By 90Min
September 28, 2019
'Christian Pulisic: What's Going On, Buddy?' - A short film.

INT. THERAPIST'S OFFICE - DAY

A bespectacled man, clad head to toe in corduroy and tweed, sits at his desk, huddled over a phone. He is, quite clearly, a therapist. Rain lashes down on the office's windows, as he strains to hear the person on the other end of the line. That person would be Christian Pulisic. 

THERAPIST

Hey, Christian, are you okay, buddy? Emotionally, but also, like, physically - are you okay? 

Muffled movements are heard from the phone, but no words. 

THERAPIST

Cause, from where I'm sitting - which is not, I should say, a courtside view [puts on American accent], if you know what I mean. 


He waits for a laugh that is not forthcoming.

THERAPIST

-- Err, things don't look great. They look... bad. Not Andriy Shevchenko bad. Not Franco di Santo bad. Or even Asier Del Horno bad. But maybe Victor Moses bad? Or Hernan Crespo bad? Which, if either of those last two is ringing a bell, is not as bad as it could be, trust me. There's plenty to go off from Victor and Hernan. Plenty. I mean, both had highs and lows, but the highs were much higher than people give credit for... Okay?

He waits once more for a response, but the static murmur of the phone line is all he's given. He's getting desperate.

THERAPIST

Hello? Christian? Are you there? Pulisic? Captain America? Do you read me? 'Merican Man, do you copy? 

Silence. Still. A crack of thunder then reverberates around the room, swiftly followed by a swoosh of lightning. The line cuts. The storm is in full swing now, leaving everything in its wake. The rain has infiltrated the room, crashing down from the ceiling - somehow. Lightning is incessant, the thunder milliseconds behind it.

The therapist stands up in anguish, takes off his soaked shirt, holds his hands up towards the skies and screams:

THERAPIST

CHRIIISSSTIIIIIIAAAAAANNNNNNNNNN!!

Fade to black. 

FIN.


It wouldn't have felt right, placing words in the mouth of Pulisic, because what would they've been? Would he be whimpering? Staunchly defiant? Disinterested? Apart from his bold claims to 'play the best I can, for myself and for the club' because 'that is all I can do', no one knows what he's really thinking. What he's really feeling.

Chelsea fans certainly don't and Frank Lampard - if he does - won't reveal it to the rest of us, save for his revelations that 'Christian is a young player as well', that 'his chances will come' and that, yes, 'there are people on the bench'. Cheers Frank. To be fair, that was after the Liverpool game last weekend.

Jeff Zelevansky/GettyImages

Thankfully, he has since clarified his position further on Friday, explaining: "But what he has to do, as all the players do, not just the wingers, is reach levels in training daily when there’s competition in the squad that makes you sit up and go, ‘here’s my team selection and that’s actually affected it by seeing good stuff'." 

Great.

So, what's happened? 

Well, after a promising pre-season, and an eye-catching turn against Manchester United - as in, he executed one eye-catching turn in an appearance off the bench - the Yank has been restricted to bit-part roles, and done little with it. Or at least, that's how it feels. 

In reality, in three starts, he was handed 277 minutes out of a possible 360 from his first four Premier League games. Which actually makes it worse, because again, it doesn't feel that way. It feels like he's been kept at bay. And that's mainly because he's been totally absent from Chelsea's two best performances - against Wolves and Liverpool.

Alex Burstow/GettyImages

This hiatus was momentarily alleviated so the youngster could stretch his legs against Grimsby in the Carabao Cup, but his legs didn't look stretched, they looked untested. And weak. And tired. And, in a game where every teenager under the sun was getting in on the goals, Pulisic was wasting chances left, right and centre.

Sure, he got an assist - his third of the season - but he wasn't impressive. Not in the slightest, according to Twitter.

But is that the problem? Are we reading too much into posts from anonymous fans on a platform designed to exponentially escalate 'hot takes' until they've lost all sense of reality? All meaning?

It's Twicarus out there. Or Takearus. Either or. I think I prefer Twicarus. 

In any case, this kind of discourse leads to articles, like one written in the Sun, with the headline: "Pulisic must think about quitting Chelsea next summer if Lampard continues to ignore £58m outcast."

No, I won't give you the hyperlink.

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/GettyImages

Sure, you could compare him with the other youngsters who've excelled so overtly at Stamford Bridge, but that you would be unfair. Two of them - Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori - had already worked with - and won the heart of - Lampard. The other was coming off a 26-goal, promotion-sealing campaign. 

All three are English (a massive aid) and all three had been within the club's set-up since they were 4ft and being fitted for braces.

So let's take another tack. Assume another perspective. Provide some further context. 

You know Eden Hazard? Yeah, the Belgian bloke. Well, since his summer move to Real Madrid - for at least £30m (possibly up to £50m) more than Pulisic - he has made just three appearances. 

Two of those have been routine La Liga victories, in which Hazard has contributed to zero goals, and the other was one of the most comprehensive losses in Los Blancos' extensive continental history.

Aitor Alcalde/GettyImages

Yes, he's been injured, but he wasn't for Wednesday's game against Osasuna, and he was still completely iced out. 

So let's calm down a bit about 'quitting' and being 'ignored' for the time being; because it could always be worse. He could be an overweight, goalless, assistless Belgian tumbling the wrong way towards both his 30th birthday and some Spanish napkin-waving treatment. 

There's a long way for the Yank to go yet. Keep the faith.

You May Like