It’s been pretty decent, this pre-season tour, I must say. We haven’t lost a game. We haven’t conceded a goal. We have scored some goals. We got to see some young players making good contributions. There’s always room to improve but you know what, two good things: (a) the league table hasn’t started ticking (b) we haven’t yet done any serious business the market.
There’s a theory that sooner that we buy players they can get involved from the beginning, in the training sessions and in the pre-season games. The other theory is, getting the right players is more important than which week of the transfer window we’re getting them. I’d go with the latter.
Im very happy with how we’ve progressed so far. Of course we’ve not made big strides but we are work in progress. It would be naive to expect a manager to come in make the difference in 4 weeks. Yes, that’s all the time he’s had with the squad – 4 weeks. The biggest thing he’s achieved in these four weeks is how he got the young players into prominence. Basically, I think Boas is using the pre-season tour perfectly well.
I wonder where all this negativity is from. Some of us are impatient because you don’t see the manager carrying your list. He’s not getting rid of the players that you want out. He’s not going after the players you want to buy. I think this is the reason for the negativity. Some of us had come to the conclusion that the squad needs a complete overhaul. Carlo not being able to get the best out of this squad has contributed to it. Truly, it needs only some key additions and deletions which would make it a very good squad.
Defence needs no change. We have great set of defenders and a good supply line from our reserves/youth. We have enough and more number of quality strikers. We need midfielders and wingers. In addition to who we mostly played in midfield, we now have Josh and Yossi, who are like new signings and we have Oriol Romeu. Plus, we are after Modric and Pastore and looks like we would sign Pastore.
The only problem area is the wings. Depending on what variation of 4-3-3 Boas wants to play, he may or may not need top quality wingers. So far, probably because we dont have the right players, we haven’t seen our ‘wingers’ staying close to the by line or touchline or raining crosses in. Our three forwards seem to play more narrow than the traditional 4-3-3. Keep in mind we are also playing 4-2-3-1 very often. For 4-2-3-1, we have a very good squad plus a possible Pastore.
The Pastore story is not complete yet. When it got to a duel between Chelsea and PSG for Pastore’s signature, many of us thought it will only go Chelsea’s way. We need a little reminding that PSG is now owned by Qatar Investment Agency which is an arm of the Qatar government. And this agency is set up to invest their surplus of $60m. I guess that’s all you want to hear about PSG and if they could afford to sign Pastore.
If Pastore has any ambition and loves good competition, he must choose Chelsea, even if Palermo get a better offer from PSG. I’m still hopeful that we’d sign him. As mentioned before, every time I had the opportunity to watch, he’s disappointed me but I do know that he’s a very good player and just what we need – skill and pace in the middle of the pitch.
Mikel, Lampard, Ramires, Benayoun, Josh, Oriol, Malouda, Pastore? Essien (back in winter) – to choose 5 players from this lot for our midfield is not a tough ask. But it again goes to show we are not talking about an orthodox 4-3-3. That’s the manager’s call. For an orthodox 4-3-3, we don’t have quality wingers but we have time of 4 more weeks to get them. Gourlay said we would sign two more players, so fine. If we play a 4-3-3 and expect only the wing backs to provide width, we have the players and an addition or two will make us very strong.
Does Desailly want the Chelsea job by any chance? His punditry is hurting us. I’m never a big fan of his comments about Chelsea. Yeah he was a Chelsea great but I’m not a fan of his comments. I think he’s still upset that his friend Carlo has been removed from Chelsea. All his comments about Chelsea since Carlo’s sacking have been negative or pressurising. In fact, at times they read like the comments of a Wenger or a Fergie about Chelsea. He says all negative things like Boas is under pressure, if he doesn’t win the players won’t respect him, if he doesn’t win champions league he will be sacked, all such sorts of things. For fuck sake, the new manager is yet to manage his first competitive match for Chelsea.
And Carlo was sacked because he couldn’t get Torres to perform? Bollocks. Which well wisher of Chelsea would like to put pressure on Villas-Boas, Torres and Lampard ahead of the new season? His comments about Lampard is enough for me to decide that Desailly speaks nonsense. His remarks are downright disruptive. Compare his comments with that of Guus. Desailly talks like a headline-grabbing pundit keen to get more assignments. Sorry if I’m beign disrespectful to a Chelsea great. I’m at how he spoke of Lampard the Chelsea legend. Forget the panic button, where is the ‘ignore’ button?
I know Boas is not of the Mourinho mould when it comes to confrontation. When Alfredo di Stefano created similar situations (they were at least reasonable) for Mourinho, he made it clear who the boss is and the issue was resolved. Now they are all pally-pally and all di Stefano now talks about is how the club is in the right direction etc. We might have to do the same thing with Desailly. Otherwise, we run the risk of Desailly being consulted and asked by every news agency on Chelsea related news because he can throw these hot headlines stuff. We have enough pundits running down and ridiculing Chelsea. The last we want is someone from our own camp.
Meanwhile, Josh McE has had the distinction of doing a media conference even before making his first start in premier league. This goes to show how much importance Boas gives to the young players and how he wants to project them. The boy talked very well indeed. He idolises Zidane which explains his style and approach (not ability) to the game. Boas too has confirmed that Josh would be ‘organising’ the play in the Saturday game. I’m mighty pleased.
We play Aston Villa today. After this we play our last pre-season game against Rangers. Probably, these two games will give us a good indication of the Boas’ preferred first choice XI and also his favoured formation. If I’m right, the next matches – against Villa and Rangers – will be played like real competitive matches and hence would be a better indication of how well prepared and ready we are for the start of the premier league.
Personally, I’d set this as the playing eleven for the next two matches:
We didn’t have very challenging opposition but I could see how we are slowly getting better as a unit. The match today would be watched closely for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s some trophy. Secondly, it’s a premier league opposition. Thirdly, this being the penultimate pre-season match, we should be fairly ready. Let’s meet at BC Shout for the live-match chat later today. Some of us will be watching the match live and can give you a live account of our last stages of the preparation for the start of the premier league. See ya!