Archive for the ‘Legends’ Category

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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

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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.

I have put together two lists for the Top 10 Chelsea attackers in Premier League games. The first is only my opinion based on how I thought they performed for the blues. The second list is purely stats based, by looking at a minutes played to goals ratio. Let’s see how the two lists compare and if you agree with my list.

My Top 10 Attackers
10.   John Spencer (103 games, 36 goals)
9.      Nicolas Anelka (124, 38 goals)
8.      Mark Hughes (95 games, 25 goals)
7.      Tore Andre Flo (112 games, 34 goals)
6.      Eidur Gudjohnsen (186 games, 54 goals)
5.      Hernan Crespo (49 games, 20 goals)
4.      Gianluca Vialli (58 games, 21 goals)
3.      Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (136 games, 69 goals)
2.      Didier Drogba (208 games, 96 goals)
1.      Gianfranco Zola (229 games, 59 goals)

One player who narrowly missed out was George Weah, who I wish had stayed for a longer period. In a few years I hope to be able to add Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge to this list.

Top 10 Attackers (based on goals per minute)
10.    Gianluca Vialli (199 minutes)
9.      Mark Stein (197 minutes)
8.      John Spencer (190 minutes)
7.      Mateja Kezman (187 minutes)
6.      Tore Andre Flo (183 minutes)
5.      Mikael Forssell (162 minutes)
4.      Didier Drogba (162 minutes)
3.      Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (150 minutes)
2.      Daniel Sturridge (149 minutes)
1.      Hernan Crespo (141 minutes)

So, there you have it. Hernan Crespo is the most effective attacker Chelsea have had in the Premier League in terms of minutes per goal. There are four players in this list who did not make my personal selection; Mark Stein, Mateja Kezman, Mikael Forssell and Daniel Sturridge. Carlton Cole is next line with a goal every 200 minutes, just one minute behind Vialli.

You will not be surprised to see that Chris Sutton did not appear in either list. In fact, he came last in the stats list with a goal every 1,845 minutes. Just behind him is Robert Fleck (994 minutes).

So, do you agree with my list of attackers? Who would be in your top 10? Please state them in the comments box below.

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

Have Trust In Our Own Grass

Posted: August 25, 2011 by derekorourke in Chelsea, Legends, Transfers, Youth

It’s silly season at the moment as we near the end of the summer transfer window. As usual, Chelsea are a team linked with just about anyone who is half decent. So far we have signed Courtois, Piazon, Romeu and Lukaku and Mata. On top of that, over the last month or so we have been heavily linked with the lavish to the ludicrous such as Modric, Moutinho, Perreira, Parker, Neymar, Cahill etc…the list is endless. If we were to believe all the tales of the tabloids we will have an entirely new squad of players this season.

Call me dull if you like, but I for one do not like to see wholesale changes made to a team. I think teams needs refreshing and rejuvenation rather than re-booting. We already have a new manager and backroom staff to integrate into the club, signing a host of players makes it even more difficult.

Before I ramble on any further, I’m going to get to the point of this article – TRUST. We are being heavily linked with Modric at the moment. A good player? Yes. Needed? Up for debate, but I would say no, especially at £30+ million. He might be very green looking grass to some Chelsea fans but I think the grass we have already planted and laid in SW6 can grow greener and richer. Currently on our books in the Modric style is the experienced Yossi Benayoun and the upcoming Josh McEachran. I like to see a mixture of youth and experience and I feel those two can be a massive influence on Chelsea this season.

Not only would we be dumping another £30m out of the Chelsea coffers but we will also be hindering the development of a potential star in Josh, something I cannot put a price on. We would also risk losing Yossi Benayoun, who looks content to be a squad player and isn’t on ridiculously high wages.

Why do I care? It’s not my money you might argue. Fair enough, but I would like to see my Chelsea go about things the right way, and one of those things is to win trophies with Chelsea players, clubmen if you like. At the moment we could consider Cech, JT, Lamps, Drogs and Mikel as proper Chelsea club men from our first team. After that, looking at our younger players who are around the first team and I only see Josh and maybe Bertrand (I could include Lukaku as he is a fan but you know what I mean) as Chelsea products and people who are proud to represent our great club. What I’m asking and pleading with Chelsea to do is trust them to be not just our future grass but our present grass. Some grass gets very dry and brown once it arrives, why risk that when we have grass grown from our own soil which we know is already green and guarantees richness.

Instant Heroes?

Posted: August 22, 2011 by chelseachadder in Chelsea, Legends, Tales of the Chadder

Every fan wants to see their team’s new striker score on his debut. A goal in your first game is a sure fire way of getting the crowd and the media on your side. But, is a goal on your debut really that important, or is it actually the kiss of death? Let’s take a look at some of the debut goal scorers.

DECO

First Goal: vs Portsmouth (17th August 2008)
Games: 58
Goals: 6
Honours: Premier League, Community Shield

The little Portuguese playmaker joined Chelsea from Barcelona in the summer of 2008. He scored in the Premier League vs Portsmouth at Stamford Bridge in a 4-0 win. A Chelsea career hampered by injury and a less than expected impact limited Deco to just 58 appearances and 6 goals.

Florent MALOUDA

First Goal: vs Man Utd (5th August 2007)
Games: 188 (and counting)
Goals: 42 (and counting)
Honours: Premier League, FA Cup (2), Community Shield

The Frenchman joined the blues from Lyon in the summer of 2007. His debut was against Man Utd in the Community Shield and he scored an equalising goal in the 44th minute. Chelsea eventually went on and lost on penalties. Since joining CFC, Malouda has won the Chelsea Players Player of the Year as well as appearing in a Champions League final and captaining his national side.

Andriy SHEVCHENKO

First Goal: vs Liverpool (13th August 2006)
Games: 77
Goals: 22
Honours: League Cup

Perhaps the most talked about Chelsea transfer of all time. It is widely believed that the Ukrainian hitman was signed from AC Milan by Roman Abramovich himself, and was the main reason why Jose Mourinho is no longer with the blues. On 13th August 2006 Shevchenko opened his Chelsea goal scoring account in the Community Shield defeat to Liverpool. A lack of confidence and managers’ belief along with niggling injuries stopped Sheva from being the player we all wanted him to be. The £30m man played 77 games and scored 22 goals, including a belter against Spurs in the FA Cup. He did play in the League Cup final win vs Arsenal in 2007.

Adrian MUTU

First Goal: vs Leicester (23rd August 2003)
Games: 38
Goals: 10
Honours: None

Mutu scored on his debut vs Leicester City. However, the Romanian is probably best known as someone who has constantly owed Chelsea £16m in compensation after failing a drugs test. The striker is reported to have taken cocaine and was sacked by the club and banned from football for 7 months. In his short Chelsea career he played 38 games and scored 10 goals.

Boudewijn ZENDEN

First Goal: vs Newcastle (15th August 2001)
Games: 59
Goals: 4
Honours: None

After his £7.5m move from Barcelona, the Dutch winger didn’t really have the greatest of times at Chelsea. His lack of form and persistent injuries restricted his chances. Zenden did play in the FA Cup final vs Arsenal in 2002, coming on as a substitute for Mario Melchiot in the 76th minute.

Jimmy Floyd HASSELBAINK

First Goal: vs Man Utd (13th August 2000)
Games: 177
Goals: 87
Honours: Community Shield

“Oh Jimmy Jimmy, Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink!”. One of my favourite Chelsea strikers of all time. He had two main attributes: his powerful shot and his massive grin. The Dutch hitman was a cult hero at Stamford Bridge due to his goal scoring exploits. My two main memories of Hasselbaink are his ‘perfect’ hattrick vs Spurs (left foot, right foot, header), and his goal against Chelsea for Charlton where he refused to celebrate in front of his loyal blues fans.

George WEAH

First Goal: vs Spurs (12th January 2000)
Games: 15
Goals: 5
Honours: FA Cup

Perhaps my favourite ever debut goal due to the opponents and the story behind the goal. Chelsea signed the former World Player of the Year on loan from AC Milan. He arrived in London on the day of the home game vs Spurs. Later that day the Liberian came on as a 56th Minute substitute for Tore Andre Flo. With the game looking like it would end up 0-0, the striker popped up with a header in the 87th minute, leaving Ian Walker to pick the ball out of the back of the net. Weah only played for half a season, but managed to pick up an FA Cup winners medal later that year after Chelsea beat Aston Villa at Wembley, courtesy of a Roberto Di Matteo goal.

Tore Andre FLO

First Goal: vs Coventry City (9th August 1997)
Games: 163
Goals: 50
Honours: FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup Winners Cup, UEFA Super Cup

The 6 foot 4 Norwegian striker was probably better with his feet than with his head. He had many great games in a Chelsea shirt. It would be hard to pick his best performance; was it his hattrick vs Spurs at White Hart Lane or his brace against Barcelona at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League? He is still one of our highest received transfer fees after his move to Rangers for £12m.

Paul HUGHES

First Goal: vs Derby (18th January 1997)
Games: 23
Goals: 2
Honours: None

Perhaps an unknown to some Chelsea fans, the midfielder didn’t really break into the first team. His debut goal was a surreal moment. A half time substitute for Dennis Wise, the relatively unknown youngster picked up the ball, played a couple of one two’s before scoring. Immediately the crowd started cheering ‘Hughesie, Hughesie, Hughesie’, mainly because that was the chant for Chelsea’s other Hughes, ‘Sparky’. After various loan spells, Hughes eventually signed for Southampton and teamed up with former Chelsea manager Glenn Hoddle.

Paul FURLONG

First Goal: vs Norwich City (20th August 1994)
Games: 85
Goals: 17
Honours: None

Furlong became Chelsea’s record signing in 1994 after Glenn Hoddle splashed out £2.3m on the Watford striker. The tall striker never really lived up to his price tag, but did have some success in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup run. He formed a partnership with Mark Stein. After just two years he left Chelsea and signed for Birmingham City as he found his position under threat by the signings of Mark Hughes and Gianluca Vialli.

Mick HARFORD

First Goal: vs Oldham Athletic (15th August 1992)
Games: 34
Goals: 11
Honours: None

Harford is probably best known to Chelsea fans as the player who scored their first ever goal in the Premier League. Signed from Luton Town for £300,000, he was at the club for less than a season after he was sold to his hometown club of Sunderland for £250,000, despite the fact he was the blues leading goal scorer.

Eddie NEWTON

First Goal: vs Everton (2nd May 1992)
Games: 214
Goals: 10
Honours: FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup Winners Cup

Eddie came through the Chelsea youth ranks with his good friend Frank Sinclair. The midfielder is one of the few people who have scored an FA Cup final goal for Chelsea, which he did vs Middlesbrough in 1997, assisted by a flick from Gianfranco Zola. Newton’s Chelsea career was cut short by serious injuries, but did try to continue at Birmingham City. He has coached at Chelsea and was also Roberto Di Matteo’s assistant at West Brom last season.

Tony CASCARINO

First Goal: vs Crystal Palace (8th February 1992)
Games: 45
Goals: 8
Honours: None

The tall Irishman was signed from Celtic in 1992. He spent a season and a half at Chelsea and picked up an FA Cup runners up medal. After leaving Chelsea for Marseille in 1994, Cas went on to become a radio pundit and a semi-pro poker player.

Joe ALLON

First Goal: vs Wimbledon (17th August 1991)
Games: 18
Goals: 3
Honours: None

Joe signed for Chelsea from Hartlepool United in 1991 for a fee of around £250,000. The striker only managed to play a small number of games, and was even sent on loan to Port Vale before being sold to Brentford in 1992.

Paul ELLIOTT

First Goal: vs Wimbledon (17th August 1991)
Games: 54
Goals: 3
Honours: CFC Player of the Year 1992

The TV pundit was once one of the most promising signings Chelsea ever made, moving from Celtic in 1991. His career was ended in 1992 by a tackle from Liverpool forward Dean Saunders. He later filed a lawsuit against Saunders, although he lost his case after it was decided the Welshman was not at fault. However, in 2003 he was awarded an MBE for his work with young players and anti-racism initiatives.

Kerry DIXON

First Goal: vs Derby County (27th August 1983)
Games: 420
Goals: 193
Honours: Full Members Cup

Chelsea’s 2nd highest ever goal scorer (although Lampard is catching him up quickly). The striker was a gamble signing from Reading for £150,000 (plus £25,000 if he ever played for England). The gamble was to pay off as he scored 2 goals on his debut vs Derby, the last Chelsea player to record such a feat. The England striker was instrumental in Chelsea’s promotion to the 1st Division as 2nd Division champions. He formed a great partnership with short Scottish striker David Speedie. He is also one of the last players to have had a Chelsea testimonial, beating a Spurs XI 5-1 at Stamford Bridge. Dixon would later play against Chelsea at Wembley in an FA Cup semi final for Luton Town. Kerry can often be found on Chelsea TV on a Friday night in the fans live phone-in show.

David SPEEDIE

First Goal: vs Oldham Athletic (18th September 1982)
Games: 205
Goals: 63
Honours: Full Members Cup, Chelsea Player of the Year 1985

The tiny Scottish Forward signed for Chelsea from Darlington for £80,000. Speedie actually scored 2 goals on his debut. He formed a great partnership with Kerry Dixon, aided by Pat Nevin on the wing. Speedie’s greatest achievement was probably scoring a hattrick in the 1986 Full Members Cup final win at Wembley vs Manchester City.

 

Peter OSGOOD

First Goal: vs Workington Town (16th December 1964)
Games: 380
Goals: 150
Honours: FA Cup, UEFA Cup Winners Cup, Chelsea Player of the Year 1973

The King of Stamford Bridge, or Ossie as he is known to some fans, Peter Osgood is one of Chelsea’s greatest ever players as voted for by the fans. In fact, he came second, only beaten by Gianfranco Zola. He is the only player to have a statue of himself at Stamford Bridge. Also, his death saddened football fans in SW6 and beyond. The Legend had his funeral at the home of the blues and laid to rest under the penalty spot at The Shed End. He is also the last player to score in every round of the FA Cup when Chelsea beat Leeds in the competition in 1970. Osgood scored twice on his Chelsea debut vs Workington Town.

Bobby TAMBLING

First Goal: vs West Ham (7th February 1959)
Games: 370
Goals: 202
Honours: League Cup, Chelsea’s all time top goal scorer

Chelsea’s all-time leading goal scorer. He was made Chelsea captain in 1962 and helped the blues win promotion back to the 1st Division, becoming the youngest ever captain to lead a side to promotion. The Striker spent over 10 years at Chelsea and is one of the only players to have scored 5 goals in one game for Chelsea. Bobby won the League Cup in 1964/65 and scored in the Final vs Leicester.

Jimmy GREAVES

First Goal: vs Spurs (24th August 1957)
Games: 169
Goals: 132
Honours: None

Chelsea’s most prolific goal scorer of all time, the England striker made his debut at the age of 17. After spending 4 seasons at Stamford Bridge he left to join AC Milan, although against his wishes as Chelsea wanted the transfer fee he commanded. Greaves holds two goal scoring records for Chelsea: Most goals in one season (41 goals) and most hattricks (13).

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Please vote for your favourite Chelsea goal scoring debutant in the poll below.

 

Part three of my Chelsea Squad Assessment sees me look at our much maligned midfield. There have been numerous press reports bemoaning our lack of creativity and pace in the central areas. Let’s take a closer look to see if these ‘experts’ are right:

Frank Lampard:

Super, super Frank; the man is a machine. Last season saw him suffer his first serious injury setback in his whole career, something which took him time to get over. He said it himself, he gets fitter and fitter the more he plays and it took him a few games to get back in the full swing. People criticised his performances last season but I am very strongly opinionated on this issue. Frank was injured for four months of the season and still managed to be the league’s 4th highest midfield goalscorer last season with 10 goals (13 in all competitions). Over the last five years Frank is the highest scoring midfielder and the second highest in the assist chart. He is a Chelsea legend who will never be replaced and he is far from past it. If he stays injury free this season (and depending on AVB’s playing style), expect 20 goals this season.

Rating: 8.5/10

Ramires:

After a relatively slow start where I admit I had him written off, he completely turned it around and was one of Chelsea’s best players later in the season. I will happily admit he made me eat humble pie, and it tasted good. Ramires has speed, strength and incredible stamina. He has become technically better than early last season where he misplaced lots of passes; which could have been down to confidence. He will go from strength to strength and could very well be a star with a year or two. I hope he plays in his natural central position this season.

Rating: 7.5/10

John Obi Mikel:

A bit of an enigma for Chelsea fans. He possesses undoubted talent, he is strong, he reads the game well and he rarely loses the ball. However, he often slows the pace of our game down too much and can dwell on the ball at times when we need to be quick. He can seem a bit lackadaisical at times but that’s just his style. He is a good player but it seems he has potential to be even better. I look forward to seeing him this year under AVB because one of his main promises is unlocking the potential of current players. Come on Obi (or Traci Chapman as his team mates call him), let this year be your year!

Rating: 6.5/10

Michael Essien:

An heroic performer in his prime. Unfortunately for Michael, I can’t see a way back after this latest injury nightmare. This season was very important for him to re-establish his best form. He was below par last season by his standards but that was understable, he needed time and we didn’t have the depth in the position to nurture him back. After serious knee injury number three, I can see it being just too much. It’s not just the physical side, it’s the mental side also. They (whoever ‘they’ are) say that they never get back to 100% after such injuries and I tend to agree. However, that Ramires based humble pie tasted so good I’d gladly have some more at the end of the season courtesy of the Bison. Get well soon Mick.

Rating: 6.5/10

Yossi Benayoun:

Yossi is effectively a new signing. He was unfortunate last season to suffer such a bad injury and I think he will turn out to be a bargain at £6m. He is extremely clever and the best word that describes his style is ‘guile’. He is underrated by the media and only Liverpool fans will know what he brings to the team. I think if he’s given an important role in the team he won’t disappoint and could well be the creative player we so badly desire. He has a great eye for a pass, but more importantly the ability to execute it. Yossi comes up with his fair share of goals also and for these reasons I do not think signing a ‘creative’ player is our biggest priority. You’ll have to check out the Forwards Assessment tomorrow to find out what I think we’re most lacking.

Rating: 7.5/10

Josh McEachran:

Deep breaths everyone… and relax. Thank you. Josh is 18 years old, just remember that. There is no doubt he’s going to be a star, no doubt at all, in fact he is probably good enough to be a regular in this team already. But…yes, there’s a but – look at any talented player who was played a lot and put through the rigours of the Premiership at an early age. Fabregas, Owen, Kewell, Dyer etc. Notice any trend? Injuries at an early age that have ruined season after season for these players. Of course there are exceptions to the rule but Josh has a lot of growing and filling out still to do and I would like to see him gradually nurtured and given the correct amount of game time over the next 2 seasons. Maybe 10 starts this season, 20 the following and so on. I would rather have him for 15 seasons at Chelsea rather than for the next 6/7 before his body collapses. An absolute gem, but lets make sure this acorn grows into the oak tree before he has to be chopped down.

Rating: 7/10

Yuri Zhirkov:

A tough one this. Yuri is a very very good player but he is always played out of position. I would like to see him deployed on the left wing. He is a great dribbler and he has a very good cross. Just what we need, someone who looks for the touchline. He can fill in at left back (not that we’re short in that position) and in midfield quite comfortably also. If he can stay injury free and is given a run of games we could see the player we all know he is. A good squad player, but I’m not sure he’s happy being that.

Rating: 6.5/10

Gael Kakuta:

When I first saw this kid I thought we had discovered the next Messi-type world star. Now don’t get me wrong, he still has the potential to be a top player but he has taken a step backwards recently. His loan to Fulham last year was iffy at best. I think another loan this season would benefit him, but it should be somewhere where he’ll play regularly. Only then can we assess him properly.

Rating: 5.5/10

Overall rating of Midfield Position: 7/10

Our midfield was not the force it always was last season. I think releasing Ballack was a mistake (and a year too early) as he was a huge presence for us. However, along with seasoned pro and man-machine Lampard, we have serious potential in Ramires and Josh in particular.

We have been heavily linked with big money moves for Pastore and Modric recently but I’m not sure that’s what we need, I would like to see us spend that money elsewhere. Benayoun provides the creativity along with Josh (and let’s not forget Frank’s stats), and Mikel will cover Essien while he’s injured. We have options to go wide with Zhirkov and Kakuta but we still need to add some more wide options, which will be further discussed in tomorrow’s Forwards Assessment.

Agree/Disagree? Please comment below or let me know @fattyfoulke

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Article by Derek O’Rourke

Follow me on Twitter: @fattyfoulke

Following on from yesterday’s post on Chelsea’s goalkeeper situation, instalment two looks at Chelsea’s defence. Largely considered to be Chelsea’s biggest strength; Chelsea’s defence conceded fewest Premier League goals (along with Man City) last season and consists of some big names. Let’s see how we rate:

John Terry:

Captain, Leader, Legend. JT is the epitome of an old fashioned English centre half mixed with talent on the ball and an incredible ability to read the game. He drives the whole team on when the chips are down and for me, was back to his best last season. He has been receiving plenty of bad press (surprise, surprise – press is full of West Ham, Gooners and Spurs fans) but he is looking fit and sharp after shaking off those niggling injuries that plagued him for a couple of years. He has another three or four years at the top and would get into any team in the world.

Rating: 8.5/10

Branislav Ivanovic:

Branner was the Premier League’s best right back last season. Although he would consider himself a centre back by nature I feel he can be a bit too rash at times for this position. He has a tendency to jump in from behind and at times his decision making let him down in that key area. However, as a full back he is very solid and offers a threat going forward, as seen last season when he chipped in with 6 goals. Most of these goals come from set pieces however and he is relatively limited going up the flank. I think this can be a problem for Chelsea’s shape as it allows teams to focus on Chelsea’s left flank to stop the forward runs of Ashley Cole. This for me is a key reason behind Ashley’s quieter season last year in terms of foraying forward and more importantly Malouda’s indifferent form. All in all he is a fine defender and his versatility is a huge plus.

Rating: 7.5/10

Alex:

A beast of a centre half with one of the most powerful shots I’ve ever seen. Alex for me is a world class centre half, when fit. That’s the problem; he never seems to be able to get through more than two or three months without an injury that keeps him out for the next month. Very solid, unbeatable in the air and positionally sound, Alex is calm and a good footballer also, and we all know about his free kicks.

Rating: 8/10

Ashley Cole:

Quite simply the world’s best left back. Defensively excellent as well as having enough energy and attacking ability to overlap and pop up in the oppositions box. If he was Brazilian he would receive more praise but it is widely accepted that there’s nobody better than him. His off the field antics are a little overhyped if you ask me, he’s a good guy who is completely persecuted by the media. World Class.

Rating: 9/10

David Luiz:

A really good player with potential to be a great player. Luiz has the world at his feet. Us Chelsea fans should try not get too carried away and heap too much pressure on him too soon. He had a great first half season in England, bar one or two moments, but his second season will tell a lot. He is very versatile as he can play anywhere across the back four or even in midfield. It has been much heralded that his best position is midfield – I’m not sure how people can make this judgement when we haven’t yet seen him there. He will be an outstanding centre back within a year or two and has the best in the business to learn from in JT. He will rotate with Alex and Ivanovic between centre back and right back this season. Lord Percy Part 2.

Rating: 7.5/10

Jose Bosingwa:

A good attacking full back, Bosingwa has pace and decent skill. However his crossing is not good enough. More importantly as a defender, his defending is poor. He gets caught on the inside a lot and he is weak in the challenge. He has a tendency to get caught dreaming from time to time and unfortunately is no more than a half decent back up. No doubt his injuries haven’t helped him but he never really lived up to his price tag of almost £17m.

Rating: 5.5/10

Paulo Ferreira:

A great servant to Chelsea and a very steady and reliable right back in his prime. Unfortunately that is behind him now but is a good back up player to have as he can play on either side of the back four. He is not a centre half and shouldn’t be judged on his performances there. He lacks in strength but he is positionally good and experienced.

Rating: 6/10

Patrick van Aanholt:

Not one for the future, he is one for the present. I would like to see him get more game time this season and push on. He has a lot to learn defensively but is very good going forward. I can actually see him in a more advanced left sided role also but again, this hasn’t been proved.

Rating: 6.5/10

Ryan Bertrand:

Just like Van Aanholt, Ryan is ready for Premier League football. It is just a pity that he and Patrick are vying to play behind the master Ashley Cole. Ryan is a very good defender and has great skill going forward. He has a very good cross and is very experienced for someone his age due to the loans he has enjoyed. He is touted to be going on loan again this season but Chelsea fans will be buoyed by the fact he has signed a four year extension on his contract. This guy will be great.

Rating: 6.5/10

Overall rating of Defence Position: 8.5/10

As with yesterday’s piece on goalkeepers, all ratings are current and not taking into account the players potential.

Chelsea have experience, depth, potential and most of all, world class players representing our back line. During a season when there wasn’t much to shout about for a long period last year, they always showed their class. With the likes of Bruma on loan and Chalobah yet to emerge, the current and future state of Chelsea’s defence gets a thumbs up from where I’m sitting.

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Agree/Disagree? Please comment below and or let me know @fattyfoulke.  Also make sure to vote on the poll.

Article by Derek O’Rourke

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Follow me on Twitter: @fattyfoulke

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.

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

Now that Chelsea hero Roberto Di Matteo has been announced as Andre Villas-Boas’ new assistant manager, I’ve decided to take a look at some high profile returning heroes of the past, and whether they worked out or not.

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Kenny Dalglish – Liverpool

It’s a case of so far so good for King (ahem) Kenny. The wily Scotsman re-took the reins at Anfield while the club were languishing in the bottom half of the table after what I can only describe as a thoroughly enjoyable stint in charge by Woy Hodgson. Dalglish, helped by a £50million sale of Fernando Torres, seemed to reinvigorate the club – from the players to the fans. The surged back up the table and finished a very credible 6th position, a real achievement for a club like Liverpool.

Verdict – Success

Mark Hughes – Manchester United

Sparky returned to Old Trafford after spending time with Barcelona and Bayern Munich. After realising that football is indeed a non-contact sport in Europe, Hughes felt it was best for all involved that he returned to United, not least the wounded and mentally scarred centre backs. On his return, Hughes became a vital cog in the United machine which won 2 league titles and set them up for an era of dominance.

Verdict – Success

Kevin Keegan – Newcastle United

Yet another “King” returns. King Kev returned to Newcastle for the 2nd time after a successful stint as a player and previously as a manager. This time circumstances were a little different and after an “iffy” first few games, Newcastle found their feet and began a good run of games. After finishing 12th that season, Keegan spoke out against owner Mike Ashley and his board for not backing him in the transfer market and his time came to an abrupt end at St. James’ Park.

Verdict – Failure

Alan Shearer – Newcastle United

Newcastle sure love their returning heroes. This time, all-time leading goal scorer and demi-God Alan Shearer returned to try steer the Geordies away from the drop zone and to Premier League safety. Of course with no managerial experience (or qualities, seemingly), this was a classic case of an emotional appointment in the hope it would unite the fans and players in a massive whirlwind of black and white coloured victories and even a re-emergence of Biker Grove. It didn’t, Newcastle won one game out of eight and were relegated, Shearer left and hasn’t had a job in management since.

Verdict – Failure

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As Robbie embarks on his second tenure at Stamford Bridge, he will be employed as an assistant manager. Win or lose, the glory or blame won’t be laid firmly at his door but I feel he has an important role to play in any future Chelsea successes. He is Chelsea through and through and has an eye for attractive football. Every manager, no matter how good or bad, needs a sharp mind to bounce ideas off and of course to bring new ideas to the table. Let’s hope Robbie’s return will be deemed a major success.

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!

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