With Townsend, and to a lesser degree Soldado, getting much of the acclaim for scoring the goals, one unsung hero has largely been ignored for praise in Sunday´s win against AVillain, although Andros did give credit to his team-mates for providing him with the platform to perform.
That platform was based squarely on the huge shoulders of the man we know as the Beast.
Sandro Ranieri is something of an enigma. Our guitar playing, samba signing, kung-fu style high kicking, London sightseeing, weird hair, social media celebrity seems such a gentle giant off the pitch. On it he is anything but. His style is more dark destroyer than soul mate – using his ample frame to create a brick wall in front of our defensive line. He is quick and decisive in the tackle – as he proved so many times on Sunday – and strong in the air. Is it any wonder that we have not yet conceded a goal this season whilst he has been on the pitch.
He was not fully fit to play against Le Arse, but he would have made all the difference in those second half displays against Chelski and WetSpam.
Sandro makes all the difference to the team – he is the bedrock on which all our attacking play can be founded. It allows whoever else is in central midfield – whether it be Dembele or Paulinho, Holtby or Eriksen – to get on with their jobs knowing their backs are covered. In turn this allows the wide men – including the full backs – the opportunity to get at the opposition and deliver balls into telling areas.
Put very simply – Sandro must play.
Until Capoue – an able understudy not a replacement – is fully fit I suggest that Sandro should play every single game. He is in need of game time to get even fitter – if that is possible – so why not get him in every time. He can rest when we have the next international break.
By that time we will have had a relatively easy set of games – Sheriff, Hull, Hull, Everton, Sheriff and Newcastle. And before you say that there is no such thing as an easy game – and I would agree with you – just look at the sequence of games in store for the team currently lying three points ahead of us in the Premiership. Dortmund, Palace, Chelsea, Liverpool, Dortmund, United is the fixture list awaiting Le Arse over the next few weeks.
Whilst we could put out virtually any team picked from our well balanced first team squad, and still get a result, Le Arse will need to put out every one of their so-called superstars in order to simply compete in many of their games. And they surely will not get a result in all of them.
Come the next international break in the middle of November, I can see them having dropped off their top spot and being replaced by us.
In the meantime, however, we must concentrate on our continued run in the Europa, away to the newest team in the competition as The Sheriff of Moldova only came into existence just 16 years ago.
Based in Tiraspol, the capital of the breakaway state of Transnistria, generally recognized as part of Moldova, the club plays in the top division in Moldovan football. Founded by the Sheriff Security Company on 4 April 1997, their first football trophy was the 1998–99 Moldovan Cup while the club won promotion to the top flight in 1998, after its first-ever season, and has since dominated the Moldovan National Division with ten consecutive titles from 2001 to 2010, winning an eleventh in 2012. The side also have seven Cup titles, including six double-winning seasons. Impressive domestic stats but their European form is not that brilliant – this is the furthest they have ever got.
Their squad is made up mostly of Moldovans and other eastern Europeans but does contain no less than six Brazilians – Ricardinho, Fernando, Kadu, Thuram, Luvamor and Jhulliam – who between them have won the princely number of zero caps for their country. In contrast our three Brazilians (and I do include Gomes in this calculation) have won 50 caps between them – such is the difference in class between the squads.
They do however sit in second place in the group table courtesy of two draws (0-0 and 1-1) against Anzhi and Tromso, but that run of good form is surely about to come to an end.
As I eluded in the article, it would not really matter who we put out on the pitch from our multi talented squad, we would still get a positive result – provided the Beast plays and is charged with doing what he does best – search and destroy.
The game is on Thursday evening kick off 7pm shown live at both Moores Bar and La Mariposa.