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Can in contention for bench spot

I’ll nail my colours to the mast – I like Emre Can.

Posted by Andy Thompson
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I don’t have him down as one of the best midfielders in Europe (unlike his agent) but I think that the German is a very talented player. I will personally be sorry to see him leave if that is the case. Certainly all of the (very, very loud) noises coming from Turin indicate that he will be plying his trade in Serie A for Italian champions Juventus next season. He does split our fans down the middle however. There are many who think he does too much at his own pace and he slows the tempo of our rocket powered team down. That’s an argument I can certainly understand.

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Whilst it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth to see a player leave on a free, I personally wish Can well in his new venture. He can be held up as a beacon to players who are trying to force through moves. Whilst he hasn’t always played well, he has been a key part of our midfield for long stretches this season and our squad has been much weaker without him in it in the closing stages. He has never shirked a tackle, gone hiding or refused to play. He’s simply been injured since March.

How many times over the past couple of months would we have been able to benefit from rotating Can in and out of the team? He’s not everyone’s cup of tea but given we have had nobody to switch with, our midfield has been getting rather leggy as the season came to an end.

So to see people screeching on social media how Can should be kept away from the final is a bit of a strange one. He’s going, I get that, but he has not demonstrated a shortage of commitment at any point. Why would he do so when the most important medal of all is at stake? He simply wouldn’t.

Due to injuries we’ve been playing with fire in the centre of midfield a lot in recent weeks. Thankfully, we seem to have negotiated that difficult spell now and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the only long term absentee. Adam Lallana has made a few substitute appearances and despite a disaster of a season for him on a personal level, he is winning his race for the Kiev bench.

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It is a bench that will be enhanced by his presence. And even though Can is leaving (barring a huge turnaround) the bench will be better for having him on it. This isn’t about meting out punishments or anything like that – this is about winning the Champions League. I am personally of the opinion that any talk of ostracising Can is insane. If he’s fit, we should do our level best to get him in the squad.

With the way we play being so dependent on that high octane central midfield, you cannot discount the possibility of tired legs in the last fifteen minutes. Tired legs lead to tired minds and tired minds leads to the switch offs we’ve been guilty of in the closing weeks of the season. If we’re trying to close out a game or we’re under a lot of pressure, which Real are inevitably going to apply at some point with the quality we possess, then bringing on Can (or Lallana) might be exactly what we need to change the tide.

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I completely understand that people are angry that Can is leaving and he will no doubt gain a tidy profit for himself and his agent with a signing on bonus that will make Juventus’ financial manager cry. But until the 1st July, he’s still our player and in my opinion the bench will be a better place with him on it. If he’s fit we would be crazy to not take advantage of that fact. At the very worst we might need to get the last fifteen minutes or extra time out of him – in the best case scenario we won’t need him at all.

Even though they aren’t fully fit, Lallana and Can should be shoe ins for the bench. Nobody has a problem with Lallana being there – why the same for Can? We need all the help we can get and all the options we can make available to us. And above all – he might not even be fit!

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