pl-stage-jose-mourinho

Here at Chelsea Headache, we love to welcome guest writers to express their thoughts on Chelsea. Today, we have the great opportunity to host the opinions of a certain @ChelseaRumours:

Thursday, 20th September 2007.

This was the day the world woke up to the news, that José Mourinho and Chelsea had parted company. Having won back-to-back titles, the 2nd and 3rd championships in the club’s history, Mourinho had already cemented a special place in Chelsea supporters’ hearts. However, an indifferent start to the 2007/2008 season that culminated in successive home draws against Blackburn Rovers and Rosenborg became the end of Mourinho’s era at Chelsea. It was to become the start of a season of heartbreaks, as we lost the league cup final to Tottenham in extra time, and then the lowest point in recent Chelsea history – losing to United on penalties, after John Terry slipped and hit the post.

Since, we have enjoyed mixed fortunes and under several different managers. Avram Grant took over immediately after José, but was never seen as a long-term solution by anybody. He was fired immediately after Chelsea’s champions league final defeat.

When Scolari was appointed in July 2008, hopes were again high at Stamford Bridge – but some zonal-marking later and we were managerless once again. Guus Hiddink took over, a favour for his old pal Roman Abramovich, and it was public knowledge that he would only be in charge for the rest of season. He did fantastically well in his brief period as manager, and by the end of his reign, many fans were wishing he would stay. A win % of 73 says it all, just one defeat in his 22 games in charge – and as all Chelsea fans will remember, the win percentage would’ve been even higher had a Mr. Øvrebø not decided to forget to put on his contact lenses when we faced Barcelona at the bridge. (Barcelona then played United off the pitch in the final, and that left all Chelsea fans wondering what might’ve been…) Never the less, Hiddink won us the FA Cup and left with his head held high.

Then came Ancelotti – and boy did we turn on the style in 2009/2010! 103 league goals, one FA Cup and one Premier League title later, and we’d won the first double in the club’s history. However, Ancelotti’s reign came to an end after a trophyless 2nd season, where a winter slump essentially cost us the title – we very nearly won it in the 36th round when we faced United at Old Trafford, but they ran out 2-1 winners and more or less secured the title that day. Fans and pundits alike were outraged when the news broke that Carlo had been fired – and looking back at the 2 seasons that have followed, it probably was a big mistake.

André Villas-Boas was the hottest manager name in the game when we appointed him, but some dreadful man-management skills and drastic tactics soon meant that he was unemployed again. His assistant Roberto Di Matteo, already a name known to the Chelsea supporters of course, took over – and we all know what the lead to. FA Cup glory and a Champions League won through shere determination against opponents who had far better players than us saw Roberto being offered a 2-year contract, which he signed. However, people were already saying that he was just a short-term solution before Abramovich could get his preferred manager in: Pep Guardiola. It proved to be a very short term solution, as we crashed out of the Champions League in the group stages and suffered a few poor results in the Premier League… things seemed bleak…

And then Rafa took over. As much as Chelsea fans unite in glory, here they united in rage. Some went as far as to saying that it was the worst possible replacement for a club legend – and many agreed. Results such as 0-1 at home to QPR and throwing away a 2-goal lead at Reading didn’t help Rafa convince the supporters that he was the right man for the job either, however a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford proved to be the turning point in our season – a few good results later, and Champions League participation as well as the Europa League trophy had been secured. Rafa left, and fans were now wondering who would take charge at the Bridge.

We were all hoping.

We were all dreaming.

But when it finally happened, we couldn’t really believe it. José Mourinho, the man who left Stamford Bridge on that Thursday in September 2007 had returned.

“I had in my career two great passions, Inter and Chelsea, and Chelsea is more than important for me. It was very, very hard to play against Chelsea and I did it only twice which was not so bad so now I promise exactly the same things I promised in 2004, with this difference which is I’m one of you.” – José Mourinho’s first interview during his second reign as Chelsea manager.

In many ways, Mourinho put more effort into this interview than he needed – he had us at ”I’m very happy.” – he’d continue his winning form at Chelsea by winning 2 italian titles with Inter as well as the Champions League, before winning the Copa del Rey and La Liga with Real Madrid. We’ve never doubted his managerial skills, and when Chelsea finally announced his return, my Twitter timeline exploded with happy tweets… After such a season with a manager like Benitez, it’s difficult to remember the last time we’ve all been this happy. (19/05/12)

Furthermore, Mourinho has stated that he’s in it for the long haul this time around. He says he’s much more mature, ready for a different kind of long-term project, where his previous clubs have mostly been about achieving immediate success – which, granted, he has done.

This new project includes establishing a confidence in the young players we have in our squad, a confidence that will see them achieve great things – which talents like Oscar, Eden Hazard and Lukaku as well as our youth players (Chalobah, Baker, Piazon, Aké and Loftus-Cheek spring to mind) are destined for. We might not see immediate success, but at the same time we are only one or two additions away from having a squad that is ready to challenge at the highest level – and I’m sure Mourinho has some players in mind.

Some of the big dilemmas he’ll face though, is whether to keep the likes of Petr Cech and Frank Lampard in our first XI, or whether to replace them with the huge talents that are Thibaut Courtois and Kevin De Bruyne. While it is always hard enough to just say goodbye to legends like these, they might also be an important part of Mourinho’s plans in terms of the balance of experience and young talent – and it is no secret that these two as well as Terry and Ashley Cole are great friends with Mourinho, and could be vital for him to obtain a ”daddy” status (as Essien has labelled him) for some of our newer additions to the squad who aren’t familiar with José and his training methods.

Additionally there is the question of whether we need to sign another striker, with a big money move for Edinson Cavani being discussed. Romelu Lukaku has publically stated that he’d prefer to be loaned out if we do sign Cavani, as he fears he wouldn’t play frequently. Admittedly at his age, minutes on the pitch are a necessity, and Mourinho must decide if he trusts him to be our first choice striker (or whether Demba Ba or Fernando Torres are good enough for that!)

With André Schürrle all but one foot in Chelsea, maybe Mourinho will think of that as enough goal-scoring talent in the squad, with the likes of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard regularly hitting the back of the net – not to mention our defence who scored 27 goals this season, a quite spectacular amount of goals!

Mourinho will have many tasks to face as Chelsea manager, but he is up for the challenge – in fact he stated in his first interview that ”he wishes they’d start tomorrow.” while recognising the fact that the players obviously need a holiday. He’s determined, he’s got a plan and he’s at home here, so why shouldn’t it work out? It will most likely be a different story, but he has already said that himself as well – this is a new project, hopefully a long term one. Ultimately, this is what all Chelsea fans wanted to hear, many have screamed out for stability since Mourinho’s first reign as Chelsea manager, and is there anyone we’d rather have in charge of a long-term project Chelsea than The Special One? I doubt it.

He is one of us.

*This post was written a week or so ago so some topics such as Schürrle signing have now developed

Mourinho – What We Can Expect

Posted: June 20, 2013 by GaryCRobertson in Chelsea, England, Guest, mourinho, Preview, Transfers, Youth

José Mourinho is back. Four words that mean the world to (most, if not all) Chelsea fans. He’s back, alive and kicking. Is anybody disappointed by his appointment? I think not. Truly wonderful, delightful news.

Mourinho has already excited us before stepping out into the dugout, even possibly before meeting some of the newer players who weren’t around in his previous stint, just because it’s him. The icing on the cake after his arrival was the Chelsea TV interview that accompanied the news. He is “very happy” to be back. “It was an easy decision to make” for him. “I’m one of you.” And perhaps, the best quote of the lot was when he explained he is ready to “be in a club and stay for a long time.” What is there to not like about all that? He’s certainly saying the right things. Can he put them into practice?

So, what does Mourinho mean to us? Well, I took to Twitter recently to pose that question, a one word summary if you will, and this is what was said:

[José Mourinho is] special, bolshy, resurrected, unbeatable, panache, unique, charismatic, brilliant, mentor, pioneer, class, genius, king, boss, perfect, blue, outspoken, humorous, master, accomplished, matured, outspoken, thorough, unforgettable, sly, absorbing, winner, unrelenting, defining, motivator, homely, Daddy, notRafa (ha), alien (?) and God. That just about covers it all really. (How would you describe him? Let us know below. Thanks to all who participated)

Chelsea Headache are also very privileged to welcome the views of some guest writers today regarding Mourinho’s return:

@ChelseaActivity: It was a fairytale with a sore ending last time around, but Mourinho has returned, making the huge statement that is, “I am one of you”.

Lots have changed since 2007 for both parties – Mourinho has returned a more mature, experienced manager than the fresh-faced, ‘arrogant’ and ‘Special One’ he was before, although I’m sure he’s still special. While the club hasn’t just settled for what they had, Chelsea’s facilities have evolved, the youth team is stronger than ever, producing some of the best talent and they’ve even upgraded their silverware collection in recent years.

Although what hasn’t changed is the world-class ability Mourinho has as a manager, and that is something Chelsea haven’t had (arguably) since the brief days of Carlo Ancelotti.

For this time around to work, Mourinho needs to be given time in order to succeed in abundance. The players need stability and the club needs to afford ‘The Special One’ more time, and not jump to conclusions after a string of bad results.

José is an honest man, and when he makes a statement, he often follows through with it – he nodded and approved bringing through homegrown players. He’s learned a lot in 6 years, and so have the club, which is why I think those asking for players produced by the club to be given more opportunities, will have something to smile about in the future. And those just wanting silverware…I’m pretty sure you’ll have something to smile about, too.

@ChelseaChadder: Brash, confident, cocky, arrogant and special. All words most people would associate with the new Chelsea manager. However, will it be the same the second time round? My feelings are they won’t.
 
I believe Jose Mourinho has matured. He is still as confident as ever although seeks a new challenge. Can he guide the blues back to Premier League glory in the next couple of years? Of course he could with the aid of Roman’s money, but I don’t think that’s his intrinsic motivation. My feeling is that he wants to build a club, a future and a legacy for CFC, one to rival the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson. Surely that has to be the new goal of the ‘Special One’.

@ChelseaAnalysis: Jose Mourinho is the best manager on all levels for the club, the fans and the players. He has instantly unified the club and repaired the broken interindividual bonds/connections that have formed as a result of the suffering the club had gone through over the past half-a-dozen years since his abrupt and sudden departure which left Chelsea in a state of insecurity and managerial instability. His appointment restores the club a sense of security and provides it with a massive morale and confidence boost, from the fans, to the players, to the higher positions in the board. Jose seems to be extremely delighted and genuinely chuffed to be back in a job that was always his, in his opinion at least, and the reasons for that are clear; he’s back home, a place where, above anything else, he is loved and respected. There’s a feeling that this job, and the size and nature of it, is only, and always was, for one man – him. He has an excellent relationship with the fans which he had earned during his first time in charge, as he has with the players. As a result of the past he has with the club, this time he steps into his managerial position not only as a man willing to prove himself and do what he is asked or paid to do, but also, more maturely, as a fan of the club itself which ensures that he will be performing his job with pure passion, devotion and determination as well as the desire for success, with the club’s best interests at heart.

He is a man driven by his winning mentality and valuable experience and will provide his players with the motivation and fighting spirit needed to achieve success. A wise man as himself is fully aware of the new modern approach he has to adopt this time with regards to a young squad and will give each player a specific role in the team and the chance he deserves, nurturing talents and guiding the young stars through progress and development for the future and aiming for long-term sustainability and stability upon which all of that is based. He knows the club perfectly and is tactically astute by nature and has been given all kinds of top resources to proceed with along with the guarantee for more to build a world class complete team. Jose Mourinho is tireless and very demanding of himself, which fits perfectly with the club’s ambition and constant high-standard demands of success; he’s part of the club and will build a dynasty into the future.

@TekkaBooSon: I have to say, in the months leading up to us announcing a new boss, I didn’t want Jose back at Chelsea. At least, not during this forever on-going ‘transitional’ period we seem to have been in since about 2009. I had reserved judgement on whether Jose was the right man for the job, especially as I think our priority now should be bringing through talented youth players like Josh McEachran (who everyone who follows me knows I am a huge fan of), Nathaniel Chalobah and the talented youth we have out on-loan like Courtois, De Bruyne and Lukaku. I also questioned how long he would be in charge for, as the last thing we need is another managerial change in 2 seasons. We need stability; something we haven’t had since Jose was in charge (albeit only for 3 seasons or so..).

Despite all these doubts and reservations, I am absolutely delighted to have Jose Mourinho back as our manager. It feels like it’s Chelsea again and it’s the most optimistic I’ve been about our future since AV-B took charge. I must admit I haven’t been a fan of any of our managers excluding AV-B since Jose left; Ancelotti was a yes man and a pushover, Di Matteo was tactically inept, I didn’t see a future with Scolari and Grant and Hiddink were obviously always going to be short-term appointments. I am looking forward to enjoying wins again, as opposed to under Benitez where I struggled to even watch our games.

Since Jose has taken charge, he has been saying all the right things; he seems to want to develop the young players we already have rather than spending big like he has done previously. I’ve read numerous quotes suggesting he wants to build a legacy here and stay for a long time, though to be honest I’d be very happy with 5 years with Jose at the helm.

To sum up, I cannot wait for next season. I can’t wait to be able to enjoy watching my Chelsea again, and I fully believe this next era at our beloved club will be the best yet.

Mourinho has returned, and Chelsea are back!

I think it’s fair to say, we are all somewhat buzzing about all this Mourinho stuff. The possibilities for development seem unlimited with potential and riddled with success. This time next season, Chelsea will be a somewhat different team.
Thanks to all the guest writers for their time and opinions for this post. For the record, some opinions were written before Mourinho’s interview on 10th June 2013.
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How are you feeling about Mourinho being back? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

A Look Back At Rafa’s Reign

Posted: May 30, 2013 by GaryCRobertson in Benitez, Chelsea, facts, Legends, Rivals, stats

A drooping moustache reaches down to the finely trimmed goatee beard on the face of a plump man under pressure. Smartly dressed and seemingly emotionless on the outside, he ignores the direct taunts of negativity that are being channelled his way. He won’t have to put up with this for too long.

Rolling back the clock, it’s mid November 2012 and a club legend, Roberto Di Matteo, manager of the winning Chelsea side who battled to victory in the Champions League, has been shockingly sacked. Distraught, Chelsea fans far and wide, wish Di Matteo all the best and even more, after such a historic underdog journey to Munich and back again.

The worst is yet to come as former Liverpool manager, Rafa Benitez takes the reigns of the Chelsea side in the form of interim manager. Comments are churned up from his managerial past, a time when Benitez had publicly blasted Chelsea in the media about a number of things he felt distasteful.

“Rafa Out”, one of the most commonly used phrases regarding Chelsea FC’s managerial situation would refuse to go away. Some fans were more interested in expressing their disapproval to Benitez’s controversial appointment rather than urging the team on to win. The striking resemblance to an overweight Spanish waiter and Al from Toy Story 2 didn’t help matters. An instant but somewhat understandable hatred towards Benitez was born. Replacing a club legend with a former rival manager is never going to be an easy transition.

It’s easy to think that Benitez could have done a whole lot better with what he had at his disposal but it is crucial to appreciate that Chelsea were involved in 8 competitions this season. Obviously 3/8 of those competitions were only a game or two (for example Super Cup) but a competition nonetheless.

In terms of Benitez’s reputation, I came across some interesting statistics:

At Inter Milan, Benitez had a win percentage of 48%.

At Liverpool, Benitez had a win percentage of 56%.

At Valencia, Benitez had a win percentage of 54%.

At Tenerife, Benitez had a win percentage of 50%.

Now, this is the delightful one.  At Chelsea, Benitez managed around 48 games. 28 wins, 10 draws and 10 losses. In the process, the Chelsea team scored 99 goals and conceded 48. In percentage terms, that is a 58% win percentage which you’ll notice is higher than all other teams listed that Benitez has managed in his career. Not too bad for Rafa, eh?

This week, Benitez has departed and gone to Italy to manage Napoli, where already there is an apparent excitement about his appointment. (Just type in “Benitez Napoli figurines” in Google images and you’ll see what I mean)

What did you think about Benitez’s tenure as Chelsea manager? Let me know or tweet me @GaryCRobertson.

Gaffa Benitez’s Story

Posted: December 12, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Benitez, Chelsea, Random, Rants

rafabenitezchThere is someone you hate. That person has a girlfriend who openly mocks you in front of people. Your “enemy” and her break up. She potters about with a small job here and there but gets sacked by her bosses. Things go very hush hush for her. Nobody hears anything regarding her whereabouts or what she does anymore.

Then all of a sudden and out of nowhere, she is your girlfriend. Life is tough with her. She refuses to apologise for what she said about you many moons ago but you then realise she may have valuable uses for a few months.

You know she won’t be your long term partner but you try very hard to see past that. You know who you’d like to marry but you must firstly get through this patch.

She then brings out certain strengths in you, ones you thought were deep and buried and lost forever. You are not sad, but not happy. You’re in a state of limbo.

Your mind is so focussed towards the future and what that may bring that you forget about the present. This moment – now.

But Rafa won’t be here for long. He’s here on a short term basis to try and salvage something for the season. Benitez has his disadvantages and the demons of his past heavily strained on his shoulders, however he also has his advantages. He is the controller of a strange muffled light at the end of a darkened tunnel.

His job is to expose that light and to keep it shining for as long as possible. Then one day, he will be gone…

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Tell me your views on Twitter @GaryCRobertson.

Robboandsports- Josh Robinson's Blog

The summer transfer window has passed after another hectic deadline-day. Premier League clubs can no longer buy or sell contracted players until the transfer window re-opens in January. This is a review of every Premier League club’s best buy, best sale, and the one player or position they still require, in my opinion.

Arsenal:

Best Buy- Santi Cazorla. Around £16.5 million. From Malaga. Malaga are in a difficult situation financially and Arsenal took advantage of this by signing Mr. Cazorla, a technically-gifted midfielder who has settled in rather well at the North London clubs with a few impressive individual displays.

Best Sale- Robin van Persie. Around £24 million. To Man United. Van Persie had one year left remaining on his contract and evidently wanted to leave to win trophies. Man United paid over £24 million for a player in his last year which isn’t exactly great negotiating; Arsenal performed a…

View original post 2,733 more words

The Fernando Torres Disorder

Posted: September 6, 2012 by aidansweeney in Chelsea, Torres
Tags: ,

Before I start, I would just like to clarify that I am a fan of Torres, not quite what I used to be like but more importantly I support Chelsea. I want what’s best for the club, not Fernando Torres or any other player at the club. I really want Torres to succeed and be amazing but it just isn’t going to happen.

When Chelsea announced that Fernando Torres had been signed, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Torres was a player who I had often wished was playing for us instead of against us. I was so delighted that I went and paid £15 to have his name and number on the back of my shirt. He was already a hero in my eyes and I think that is why it has taken me so long to realise that he will never shine at Chelsea.

He will never ‘be back’, he will never singlehandedly ruin teams like Robin van Persie or Falcao would, he will continue to look out of place and feed off the magic of those around him. I struggle to recall a game in a Chelsea shirt where Torres has actually looked like part of the team. In my eyes he sticks out like a sore thumb. Of course this is a Chelsea team ‘in transition’ for those of you who want to give excuses for the terrible cohesion throughout the team but even when it does click, it is through Eden Hazard, who looks every bit worth the £32M he signed for, unlike £50M Fernando Torres. For so long I ignored the poor first touch, the clear lack of pace and the pretty poor movement. He gets it right, occasionally but nowhere near enough for a £50M striker. It is of course only a handful of games into the season and Torres probably will stagger his way to 20 goals this season in all competitions but who wouldn’t with Hazard, Mata and Oscar behind them?

To those Chelsea fans who are still convinced he’s the best thing ever to happen to the club, you’ll realise soon. You’ll notice how he often hides behind defenders or how his touch is often about five yards in front of himself but he’s so far away from everyone else he gets away with it. I’m pretty sure he had a moan at the end of last season about not being able to be the main man and the star striker, so why Fernando, now you’ve got your big chance, do I often see you drifting out wide?  I really want Torres to be a success but he’s just a shadow of his former self. He’s obviously never going to get that blistering pace back. I recall the game versus Wigan where he was one on one with a player and at one point was actually a yard ahead of the defender but he turned back inside allowing the defender to catch up? Fernando Torres of three seasons ago would have left him for dead and went and slotted it in. There must be something not quite there mentally; there are obviously doubts in his own mind as well as he’s nowhere near as confident as he used to be. His goal against Newcastle was impressive but I lost count how many times I found myself ‘MOVE TORRES’ at him during that game. Hazard would be dancing round players down the wing yet Torres would be stationary on the corner of the box. Is it hard to make a near post run?

You might be wondering why this article is titled ‘The Fernando Torres Disorder’, well it’s because of how many Chelsea fans are still adamant that he’s going to set the world alight. I want it to happen too but it just isn’t going to happen. What sort of player moans about the club who pay him £175,000 a week, the day after he’s just won the Champions League? Torres can do no wrong according to a section of the Chelsea support and it’s sad to see. I’m pretty sure there are fans out there that would be happy if Torres scored but Chelsea lost. It does make me laugh when Torres does score and all his fan boys/girls say things like ‘that will shut the haters up’…they aren’t haters, they are people who want the best for Chelsea. I used to be part of this deluded gang but they need to wake up. I would swap him for Falcao any day of the week.

To his credit, there have been times where he’s look decent but let’s consider the opposition in those games. He scored a hat trick against QPR. A QPR defence including Anton Ferdinand who quite understandably must of wanted to get those 90 minutes over and done with. He scored two against Leicester, a Championship team. He scored two for Spain against Ireland. He scored that goal versus Barcelona where he did show good composure but the game was already dead. That goal away against Manchester United was a very well taken finish but we all know what happened a few minutes later after he rounded De Gea.

Torres’ goal versus Reading was the first goal he’s scored for Chelsea that has actually changed the outcome of the game/tie. Only 20 months after the club spent £50M on him…Shambolic.

You can abuse me on Twitter here: @aidansweeney_

Ecstasy and the Cesspool

Posted: August 29, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Barcelona, Champions' League, Chelsea, Essien, Rants, Torres
Tags:

Pain is a horrible thing.

Moscow 2008. Pain.

Torres at some points last season. Pain.

Essien’s recurring injury problems. Pain.

But with pain arises progress.

We won the Champions League. We are Champions of Europe. Say it again to yourself, it’s true. Nobody can take that away from you. It’s not an opinion, it’s a fact.

Torres is trying harder than ever during games and seems to be on the brink of recapturing his old form.

Essien, well, it may not be as positive for him at the moment but I’d still love to think that he could regain match fitness and become a crucial part of the team regardless of how difficult that could turn out to be.

I think some of the players at Chelsea may have realised that if they work hard, it will pay off…eventually.

Maybe it was destiny that we won the Champions League but there is still a lot of preparation and training to endure to beat teams like Barcelona and Bayern Munich, in their own back garden.

I still struggle to grasp the fact that we are indeed Champions of Europe. Maybe one day it will hit me fully when I least expect it?

There are bigger things to come as well. Hazard, Marin, Oscar, Moses. Signings that heavily indicate attacking football. Parking the bus may become a thing of the past, even though it is extremely successful if utilised in the correct way.

Things may be going well now. 9 points out of 9 and slick football to name a few positives but they won’t always be this way, as many of you will already know.

What is my point in all this?

My point is this: there are folks out there who are quick to judge, quick to accuse, quick to point the finger, and quite frankly it’s disgusting. Are you a fan or a supporter?

It is important not to be drawn into constant negativity towards the club when things on the pitch may go a bit off the tracks. Because the chances are, things will pick up again (unless you’re Liverpool, maybe). Booing your own players will achieve nothing.
In general though, things are looking excellent, there is plenty to look forward to. Just be wary and watchful. Keep the faith.

Relive The Champions League Final

Posted: August 28, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Cech, Champions' League, Video

19th May 2012. A date none us will forget. Here is a video compiled by Burn Lamche (who you can follow on Twitter @BurnLamche) to bring back all those memories. Enjoy.

 

 

Thank you to Burn for the video.

Another season, another new manager at Chelsea but just how much have things changed? It’s quite clear from who Chelsea have signed in the transfer market that the defensive style of football we saw at the end of last season, will not be seen again this season as Roberto Di Matteo tries to put together a Chelsea team that will play the ‘sexy football’ that owner Roman Abramovich has apparently always craved. What can we expect from this current Chelsea side though? Seeing as Di Matteo isn’t quite set on his strongest starting XI, here is who I believe should be in Chelsea’s starting XI;

Petr Cech: Untouchable. Heroic performances throughout last season’s Champions League campaign showed the world that he is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world. I’m pretty certain that Cech will be Chelsea’s no.1 for many seasons to come.

Cesar Azpilicueta: I can’t say I know much about ‘Dave’ as he has been nicknamed by some Chelsea supporters but he wouldn’t have been signed unless he was going to be the first choice right back at the club. Despite Ivanovic starting the season strongly, he defensively remains quite poor and struggles to move the ball quickly which will no doubt be a key figure in how Chelsea play this season. Let’s just hope Azpilicueta settles quickly like his countryman Juan Mata did.

David Luiz: Mr erratic himself. I like Luiz as a player and a person (judging from his twitter and instagram antics) but he really needs to chill out when he’s playing football. He will be needed to cover in behind John Terry a lot this season but at the moment his positioning is all over the place. I’d feel a lot more comfortable if he relaxed a little bit whilst on the pitch and was always read to slip in behind Terry when we’re being attacked down the left with pace.

John Terry: Whilst Terry certainly is our ‘captain, leader, legend’ it wouldn’t surprise me if Terry’s place in the starting XI came under serious question this season. Firstly, if he receives an 8 game ban like Suarez did and Gary Cahill and Luiz impress, then I think it would be hard for him to dislodge the ever improving Cahill. Whilst Cahill isn’t quite at Terry’s level yet, I think the majority of Chelsea fans have been surprised by just how good Cahill is; certainly looking a steal for the £7M we paid for him. Secondly, Terry has an unfortunate habit of ending up on his arse. His lack of pace is a serious hindrance in my opinion but fortunately for him, the defensive line shouldn’t be too high up, unlike under AVB. Terry is obviously still a great defender and he certainly is ‘Mr Chelsea’ but I think this season will be first where his place comes under serious question.

Ashley Cole: Easily still one of the best left backs who seem to be teaching Ryan Bertrand a thing or do. His place should be safe for this season but the ever improving Bertrand will no doubt provide him with great competition.

Mikel: The first of two defensive midfielders. Whilst still not being a ‘fan favourite’, most fans know that does a great job for the team, most of the time. He does sometimes have the odd game where he seems to hide and the play just passes him by but he’s improved massively under RDM. His performance against Newcastle was a great example of how he shields the defence in a similar way to how Makelele used to do it.

Frank Lampard: Big Frankie Lampard. Another Chelsea legend but how long can he remain a starter? Obviously Lampard can still a decent job in the midfield for Chelsea and despite having the nickname ‘Fat Frank’, he keeps himself in great shape. The signing of £23M Brazilian prodigy Oscar, will further put Lampard’s place under pressure. It’s easy to forget Raul Meireles as well. Meireles’ performance against Newcastle was very impressive, he kept the ball moving quickly which is I imagine what RDM wants from the player who plays in the position. I suspect there will be a lot of rotation in this position throughout the season; hopefully RDM selects the right player for the right game.

Eden Hazard: Three games in and it’s already looking like we’ve got an absolute star on our hands. Whether he will play on the left of the three of in the middle, I’m sure Hazard will destroy most defences in the league. He’s already suffered from some rough treatment but hopefully he’ll be able to cope with it and continue to dazzle us in the fashion he has so far.

Juan Mata: The little Spanish wizard. Whilst not being able to dribble past players like Hazard, Mata remains a key part to our team. He’s looked absolutely exhausted though for the past eight months and I struggle to understand how to club hasn’t found two weeks for him to have a proper break so he can refresh his batteries. No doubt Mata will provide multiple assists against this season, probably from the central position behind Torres and hopefully many assists for Torres himself.

Ramires: I’m not quite sure what Ramires’ best position is. Would it work if he played alongside Mikel? I don’t think so. He put in numerous good performances on the right of the attacking three last season so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him continue there again this season. He may lack that bit of magic in the final third but his energy and occasional dazzling runs are sure to trouble enemy defences. I’m sure Moses, Marin and Oscar will offer something else on the right but I think RDM will use Ramires there for the majority of games.

Fernando Torres: Is he back? He probably will never reach the same heights he reached at Liverpool but he’s certainly looking better. I still find it very frustrating watching him. He often seems to make pointless runs and when it looks like he should be making a near post run or trying to lose his man in the box, he stands still whilst Hazard or Cole runs towards the corner flag with the ball because they have no options. I’m glad he’s looking sharp and scoring goals but there’s still a lot more I feel he could bring to the team. When Luiz or Lampard pick up the ball, Torres should be on the shoulder of the last man, pointing to where he wants the ball, he might not be as fast as he once was but he could still outpace most defenders in the league. I’ve wrote thousands of words in the past discussing Torres and it’s hard not to go into too much detail so it’s best if I just leave it. There is the possibility that Torres gets injured this season and what do Chelsea do then? Is Sturridge good enough to lead the line? It certainly is an issue; I just hope Torres remains fit for the majority of the season.

This season is the first time in many years where Chelsea has a really strong bench. With people like Moses, Marin, Oscar, Sturridge, Meireles, Cahill, Bertrand and Ivanovic on the bench, Chelsea certainly won’t be short of options if they need someone to change the game or step into the side for an extended period of time if someone suffers an injury.

It’s hard to predict where Chelsea will finish this season. If Mata, Hazard and Torres all click then Chelsea’s attack will be arguably the best in the league which they will need as the defence hasn’t looked great, so I believe it will be a case of conceding two but scoring three for Chelsea this season. Will they win the league? Probably not but there will certainly be up there. Will they retain the Champions League? Again probably not but I’m sure they will put up a good fight to hold onto their crown.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @aidansweeney_

Wonderful Times To Be A Chelsea Supporter

Posted: August 27, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Chelsea, Random, Strikers, Torres, Transfers, Youth

I don’t know about you but I am extremely excited at all these signings Chelsea have made recently. Marin, Hazard(s), Oscar, Moses and Azpilicueta. Not a bad bunch to sign in one transfer window.

With the added inclusion of Ryan Bertrand who seems to be enjoying more minutes in the first team as of late, a creative but potentially tired Mata (at the moment) and a reignited Torres, things at Chelsea seem to be taking a really good turn for the best. There are so many classy players to name that I would be here all day trying to describe them in the best manner possible.
Where to start then. Well, first of all I’m over the moon that Torres is showing everyone what damage he can really do with the right players behind him. Hazard has connected with Torres almost instantly and they seem like the making of a truly deadly duo.

There are murmers that Mata will be rested for a few games soon after playing a bit of football at Euro 2012 and the Olympics. This is no bad thing. I love Mata but this will give Oscar the perfect platform to slide into the side and, like Torres, show the world what a talent he is.
When Mata returns, there will be big competition for places in the team. Again, no bad thing. We’ve got players of a high calibre who will be battling it out amongst each other to be in the side; Ramires, Mata, Marin, Hazard, Sturridge, Torres, Oscar, Lampard, Mikel, Meireles, Essien, Romeu, Moses and, if they stick around, Malouda and Benayoun too. So much brilliance. All these players will be needed as there are a lot of trophies to be fought for in this season like the Club World Cup and the Supercup on Friday.

What do the new signings show? They indicate that either/both manager and owner are fully backing Torres as the main man to lead Chelsea’s front line. This apparent support from the hierarchy has brushed off on Fernando. Just have a look at his recent performances for evidence.

If all this isn’t enough we also have McEachran and Lukaku on loan in the meantime. Lukaku scored on his debut against Liverpool – nice way to bow into the West Bromwich Albion team. Middlesbrough fans are holding McEachran in high regard as he too impressed on his debut and was seen as an integral player for their win over Burnley recently.
I’m excited about our prospects this season. Are you?