There are managerial decisions we can all agree with. Like, I dunno, playing Claudio Marchisio in the center of the midfield or staring Gianluigi Buffon in goal whenever it is humanly possible. You see, these are some of the things that you just can't disagree with as you nod your head whenever you see them on the team sheet each game.
Yet every time I see Álvaro Morata playing out wide on the left wing in a 4-3-3 formation, well, I think of something that used to happen plenty of times during those Dark Ages we don't speak of these days.
Looking at Morata now reminds me of Marchisio playing left midfield.— J D Angkasa (@JDAngkasa) November 8, 2015
Yep, that's it. Unfortunately, that's the ticket right there. Preach on, JD.
We don't know exactly why Max Allegri continues to play Morata, who's not a winger, as a winger. It's not one of those starting lineup decisions where you agree with. It's far from it, actually. Morata is versatile enough to where he can survive as a quasi-winger. But even for a player who tends to drift out wide from time to time, being out wide full time doesn't even come close to the same kind of deal.
But here's the simple truth: Morata is arguably Juventus' best striker. He's proven it in the Champions League. He's proven it in Serie A over the past year and change since arriving from Real Madrid. He is the best goal-scoring threat this team has going for it right now as Mario Mandzukic searches for some semblance consistent form. And because of all this, it's no surprise that Juventus have proven to be a team that doesn't consistently score goals through their first 18 games in all competitions this season.
Yet, Morata's being wasted out wide.
Seriously, why is Morata playing out wide?
It's understandable that some of the starting lineup selection problems Allegri has dealt with this season is because the squad's injury totals seemed to never die down up until a couple of weeks ago. It's not Allegri's fault in full that he was seeing one player after another get hurt as games went by the first two months of the season. But when it comes to this extremely important detail, one that is seeing a very good — and potentially much more — striker be used to meh results as a winger, it's something that Juve's second-year manager can control.
"It's a more complicated season with Juventus, especially because of injuries and because I'm not playing in my ideal role," Morata said on Thursday. I believe that's what we like to call a "big-time hint," ladies and gentlemen.
Morata's shots per game average this season (1.7) is basically the same as it was in the 2014-15 campaign (1.8). The glaring difference is that the 23-year-old Spaniard has one goal in 479 Serie A minutes this season. And last season? He scored eight goals in 1,321 minutes, an average of one every 165 minutes.
I'll confess this: At the beginning of this Morata-as-a-winger experiment during the preseason friendlies, I was more than just a little interested to see where it was going to go. Well, that sample size was all of about 45 or 60 minutes. Now that we've seen it "develop" into something with more "results," I'm just going to go ahead and revise my viewpoint of it. I hope that's okay.
We know where Morata played almost every game last season once he became a regular starter. We know where he's playing more often than not now. We can analyze it all we want, but the reason why Morata, who was so good in his first season with Juventus, can't replicate the success of a year ago doesn't need tons of number crunching. It's pretty easy to figure out at this point why Morata hasn't scored a goal in Serie A in over a month.
Would this cause him to re-think his future with the club? I dunno, but you don't want the Real Madrid return rumors to become an actual possibility. That's why, amongst other reasons, why there's no reason Álvaro Morata should be played out wide for much longer whatsoever.