Archive for the ‘Guest’ Category

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

Advertisements

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.
__________
How are you feeling about Mourinho being back? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Don’t brand Fernando a flop just yet

Posted: January 14, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Chelsea, Guest, Strikers, Torres

Here at Chelsea Headache, we are always glad to host articles written by football fans (preferably of Chelsea origins) and today, Aidan Sweeney is delving into the subject of a certain Fernando Torres.

____________________

Four goals and seven assists in fourteen starts and 8 substitute appearances is hardly what Chelsea fans were expecting from Fernando Torres this season. However, is Torres solely to blame for the current problems that surround the fifty million pound man? I think not. Despite having been already labelled as the ‘most expensive flop’ ever by the majority, I still believe there is time for Torres to turn it around.

It’s been nearly a year since his move to Chelsea and Fernando Torres has had to deal with numerous issues since his move. His wife gave birth to his second child only a month before he switched clubs, hardly something which would help a player settle down easy at a new club. He effectively lived in a hotel away from his wife and children for the first few months of his time at Chelsea which can’t have helped him mentally. There was a new level of pressure on the man himself. Whilst there had always been a high level of interest in Fernando’s performances, it was nothing compared to what he faced at Chelsea. Every time he played and didn’t score (which was unfortunately most of the time), it was major news across Twitter and the following days back pages. Such level of interest had to be expected though seeing as his transfer didn’t just make the back pages of newspapers, it also made the majority of front pages the following day. All of these were off the pitch issues, it was far worse on the pitch.There wasn’t a single player at Chelsea who’s vision and passing ability was as good as Steven Gerrard’s or Xabi Alonso’s, players who Torres thrived off at Liverpool. Dozens of Torres’ goals at Liverpool were assisted by defence splitting, world class passes from Alonso or Gerrard, Torres hasn’t had that level of service at Chelsea. There’s no denying Lampard can pick the odd pass out and Mata has the ability to slip a ball through a few players to Torres but he still isn’t being allowed to sit on the last man and run in behind which is how he loves to play. Another issue was just how slow Chelsea played. Players like Anelka, Mikel and Lampard played at such a slow pace it didn’t help Torres or the team. Anelka has thankfully moved on whilst Mikel has hardly kicked a ball the past few months which is good news but if André Villas-Boas really wants to implement fast, flowing football at Stamford Bridge then he needs to remove Lampard from the equation. One noticeable difference between how Torres played at Liverpool and how he has played during his time at Chelsea so far has been how often he drifts out wide. At Liverpool Torres didn’t have to go and seek the ball, he didn’t have to drift out wide to try and create space. He spent the majority of his time sitting on the last man, patiently waiting for Gerrard or Alonso to find him with that killer ball. Instead we’ve seen Fernando coming deep and in fact becoming more of a number ten. The statistics speak for themselves, he has nearly double the amount of assists than he has goals and that isn’t what Mr Abramovich paid fifty million pounds for.

What continues to frustrate me week in week out is seeing Juan Mata shifted out on the left wing when he clearly is not a left winger. He is the only player in the current Chelsea team who I believe has got the ability and the vision to continuously find Torres’ runs; so in my opinion, Mata has to play centrally. Probably the closest we’ve ever came to seeing the best of Fernando Torres at Chelsea was away at Old Trafford and it was obvious to see why he thrived during the second half of that game. United played with a high defensive line, Torres sat on the last man and Mata saw enough of the ball to play Torres in on goal numerous times. Whilst that game will always be remembered for the way Torres put the ball past David De Gea’s left hand post, I saw enough in the game to firmly believe it can work out for Torres at Chelsea. There is no denying that for the majority of that second half, it was Torres back to his world class best.

It is clear that things have got to change at Chelsea and there is no quick or cheap solution. If I was André Villas-Boas then I would address the following issues: Mata has to play centrally behind Torres. As I’ve said above he is the only player good enough to continuously play those killer balls for Torres. It might not leave Lampard very happy but a midfield of Mata, Ramires and Romeu is the future for Chelsea and hopefully it will be the present midfield very soon. A left winger has to be signed. I will always have fond memories of Florent Malouda, especially the day he walked through Man United’s defence at Old Trafford to set Joe Cole up and it’s always sad to see players who you once admired slowly decline but with Malouda it’s been more than a slow decline. It’s hard to believe he’s the same player and the sooner he leaves Chelsea the better. A left winger who will actually stick to the wing will open more space in the middle so it isn’t as congested as it is at the moment, hopefully meaning Torres won’t have to drift out to the wings to find space which in turn should open up little pockets of space for Mata. Torres has to be given a run of games. With the ever declining Didier Drogba away at the African Cup of Nations, Fernando should get a run in the team over the following month but it won’t benefit Chelsea at all if Torres is benched again as soon as Drogba comes back because Torres brings a lot more to Chelsea’s play than Drogba. Torres also has to look at himself. Surely he can’t be happy with everyone labelling him a flop? We’ve seen it very rarely at Chelsea but he has to find that hunger within himself to go out there and be that world class player he knows he can be. He’s free of the injuries which haunted his time at Liverpool, he has to see that as a positive and really seize the chance he has been presented with through Drogba being away.

So whilst the majority of you continue to laugh every time Torres plays and doesn’t score, remember he has four and a half years left on his contract and at only twenty seven, he’s got arguably his peak physical years ahead of him. I believe it’s clear to see though that changes have to be made at Chelsea and until they are, we can all expect Torres to continue to struggle. Don’t brand Fernando a flop just yet though, give him and AVB time to implement changes and I’m sure we’ll see Fernando Torres back to his best once again.

For more Football/Chelsea/Torres related debate, follow me on twitter: @aidansweeney93

Drogba Likely To Start Against Bolton (Match Preview)

Posted: October 1, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in Bolton, Chelsea, Guest, Preview

The statistics surrounding any Chelsea Bolton clash over the past decade or so should give Chelsea fans plenty of fuel for optimism, especially considering Bolton’s poor start to the season, which has sees them lying at the foot of the Premier League table as of this morning [Saturday] with just 3 points from their first 6 games.

Chelsea should be feeling confident going into this Sunday’s fixture after a confident display in Europe midweek in Valencia, and whilst Fernando Torres will be unavailable for the trip to the Reebok following his red card at the Liberty Stadium last weekend Chelsea have plenty of strikers to call upon including Didier Drogba, who will surely be looking to impress on his first start this season, and Daniel Sturridge, who scored 8 times for ‘The Trotters’ last season, a side who have conceded the most goals in the league so far this season, 16.

Always known as a tough place to go, this year’s trip up North will be engaged with more confidence than ever by ‘The Blues’, the Villas-Boas philosophy of a high line and vertical passing has slowly been materialising, and this game could prove an opportunity to really make its mark against a side who have conceded 18 goals as hosts in this fixture during the past 8 meetings.

With both halves of Manchester playing on Saturday it could mean Chelsea would be 6 points behind both as of Sunday 1:30pm, heaping the pressure on even in the season’s early stages.

Notable absences for Bolton are: Stuart Holden, Ivan Klasnic and David Wheater. Gael Kakuta is ineligible to face his parent club following his impressive start to the season. Unfortunately injuries to Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-Yong have proved to be particularly influential, a lack of creativity something Chelsea could well take advantage of.

Minor reservations surround Jussi Jääskeläinen following his indifferent start to the season.

Frank Lampard should also expect a recall to Chelsea’s starting XI, in a fixture he has particularly enjoyed over the past seasons, after an impressive midweek performance and goal. Goalkeeper Hilario remains approximately a week or two away from match fitness.

Possible starting XI’s are as follows: 

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Boyata, Knight, Cahill, Robinson, Eagles, Reo-Coker, Muamba, Petrov, K Davies, Tuncay.

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Mikel, Mata, Drogba, Anelka.

By and large it’s hard to see anything other than a convincing Chelsea win, and one which Andre Villas-Boas will want to experience as early on as possible as the squad goes into a hectic two week schedule, consisting of Everton, Genk, QPR and Everton yet again.

Thankfully for Owen Coyle and Bolton Sunday represents a fixture which would put an end to their dire early season schedule which has already included Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal.

________________________

Match preview written by Ben Pinkney, who you can follow on Twitter @benpinkney42 

Firstly, and I’ve been itching to clear this up for a while now, I can officially confirm that his claimant’s name is John Michael Obi. Mikel, as his shirt is decorated, derives from a typo on a team-sheet when he represented Nigeria U17’s, he consequently adopted the name and, as his father stated, he “considers that his football name.”

With John Mikel Obi’s somewhat controversial transfer to the Premier League well and truly behind him, five years on he has well and truly found his home in West London. But, it has been a far from easy journey for the young Nigerian.

Early life in the capital saw John Mikel Obi fined three times, sent off on a number of occasions and heard voiced concerns about lifestyle choices from both manager Jose Mourinho and his father, Michael – a period which saw the midfielder dropped for over a month as a result. Post haste, Mikel returned to the side after an obvious improvement in his punctuality and conduct.

Since a very early age Mikel had assumed the ‘No. 10’ position for both club and country, he generally excelled in that role, and it was precisely that to which the £16m Chelsea spend was intended for. Although, come the latter stages of the 2006/2007 season, Jose Mourinho took a decision to convert the once attacking playmaker into a defensive midfielder.

As of this transition, it’s fair to say, there has been somewhat of a stigmatism surrounding the Nigerian. Much of Mikel’s attributes had been lost during a transitional period in which many only saw short sideways passes and timid, deep lying movements from what they probably still saw as a pressing midfielder. Since Mikel has been entrusted with the role into which he has grown into progressively, assigned with responsibility during significant matches, even during the early stages of the alteration (Manchester United in the FA Cup Final, and FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou of noteworthy performances.)

Much of the criticism for Mikel derives from the fact that he can be slow and not progressive enough, although this can be significantly attributed to the partnership with Michael Essien [another African attacking midfielder who has evolved defensive tendencies since his arriving at Stamford Bridge, I can see a pattern emerging] who has adapted a similar role to Mikel. The injury and exclusion of Michael Essien could directly aid Mikel’s game. Incidentally, it was in similar circumstances, 2008/2009 season, in which John Mikel Obi arguably had his best season since joining Chelsea.

To understand Mikel is simply to understand the defensive midfielder.

Consistently one of the highest pass completion rates in the Premier League for the past few seasons, Mikel’s ball retention allows Chelsea to feel secure in their own game, translating into a greater disposition throughout the side. This, in turn, allows full-backs the freedom to venture higher up the field, an important element of Chelsea’s attacking properties, whilst the centre backs divide to assign for Mikel. Unlike many fellow defensive midfielders, he also has the ability to play the long ball, to the gratitude of many in recent times.

Mikel has always had the ability to read the game well and this translates particularly well into his adopted position. Sitting in front of the centre backs, his imposing figure has matured to allow for an increasingly developed sense of where to be, this can indirectly be supported by the fact that he’s become the steadily declining recipient of admonition.

With Andre Villas-Boas likely to use a 4-3-3 formation it puts further emphasis on the holding midfielder role, but Mikel, as seen throughout much of last season can solicit the role tremendously well.

An understated role that takes patience, a quality Mikel is consistently developing, the defensive midfielder will prove a vital and necessary role to many teams success in the coming year; however you will be hard pressed to find many who perform it quite as well as the young Nigerian. The fact that he performs the role with such maturing is testament to his solidarity and is even more surprising considering it may not be his natural position.

Mikel has shown himself to be a responsible individual, in an important position, at just 24 years of age, both the additions to the West London side and those who continue to perform alongside him will benefit palpably from his existence.

Only recently has John Mikel Obi’s importance as part of this Chelsea side has been recognised, but he will go into the 2011/2012 season as an integral part of the side.

_______________________

Written by Ben Pinkney. You can follow Ben on Twitter @benpinkney42

Daniel Sturridge was amongst the goalscorers as Chelsea beat Kitchee in the semi-final of the Barclays Asia Trophy at the Hong Kong stadium.

Early proceedings were slow yet controlled by Chelsea, and in the first 10 minutes there were only two instances to note, Yuri Zhirkov volleying wide and Slobodan Rajković making a hash of a clearance. For the first half, Chelsea mainly focussed on keeping possession rather than surging forward everytime they got the ball. 16 minutes into the game, and a brilliant Didier Drogba cross was met by Salomon Kalou, who headed into the ground before the ball bounced up onto the bar, followed by Yossi Benayoun attempting a bicycle kick into his own face. Once Kitchee’s first substitution was made, the tempo did slow down, though Chelsea remained the dominant side.

Kitchee’s tactics of defending in numbers kept the score at 0-0. Kalou almost lobbed the ‘keeper Wang Zhenpang with a cross/shot in the 34th minute. Though in the 36th minute, Benayoun was brought down inside the box, with Lampard slotting the resulting penalty down the middle to make it 1-0.

Almost immediately after, Chelsea could’ve doubled their lead but Drogba headed across goal instead of at it and Kitchee were let off the hook. Drogba caused more trouble for the opponents on 43 minutes with a free-kick that forced Zhenpang into making an awkward diving save. Turnbull had very little to do in the first half, and when he did, he was almost caught out with a lobbed shot that ended up going over the bar.

To finish off the half, controversy, as Florent Malouda, as played through from a through ball from John Terry had a shot saved off the line by a defender with his arm, which would’ve resulted in another penalty and a sending off this time for sure.

With only one Kitchee sub at half-time, Chelsea players had more time to impress new boss Andre Villas-Boas. Zhirkov may have been a bit too keen though, as his wanting to impress landed his name in the book by referee Phil Dowd. After Kalou was fouled by Dani Cancela on the edge of the box after 48 minutes, Drogba fired onto the top of the net. A minute later, a Malouda cross was bundled into his own net by defender Ubay Luzardo.

After the second goal, Kitchee tried to press a bit more, but as soon as Chelsea got the ball back each time, normal service resumed. The only time they ventured upfield was around the 52nd minute, but the ball was ran out of play for a throw in. Malouda got another assist on 60 minutes, when his cross was met by a brave diving header by Didier Drogba, who was immediately substituted as Chelsea made six changes in two minutes. One of the biggest cheers of the night came when record signing Fernando Torres came on. As John Terry came off, the captain’s armband was given to Ashley Cole. The first substitute to make an impression was John Obi Mikel with a header from a Benayoun cross that went wide.

The next man to try and make a mark on the game was Daniel Sturridge, his first effort going well wide. However, after a free-kick that went over the bar, on the 77th minute, following lovely footwork he beat the ‘keeper at his near post and got the fourth and final goal. Benayoun won man of the match for his efforts.

Late in the game, even though 4-0 up, players were still looking to impress and put pressure on their opponents. Torres, in the 87th minute had a go with a free-kick, which flew over the bar. Though he improved, as the game reached the end, with a turn and shot hitting the post from a good 20 yards out. With an uneventful final two minutes of stoppage time, Chelsea finished the game like they had for the majority of the game, in possession. Another win, another clean sheet and no more injuries, which should please Andre Villas-Boas and Chelsea fans alike. Chelsea’s next game is against Aston Villa on Saturday 30th July at 13:30 BST.

Attendance – 33,900

Chelsea – Turnbull (Hilario 63); Ferreira, Rajković (Chalobah 76), Terry (c) (Ivanovic 63), Cole; Lampard (Mikel 63), Zhirkov (McEachran 61); Kalou, Benayoun, Malouda (Sturridge 61); Drogba (Torres 61).

Kitchee – Wang Zhenpang; Dani Guerrero, Fernando Recio, Ubay Luzardo (c), Dani Cancela; Jordi Tarrés (Lo Chi Kwan 21) (Ngan Lok Fung 78), Huang Yang (Lo Kwan Yee 72), Gao Wen (Dean Evans 53), Tsang Kam To (Liu Quankun 85), Liang Zicheng (Chu Siu Kei 58), Roberto Losada (James Ha 82).

Referee – Phil Dowd

___________________________

Match report written by Callum Maclean. You can follow Callum on Twitter @callummaclean91

Here at Chelsea Headache, we love to hear your views on many different aspects regarding the club and it’s players. Today guest writer Ben Pinkney, shares his thoughts on our £50 million man.

__________________________

The capture of Fernando Torres from Liverpool back in January was unquestionably a further illustration of narcissism on Roman Abramovich’s part. The Spaniard evidently was no part of the Carlo Ancelotti blueprint and left him struggling to incorporate the striker into what was already a dithering side [Chelsea’s worst run of form in the winter months in their entire history], ultimately Ancelotti was sacrificed as ‘The Blues’ succumbed to their least successful season since before the Abramovich era. So, the much loved Italian departed from Stamford Bridge leaving Fernando Torres remaining as the satirical figure in West London.

Going into the 2011/2012 season the emphasis will still be on Fernando Torres. His unconvincing first 18 games for Chelsea will have left eyes very much on seeing whether he can produce; mark my words the expletives will still be very much at the ready come August. In fact, already this pre-season we have seen Andre Villas-Boas trying to deflect focus away from the Spaniard.

Going into this season there are a number of positives and negatives to consider in relation to Fernando Torres.

We’ll start with the positives:

In the last couple of years Torres has seen the underside of the operating table far more than he would ever have liked; hernia, knee, hamstring all troubling the striker, and for the most part he would return right back into full programme football. This summer is the first in 3 years since he has been able to enjoy a proper summer break; the European Championship, Confederations Cup and World Cup all interrupting what could, and should have been vital rehabilitation periods. Hopefully this year’s off season will have provided the much needed break to propel the once formidable striker into gear.

The arrival of Andre Villas-Boas has provided a resounding sense of optimism around the Cobham camp and the team has gone into a pre-season in which they have scored nine goals, conceding none. Yet, more comparisons can be made here with Jose Mourinho; although that is both for another day and in my opinion not how we will see the team unfold in the coming season. This fresh start and change of management should have aid with confidence issues that have Torres of late.

The negatives comprise of the following:

Going into the 2011/2012 season, which in my opinion looks to be built upon further malaise for Fernando Torres, means still having to deal with the £50m price-tag hanging above his head and for a player whose confidence is wanting, it comes as a superfluous requirement.

It has been well documented that Fernando Torres performs to his best ability when played as a lone striker. This has been justified during Euro 2008, post David Villa injury when Spain switched from a 4-1-3-2 to 4-1-4-1 formation resulting in a much improved performance toward the end of the competition. Furthermore his most formidable season in the Premier League, in 2007/2008 with Liverpool, was when he was deployed in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Kuyt and Riise in the wide positions and Gerrard in behind. Throughout last season we saw the incessant use of 4-4-2, to the persistent exacerbation of Torres’ situation. Torres does not and will not perform without the continuous supply and creativity of those behind him.

The team as a whole last season didn’t seem to suit any individual in particular, not least Torres. Frank Lampard remained lost in a system that doesn’t give him the opportunity to push forward into the positions he has been so used to in the previous seasons and Fernando Torres has been subjected to the half-hearted attacking wingers of Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka, who rarely seek the touchline more than a handful of times every match. More often than not it is the wing-backs of Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic, Jose Bosingwa and Yuri Zhirkov who provide the width a Stamford Bridge, a systemic movement which only concludes in the further restriction on Torres’ style of play.

Ancelotti spent much of last season exchanging the subject with Didier Drogba. With the Ivorian set to sign a one-year extension it looks as if once again Torres will have immediate competition for a place, Andre Villas-Boas himself has already stated that he is unlikely to play them both as a partnership, and quite rightly so. The fact remains that they are both lone strikers and the removal of a winger to accommodate for one just does not work. Torres himself has the pace, physical strength and movement to house this position on a world-class level himself, though it works in a very different manner to Drogba.

The Spaniard is most potent when racing into the space between centre-halves and full-backs onto balls slipped forward into areas which are exploited. It’s these through balls and deftly delivered passes over the top of opposition defences which Torres thrives upon, observed from the modest amount of opportunities we’ve see him play with Yossi Benayoun last season and pre-season this year. This need for creativity is, as everyone knows, exactly what lacks from the current Chelsea side and the pursuit of Luka Modric from Tottenham could be the answer. However, with the prospective capture of the Croatian dwindling the need to bring in a comparable player in remains ever more important to the Fernando Torres cause.

It seems the prerequisite that Chelsea themselves are presenting will continue to restrain Fernando Torres from his true devastating potential, collectively with excuses the Didier Drogba presents.

The hyperbole continuing to surround El Niño will maintain the expletives that Fernando Torres, coupled with past injuries, lacking confidence and loss of half-a-yard has resulted in a player who may, in fact never return to previous form. This barrage of ambiguity is though I feel, for the most part, unfounded. Fernando Torres has not been sited into a team which conform to his attributes; it remains a team fabricated upon the backbone of the Jose Mourinho era. Structure and creativity must form the defining factors in the 2011/2012 season if we are to see the best from this once world beater.

A great deal faith and sanguinity has been placed in Fernando Torres, however many teammates have distanced the striker from comparisons with the disastrous Andrei Shevchencko, stating that unlike the Ukrainian, improvements have been seen continually and that ‘his time will come.’ When this time will arrive however, remains to be seen.

________________________________

Written by Ben Pinkney. You can follow Ben on Twitter @benpinkney42

Get Off My Land!

Posted: July 19, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in Chelsea, Guest, Legends, Random

Back in 1995, aged just 13, my parents asked me what I wanted for my birthday. As a young boy I had so many ideas. Would it be the new Chelsea kit, new football boots, a computer game or just money? The biggest challenge was choosing the right present. However, my dad was on hand to offer an alternative suggestion.

“How do you fancy owning a bit of Chelsea’s pitch?” my dad asked. Wow! What a great idea. I had so many thoughts running through my head. I remember thinking I would ban Ryan Giggs from stepping on my bit of the pitch, or owning a penalty spot and refusing the opposition penalty taker to kick the ball. That was years ago but I’m sure many of you would think the same.

During Chelsea’s dark days the freehold to Stamford Bridge was sold to Marler Estates plc (later to be owned by Cabra Estates plc). The club was in financial ruin and property developers had threatened to build on Stamford Bridge. In 1993 Cabra Estates plc went into liquidation and Chelsea acquired the freehold to the ground again. The club decided to sell ‘shares’ in the ground to fans in order to keep Stamford Bridge safe.

The big question I was asked was whether I wanted the share on my birthday or whether I wanted to wait and have it presented on the pitch by one of the players. Er… I think I’ll have it on the pitch if you don’t mind!

I was told that I would be going on the pitch at half time in the Wednesday night Coca-Cola Cup 2nd round game against Stoke City. As a Chelsea member I was attending the game anyway but turned up early to find out what I needed to do. I headed to the old ‘Football in the Community’ building opposite Stamford Bridge but was told that I couldn’t go on the pitch that night.

I was gutted. I had waited 4 months for this experience only to be told I couldn’t do it. My parents had already paid the extra £25 for the privilege and were understandably not happy. Apologies were made and I was promised that I could go on the pitch at half-time in the next home game. That just happened to be Manchester United in the Premier League. Perhaps that was better than a cold Wednesday night against a lower league club in the Coca-Cola cup.

On the day of the game I headed up early excited about my experience. To put your mind’s at rest, I was given a pass so that I could go on to the pitch.

The game started but it wasn’t long before Man Utd scored. Paul Scholes got the first goal after 3 minutes and added a second 6 minutes later. I don’t remember much else of that half, but I remember getting excited about walking from the West Stand benches towards the players tunnel in the East Stand with my dad. I was told that I would be going on the pitch for the presentation in a short while and would have my photo taken. I was so nervous yet excited. I think the biggest thrill was the thought of walking on to the hallowed turf!

The time came for me to go on to the pitch. I remember looking at my dad with a massive grin on my face. I was then introduced to Nigel Spackman and Peter Osgood who were presenting the certificate. I don’t remember looking into the crowd or realising what else was happening in the ground. I remember having my photo taken and was told it would be sent to me in the post shortly afterwards. True to their word, the club sent me a lovely photo (which is in the loft somewhere).

It was great experience, but it got a little bit better. A month later Chelsea played Tottenham at Stamford Bridge. In my school (60 miles away from Chelsea) there were only two people that went and watched their club; myself and a friend who supported Spurs. The game ended 0-0. I saw my friend on the train home. After an initial chat about the game I asked him to look at a particular page in the programme. Why did I do this? Well, the photo they had taken was featured in the programme. Not bad, eh. On the pitch against Man Utd and in the programme against my favourite opponents, Spurs.

_______________________________

If you liked this story then follow me on Twitter: @ChelseaChadder

Scout Report: Romelu Lukaku

Posted: July 4, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in Guest, Scout Report, Youth

Gary Davidson gives us an in-depth report on Anderlecht’s wonderkid, Romelu Lukaku; explaining both his strengths and weaknesses.

_________________________

Lukaku is an 18 year old striker for Belgium giants, Anderlecht. Since his debut with them, when he was just 16 years and 11 days old, he has scored 31 goals in 71 league games for Anderlecht. He made his international debut age 17 and later scored 2 goals against Russia.

Technical

Control

Lukaku has an excellent first touch when he is under pressure either whilst jostling or being closed down. This allows him to play the role that he does and hold up the play. He shields the ball well when controlling through the use of his body and manipulates his first touch when jostling to not only have it under control but keep his body between the ball and the defender. He isn’t as good at using his first touch to move into space when he is not in contact with the defender where he can take himself into trouble rather than using his first touch to put him in space. He has good control with body parts other than his feet particularly his chest. His control is consistent which allows the ball to regularly stick and for runners from deep to trust him and gamble with runs.

Shooting

Lukaku mainly finishes with a focus on accuracy rather than power, he can shoot with relative accuracy off both feet although his left is far better than his right, he only generates power shots when he is using his left foot and mainly when he is shooting on the turn. He keeps his eyes on the goalkeeper and is able to look up late in his shots allowing him to be effective in placing his shots. His long shooting however he goes for with power and is mainly unsuccessful with poor and inconsistent accuracy leading to erratic shots.

Heading

Lukaku has very good heading when uncontested, he is able to generate his own power off of floated crosses due to his strength which allows him to score off of a variety of crosses but the main factor in him scoring from headers is often his impressive accuracy, for someone his size and with the way he uses his strength in other facets of his game he struggles when headers are contested and in particular his heading accuracy drops especially when shooting, he also is able to put less power on the headers and therefore relies much more on the cross for power.

Passing

Lukaku is a good passer mainly bringing runners into play. He weights his passes really well allowing players to be receiving it as they run on which is a feature of his game. His timing of the pass is also very good choosing when to pass to pick out gaps.  Lukaku’s accuracy is inconsistent and his passing range is medium with him having the ability to play all the passes except long range passes.

Technique

Lukaku is able to use skill when in tight situations to get out of trouble as he has good close dribbling however, he is less effective when he has more space and is one on one. He has an adequate stepover but really won’t be likely to beat any players. He is able to dribble with his head up which allows him to pass early when he sees the opening, however his touch becomes inconsistent when dribbling at speed and can lead to him overrunning the ball. He is able to use his weaker right foot with power; however it is lacking in accuracy and weight of passes.

Intelligence

Creativity

Lukaku has excellent vision;  he is able to spread the play from his central position when he holds the ball up as well as seeing runners coming from deep; he keeps his head up whilst controlling the ball so that he can see the passes; he is also very good at anticipating a pass opening up where he allows players runs to take away defenders before playing a pass to a player now in space, this requires him to keep hold of the ball for longer and he chooses the right times to do this. He needs to reduce how much he telegraphs through passes though as he often allows defenders to get a step on the direction of his passes when facing the goal.

Movement

Lukaku’s movement is very good. He is a very willing runner who is happy to run the channels; he is also regularly looking to get in behind the defenders which stops them from marking as tight when he is holding the ball up. Romelu needs to be more urgent in his movement when the ball is wide; he is often very pedestrian before the cross. He is constantly looking for return passes after he has given a pass. He likes to drift off of defenders into the gap between full back and centre back and when he is looking to get in behind, it is mainly from this position.

Positioning

Lukaku is able to position himself well in both a 2 man or 3 man attack where he understands the difference in the roles, he works better with a front 3 as long as the central midfielders are also willing to support, he can however get very isolated if he doesn’t have the support from deep. One position he takes up well is where he is the other side of the defender to the ball which allows him to make runs off of him. He needs to take up better positions to allow himself to be a target for long passes when his team are being pressed.

Physical

Lukaku is 6ft3in; very strong and is well built. He has great strength which he uses very well when shielding the ball. Also, he can generate lots of power and so, is able to win in most jostling situations. Lukaku has quite good speed with a faster acceleration than you would expect from someone his size although he lacks great top end speed.

Personality

Lukaku is a hard working teammate although he doesn’t press a great deal when the centre backs are in possession; he is a willing runner down the channels and always give maximum effort;  he also seems very grounded considering the accolades and comparisons bestowed upon him at such a young age and he does not become overawed by big games,

Verdict

Lukaku is a tremendous talent, he has all the physical abilities to play at the highest level right now, but is still raw in parts in both the technical and mental parts of his game but he has a hugely high ceiling of potential.

Value

£17-20m

________________________

You can follow Gary on Twitter @GaryD101

The Original Villas-Boas?

Posted: June 27, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in Chelsea, England, Guest, Legends, Random

We all know the background behind the new Chelsea Manager, Andre Villas-Boas. He was only a youngster when he knocked on Bobby Robson’s door asking for advice. Since then he has gone on to learn from some of the very best in the game, landing himself one of the highest profile jobs in the world. But is his story original?

Many years ago, when I was just 15 years old, my school friends and I had to do a week and a half of ‘vocational experience’ as part of our school work. The idea was to gain some valuable experience in the workplace in order to get a taste of things to come. We could either let the school arrange our placement, or we could organise it ourselves. Some of my friends went to a local vet, newspaper or their dad’s workplace. However, this wasn’t my sort of thing. When I was 15 I was only interested in one type of career; professional football!

I grew up living on the Sussex coast, and so the easiest option would be to contact Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club. Although I love football, BHAFC is not my team. The team I support is Chelsea! Therefore, with my dad’s help, I contacted Chelsea Football in the Community (FITC) to ask if I could help out there. They were more than happy for me to come in and see how the FITC team works. Sadly, my school said that the 120 mile round trip would be too far to travel each day. Too far for who?! Basically, a teacher was meant to come and observe you in your workplace and they weren’t prepared to do that.

After some negotiations it was decided I could go. I was over the moon. I mean, getting the train to Stamford Bridge everyday was hardly a chore! The only downside was the timing of the work experience. I had to do 8 days work in July, so none of the players, etc, were likely to be around. I didn’t mind; I got to wear a Chelsea shirt to work everyday and be around the football club I loved.

On my first day I remember turning up and being asked to make loads of cups of tea and coffee. Pretty standard stuff. Another job I had to do was inflate footballs in the storeroom, which was full of all kinds of Chelsea goodies. It was great to have a little sneak around. I remember finding a load of old Chelsea scratch cards with Glenn Hoddle on the front. They were out of date so I scratched a load off. All I can say is that the club must have made a fortune from this as hardly any of them had any winners!

Anyway, I had two main jobs to do each day. The first was to prepare party food for children’s parties that took place in the Stamford Bridge Press Room. I was given a large set of keys and was allowed to let myself into the tunnel entrance, just next to the East Stand reception. I went on a tour of Stamford Bridge recently and how things have changed! I used to go into the spare changing room and make jam sandwiches, plate up biscuits and crisps, etc, and then set up the press room for the party. Perhaps one of the most fulfilling jobs in my life! Being left alone to work in a Chelsea changing room. Brilliant!!! I could see the old baths, tactics board, but sadly no player shirts.

Another great job was to help with the tours of Stamford Bridge with one of the other FITC staff members. The tour was much different then, especially as it’s only the East Stand that is still standing! I was like a sponge on the first day, soaking up all the information. It was so fascinating.

After the 8 days of a great experience I had to return to school for the last two days of the week and write a presentation on the experience. My presentation involved a prop, which I will tell you about now.

Although I had to return to school for the last two days, I decided that it would be more beneficial to spend the last day back at Chelsea! I took the train as normal and made my way to Stamford Bridge. I made the teas and coffees and was then told that Ruud Gullit may be at the Bridge later. I was so excited by the prospect of meeting him! The FITC office was across the road from the ground, and didn’t have a fax machine. Therefore, a FITC staff member and myself had to go to the East Stand, and head to the 2nd floor to send the fax and pick up the post. I took one of my Chelsea shirts with me and left it with the receptionist to ask Ruud if he would sign it when he comes in.

Later that day I had to set up a birthday party. It was quite a big one and there was loads of rubbish. I searched around to find a bin to put it in but there were none around. I went outside and headed back down the side of the East Stand then saw the then Chairman of Chelsea, Ken Bates. He called me over and asked what I was doing! A little nervous and in awe I just said I was looking for a bin to put this rubbish in. His reply was to throw it over the fence and let it be British Rail’s problem. He was, of course, joking and said carry on. Phew!

After the party was set up I had to get the midday post from the East Stand 2nd floor. On the way down the lift stopped on the 1st floor. Who walked in? The new Chelsea Manager, Ruud Gullit. He was massive, and I was completely overwhelmed. However, I quickly picked up the courage to ask him if he would sign my shirt. He was more than happy to. Imagine that, a Chelsea mad 15 year old meeting a European and World Player of the Year, and now the new manager of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge!

My heart was racing and my mind was thinking a million thoughts. Especially as my dad was coming to meet me a few hours later! I still had to help with a tour of the ground that afternoon. When I got back to the office there was a bit of a panic. The guy who did the tours was running really late and may not make it to Chelsea in time. *A-hem* I could do it? Really? Yeah, I’ve been on loads now and have learnt the script to go with it. Well, maybe then.

Eventually, the guy did turn up and we did the tour together. However, as a special thank you, I was given the keys and told I could give my dad a private tour of Stamford Bridge. WOW!!! When my dad turned up I did exactly that, including telling him the story of meeting Ken Bates and Ruud Gullit earlier!

A bit tongue-in-cheek about me being the original Villas-Boas, but I was young, I have coached football in England, America, Australia and Denmark, and now do a little bit of work for Brighton & Hove Albion. We all have to start somewhere!

_________________________________

If you liked this then please follow me on Twitter: @ChelseaChadder