Such is the fickle nature of the average football fan, a positive response to the lead question would be more forthcoming had Tabla converted recent gilt-edged opportunities against El Salvador and Haiti.
But the doubt still remains. Of course in missing those opportunities, each presented by the more effective Tajon Buchanan, it doesn’t present a benchmark for failure, in the same way scoring either one, or both, would guarantee the re-ignition of a once-promising career.
Tabla is not so much an enigma as a wasted talent. So far! But at 21, there’s still time to rescue a highly respectable career in MLS.
A return to Europe is out of the question short-term at least, and anyway you would question the wisdom of the player again plying his trade away from those who influenced his early years in Montreal.
While I never subscribed to the hype, a few short years ago there were people prepared to talk of Ballou Tabla and Alphonso Davies in the same breath. But there were three main differences. Fonsie’s directness, his athleticism and possibly most important of all, maturity, always marked him out as the most likely of the pair to succeed.
That however didn’t take away from an abundance of raw talent that should’ve secured a flourishing career for Tabla in Europe. Perhaps not with Barcelona for whose B team he signed, but when you leave such a celebrated school of football there’s a long way down and plenty of good, well-run clubs falling over themselves to break your fall.
I always had the impression Davies’ handling by Bayern, that of a young teenager being away from home for the first time an ocean removed from home, was infinitely superior to the care afforded Ballou in Spain.
But Ballou’s time has now come to put up, or shut up. The partying must stop and he must focus on the serious business of football.
There’s a legion of fans in Montreal wishing for him to get back on track. They may be less confident and shorter on patience than before, however if Mauro Biello’s faith in not only selecting Ballou for his Guadalajara U23 squad, but placing him in the starting line-up against El Salvador, kick-starts a revival, then they realize everyone can benefit.
Because of his outrageous talent things came too easily for Tabla from the beginning, his feet failed to remain on the ground, his head was lost in cloud. Then Barca came calling. People may have played down the issues at the time, so happy were they he was afforded a huge opportunity with one of the World’s top clubs. What could go wrong?
But it only served to exacerbate problems borne of an indulgent personality that began to take his talent and football for granted. It was a time when a strong, caring mentor was required and seemed for all the world to be lacking.
Missing 2+ years of development at a crucial period in any player’s life-cycle is critical, and although this means Tabla’s early promise may never now be realized to the full, if he can work hard and concentrate on his game there’s no reason why he cannot become a very good MLS player.
But it’s really about the player himself. Can he apply himself enough to make this happen and not go off the rails?
He now has familiar, positive, influences in key positions at the club who have been involved previously in his development in Wilfried Nancy and Jason Di Tullio. He’ll be familiar too with Laurent Ciman, a former team-mate. Not only that, but at national team level he has Mauro Biello, the only Montreal head coach he played under before departing for Europe, when things were better.
If the chemistry works, then Montreal could be onto a winner. The return of a fit, functioning Tabla would be like signing a new player, such has been his lack of contribution for far too long now.
Everything is in place for the player to resurrect his flagging career. The talent is a given. All that’s required now is the attitude and application to go with it.
He owes it to Biello, he owes it to Montreal and perhaps above all, he owes it to himself.
How do you think Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla’s career will pan out at CF Montreal?
This poll is closed
He will kick-on and become an established MLS regular
He will remain with the club, but as a squad player, not a consistent starter
He will not become established and leave for another club.
He will retire, disillusioned from football