mandag den 2. november 2009

The 200 best players in the world:194-193

A couple more. More coming up


Philippe Mexes - Roma - France


For many years now Mexes has been one of the most talented central defenders in the world.

When it comes to natural ability he pretty much has it all.
He is very athletic and good technically with nice ball control and a vision still intact from his earlier days playing as a sweeper.

I will say that some years ago he wasn't overly strong, if you compare him to some of his rivals at this position, but he has improved on that and these days has become quite muscular!

He also has very good tackling ability and is pretty strong in the air as well.

I also think that he has some of the best defensive instincts of defenders outside people like the three Cs (Cannavaro, Carvalho and Cordoba) and when you combine that with his great agility you have someone who can look more impressive than almost any other central defender when he is on his game.

Yet here he is ranked just inside the top 200 with many (despite my reservations about the position) central defenders ranked ahead of him?

Well as questionable as I find that he hasn't ever been getting a better run for the French national team and as strange it looks when new Roma coach Claudio Ranieri at times has picked (non ranked) Nicholas Burdisso over him, Mexes does have some serious question marks and they're the exactly kind that coaches (forever scared to lose their jobs and with good reason I might add) hate to deal with the most.

Mexes will gamble sometimes. He will lose focus sometimes, and overall I think he is one of those players (warning: rambling trying to make sense of the mystery that is Mexes, coming right up), who when he is good he is very good and when he is bad he is very bad...

That's somewhat of a cliche and it's not quite that black and white or he wouldn't even have a job. As a defender with the simple description of "a job to defend" you just can't afford to be very bad whenever you're not good, but I think it's definitely something that works against him in the minds of coaches when goals against often is a situation where there at least is an explainable reason why the goal wasn't prevented, but in cases that happens to involve Mexes sometimes, with all his god given ability, there really can't be found any good reason why the goal wasn't prevented, and I think that can leave some coaches puzzled, a bit scared maybe, and instead they go for players less enigmatic, more easy to figure out, what in fact they can and not least, WILL do. With Mexes sometimes you just can't be sure.

Now for a whole bunch of attacking players that's a normal thing and with all the variables involved part of the job risk almost, but for a defender with their rather simple task, it's really more rare and not a great thing either.
And that's why for all his great ability that he is ranked where he is.


Anatoliy Tymoshchuk - Bayern München - Ukraine

Central midfielder

Tymoshchuk is someone who would have been quite a bit higher not too long ago but it might have been under false pretenses. Here was a player when you saw him in Europe for Zenit or for Ukraine who looked really impressive with exactly the kind of controlling presence, physical and technical, that you'd want to see from a holding midfielder. Including what looked like some strong leadership too.

Now enter his big switch to Bayern this season and with all eyes on Tymo it's been a lot less smooth sailing.
For starters the passing hasn't quite been on a high enough level.
Like with Mikel at Chelsea, here just not quick enough, or correct enough if you will, to really make Van Gaal's system GO.

In other areas he doesn't look comfortable either and when I've seen Bayern he's been caught out of position defensively too.
Maybe too much is asked of him. Or maybe he just isn't good enough in another role than the very well defined one, that he must have known inside out, playing years in Russia and Ukraine.
He has of course played under another Dutch coach before, Dirk Advocaat, at Zenit, but the players and their characteristics, surrounding him now is certainly completely different than what he saw there and for Shaktar.

At first glance now, much more than before he has to complement excellent wings, their attacking as well as their (lack of) defending, while previously he has been one of several strong players running the show, both ways, more down the middle.

I don't want to make his individual struggles worse than they are but it's without a doubt disappointing that his performances with very good players around him has actually been worse than what we've previously seen from him, and in a worst case scenario it could be the first signs of a player maybe more limited and one dimensional than Bayern thought they were getting.

Still his success and impressive displays at an important position for many years now still suggest otherwise and earns him a spot on the list.

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