Ryan Bertrand - What Do We Think of His Role as a Midfielder?

Something that we’ve been starting to see on a fairly frequent basis is the inclusion of Ryan Bertrand in midfield. Playing a fullback ...

Something that we’ve been starting to see on a fairly frequent basis is the inclusion of Ryan Bertrand in midfield. Playing a fullback further up the field is by no means a new or revolutionary idea, but it does bring a changed dimension and approach to the game. I have always liked RDM’s use of him in that role but I think question marks should maybe be raised over the regularity of his inclusion further up the field.

The first time Chelsea fans saw this tactic was, controversially, in the Champions League final after a run of successful domestic performances at left-back. (I’m quite smug when it comes to this as I predicted that Robbie would start him in front of Ashley.) Since then we have seen him appear in that position against Manchester City, Wigan, Newcastle and most recently QPR. He actually has experience playing in midfield having done so on loan and in his youth from time to time, although I have only witnessed him playing this way in the first team.

RDM has done well to add this element of versatility to his game. We now have a brand new way of potentially approaching a match and Bertrand is a better player for it. The obvious advantage of using him this way is that defensively we are far stronger. He is naturally a defensive minded player and brings greater solidity to the left side of the midfield. The fact that we haven’t conceded a goal whilst he’s been there is an impressive stat. He isn’t too shabby in attack either, so it isn’t like we’ve just ruled out any threat from that area of the pitch (although we certainly have more effective attacking options). He also works very hard for the team, and having an enthusiastic player like that is such a huge lift for the others.

The greatest benefit of being able to play him there though is that he can be used to neutralise the threat of certain dangerous players. I think the most likely reason for why he started in the Champions League final was so that he and Ashley could effectively double team Arjen Robben and remove his threat from the game (which they did very well). Originally I had a theory that RDM was playing him against teams who had somebody in particular that needed to be shut down. Wigan: Victor Moses. Newcastle: Hatem Ben Arfa. However I can’t really see him being needed to take care of Shaun Wright-Phillips so that theory of mine needs some expansion. He may well play Bertrand in midfield with this in mind sometimes but starting him against QPR shows that RDM values him for other reasons beyond this.

Whilst he does strongly contribute to the team in this forward position, I am starting to get a little alarmed at how often we are seeing him there considering the amount of attacking talent we have in the squad. Hazard, Moses, Oscar, Mata, and Marin (now that he is coming back from injury) are all capable of that role and when we need a goal it is better one of them takes that spot in the team. A defensive approach can allow the other team into the game a lot of the time and it’s up to us to impose ourselves on the game by keeping possession and pegging back the opposition. Against QPR I think the inclusion of Moses, Oscar or even Sturridge from the beginning at Bertrand’s expense would have achieved that (not that Bertrand had a poor game). We may have been pretty strong defensively but it doesn’t matter if your approach makes them look better than they actually are. We also experienced the same problem against Wigan after those two quick fire goals.

The best way of putting it is that there are times to play Bertrand in midfield and times not to. I think I’m right in saying that the majority of Chelsea fans would prefer to see Oscar, Moses or Marin become our most regular starters up front rather than Bertrand. I would use him there when we are trying to hang onto a lead / dig in defensively and when there is a particular player that we need to counteract. We have too many creative players more suited to that role for Bertrand to become a regular there, especially if you want to keep these players happy and play positive football.

Hats off to him though. A lot of his time at Chelsea has been really frustrating, left out of the first team, regularly on loan. He’s just got on with it though, been patient and taken his opportunities. It’s fantastic to see a player like him coming through our youth system and establishing himself in the first team (it’s been a while!). I’m sure that one day we shall see him lining up for England as a regular starter and that is a scientific fact.

(Follow me on twitter: @cody_bound)


Post a Comment

  1. He should start in the big games definitely, it makes us more balanced. He is kind of like how Ji Sung Park was at United, an unspectacular player but would work hard and always do his part. In the games against the teams in the bottom half he should be rested for one of the more creative players as we will need to win those games.

  2. I agree with your views but it sounds like you're a bit of a chubby guy Cody.




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