Prompted by an empty bank balance leading to a Saturday night in front of the telly, the notion of Player Cam was first introduced amongst my fellow football-loving colleagues.
Whether it was a new signing, or a player putting in a string of good performances gone largely unnoticed by most, Player Cam involved watching Football First and studying an individual performance.
Applying that to the wider realms of European and international football, the first of many Player Cams on Sparky in Rotterdam ’91 begins with a look at a young midfielder seizing his opportunity in an international side supremely low on confidence.
The new Les Bleus revolution has got off to a stuttering start as Laurent Blanc’s first matches in charge of a France side deep in crisis reads: three matches, two losses and one win.
Matters are not being helped by suspensions lingering over the heads of key members of the squad after the dreadful display in South Africa, but fans would hope that there is still enough quality in reserve to make a positive start to the Blanc era.
The former World and European winner has been forced to turn to young, exciting, but ultimately inexperienced players to helping to fill in for their suspended compatriots. One of those impressionable figures is Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila.
M’Vila who was called up to Raymond Domenech’s 30-man provisional World Cup squad, has worked his way through the international youth ranks, and impressed on his senior debut in the 2-1 defeat to Norway. But a seemingly tougher task lay in his wait as France kicked-off their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign against Belarus.
Lining up in a 4-4-2 formation, M’Vila a surprise inclusion ahead of Alou Diarra played alongside Arsenal’s Abou Diaby who was given greater license to advance as M’Vila stayed true to his defensive midfield qualities providing protection for centre backs Mexes and Rami.
His early moments in the game largely consisted of spreading swift passes across the width of the pitch, keenly and enthusiastically observing his role to sweep up and distribute the ball efficiently. It took M’Vila around the 20th minute mark to play an attack minded pass, in what was an uneventful opening to the game. On the 25th minute, M’Vila made a rare venture up field but gave the ball away, and rarely strayed from his defensive duties for the rest of the first half.
After the break in the 49th minute, M’Vila stole the ball away from a napping Aleksandr Hleb and fired a shot at Belarus keeper Zhevnov who parried the decent attempt. Showing his inexperience at international level just moments later n the 51 minutes, the roaming Vyacheslav Hleb ghosted past M’Vila as Belarus sensed they could get more than just a point from the game.
It was just after the hour around the 66th minute mark that M’Vila’s passing became more purposeful and direct as a French side bereft of any real craft, struggled to carve out any clear cut opportunities. His first ambitious long range ball arrived on the 75th minute as the defensive midfielder attempts to release Saha, only to see his pass was mopped up by the Belarus defence.
Syarhey Kislyak’s late winning strike for Belarus was a hammer blow, but young M’Vila comes away from the game with another promising performance under his belt. The defensive midfielder stuck to his task in an otherwise uninspiring French side that struggled to carve out enough chances, but he showed a confidence to keep hold of a role that has largely been up for grabs since Makelele departed from the international setup. It’s certainly M’Vila’s position to lose and Blanc will no doubt show faith in the youngster if he continues to put in the kind of disciplined performances he has so far in that famous blue shirt.