I had this ready to go, believing Erik Lamela was off to France. Shame to waste a blog. It's going to be very interesting to see how the player reacts and how we manage him going forward. Only hope for redemption is a Christmas miracle before the New Year window re-opens.
Shame about Lamela. He was very easy to write off from the start. A big money signing that turned out to be a cosmetic replacement for Gareth Bale rather than a productive one. He was lightweight in frame and with influence. You're either going to be a success, a failure or something in-between. You can usually gauge which label a new player will be tagged with and how long it might take to prove it or push beyond it. The adjustment period can sometimes be slow, but there is (or should be) tangible progression. Some evidence of hope. Yet with Erik we still have no idea where he would have slotted in if we had retained his services.
How much time do you give a player before it switches ruthlessly from a game of patience to a lost cause? In this case, it was best the club admitted to the mistake and allowed the player to regain his confidence and comfort in a country where the tempo is more fitting and less demanding of qualities that he doesn't possess.
Sometimes football can deliver the unexpected. That's not necessarily a good thing. It's a bit like ordering pizza. If it arrives late and cold, it's still pizza but it isn't going to taste as good as one that is piping hot. Placing it in the oven is an option and if you're willing to wait you'll capture the taste you desired. You can microwave it if you're desperate but the chances are it won't regain its consistency and authenticity. Or you can just eat it cold. There's nothing wrong with cold pizza but it's normally stuck away in the fridge and never the main course. I guess that's the risk you take when you're not quite sure what you want so you go ahead and order a takeaway because it looked on the menu the last time you ate out.
With Erik, a more relevant analogy would be asking for an Argentine steak, medium rare, and getting one from Iceland with Peter Andre plucking it out of the freezer for you.
I don't mind letting go of logic and just waiting to see what happens. On this occasion, there was no evidence of improvement and development. Blind faith was wasted faith. Erik has always looked a little lost. Eager to impress, yes. Grafted, yes. But his application was mostly a blue screen of death. His graft was mostly over-exuberant, trying too hard to keep up with the pace. It didn't help that we often stuck him wide. Perhaps it's easier to invert from the flank in Serie A but over here, you need to be more direct and strong with your intent. Not floaty and wishful.
There's no doubting he has ability. It's refined for Italy not England. France? We'll find out soon enough. You'd think for £30M and with a director of football that previously took him from River Plate to Roma, they'd have considered the risk potential. Shame on Franco Baldini.