MONEY TO BURN

By Daniel Rankine
Aug 29th, 2008

I’m getting a bit sick of looking through the newspapers in the morning. Not even Andy Capp can raise a smile with his cheeky, drunken antics. If it isn’t more depressing stuff about the credit crunch (officially now the most annoying jargon-filled phrase since ‘thought shower’), it’s yet more depressing stuff about the credit crunch. With every bill under the sun rising, not only are you having to watch the pennies but you’re also can’t help reading about how little money you have either. With leads onto the business at Chelsea this week and you can only shudder at the maths. My wallet might be lighter but, happy days, Roman’s bottomless pit just keeps on giving. It’s been a busy week since the dogged result at the JJB and most notable for the departures of two big money signings, Sheva and Shaun Wright-Phillips. It’s with some sadness and, in truth, a sense of inevitability, that we’ve seen the departure of both this week. They might never have hit the heights of their former clubs but they gave everything and, as a fan, you can’t ask for much more. For whatever reason, be it luck, confidence or injury, it didn’t work out and we wish both players the best for the future. It also seems like Big Phil is trimming his squad to make room for another Brazilian-born playmaker and more exciting times ahead.

Sheva, our record signing, cost a cool 30 million and Wright-Phillips a mere 21 million. The fees involved in the sales have not been disclosed but it’s fair to say we’re as far away from making a profit as Tumbridge Wells is from the moon. Kenyon has talked this week about how transfer fees are paid so the club see the best of the players and profit is secondary. Fair enough, except when you don’t get to see the best from the players either, it does leave a sour taste in the mouth.

That’s not to blame either player, it’s been a pleasure to watch them in a Blue shirt at times. Shevchenko could only show us glimpses of his class, wonder goals against Spurs and Leicester spring to mind. Like all players schooled in Italy he had fantastic movement up front and if he can pass that on to the youngsters who trained with him then it’s only beneficial. The Wright-Phillips brace against the Hammers stood out for me, it was different class. Yet he was never able to perform at a consistent level that would keep him in the side. With the likes of Cole, Kalou, Deco, Robben, Malouda and Duff breathing down his neck throughout his Chelsea career, his appearances were more limited than they perhaps should have been.

Ironically, last season both players looked at their sharpest. For the opening months of the season Shaun was our best player, terrorising full backs with pace and trickery. Unfortunately after the bright start he faded and rarely sparkled as a sub, leaving Joe Cole to make the position his own. Sheva also looked as though he might have rediscovered his Milan form, looking sharp and fit. Just as he looked less like a pub player he got injured around Christmas and wasn’t given much of a chance on the pitch again. If only he had signed two years earlier we may have seen his pace as well and perhaps have been talking of a Blues great but it wasn’t to be. We didn’t see the best performances from the two players but what I loved is the effort they put in. They might have blazed shots over the bar but they would chase every ball and lost cause and sweat to earn the shirt. For renowned footballers, picking up money with very few starts, I appreciated that.

It seems the respect has been mutual with Sheva thanking the Blues fans. As well he might. At any other big club, United, Liverpool, Barca or Real, they would have given him hell. A thirty million flop that would have been booed to high heaven. At Chelsea though, down the years, we’ve seen so many big money strikers amount to very little you tend to give them encouragement rather then anything else. We could see Sheva tried and that’s important.

This leads us nicely to the pending transfer of Sand-dancing sensation Robinho who is set to join (fingers crossed) before the deadline. A class footballer, with skill and vision, who could add another dimension to our attack. He will probably cost a massive fee and the pressure that comes with it. I think we’ve heard this one before though. He need look no further than the two outgoing players to know it could all go wrong. But as long as he puts in the effort, all will be forgiven from us fans. It’s rumoured he is taking the number seven shirt and I really hope he is the player to buck the curse (Lambourde, Mutu, Sheva) and stake a place as one the world’s best. I think he’ll find a club that will support and appreciate his efforts no matter how it turns out.

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