Friday, 30 July 2010

Garrido goes

Sad news this morning: Javi Garrido has left Manchester City to join Lazio. As the fourth best left-back at the club (I'm counting Zabaleta) chances this year were always going to be limited. And so he goes to replace Aleksandar Kolarov in a league that will suit him well.

I think that is the point with Garrido. As much as I loved him he was so incongruous in the Premier League. In that sense he was as paradigm a Sven-Göran Eriksson purchase as Elano or Vedran Ćorluka: technically excellent and tactically astute but with none of the pace or strength that are a prerequisite to success in England. I suppose Eriksson ought to bear blame for buying players so inappropriate to our needs, but the results were so thrilling for a month or so that I can't bring myself to point fingers.

After a tidy start at City, it was the popping of the Eriksson illusion at Stamford Bridge that revealed his flaws. He spent the next fifteen months alternating duties with Michael Ball before Wayne Bridge arrived but it was always the same. He could clearly play - you don't turn out for Spain U-21s if you can't - but he was weak in the air, slow on the turn and feeble in the tackle. Just look at the brave, relentless running of an Ashley Cole or Patrice Evra - they play a different sport. But his crossing was better than any full-back at the club. And he never, ever complained about losing his place, whether to Ball, Bridge, Zabaleta or Sylvinho. He kept working hard and played as well as he could when called upon. We can say with certainty that he was the finest Basque left-back since Bixente Lizarazu.

And he has left us with two perfect memories. It is no surprise, really, that his finest moments came from dead ball situations, when he could act without the fetter of opposition, when he could relax, breathe, and paint his own piece. The first free-kick was against Liverpool at Eastlands, in October 2008, curled into the top corner to put us 2-0 up in a game we later blew.

The second was even better. Where better for Roberto Mancini's second game in charge than the freezing December night at Molineux; the easily-used rhetorical device made real. Carlos Tévez put us ahead but it was Garrido - a second half substitute - who won it for us. He swung his free-kick around the wall, dropping it just inside Marcus Hahnemann's near post. Tévez later made it 3-0. It remains one of my favourite games under Mancini to date and Garrido made it possible.

He goes to a league where he will get more time on the ball, to produce more of those special moments of his. It plays more to his skill-set - he should excel there and I am sure he will. I'm also pleased he's gone to Lazio. I know you're not meant to be but I've always been quite sympathetic to them. I suppose that's because I endorse the historical memory of Benito Mussolini they're a bitter, jealous second club that play in sky blue. Then we've got the Sven, Ousmane Dabo and Kolarov connections. Rolando Bianchi and Bernardo Corradi both played there.

It goes without saying I'll be keeping an eye or two on Garrido's progress at Lazio, and will be updating where relevant. If he meets Bianchi's Torino in the Coppa Italia I will be seriously compromised.

Javi Garrido. MCFC 2007-2010. 50 starts, 2 goals.

1 comment:

setteblu said...

Lazio are not at all the second club, they have been estabilished long before AS (27 years before) and the won in Europe.
Neither they are linked with Mussolini; the dictator wanted badly the foundation of AS, trying to make Lazio disappear.
Study before writing.
An italian Lazio & City fan