The Nigerian has exceeded expectations in the midst of a disappointing campaign at Stamford Bridge this season while distinguishing himself on the international stage
By Liam Twomey
When he arrived at Stamford Bridge from Wigan back in August, few expected Victor Moses to emerge from this season as a Chelsea success story. After a summer in which Roman Abramovich splashed out over £70 million on creative talent, a campaign spent mainly becoming acquainted with tracksuits and benches seemed the likelier outcome.
Yet, seven months and 38 appearances in all competitions later, the 22-year-old has established himself as a significant and consistent contributor to the Chelsea revolution, even as it has stuttered and lost its way. “I wasn’t expecting to play so much but, if you look at the amount of games we’ve played this season, you would expect everyone to get a chance,” Moses, speaking on behalf of Western Union’s PASS initiative, tells Goal.com.
“But I do really appreciate the amount of games I’ve played, because the more you play, the more experience you get. I’ve played in the Champions League and the Europa League, so I’m really enjoying myself at Chelsea at the moment.”
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Chelsea’s struggles on the pitch and seemingly insatiable appetite for chaos off it, however, have soured such personal achievements. The Europa League is the only one of eight trophies the club has competed for this term which remains a live target, while qualification for next season’s Champions League is less assured than anyone could have expected.
“I can’t say it’s been a great season for us,” Moses admits. “But it’s not over yet. We just need to get ourselves together. We’ve got the Europa League semi-final [against Basel] coming up on Thursday, and that’s a massive game.
“But it’s not just that. Every game we’ve got now is very important if we’re going to finish in the top four and play in the Champions League next season. This season has been a bit of a disappointment, but I can still see us picking up a trophy.”
Regardless of whether Chelsea end up claiming a second European trophy in as many years at Ajax’s Amsterdam Arena in May, the enduring memory of the season for many Blues fans will be the brutal sacking of club legend Roberto Di Matteo in November.
The Italian’s replacement, Rafa Benitez, is arguably the most loathed manager in the club’s history, and the Spaniard’s continuing presence in the dugout has often led to a poisonous atmosphere at Stamford Bridge. He won just two of his first seven home games, and has 11 wins from 17 overall.
But Moses insists the vitriol has not hindered him or his team-mates. “I haven’t seen it affecting the team,” he insists. “We’ve just stayed focused on the games we’re playing and tried to get three points every time, regardless of what’s going on with the fans, because we want to be in the top four this season.
“Roberto and Rafa are both good managers. They’ve both won the Champions League and are very experienced, so I’ve enjoyed my time working with them. Rafa’s doing well at the moment and Roberto won two trophies last season, so they’re both very good.”
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“I think the squad rotation has been important for us with the number of games,” he adds. “It’s good to have that around the team. We’ve played a lot of games, especially with the Europa League, which is why everyone has needed to play. It’s taken a lot out of us, but we’ve managed it very well. We’ve had a couple of players out injured, but they’re back now and we’re delighted with that.”
One of the players to have shone in spite of Benitez’s tinkering is Frank Lampard. The 34-year-old has scored 12 Premier League goals despite completing a full 90 minutes on just 13 occasions, as he edges ever closer to Bobby Tambling’s all-time Chelsea scoring record of 202.
Lampard’s feats are unlikely to win a him a new contract from a Blues hierarchy which believes his time is up, but Moses and his team-mates have no desire to say goodbye this summer. “Everyone would love to see Frank stay next season,” he insists. “He’s been magnificent for us this year, scoring goals and creating goals as well, and he’s a legend for the club.”
For now, though, the focus at Stamford Bridge is very much on winning the top four race and earning a shot at Champions League redemption next term.
“Every game is important but, having been knocked out like we were this year, we definitely want to be playing Champions League football next season,” Moses continues. “It’s a massive tournament for us, having won it last year, so to be playing in it again next season would be great.”
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