YOU’RE ONLY as good as your manager allows you to be. That should sum up the Jorginho story in his two seasons at Chelsea. Last year, Jorginho was less than popular with the Stamford Bridge regulars – he was seen as representative of the so-called “Sarri ball” philosophy of uncomfortable manager Maurizio Sarri.
He moved to London from Napoli with Sarri and was, naturally, linked to the gaffer. Given Sarri never won the fans over, it was perhaps understandable that his protégé also struggled. The Daily Telegraph’s Ben Findon said Jorginho was the man of a thousand sideways passes – in fact, he made 3,119 passes but very few goalscoring chances.
When Sarri left Chelsea, it was widely anticipated that Jorginho, who worked with Sarri for four years, would follow him to Juventus, but he stayed and he has become new manager Frank Lampard’s “go-to-man”. Jorginho’s agent said publicly in mid-September that his client wanted to stay with Chelsea for another four years. More likely, in a year in which Chelsea are barred from buying, and after losing Eden Hazard, Jorginho has an opportunity to become the pivotal figure at the club.
Alyson Rudd of the Times noted that Jorginho has gone from scapegoat to leader, but the stats show that the Brazilian-born Italian has seen far less of the ball this season and he has been the source of more long balls. In fact, Chelsea have discarded the short-passing style championed by Sarri for the long game. There’s no chance that Chelsea fans will get bored of the Lampard approach as they did with Sarri’s more patient tactics, not while the youngsters continue to flourish, anyway.
The Daily Express reported that Jorginho epitomises the change in Chelsea. The fans have also noticed that the £ 52 million signing has shown coolness under pressure this season. Lampard’s regime, arguably, has an advantage over previous incumbents of the manager’s office – he is, after all, “Super Frankie Lampard”, and an adopted son of Stamford Bridge. If Jorginho is Frank’s man, then the fans that jeered him in 2018-19 will sing his name in praise – and indeed, they are.
Jorginho, unsurprisingly, is happy that the fans have changed their mind about him. Paul Merson, speaking on SKY, said Jorginho was “absolutely outstanding” in Chelsea’s 2-0 win against Brighton. He is also linking up well with Mason Mount and Ross Barkley. Merson was impressed: “Chelsea are a lot stronger than people think this season.”
Lampard was also full of praise for the born-again midfielder: “Whatever happened last year, I wasn’t here. From pre-season, he has been one of the leaders in the dressing room and on the pitch.”
It’s not just in the Premier League that Jorginho’s renaissance has been evident, he’s also seen as a key figure for Italy in their European Championship qualifying campaign. Vavel.com commented: “After being praised by [Italy manager] Roberto Mancini, it is clear what he thinks of the midfielder and what he means to the team. His performances in the middle make the team click.”
Sources: Daily Telegraph, The Times, Guardian, Independent, Daly Express, Vavel, AS, BBC, SKY.