Has the transfer window closed already? It almost feels like you’re in a supermarket, you’ve got money, you’ve found the beer but you see the lights going off and you rush to the billing counter and hear a polite voice telling you ‘sorry sir, the counter is closed’. At least, I’d run to the nearest shop that is open but as far as Chelsea is concerned all shops are closed for 4 months and we need to manage with the limited supplies we’ve got.
For me, the disappointment was more from the fact that we didn’t land a Modric or a player in the mould of Modric. I truly believed that Modric will arrive on the last day but he didn’t. With Arry constantly bickering that Luka’s head is not in the right place, I did think that Spurs may not want to keep an unhappy player. Look at Arteta. Big player for Everton. He said he wanted to leave and he was bid only for £10m. He was allowed to go because Moyes and Kenwright didn’t want an unhappy player despite the fact that he’s their key player and has been around for more than 6 seasons.
I would never want to keep an unhappy player. There’s one thing about a player negotiating on contract and another about submitting a transfer request. I know there are contracts and they need to be respected. A player cannot say he wants to leave one year after signing a 5-year contract but once he submits a transfer request, the bonding and connection of the fans with the player is lost. I’m not a chairman, I’m just a fan. I don’t see Spurs fans having any sort of positive relationship with Modric anymore, because he’s an outsider to start with. He’s not Steven Gerrard to almost sign for Chelsea and go back kiss the Liverpool badge with no one having a problem about it. Anyway, I still think we’d get Modric in January, also depending on how he behaves with Spurs in the next 4 months.
There’s a positive in not signing Modric, if you really want to look for one. We went after Modric because we need a playmaker, a proper ball player. When we didn’t get Modric, we should have got the likes of Moutinho, which we didn’t. Josh had asked Boas to go on a loan. Boas has told him not to and has promised him first team action. So now, if you put these two things together, you’ll see why I’m saying not signing Modric is not a terrible thing after all.
John Terry said this: “We have young Josh McEachran as well. We’ve not let him out on loan because he’s got a big part to play this year and we wish him well and hopefully he comes through.”
Our transfer deadline story was Raul Meireles. The 28-year old midfielder was our third signing from Liverpool in the space of about 12 months or so. Is he the kind of player that we need? I don’t think so. Given the circumstances, will I take him? Hell yes. We need options in midfield. We badly need options in midfield. We need a bunch of players to choose from and we need competition for places. Raul Meireles will do. He’s a decent player but he’s somewhat a direct player like Lampard, Ramires etc. He’s not your creative fulcrum. Nevertheless, he’s a new midfielder, experienced pro and more importantly, has worked with the boss earlier. So, I’m sure Boas knows a thing or two about Raul and at Chelsea, he can fulfill his potential for 2-3 seasons.
Once I got through the disappointment of not signing a Modric or a Moutinho, I could see that we’ve done decent business in this transfer window. Overall, I must say I’m quite pleased with the business Andre Villas Boas has done in this summer. Here is the snapshot:
Players bought: Thibaut Courtois, Oriol Romeu, Romelu Lukaku, Juan Mata, Ulises Davila and Raul Meireles.
No problem here. We’ve added quality to our attack as well as midfield. Romeu, Meireles, Lukaku and Mata – if these four players are used very often and very well, this will have a big impact on where we would stand at the end of December. These are really good purchases that could have an impact on Chelsea for many seasons.
Players out on loan: Thibaut Courtois, Jeffrey Bruma, Ulises Davila, Patrick van Aanholt, Gael Kakuta and Yossi Benayoun.
I didn’t like that Yossi had to go out on loan. I thought he’s a very useful to player to have in the bench, if not in the starting eleven. I think it’s a blunder to have let him go on a loan. At a time where we need to add creativity to our midfield, we’ve managed to bring Meireles and let Yossi go on a loan to a rival. Good news – Ryan Bertrand has not gone on a meaningless loan. He just signed a 4-year contract. Last season, Ashley Cole neither had a challenge nor had a back up but Ryan, in his only opportunity, that too as a sub, created a beautiful assist. Happy that he stays with the first team.
Players sold: Michael Mancienne, Gokhan Tore, Jack Cork, Fabio Borini, Yury Zhirkov, and Slobodan Rajkovic.
It’s a pity that we couldn’t keep Borini. He’s a good young player but we have too many forwards at the moment and there’s really no place for Borini right now. Zhirkov never had a good spell of form. His stay was marred by injuries and lack of opportunities. If he couldn’t challenge Ashley Cole for his place, who from the current squad will challenge Ashley? I think Boas sees Bertrand as more of an injury cover than a player that would challenge Cole. Rajkovic was another one that I had lots of expectations but he’s gone too.
Let’s see how the squad looks at the end of this transfer window.
Goalkeepers: We’ve added one but have sent him on loan. End of this season, we might let Hilario go and get Courtois as Cech’s deputy.
Defenders: We have weakened ourselves here. We have eight defenders of which, four can play centre back, three can play right back and two can play left back. Left back is still an area of concern. When Ashley is fit and in form, it’s all fine. God forbid, if he goes on a 2-month injury or something, expectations on Ryan will be high. Hopefully, we rotate Ashley and Ryan well enough that Ryan is not overawed when he needs to come in for Ashley.
Midfielders: We have added mostly in quantity and not too much in terms of proven quality. Anyway, we at least have more options to choose from and hopefully better competition for places. Happy to see Josh finding some place in Boas’ first team plans. Meireles can perfectly play Lampard’s role. Don’t forget, Essien could come back after a few months. I only hope he doesn’t go for the African cup and plays for Chelsea.
Forwards: We have added real quality here. Juan Mata and Lukaku are real gems. They provide so much variety and most importantly, I’ve use the word again – options. I’m happy that Sturridge is back. Luckily, he didn’t go on another loan or become a makeshift in some transfer. If Boas so wishes, he can arrange his line-ups in such a way that he doesn’t have to play Malouda, Kalou and Anelka at all.
We do have a good squad now. The one player that we are missing is an established playmaker. You might say that’s the most important gap that we should have filled but we don’t exactly know if Boas is serious about using Josh. Having not bought an established playmaker and having let Yossi go on a season-long loan, Boas is definitely sending a message to Josh and Romeu, if he is keen to have these type of players in the first team.
Last season I said we had a better squad than Man Utd. This season Man Utd have only added only two outfield players Phil Jones and Ashley Young. Compare that with the players we have added this season and might play in the first team – Mata, Lukaku, Meireles and Romeu. Certainly we have got stronger. Where Man Utd have made a difference is in expanding their squad with their young players instead of bought players.
Even in that area, we have Bertrand and McEachran who will have big roles to play in the first team this season. Plus, we have a Lucas ‘the new Kaka’ Piazon and Gael Kakuta joining us in January. I see we have a very exciting squad.
Let me say this with the right emphasis – A squad is only as good as how it’s used.
We have the resources – a good mix of skill and strength, youth and experience, English and foreign. A complete disservice to this squad would be to get stuck to a line-up of ‘seniors’ irrespective of whether they are in form or not. I have full faith in Boas that he would use this squad well.
From a squad strength point of view, Man City have the best squad. They have two possible full blown teams in their first team squad. They have probably two established players for each position. The squad is very strong but it will its own downside and in particular the high maintenance and man management surrounding such squads.
Bottomline: I’m much more excited and hopeful than I was at the end of last season. We have certainly strengthened our squad. We’ve got a new young manager. He’s done well so far. I think Boas was still getting involved in the transfers and stuff which is also the reason why he’s advocating closing the transfer window before the start of the season. Let’s get over this international break. Boas will have a near-full squad to choose from – with a number of them being ‘his’ players or young players. Overall, I’m very happy about how this transfer window has gone. And hey! Sneijder didn’t sign for Manure!