If sections of the media are to be believed, £31m of Roman Abramovich’s hard earned cash might just as well have been flushed down the Stamford Bridge plumbing this summer.
Why? Because one of European football’s greatest ever strikers can’t hit the proverbial cow’s arse with a banjo now that he’s wearing the blue of Chelsea.
Andriy Shevchenko’s goal scoring travails have become the latest hot topic – or another stick with which to bash the Blues, depending on your point of view.
“[Shevchenko’s] impact on the English game will be minimal and we’ll all come to see his time spent at Chelsea as a great player picking up one last, well-deserved paycheck,” writes ITV Sport’s Justin Zehmke.
Shevchenko scored 173 goals in 296 appearances for AC Milan, the majority in a league notorious for its focus on the defensive aspects of the beautiful game.
In the 2005/06 season, he scored 19 goals in the 22 games he played in Serie A. He scored 9 goals in 12 appearances in the Champions League. If it wasn’t for a knee injury, his World Cup might have proved equally as successful. He did manage to score two goals despite a lack of fitness.
Now that the onus is on him to produce similar form for Chelsea, and with just one goal in seven Premiership games, his ability is being doubted, which beggars belief.
“I think he looks heavy-legged. I don’t think he can run that fast.
“When we saw him at the World Cup, he’d been out for a long time and the argument was that he wasn’t fit. I keep on hearing and reading that he’s going to get better and in time he will score goals.
“I’m not so sure. His performances so far in the Premiership have not been that great and when Michael Ballack and Joe Cole come back, I’m not sure he’s going to play,” said the BBC’s Alan Hansen during last weekend’s Match of the Day.
It is fair to say that Shevchenko has not been at his best in recent weeks.
But what his doubters have failed to recognise, or chosen to ignore, is his all round play and contribution to the team: his movement, passing and link up play has been as good as ever. His mere presence has brought the best out of Didier Drogba, who is producing his best form in a Chelsea shirt.
Of course there is the possibility that he will continue to struggle and ultimately fail to adapt to the English game and style of play favoured by Jose Mourinho.
But such a scenario is almost unimaginable. He is a proven striker at the highest level, a class act. We are not talking about Mateja Kezman here.
It’s only October. Shevchenko needs more time: time to get used to the pace of the Premiership, time to adapt to Mourinho’s way of doing things – particularly the emphasis placed on him to link up the play. Maybe he still needs time to recover from his knee injury and the World Cup.
Don’t write him off just yet. It’s definitely not a myth that form is temporary and class is permanent. His goal scoring drought is doubtless nothing more than a blip. It’s perfectly conceivable that he’ll score 20 for the Blues this season once his confidence returns.