In the United Kingdom of Great Britain of Northern Ireland, (i.e. the home of football) it is stupidly difficult for us fans of the sport to find some professional, insightful and interesting opinions on the television. ‘Match of the Day’ has officially gone down the toilet. Its attempts to appeal to a mass audience, along with Alan Hansen’s plain bias shown towards Liverpool and Dalglish, makes for tedious viewing these days. Programmes like ‘Soccer AM’ and ‘Goals on Sunday’ also are good entertainment – God knows Chris Kamara is a comedy genius – but still, they don’t offer much insight into the culture we all adore from the outside.
The only place where this seems to be available nowadays, is on the morning chat show, ‘The Sunday Supplement’ although which in my opinion is sadly becoming more hit-and-miss. Usually, the punditry is excellent but more and more often now; it’s starting to become a platform for the embarrassingly obvious and clichéd opinions of The Sun’s Shaun Custis, and the evident lies of liars like Martin Lipton. This Sunday however, a point was raised about Chelsea by the brilliant Oliver Holt, which was so simple I almost felt ashamed that the idea had never seriously crossed my mind before.
What he pointed out was how the tactics of Alex Ferguson’s Manchester Utd have remained constant for almost his entire tenure at the club. Utd have always used fast wingers and have always had a front two in attack and whenever a group of players came to the end of their careers, they would just go out and find some direct replacements and carry on. The logic behind this philosophy is flawless, so then why is it when we think of potential replacements for our current squad, we look towards flashy and tricky wingers and small midfielders who create things from deep positions? In other words, why are we looking to players who are nothing like the ones we’ve had for the past 10 years, and the ones that have led us through the greatest period in the club’s history?
For some reason, the fan base and the hierarchy of Chelsea seem obsessed with changing the club completely; we’re demanding a revolution that will see a new squad, with different principles and an entirely different way of playing, to the established and proven methods that have given us invariable success for so long. The stupidity of this is only starting to become apparent. Our recent ties against Barcelona showed how we can still ‘park the bus’ and grind out a result like no other team in the world. Why then, when we look at the list of players we’re linked to this summer, are there no real rough central midfielders and big front men that can kill a game and then defend a lead like it’s the easiest thing in the world; like how Drogba, Terry and Lampard have being doing for so long?
I wish our situation was simple enough to be described as ‘putting square pegs in round holes’, however I think it’s more along the lines of: taking a square peg out a square hole, trying to make it a round hole without adequate tools or geometrical knowledge, then trying to hammer the round peg into the messed up hole, like a jigsaw piece that you know isn’t the right bit but you insist on trying anyway, and then nine months later you decide that you don’t actually think circles are good idea anymore and revert back to using squares. Only the square will be fed up about being left out for so long and is nine months older.
Our current situation is really starting to beg the question that the exiting and attacking philosophy we all seem to want instilled at the club, and what Andre Villas-Boas tried to provide, is really what would be best for us in the long and short term. Given the option now what sort of player do we really think would be best for us to pursue this summer, the Hazards and Neymars of the world, or some bigger/more industrious players with a view to continue with the ideas that Mourinho bought in 2004? To continue with ideas that we all know can work, and as our recent games against Barca showed, look like they can continue to work for a while to come. I’m starting to lean towards the latter.
Let us know what you think.
So after a good few weeks now of holding an admittedly optimistic though not entirely untenable aspirations of a top four finish, we are finally in a position where it looks to be pretty much out of reach. I found it quite strange actually that a humbling home loss to a rival, could be so void of bitterness. There wasn’t really anything we did wrong; Newcastle were just solid and Papiss Cisse was exceptional, sealing the result with one of the best away goals at Stamford Bridge since the Premier League began.
I haven’t noticed any real complaints either about team selection, with everyone seeming to be of the consensus that Di Matteo was right to rest players for Saturday.What yesterday showed though for me was that with this 4-2-3-1 system, we need a atleast one of Lampard or Essien as a holding midfielder, as neither Mikel nor Meireles it seems are really capable of influencing the game from deep positions. Also given the choice from now on, I think Ivanovic should be considered to play right back over Bosingwa, with the latter as centre half. He didn’t do much wrong to be fair, but the way he let Santon square the ball to Cisse so easily for the first goal was quite poor. I’m fairly sure Ivanovic wouldn’t have let that happen. Also one other slightly less intricate observation: Florent Malouda is just not a #10. I’ve got a feeling he won’t be a Chelsea player for much longer either.
So with 4th place no longer a possibility, I guess we’re left with no option but to win the UEFA Champions League. Simple as that. We’ve failed in our attempt to scrap what would’ve been at the start of the season a dismal and embarrassing fourth place finish, so instead, we’re going to have make history, beating one of Europe’s all time greatest club sides in their home stadium and without our captain. It may be slightly risky but as back up plans go, I’d say it’s a fairly good one.