Revealed: The myriad benefits of converting Chelsea colossus into a centre-back
Guus Hiddink’s arrival at Chelsea has thus far failed to spark the dramatic upturn in fortunes the consensus assumed it would, with results and player performances, by and large, just as bad as they were under predecessor Jose Mourinho.
In fact, following last weekend’s draw with Everton, the veteran Dutchman’s win percentage at the Stamford Bridge helm is actually inferior to that mustered by the Portuguese in the dreary months that preceded his sacking.
One of the most prominent factors that led to Mourinho’s downfall was the decaying relations between him and many key players, with the titans that powered Chelsea to last season’s title, shrivelled shells of their former, near-unstoppable selves in 2015/16.
To whom this most notably applies is Nemanja Matic.
The Serb destroyer was arguably the most important player in the Chelsea midfield of 2014/15, with his ferocity, strength and positional sense rendering him the optimum defensive screen.
Each of these qualities and the bulk of those left unsaid have been absent for the entirety of the current campaign, with Hiddink’s comforting arm around the shoulder unable to squeeze the stellar standards of old from the towering anchorman.
After three games out of the side, Matic was restored to the XI for the Blues draw with Everton, but a disastrous display saw him substituted after just 55 minutes.
John Obi Mikel’s installation as first-choice holding-midfielder epitomises the Serb’s fall from grace; the Nigerian made just six league starts last term and two this time prior to Mourinho’s departure.
Hiddink may not have a clue how to repair the faltering colossus, but news.bwin do.
The solution is simple: move Matic to centre-back.
His performances last time around may well have elevated him above all positional peers in the global game, but the struggling Blues star isn’t a natural defensive-midfielder.
When Chelsea signed him from Kosice, he was a creative player, most often deployed behind the strikers, but flourished in a deeper berth as part of an experiment conducted by mad scientist Jorge Jesus while the pair were together at Benfica.
Matic was so good at the less-glamorous side of the game the Blues paid £21m to bring him back to the Bridge, despite originally casting him off as a makeweight in the deal to prise David Luiz out of Portugal.
When his career as an attacking midfielder ran cold, recalibrating the son of Sabac paid enormous dividends and now is the time to try the trick again.
He can do no worse at centre-back than in midfield, he has proved himself a master in the art of defending and boasts all the physical and mental traits to prosper in the backline.
In teammate John Terry, he has no one better to show him the ropes and with the veteran coming to the end of his career, converting Matic could prove a cost-effective way of replacing him.