Every club in football has certain players that fit certain roles – individuals that embody a specific style of play in the 11 on the pitch or perhaps serve a specific role when the team are off the field and in the backroom.
You have the leaders, the motivators, the rock at the back, the anchor, the target man, the quick wingers and often most notably the prolific strikers. Yet there is one role that, for me at least, is far more integral to the dynamic nature of modern football. A role that rarely plays home to legends of a club but is just as important of a component in the machine as a goalscorer is – that role is one I like to call ‘Mr. Dependable’.
Not every club has one and they’re quite hard to spot. For more obvious examples; it’s your Michael Carrick’s, your James Milner’s, you César Azpilicueta’s -and for Blues it’s undoubtedly Maxime Colin.
Colin was the last of 3 Brentford signings in the madness of the 2017 summer transfer window and came to Blues for just over £3 million. At the time it seemed like a strange buy as Emilio Nsue, a player who’d previously been promoted with Middlesbrough, seemed happy as Blues’ starting right-back (although many would argue he was underperforming along with the rest of the team) and Josh Dacres-Cogley seemed a suitable back-up.
But what seemed one of the most insignificant signings of that period turned into what I believe to be the best investment this club has made since Trillion Trophy Asia took over.
You’d be hard pressed to find a player that almost always consistently performed in the tumultuous season under both Redknapp and Cotterill and before Monk came in most bluenoses were convinced that half the team weren’t worth the wages they were on. Looking back now, however, it’s clear Colin was the only player that could be given any sort of credit in each and every game that season. Though it seemed that many of the players were allowing the off-field issues and disagreements to seep onto the pitch week-in-week-out, Maxime Colin quietly put in a shift that saw him evade any major criticism.
Not to say that Maxime Colin is an unsung hero. Most pundits and journalists will tell you he’s definitely involved in the conversation of the best full-back in the league but unlike Che Adam’s goals, Maikel Kieftenbeld’s fantastic work rate or even Lee Camp’s see-saw goalkeeping ability, Colin’s work doesn’t get him any special nods within a match’s highlight reel. What Colin lacks in superstar attributes he more than makes up for in being the player that anyone can turn to in a crisis. That’s what makes him Mr Dependable.
The Frenchman reminds me of a certain American player that made 153 appearances for the club, one Johnathon Spector – a man who could play just about anywhere behind the forward line. Spector and Colin may not share the same attributes when we look at them as individuals but in my opinion, they embody the same committed attitude to answer the call and stepping up to the mark – wherever the boss may put them.
Blues’ lack of a second left-back has seen Colin step up to occupy that empty space whenever Pedersen has been injured or has faced suspension. This in itself is not too impressive – so a right-back can use his other foot, so what? But I believe what makes it so impressive is that Colin keeps the same level head and work ethic that he applies to his preferred position, so much so that after the recent win over Forest many fans are calling for him to keep his spot even with Pedersen returning. Pair this with the fact that Colin has played every single game this season bar one (EFL cup tie at Reading) and hasn’t been subbed off once shows you how important he is to this team.
That’s almost 46 hours of football this season without being taken off, by the way.
I have no qualms in stating that, game-to-game, Colin is by far the most important player we have in this squad. Whether it’s covering the opposite full-back position, being pushed to a right midfielder role as we’ve seen a couple of times this season or simply putting in just another fantastic shift at the office in his usual one, Colin is the kind of player that every team needs – and we’re blessed to have him.
Long live Mr Dependable.