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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Sissoko will not surpass the awesome Vieira

"He has incredible ability for his age. He is 20, I saw Vieira when he was 18-years old and he was no better than Sissoko. Sissoko runs more than Vieira. In a couple of years he will be more dynamic than Vieira and a better player."

This is Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez commenting on his latest signing. And he has some Mourinho-type arrogance to come out with these specific comments.

I am confident in stating that Mohamed Sissoko is not going to be as good as Vieira, let alone better than the great Arsenal and French captain.

Rafa Benitez always comes across to me as an honest, modest, sensible individual. This is why I'm surprised by his talking-up of Sissoko in comparison to Vieira.

I first watched Sissoko two seasons ago on Sky. The commentators touted the teenager as a Vieira-type player. I decided then to watch this guy carefully, to see if he is the 'next Vieira' who perhaps Arsenal can go after when Pat calls it a day (which apparently is every summer).

I could see why he is compared to Vieira. He is African, has extremely long-limbs, and plays in central midfield. But this is where the similarities end. Much like the mistake made when Gerard Houllier bought Djimi Traore- being African and having long limbs is not enough to make a great player. Both Sissoko and Traore don’t have the same tenacity, the same ball-skills, the same passing ability, the same power-impact-energy as Vieira.

Having seen Sissoko again on a couple of occasions last season my opinion hasn't changed. When Vieira, aged 20, made his debut for Arsenal against Sheff Wed in September 1996 he made such an impact that I still remember it nearly 10 years on. His talent and potential greatness was there for all to see: I had never seen a player like him.

The next season he partnered Manu Petit in a central midfield that played with such skill and tenacity as to enable a league and cup double in Arsene Wenger's first full season in charge. Vieira than set up Petit for France's third goal against Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final.

Under his captaincy Arsenal have won another double, plus completed a 49 match unbeaten run. Last season he struggled when carrying the midfield burden alongside the inexperienced Fabregas and Flamini, but returned to his best when Gilberto came back into the team which allowed Pat the freedom to roam all round the pitch.

Sissoko has a lot to live up to after Benitez's claims. Nine consistent years of world-class performances to drive his team to consecutive top two finishes in the Premiership are required just as a starter.

I wish Sissoko well for Liverpool- but doubt that in nine years time Rafa can say he was right.

P.S.

Bentitez should be aware of the track record of coaches comparing new signings to great Arsenal players.

On signing Igor Biscan, Phil Thompson said that he would be Liverpool's answer to Vieira.
And on signing Ramon Vega, Gerry Francis said that Tottenham had signed their Tony Adams.

12 Comments:

Anonymous SH said...

Houllier also said Salif Diao is the next Vieira. Managers should really just stop comparing their signings to legendary players. Just let the player be and let their performance on the pitch speak for itself.

7/12/2005 10:41 am

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember also Rafa compared Antonio Nunez, possibly the player that could rival Gronkjaer or Atouba in terms of uselessness, to Luis Figo. Rafa's a top tactician but he shouldnt really compare new players with legends

7/12/2005 12:04 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

My apologises, Arsenal fans, if Benitez has come across as arrogant regarding Sissoko. I would personally steer clear of comparisons, particularly to the extent that I felt a new player would be better than an already established one. The Mali midfielder has a lengthy accomplishment to attain to eclipse the Frenchman, I sincerely hope he does for Liverpool that which Vieira has for Arsenal. Benitez needs someone of Vieira's magnitude to aid the rebuilding process, and, having tracked Sissoko from Auxerre, is excited of the prospect of molding a potential player for Liverpool. I do hope he is right.


RedsMan.

7/12/2005 12:54 pm

 
Anonymous MPJ said...

There is only ONE Vierra (wooooaaaaaaaahhhhhh). Fair enough he is getting on in age and probably only has two maybe three seasons in him BUT along with Keane he has shown what a central midfielder is all about. Strong in tackles, strong on the ball, a brilliant ball player, an awareness of where his team mates are and a charismatic captain, and thats just the beginning !! Money can't buy what Vierra brings to the table BUT Wenger needs to keep his eyes open for someone who he can ease into Pattys shoes when age starts to show. As for now, C'MON Patty GIVE EM HELL OUT THERE.....

7/12/2005 3:47 pm

 
Blogger SKG said...

I will reserve judgement on Sissoko until I actually see him play Premiership football.

I agree that Viera and Keane are two of the great central midfielders we've ever seen, but they have been surpassed by Steven Gerrard.

There's only one Steven Gerrard, enough said.

7/12/2005 5:52 pm

 
Blogger T said...

I couldn't agree more with all the comments, apart from SKG's intervention.

That, my friend, is a debate for another time.

7/12/2005 7:07 pm

 
Blogger SKG said...

if only i could also have a steven gerrard shirt on my office wall like arsene wenger has

7/12/2005 8:18 pm

 
Anonymous Abdul said...

SKG, Steven Gerrard has a long long way to go before he reaches the level that Keane and Viera were at at their peak. I absolutely love Gerrard as a player but I think he more than anyone thinks he is better than he actually is.

After the Wrexham friendly match Gerrard said "I was worried about the fans' reaction at Wrexham but it was understandable, they were close to losing their best player. I understand people getting frustrated" - As my favourite Guardian Unlimited column pointed out, either Gerrard's ego is even more out of control than we all thought, or else Xabi Alonso was also on the verge of walking out on Liverpool last week!

7/12/2005 10:19 pm

 
Blogger Skippy said...

I have heard a lot of good things about Mohammed. I like Rafa, he is not arrogant.

Djimi is a good player, and if some of the more gifted players had his hunger and desire they would become even better player.

Stevie G is not arrogant, he is Liverpool's best player he is just being honest.

7/12/2005 11:21 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been impressed with Sissoko, actually, but from what I've seen, he looks to have more the capabilities of Papa Diop than Vieira. Isn't he going to be Hamann's eventual replacement? How do you see Benitez lining up your midfield, redsman?

7/17/2005 6:48 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have watched Momo play a couple of times and I have to say I am NOT impressed with his timing in tackles. Although the lad is hardworking, runs his socks off and all,he puts too many tackles in too late in plain view of everyone. He has given away way too many freekicks and it is no suprise he has gotten himself booked already. I do hope to see better judgment from the lad. Some of his passes have been slow and off. This could be due to a current lack of understanding with his new team mates. Also, he has been caught off guarded and been dispossessed a number of times. Still, with Hamann around showing the ropes and with Alonso's cool apporach, I am sure Momo can pick up a thing or two and improve this year... not to mention having Mr Benny as a manager. :)

8/01/2005 4:04 pm

 
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12/18/2005 7:22 pm

 

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