DAVID LEE: “THEY REACTED IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY”

By Rowan Farnham-Long
Oct 17th, 2009

CFCnet have again caught up with former defender and current Chelsea Old Boy David Lee to find out his thoughts on the Blues’ last month. With a first defeat of the season, some valuable contract renewals, and the distraction of international week, there was plenty for the Bristolian to discuss.

…DAVID LEE ON…THE WIGAN DEBACLE…

They were poor. It’s been a long time since I saw a Chelsea side like that and they were particularly disappointing defending the corners. I think they came out openly afterwards and said that they were poor, but it happens. Like when Manchester United lost at Burnley, you get one of those days and it just happens and you’re going to get one or two of them over the season. It’s probably best to get them out of the way early!

I suppose people try and draw comparisons alongside Luis Felipe Scolari when he started well then lost [against Liverpool], and new managers like Ancelotti are always going to be under scrutiny when they lose a game.

But it is completely different I think, Scolari has never really had that much success as a club manager, it’s all been on the international scene. Ancelotti’s been around a long time and there’s a lot of difference between a club career and international management.
It is how you react which is the most important thing, and they reacted in the best possible way…

…THE SUBSEQUENT WIN AGAINST LIVERPOOL…

I think it showed a lot of character. The last couple of years have always seen close games with Liverpool, and the first half was even – not a great game as they cancel each other out where they play each other so often – but I think once Nicolas Anelka scored the first goal, that was it.

I thought at the time they would probably go on to win by two or three and they got a second goal near the end. How many saves did Hilario actually have to make? I think a lot of people were worried that Petr Cech was not playing that game, but Hilario didn’t have anything to do really.

…MEDIA SPECULATION THAT LIVERPOOL’S TITLE RACE IS OVER…

You can’t start to rule sides out of the title race until February at the earliest. Who’s to say that Liverpool won’t go on a ten or fifteen match unbeaten run?


…THE UPCOMING VISIT OF MANCHESTER UNITED…

It will be a big game, and it’s one which United cannot afford to lose really. If they do they will be six points behind. I think they will come to Stamford Bridge and not want to get beaten. Previous games have not been classics, there have been a few but I don’t think last season’s match was a great game if I remember rightly [a 1-1 draw]. They won’t come to defend, it’s not in their nature, but they will go there not to lose.

…THE STRONGEST SIDE OVERALL: UNITED OR CHELSEA…

You better ask me again in January if they buy any more players! United have got a couple more experienced players and good strength in depth, but there is not a lot in it.


…ALEX AND SALOMON KALOU’S CONTRACT RENEWALS, AND KALOU’S FUTURE PROSPECTS…

I suppose they had to get the contracts signed in a way, if they cannot buy anyone for a few years, but I do think they are both becoming integral players in the squad. Chelsea now need to deal with the limitations [of the transfer ban] and it was important to renew the contracts.

Kalou just needs to play regularly, it is just like anyone, when you do not play you get frustrated and you do not get a chance to get your game going as such. Ask any professional, whichever level you play at, and they will tell you that if you are not playing week-in and week-out, then it is hard to start playing at your maximum level. He is still young and he has potential.

Kalou was rumoured to go to Arsenal at one stage, and if Arsene Wenger is interested in him then he must have something.


…FRANK LAMPARD’S QUIET START AND THE IMPACT OF DECO AND MICHAEL BALLACK…

I don’t think the new system has affected [Lampard] much; good players can play any way. I just think the goals are not going in for him at the moment. Last year the shots would be going in, it’s like in the England game the other night, he had a shot which went just past the post whereas last year it would have probably gone in!

All of a sudden Frank will hit a good run and score ten in ten or something, because he is capable of that and you do not become a bad player over night. All players go through a lean spell, how many has he scored this year? Two? We could talk this time tomorrow and he could have had a hat-trick against Aston Villa. I think it will just take one and he will be up and running again.

I am not surprised at how Ballack and Deco have started the season. Both are world-class and they have been around a long-time.

Ballack has always been one of my favourite players from abroad, and he has come in and shown that he is a quality player. Deco’s the same. He started on fire last year, but then he picked up a few injuries. He needs a spell without injuries and with a good run of games.

I am sure that if you spoke to any of the players at Chelsea they would tell you how good the two players are, because they see that quality day in and day out.


…THE HOLDING MIDFIELD POSITION: MICHAEL ESSIEN OR JOHN OBI MIKEL?

Essien all day long.

He gives us more going forward. I am not taking anything away from Mikel but he just sits in there and I think you get a lot more out of Essien. His work-rate is fantastic, and he gets up and down the pitch, and he will get more goals than Mikel.

Mikel is a decent player and he would get into most Premier League sides, but in my personal opinion I would go for Essien over Mikel.

He is disciplined enough to play there and good players can adapt their games quite easily.


…ENGLAND’S LOW-KEY END TO THEIR WORLD-CUP QUALIFICATION CAMPAIGN…

We had already qualified and I think they just went through the motions a little bit. The press were saying we should have done this or we should have done that, but you know what the press are like in this country. They build us up and build us up only to then knock you down.

On Saturday they lost to Ukraine whilst playing with ten men, then the other night they beat an average side by three goals with probably fifty percent of the players who will start the first game of the World Cup.

…AND THE THREE LIONS’ CHANCES IN SOUTH AFRICA…

I think Spain and Brazil have got more quality but of course we have got a chance. We are in the competition so we have got a chance, but we should not get too far ahead. We should take each game as it comes really.

…THE CHELSEA LEGENDS PARTY…

Saturday 14th November sees ‘the stars come out at night’, as Sammy’s Bar & Grill, High St. Teddington, London, plays host to a Chelsea Legends Party, featuring David Lee, Clive Walker, Jason Cundy and many more ex-Blues. For more details, click here.

It will be a good night, you get a chance to meet the ex-players, they’re a good set of lads and it will be a good laugh. We have had a golf day before but we have not done a night with the fans as such. It will be a great night so come along.

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