It’s been an interesting few weeks at CFCnet.  Or, better put, it’s been an interesting few weekends.  Three defeats in a row against Liverpool, Sunderland and Birmingham have sent our message boards into melt down as fans ponder the causes behind our November collapse.

Whilst we’re not happy with the situation, we need to put it on record that although the defeat against the Black Cats was completely unacceptable, the loss at Birmingham showed everything that we demand of our players – determination, resilience, fight and skill.  The fact that we had 24 attempts on target says it all and our views are encapsulated in Giles Smith’s column earlier this week.

Having stood in the Shed and watched our beloved Blues’ suffer relegation, CFCnet is a bit long in the tooth to be worried about our recent performances.  All that we, and our predecessor the Chelsea Independent fanzine, has ever demanded is that our players give 100%.  If they do that, we’re satisfied.  We might not be happy, but we’ll be satisfied.  A technicality perhaps, but significant nonetheless.

CFCnet watched the whole of the Birmingham match and the bottom line is that we battered the Brummies.  They were lucky not to lose 4-1 and if it hadn’t been for Ben Foster they would have.  We lost, it happens.

Attention quickly focused to the Zilina game where, from the West Stand Upper Tier, we had a clear strategic view of all our latest prodigies – Van Aanholt, McEachran, Bruma, Kakuta, Sturridge et al.  Vital Football subsequently polled their readers as to who they thought had the best performances on the night and we’d have to agree that Van Aanholt and Sturridge stood out.

CFCnet was particularly keen to run the rule over Josh McEachran and we were slightly disappointed in his performance.  Perhaps our expectations have been raised too high but we saw a slightly built, 5ft 10inch midfielder fail to truly leave his mark on the game. We couldn’t help but compare McEachran to Jody Morris, the two players being very similar in many of their attributes.

CFCnet phoned one of our mentors, an ex-box holder and Chelsea stalwart now exiled in the Northumbrian coast to voice our concerns.  He answered, “Look, McEachran is only 17 and with more games, a stronger physique and further training, this lad could be up there with Frank Lampard.”

We felt like laughing but the joke would be on us.  All too often we’ve seen players who we thought would turn the Premiership upside down drift away into obscurity, whilst unheralded players we didn’t rate turn into runners up World Player of the Year.  After all, Lampard’s first season was notable only for his inflated transfer fee and the accompanied terrace murmurings. 

Having written about the Blues for a few decades now, any glance at our scribblings down the years will tell you that if CFCnet could pick a team it would probably have Beasant in goal, Bogarde in defence and Gabriele Ambrosetti supplying crosses for Chris Sutton.  You get our point.  Whilst we might like to think we can spot a footballer, experience shows that we have as much ability in this area as Jesper Gronkjaer did in crossing the ball.

Still, it’s not only us.  Gianluca Vialli has never lived down his £4 million signing of Gabriel Ambrosetti who he thought would be the next Ryan Giggs.  Ambrosetti ended up playing 16 games in four years and wouldn’t make CFCnet’s Sunday League team.  

It appears that talent is not enough to make it in football.  You also need commitment and an unswerving motivation to learn your craft.  McEachran, Van Aanholt, Bruma and Kakuta all have the ability.    It’s now up to them to show they have the dedication to become Chelsea regulars.