before we see a major U-turn of the goings on at Stamford Bridge.