Poor Danilo. Poor, poor Danilo.
We don't want to yell at him. We want him to succeed. Not just because he is a talented player, but because he plays for Real Madrid and we want everyone on the squad to succeed and contribute to continued to success.
But for some reason, just when he looks good in training, or has a couple of very decent performances, or comes back from an injury and we so desperately want to continue our encouragement and support, he goes and does something like
Let me be very clear on my stance, and one I share with most if not all the Managing Madrid staff. AND one recently elaborated by Gabe and Kiyan on yesterday's Podcast - Danilo is actually a perfectly suitable back-up right back.
Whether or not anyone agrees on his value based on his substantial transfer fee, he accomplished some crazy cool things at Porto, was a dynamic enough player to capture the eyes of the best club on the planet, and for all intents and purposes, arrived highly anticipated.
Danilo possesses the skill set of only a few right backs in the world. He's traditionally pretty solid defensively at the back. He's a more-than-competent passer. He's very good pushing forward on the wings, linking up with midfielders and wingers alike, and he's grown quite the reputation for cutting back inside and unleashing absolute screamers from crazy distances.
So why hasn't he been executing those skills consistently over the last two seasons?
I think a big chunk of it comes down to confidence, particularly in big games. But I'm not sure why.
There was a period last season when legitimate conversation unfolded over whether Carvajal was going to keep his starting spot. Danilo turned in a couple of solid performances, brought some elements to the right side that were lacking (height and a shot from range) and who knew what was going to happen?
I can't pin down any one event that created the timid Danilo of today. I certainly remember him getting absolutely skinned alive by Nolito when we played Celta last season. Add to that a few major blunders with passing that lead to goals or build-ups to goals, but nothing that would obviously have caused a clear lack of confidence.
I think perhaps what it might be, with Wednesday's perfectly placed header in the wrong goal as a perfect example, is that Danilo makes some absolutely face-palming, head-shaking mistakes just frequently enough, that it's almost too easy to jump all over him.
Why Real Madrid fans always need a scapegoat
As easy as it is sometimes to use Danilo as the default scapegoat, he's only the most recent, or easiest anyway, in a perpetual list of scapegoats on whom the Real Madrid faithful heap their vehemence.
It's easy to step back and try to be objective as we criticize those who would criticize Danilo. But is some way, we know we all do it. It was James for the whole first half off the season, Casemiro before that. Last season was Bale. Then there are the running themes ebbing and flowing regarding Benzema (which I'll never understand), let alone the "let's sell Ronaldo" current that only recently ended.
Can you blame the average fan for desperately vacillating between the most currently, poorest performing player?
I don’t think so. Well, not the average fan anyway. Those blokes who decide to pick a bone with one particular player and never let their animosity go for any reason don't need to be listened to. But just about everyone else - I think they (we) largely escape the blame for occasional criticism.
You see, with so much talent on this squad, so consistently turning out stellar performances, executing so flawlessly (compared to 95% of the rest of the footballing world), and with so much team success, we get accustomed to a level of expected excellence. And when someone doesn’t live up to that consistently, like Danilo, he is trounced upon immediately.
Even when things are going amazingly well and we've gone undefeated 40 games on the trot, human nature dictates that we complain about something, or look for the worst in a situation.
But deep down we know that it pains us more than anything when one of our boys is struggling. We honestly want him to succeed, to consistently contribute to the excellence of this club.
Yet, we find ourselves jumping at the first chance to the nearest outlet whenever we're let down in even the smallest way. Perhaps it's just the way of things, but we should probably try to not be wanks about it.
In the meantime, we'll hope to see Danilo bring back what he's capable of, score some galazos from 30 yards out. Or, if he goes the way of Illarra, wait to see which poor under-performing soul is unfortunate enough to make out hit list next.