Every footballer has a purpose. They have a certain position, receive instructions and communicate with teammates.
Some flit around the pitch adding splashes of colour – delicate touches, weighted through-balls and the like. Others have the task of scoring goals, goalkeeping or defending.
Oriol Romeu is a destroyer. He harries, hacks, slides and grapples, and very good at it he is too.
Romeu was apparently forged in the Barcelona academy, and is somehow only 23. If you were to watch him play without knowing his background you’d be more likely to guess he’d sprung from Millwall, or generated a reputation in the lower leagues.
It is hard to imagine La Masia coaching their players the art of pestering, going through the back of an opponent and use of the elbows, along with pressing, intricate passing and spatial awareness. Romeu was clearly cut from a different cloth.
So far Romeu has managed three yellow cards in three appearances for Southampton – all of which have been richly deserved. He plays right on the edge of acceptability, leaving the Saints fans in a perpetual state of worry regarding the number of players their team will soon have left on the pitch.
His style isn’t to slow the game down with persistent niggly fouls, rather induce longer stoppages with less frequent, more forceful contact. It is certainly an interesting approach and one which brings attention from the referee.
Meanwhile he has already struck up a relationship with his teammates, which must be good, right?
Squad competition is good – it encourages improvement and challenges complacency. Well, it seems already that he is in competition with his midfield partner Victor Wanyama, but not for passes, goals or clean sheets: yellow cards are desirable here.
Like Gimli and Legolas in Lord of Rings counting how many orcs they’ve killed, you can imagine the Spaniard and the Kenyan keeping a running tally of fouls and cards.
The both of them will of course face competition from experienced cloggers Gareth Barry and Lee Cattermole, but ambition is of course admirable – to be the best you’ve got to learn from them.
His career so far – from Barcelona, to Chelsea, to the many loan spells – has been building up to this. Don’t worry about the backlash or the suspensions. Chase that dream, Oriol.