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Fredy Guarin - His Year of Do or Die

Claudio Villa

Last season was The Up and Down Year. At the start of November, Inter were a point off first place and in May it was 33. To my mind there was no player who exemplified that see saw year than Fredy Guarin.

For those who forgot, Fredy came to Inter the year before last, injured for half the season, on loan from Porto. he played in the second half of the season and did a very credible job showing a lot of power and burst if not fabulous aim. He was a breath of fresh air to the somewhat stagnant midfield that included Cambiasso and Stankovic. Big things were predicted for him last season.

And if the season ended in December, he would have made every one true.

But it didn't, and the second half of the season was a disaster. To be fair, he wasn't the only one who had a hard time at this point, but it could also be said that he wasn't one of those who tried to pull everyone up either. And that was one of the things that he was being counted on doing, using that tremendous attitude he displayed his first season with the team.

Was it fair to expect him to be something a bit larger than life, to be something of a savior? He had plenty of excuses handy if last season had been a complete wash for him - but it wasn't. He ended last season with 10 goals and 12 assists in 45+ games. More startling is that the vast majority of his meaningful stats occurred before January which means that he had a tremendous first half, perhaps after something of a slow start. To be honest, his contribution to the team between the months of October and December was a huge reason why the team was in the position it was in at the time. Guarin, Milito and others had their production disappear... and we know what happened after that. I would argue that at least a small part of the second half of the season's dry spell wasn't his fault. As players started dropping like flies Strama started to use him as a plaster to cover those cracks. The constant moving around and changing of duties must have done some damage, I can't help but thinking.

But that won't be the case this season. Injuries will still happen, but I get the feeling the there won't be the same sense of panic from Mazzarri that there was with Strama if for no other reason than because Mazzarri has a lot more experience and has learned to be much more organized. And really that sense of security when things went wrong is one of those things that Guarin... and the team at large really... were missing. And that's no slight against Strama - had this not been his first professional coaching job things might have gone differently. But Strama leaned heavily on Fredy, too heavily perhaps, as I have said.

All that behind him, Fredy really would have no excuse this season to show the world just how talented he is this season, after tantalizing us with his potential for the previous two. I am confident that Mazzarri will be clear on his ideas. If he can lead, if he can get a person like Fredy - who, I think, has that much valued "large personality" - to buy into his training methods and his sense of teamwork this can be a big, big, big season for a player who by all accounts is perfectly suited for the coach's style of play.

If he can't, it'll be clear that he's run out of excuses.