Fresh from the 0-3 defeat, we needed a good win. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait until this Sunday. In the mid-week, Chelsea managed to beat Man Utd 3-2 in a thrilling fashion, that too after Man Utd were leading 2-0 until the 85th min. And the prize was Pedro Rodriguez.
Until this Tuesday, almost the whole football world was certain that Pedro will be a Man Utd player in a few days. What was pending looked just like a formality. As soon as there was news that Chelsea has revived their interest in the last hour, I was quietly confident of Chelsea nicking him. Many things were in our favour – we have the need for counterpart for Hazard on the right side, we have the best football manager in the world, we have top Spanish and Latin American players who have already settled down and enjoying their time here, we are a club with a bright future. For Pedro, this must have been a no-brainer.
Strange it may sound, Man Utd look very shaky and unstable under LvG with the prime root cause being the man himself. Unless players believe that LvG is not going to be around for too long, to join under his management does look like a bit of a risk. There’s a thin line between being courageous and being stupid. Wonder if he knows where that line is.
Probably, no other manager in any champions league clubs has the level of involvement Jose has in their club transfers. When Jose wants someone and gets to know that the player also wants to join him, he uses his personal charm quite easily to woo the player to his club. With his reputation and pedigree, he makes it quite a simple decision for the player.
Pedro is a perfect signing for Chelsea. We have one gamechanging winger on the left and the right wing was all about industry and hardwork than creativity and initiative. Teams have known that they can attack through Chelsea’s right as there’s not a great deal of goal threat from that side. Let’s admit it, there’s no goal threat from Willian. For this reason alone, Pedro would start over Willian any day. Willian might be a workshorse but Pedro is also a very hard working player. Imagine Hazard and Pedro exchanging positions fluidly during the game with Costa, Oscar and Cesc lurking around.
We need four quality wingers that can play on either sides. Now we have only three – Hazard, Pedro, Willian. Hopefully, we would use more of Kenedy and Bertrand Traore. Not a big fan of Moses. For the central attacking midfielder role, we need two/three good options. We have Oscar, Cesc, Willian and Hazard.
Similarly for the two midfield roles, we surely need four quality players (need not be at the same level). We have Matic, Fabregas, Mikel and Ramires. This is where reinforcements now would be handy. Though Ramires has stayed with us for a few seasons, I suspect he’s lost his identity here. Is he a defensive midfielder or central midfielder or wide midfielder or a winger. It’s normal for players with ability to play in different positions but all those will also have a default position where they should be the first or second choice. I don’t see Ramires being goo second choice for any of these positions. As much as I’d hoped Cuadrado will come good, I must say we can’t spend too much time on this experiment. With the pace at which our rivals are strengthening, we also need to be ruthless. So I think Ramires and Cuadrado should make way.
Yes, that means I’d prefer Mikel to stay. He’s got a specific role and ability. I’d still trust him to come in and help us hold on to a lead. His ability to hold the ball and slow the tempo is much maligned in normal circumstances but would be super useful when we are trying to hold on to a lead.
Hadn’t known about Baba Rahman until rumours appeared that Chelsea were interested in him. He looks like a good player with good bit of attack as well as defence in him. Also he’s done well in the German league. So he should settle down quickly. This means we can finally move Azpi to the right and that means we can finally have someone who can push Ivanovic to the bench until he learns to beat the first man with his cross. I’m a big fan of Ivanovic but I see that the lack of competition for his place has reduced his performance levels.
We are still pursuing Stones even after the £30m bid was rejected by Everton. I never thought we’d start the bid at £20m and I never thought we’d go upto £30m. Being a good 21-year old English player with premier league experience does mean big money. I think the gamble is that Stones will be the next John Terry – in ability as well as in longevity. Only then, the £35-40m that’s being rumoured will have some value. Also remember we sold Lukaku to Everton for £32m. That was an incredible piece of business. I’d have taken £18m for him. So in effect, if we buy Stones for £40m, it’s like exchanging Lukaku plus £8m for Stones. Not a bad deal I’d say.
This could be our best elevent of this season: Courtois in goal, Baba as left back, Azpi as right back, Zouma and Stones as centre backs, Matic and Fabregas as midfielders, Hazard on the left wing, Pedro on the right wing, Oscar or Willian as the centre attacking midfielder and Costa as the centre forward. In the bench, we have Begovic, Oscar or Willian, Ramires, Terry, Cahil, Ivanovic and Cuadrado. I’ve disregarded the Pogba rumours. All these are as of today. Things might change quite quickly. The summary is, we have fixed our weak right hand side in just one week.
After an eventful week at Chelsea, we needed something different and dramatic to deviate the football folk away from the non-issues and focus on more real things. Now all the talk is about how Chelsea are strengthening their premier league winning squad to retain the title against the big spending rivals. There’s a lot of support for beginning the league season only after the transfer window is closed. The developments of this season is another good case in favour of it.
Media has been writing about Jose Mourinho’s problem with the letter P (Pellegrini, Parkinson, Pardew and now Pulis this weekend). Jose also has got a solution with letter P – Pedro Rodriguez. And you know what, there could just be one more.