Dead Ends

Posted: June 6, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Chelsea, loan, Rants, Rumours, Youth

I can’t remember the last time I blogged.

It was before Chelsea won the Champions League, before Drogba announced he’d be leaving us, before Hazard proclaimed he’d be joining us but soon after Di Matteo took over as “caretaker”.

Anyway, what I’m about to write, some will undoubtedly hate, but try and bare with me.

Over 5 years ago, a boy made his debut for Chelsea. Fans had high hopes for him. Would he be the new big thing in England? The answer, at that time, was no; he suffered a career ending injury and was forced to retire at an early age.

He kept working, he kept training, he kept his head in the door at Chelsea and would you believe it…he played in the first team again this season after coming out of retirement on the back of some reserve team appearances. Now that boy is a man. And that man is Sam Hutchinson.

So picture this. There are two “first team” right backs at the club: Ivanovic and Bosingwa. One leaves, meaning there is a potential gap in the squad for another. For Hutchinson? For Kane?

Or for Van der Wiel?

Maybe just rumours, but I was slightly disheartened to hear we are linked with VdW. Not because I think he’s at all a bad player but because if he was signed, Hutchinson/Kane are back down the pecking order again.

There is simply no faith in the youth system.

It is of course highly difficult to blood in youth when the manager is under serious observation from those watching above. But, in Di Matteo, have we finally found someone with the guts to try, test and experiment with one of the best youth systems in the world? Why else would he give Ryan Bertrand his Champions League debut in the final?

Don’t even get me started on Kakuta and Borini.

I find it unfair on youngsters who are not even given a proper chance in the first team and are shipped away on the loan express first class to eternal doom.

Hutchinson came out of retirement! That’s how much he wants to succeed. Surely it won’t hurt too much to give him a game here and there?

Bertrand may have played a considerable amount more than other youths this season in the first team but will he get the same chances next season if a new manager is employed?

I’m creating more questions than answers here, but it’s important to step back and think.

Chalobah, Hutchinson, Kane, McEachran, Kakuta, Piazon, Feruz, Lukaku – will these players ever get decent opportunities in the first team?

Rant over…for now.

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Chelsea have predominantly used a 4-3-3 formation since Roman took the club over in 2003. It seems that is the preferred system of the board, something I would have my doubts about. I believe the board would be happy to see any system as long as it produced winning and stylish football. The truth is, football evolves and with that so does tactics and formations.
For a long time in English football nobody dared venture away from the tried and trusted 4-4-2. In the early noughties we saw a transition to 4-3-3 (or 4-5-1 depending on which team deployed it). We are now seeing an adoption to 4-2-3-1 and even recently to a back three, used by Barcelona and to our detriment, Napoli.
It seems there are innovators in the game and we all wait to see what they do first before a surge of followers replicate. In fact, Chelsea were innovators under Jose and our mind bending 4-3-3 was adopted by almost every team in the Premiership, if not Europe!
Now is the time for change again, and not just because the 4-3-3 is becoming obsolete (I actually don’t think a formation can become so) but because we simply do not possess the tools to adequately adopt the formation. 4-3-3 is very width dependant and we simply don’t have enough effective wingers, and we’re even going as far as playing 2 players out of position on the wings in Mata and Sturridge. Here’s what I propose:
I ultimately would like to see us adopt an exciting and wide 4-2-3-1 formation with Mata central behind our striker and two fast and direct wingers out wide. But, as I said, we don’t have that option right now so I think between now and the end of the season we should go with 4-diamond-2. It fits; we can play our strongest players and we can finally get more support up to out striker which has cut an isolated figure all season by adding another man up there to help him with the workload and a number 10 behind to create the chances.
Anyone that says Torres and Drogba can’t play together are completely wrong. It’s a media fuelled fantasy and I would love to see them prove the red-tops wrong. It also will give more opportunities to Sturridge to play centrally and maybe even an extra couple of games to Lukaku.
If you need convincing just look at the layout below and how our players fit at present:

GK

Cech

RB

Ivanovic

CB

Luiz

Or

Cahill

CB

JT

LB

Cole

DM

Essien

Or

Romeu/Mikel

CM

Lampard

CM

Ramires

AM

Mata

Or

Meireles

ST

Torres

Or

Sturridge

ST

Drogba

Or

Lukaku

You may say we lack width with this formation and you’d be correct but haven’t we done so all season anyway? At least with this formation we can properly protect our back four by consolidating midfield and we also see our best players play in their natural positions. I also believe Ashley Cole and Ivanovic offer a decent outlet out wide when we need that.
Bring on the summer, and bring on some wide players and we can switch to a 4-2-3-1. De Bruyne (hopefully) and Kakuta will be back, and we will no doubt see some additions covering those positions also.
What do you think?
Follow me on Twitter: @fattyfoulke

Match Facts (Pre-Norwich)

Posted: January 20, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Chelsea, facts, pre-match, stats

Here are some stats and facts ahead of our game against Norwich:

Chelsea have won the last five clashes with Norwich in all competitions scoring three+ goals in each fixture (there have been exactly four goals scored in each of those last five meetings).

Norwich haven’t kept a clean sheet in their 10 Premier League games at Carrow Road this season. Poor.

Chelsea have won five of their last 12 Premier League away games (won 5, drawn 3, lost 4). Room for improvement.

Frank Lampard’s last four league goals have all upgraded draws into wins by a single-goal margin. Impact.

41% of the goals Norwich have scored have been headers, the highest proportion in the top flight (this is good seen as we haven’t conceded a goal from a corner this season).

Norwich have also conceded the lowest percentage of goals from headers (11%). Ball to feet tactic?

Chelsea have picked up the most cards in the Premier League this season (48 yellow, three reds). Brutal.

Chelsea have won the joint-highest proportion of aerial duels in the Premier League (58%). Towering.

The Blues have lost just one of their last nine Premier League matches (won 5, drawn 3, lost 1). Strong.

Chelsea have drawn 99 Premier League away games.

@GaryCRobertson

Aiming For A Trophy

Posted: January 19, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Cech, Chelsea, English Premier League, Essien, Goalkeeper, midfield

Chelsea have never gone two successive seasons without winning a trophy since Roman Abramovich bought the club all those years ago. Cech believes we can keep that trend up:

“We set a standard in recent years, and that’s the way it is at a big club – especially here. We want, ourselves, to win something. We don’t want to go another season without trophies, so our aim is to end this season with silverware.”

Brilliant attitude.

Despite this season being of significant change and alteration under the reign of Villas-Boas, Cech still believes it’s no excuse for not winning any silverware. The addition of Gary Cahill from Bolton and Essien back from injury is giving the squad a strong look as we enter into the second half of the season.

Obviously it’s unfortunate Essien couldn’t make the African Cup of Nations however it’s nothing but excellent for us. Our first team central midfield choices now consist of Lampard, Romeu, Ramires, Essien, Mikel and Meireles (with McEachran now on loan with Swansea until the end of the season). Pretty good, eh.

Cech is also conscious that it will not be an overnight job to make the “new” Chelsea a success:

“You can see this team, there have been changes in recent years because you can’t stop players ageing. It’s normal in a top club that people change. We changed the manager and a bit of the philosophy, so it needs time.”

After all, patience is a virtue.

@GaryCRobertson

Terry Glad Players Are Unhappy

Posted: January 19, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Andres Villas-Boas, Chelsea, Terry

The heading will of course give the wrong impression but the following post should explain all.

Terry claims everyone at Chelsea wants to achieve the same goal. And rightly so. He also says that he’d not be impressed if there were players who were content to sit on the bench. Terry also explains how the media warp, players being unhappy about not featuring in a game, to being annoyed at the manager.

“Unfortunately when people do not play, you get people writing ‘this player is unhappy with the manager’, which I don’t think is the case – they are unhappy they are not playing. For me, whether you are young or old, you want to play every single week, regardless of the competition. That desire is what I want to see. If there are some players in our squad who are unhappy that they are not playing, I would rather that than players prepared to tick along, collect their wages and not care if they are in the side or not. For me, it is a good thing to have, a passion and belief they should be playing.”

Basically John Terry has looked at players stating their unhappiness from a different perspective and I think he’s really hit the nail on the head.

Lampard is not unhappy at Villas-Boas, he is unhappy to be not playing. Over time that could change but from my understanding they have a good relationship so we shouldn’t need to worry too much.

I’d like to think Malouda is silently improving in training and adapting to Villas-Boas’ style but things are looking just a little bleak for him.

So, apart from a minor amount of cases, next time you see a player grumbling because he’s not playing, the chances are he is trying very hard to improve and get back into the team. Competition for team places will keep the playing standard high.

Can only be a good thing, surely?

@GaryCRobertson

It took a while, but now Gary Cahill has been confirmed by Chelsea to have passed a medical and signed a contract in what has been believed to be a transfer fee somewhere in the region of £7m.

Seemingly Cahill passed the medical “with flying colours” on Saturday morning and then proceeded to watch his new teammates defeat Sunderland 1-0.

The stories claiming Cahill was holding out, only for money, were quite possibly false to disrupt the entire transfer.

Cahill had this to say about joining Chelsea:

“Chelsea is a massive club, it is a club that looks to win trophies season in season out and it is a big opportunity for me to be a part of that. Opportunities like this you can’t turn down.”

What’s more, Cahill is eligible to play in the FA Cup as Bolton kept him out of their squad which drew 2-2 against Macclesfield Town in the third round. Bonus.

In September 2011, Gary Cahill scored on his first competitive start for England (3-0 win vs Bulgaria). He is expected to be one of England’s first choice centre backs in the coming years.

Welcome to Chelsea, Gary Cahill.

@GaryCRobertson

Another Backing For Torres

Posted: January 16, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Chelsea, Rivals, Torres, Transfers

Harry Redknapp, I’m not a huge fan of him but his recent comments regarding Fernando Torres are worth sharing:

“I think Torres is starting to look the player that we all know he can be, the player he was at Liverpool – he is a top player no doubt about it.”

It’s encouraging for a manager from a different club, albeit a horrible rivalling club, to speak positively on Torres considering there are so many who jump on the slating bandwagon. For this, I am grateful to Redknapp for the first, and possibly the only, time…ever.

When we think Spurs, we now think about Modric moving to Chelsea. A saga that really should have finished a while ago. There were rumours doing the rounds that a potential Modric-Torres swap deal was in the balance but Redknapp put that false information to bed by saying:

“There is no way [Torres] is coming to Tottenham and no swap deal is in the offing for Luka Modric, I think Chelsea will get the best out of him [Torres].”

That’s that then. Surely the Modric rumours will cease from here on in?

@GaryCRobertson

Not Going With The Flo

Posted: January 16, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Chelsea, Rumours, Transfers

Someone’s getting fed up of not starting games under Villas-Boas and has used the media as his tool to try and change the situation. Yes, it’s Florent Malouda.

“I am the kind of player who needs to play week in, week out and the manager knows that.”

Malouda has started only 4 Premier League games this season – it’s little wonder he’s complaining. Juan Mata has been preferred in the left midfield/wing position as Villas-Boas implements his own style on Chelsea.

Malouda also says:

“I am expecting to start more games because that’s my standard and it’s what I’ve been doing for the last two seasons.”

Hmmm, if that’s what he wants then I think there is a high chance Florent will not be a Chelsea player by this time next year. If that were the case and he were to leave, there would be significant interest from clubs all around the globe.

For example, Palmeiras, who are managed by former Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari (shudder) could be interested along with several French clubs. I also read recently that Stoke were to bid £7m for him which I doubt.

What’s really unfortunate is how he was such a key player for us in the last few seasons and then all of a sudden he’s been shunned to the bench and Mata has arrived. Planning for the future is most definitely in the present for Villas-Boas.

@GaryCRobertson

Lukaku Ponders Summer Loan Move

Posted: January 16, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Chelsea, loan, Rumours, Transfers, Youth

Romelu Lukaku is keen to get more playing time with Chelsea and has revealed he would be open to a loan move if the opportunity arose to improve his long terms chances in the first team.

“If my situation at Chelsea does not evolve between now and the end of the season, it may be better to be loaned out for a season.”

The only problem is that because Lukaku has already played for two clubs this season, he would not be able to join another club on loan until the summer transfer window arrives. So, he is keen to plan ahead, something I think is very admirable – it’s clear he wants to succeed:

“A loan this season is not possible, as I have already played for two different clubs (but) if this situation endures, it might be better to play for another club for a year and then come back.”

Lukaku has featured only seven times for Chelsea since his move from Anderlecht but hopefully he will get some chances while Drogba and Kalou are on duty with the Ivory Coast at the AFCON. Fingers crossed.

@GaryCRobertson

Cahill in, Alex out?

Posted: January 14, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Bolton, Chelsea, Defence, England, English Premier League, Rumours, Transfers

Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed that English defender Gary Cahill is very close to becoming a Chelsea player after passing a recent medical on Saturday:

Gary passed his medical and should be our player soon.

It’s taken awhile but it shouldn’t be too long now folks.

Cahill, who has been capped for England seven times, will cost Chelsea somewhere in the region of £7 million (according to media reports – yeuch) and will be an immediate replacement for the imminently departing Alex. Cahill was due to be out of contract in the coming months with Bolton, so Chelsea took advantage of the situation with a bid – the rest is history (if everything goes through correctly that is).

Onto the subject of Alex. Reports say he could join Queens Park Rangers sooner rather than later. On the other hand, a Chelsea spokesman said: “I can say at this time there is no agreement between the clubs.” Who to believe?

Villas-Boas will be holding out for as high a bid as possible as he is all too aware of Alex’s financial worth: “We know Alex’s market value and we’re just not going to let him go quite easily.” It would also seem that there’s significant interest from foreign clubs meaning QPR may not be where Alex ends up. After all, he has already said he’d prefer to move away from England. Maybe he will link up with Ancelotti at PSG?

Nothing is decided just yet but in the next few days, we can be sure to expect Cahill to arrive, Alex to depart or both.

@GaryCRobertson