Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho has stated that finishing third in the Premier League will be an achievement. Add to that the fact he also reached the Semi Finals of The Champions League and I would not disagree with anyone who says that it has been a successful season. Even without winning silverware, in this period of transition this has been a decent season.
However, there are certain areas that seriously need adjusting and looking at.
Our attacking style –
Many have critisised the way we attack teams and our over all defensive tactics, including our own players. Players such as Eden Hazard and Willian need more freedom to express themselves. Mourinho has worked on their all round game and emphasised the importance of tracking back and defending as a unit, which both players have improved immensely. But as well as this we also need to allow them more freedom, more free roles. If we are to utilise their full ability, they must be given a chance to do what they do best and play there own game as well as providing defensive cover when we need it. Hazard needs to be given that freedom to roam, the best way to do this is perhaps give him the number 10 role.
We have defended hard and set up a very impressive unit in front of goal on many occasions this season and I agree with that in certain games, such as the away victory at Anfield recently. However, when we do play attacking football we are nowhere near fast or fluid enough, there is no urgency and not enough confidence amongst our creative players to attempt that pass, flick or try and take players on. Hazard and Willian do this well, but nowhere near enough. Andre Schurrle has also looked very reserved on many occasions when you feel he has a lot more to offer if he was given the green light to roam. We need to mix up our style, use the wings, go through the middle, go long if we have someone to hit up there and use energy and quick inter-changing. With more imagination, more fluidity, more freedom and more confidence, we can be a huge attacking force with the pace and creativity of our attacking players.
Deadwood and simply not good enough –
In my harsh opinion, there are far too many players in our starting eleven frequently who are just not good enough, do not give us that extra talent and ability we need or are just too old to contribute in the way they have done before.
Frank Lampard has had his best years, that’s clear for all to see. He’s been our greatest player over the last decade and he will be firmly fixed as a Club legend for years to come and I hope to see him back at the Club in a coaching role soon. But it’s time to stop putting him in the starting eleven. I’d happily keep him as a squad player, but I feel the player wants to contribute more and play regular football so the likelihood is now with his contract up this summer, he will go to a Club like LA Galaxy perhaps and then return to Chelsea in a few years.
John Obi Mikel is a very basic midfielder with a lack of vision. He is excellent at shutting up shop, defending and being an asset to the team but again he is just not good enough to start in my opinion and Nemanja Matic is far better than him. Mikel’s days with us are numbered and I think we can bring in some decent cash for him this summer.
Ramires for me has often been heroic, full of energy, scored some important goals and will work his socks off. But unfortunately that’s as far as it goes. He’s a decent midfielder, but he’s not world class. Again, he lacks vision and basic passing skills, he’s often clumsy and just does not bring enough to the team. I would like to see him sold for a good fee but unfortunately I believe he will stay as Mourinho likes him, which I understand but disagree with.
Branislav Ivanovic should stay, but purely as centre back cover and I will once again reiterate, he is definitely not a right back. He doesn’t offer enough talent going forward and is the break down of far too many attacking moves. Still a player I’d like to keep in the squad though because he’s a battler, experienced and a true Chelsea man. He is good in the air and will score many important goals.
David Luiz is another who is surrounded by speculation and mixed opinions. I would not sell Luiz, but for me he would not be starting every game. This would obviously not be good enough for him and he’d probably end up requesting a transfer, but I’d like to see him stay. He has talent and is great on the ball, he also has the guts to try that long pass, although more often than not it ends up being over hit and does not reach it’s target.
Oscar is on the edge for me, the jury is still out. I believe there are much better number 10s out there right now and would be on the market, but Oscar is talented there is no doubt about that. Another player who I feel has so much more to offer but is just not doing it. I’ve always said from day one that I feel he needs to play in a deeper midfield role, he can offer so much more there with his passing and vision. I’d keep Oscar though, he is a super talent and I’m willing him to come through.
Fernando Torres must leave now. Yes we paid £50 million for him, but everyone can see he has simply just lost his talent. It is not a long term dip in form, the player is just not as good as he used to be and needs to leave. You cannot fault his effort and commitment but he is simply not good enough and drifts out of position far too often.
Demba Ba is too clumsy. He has scored some decent goals and can finish a chance, but he is the type of striker who would be useful at a Club like Aston Villa for example, he is not Chelsea standard.
Samuel Eto’o I’d keep in the squad is he was willing to be a third choice back up, but only for that reason.
Keep some Old Guards and bring one back! –
The old guard might be old, but it is important to keep some experience and influence in that starting line up. Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and John Terry were recently pictured in an emotional shot at Stamford Bridge, many speculating that it was there farewell picture. Cole even shed a tear which would suggest he’s certainly played his last home game for The Blues. But for me, I would attempt to keep hold of Cole, Terry and Cech. It will be difficult to keep Cole as he would not be first choice, but in my opinion he is still one of the best left backs in the world and still has so much to offer. As for the Captain, he simply MUST be given a new contract and once again lead our team out again next season. Terry has had a great season and only missed out on being in the team of the year because of Gary Cahill’s brilliant season. These two are the best centre back pairing in the league and we must keep them as the backbone of our unit. Cech will probably leave if Mourinho decides to bring back Thibaut Courtois from Madrid. Courtois has proven himself to be one of the best current goalkeepers in the world and he simply cannot be ignored. Cech has never been the same keeper since his life threatening head injury, although he is still world class, he does not provide the same dominant commanding style that Courtois offers.
It is time to welcome back a former legend, it’s time to bring back the King! Didier Drogba is once again being surrounded by speculation that he will return to the Bridge. This is a move that I fully support and cannot see any reason why not to. The talk is about a player/coach role and this will be excellent all round. Drogba would be used as a backup striker and what a presence to be able to bring off the bench if we need a late goal. Not only that, how good will his influence, experience and talent be on the training ground, in the dressing room and on the pitch? He has a huge voice and a great passion for the Club, bring him back!
We need to utilise our Full Backs –
Something that’s been missing from our game for some time now is the use of our Full Backs. We are keeping them far too reserved and I think part of that reason is because we have a right back playing at left back and a centre back playing at right back. For me, it’s great from a defensive prospective but we are wasting the use of extra players in an attacking sense. We need Cesar Azpilicueta bombing up and down the right, with the main responsibility being defence, but when we have the chance, push on and act as another attacker, get to that byline, get crosses in and be an extra man to mark. It will create more chances and feed the likes of Hazard and Willian.
New blood needed –
Yes we do need to keep an eye of Financial Fair Play etc etc, but I feel if we can sell some of the previously mentioned players, we’ll have some room to move. It looks as if Diego Costa will be arriving from Athletico Madrid to be our number one striker. If Drogba comes back, he’ll be in there as well.
We also need a top left back. I’d be over the moon if we could somehow convince Southampton to let Luke Shaw join us, but I feel they would immediately price him out of a move. There has also been talk about Madrid’s Luis Filipe, who was excellent against us but is 28-years-old so I’m not certain he is the right choice. But we certainly need a left back in this summer.
We also need to bring in two centre midfielders. I’d like to see a deeper lying play maker to come in alongside Matic. someone who will pull the strings from deep but who can also battle and put in a tackle. I don’t think Tottenham’s Paulinho is the answer to this. I quite like Arturo Vidal, Tom Huddlestone, Ross Barkley, Luka Modric and Axel Witsel for this role. Huddlestone I feel is under rated and could be available, Barkley is just world class, Vidal and Witsel are more ball winners but Luka Modric would be ideal. He has been proving that this season for Real Madrid, bring one of the best in the world at this role.
I’d also like to see us bring in perhaps one more centrally based creative style midfielder. Top of my list would be Southampton’s Adam Lallana, but once again I feel we would be priced out of that move. Barkley from Everton could be more do-able. There are a number of other alternatives on the shortlist but for me, one of the two players mentioned in this paragraph would be the ultimate.
Time to blood in more youngsters –
We have an excellent youth system and some of the best young talent in the world. Our Under 18s and Under 21s are constantly achieving to the highest standard and winning every domestic trophy going. It’s time we put our confidence in this system and start rewarding some of these players with some solid game time in the first team squad. I feel that Patrick Bamford would be ready to slot in as number 2/3 striker alongside Costa and Drogba. He scores goals and has proved his class, albeit at the lower leagues. We must also start using Romelu Lukaku, however for me he has not fully impressed me this season. Yes he has scored some good goals and is a general nuisance, but I’m not sure if he has that extra to be our main man, he seems clumsy and lacks that all round talent on the ball. but I’m not writing him off yet and can still be used amongst our 3/4 strikers next season and in my opinion will get some decent game time. There’s a number of players who I would use from the youth setup, to name a few Nathan Ake, Tomas Kalas, Nathaniel Chalobah, Thorgan Hazard, Ruben Loftus Cheek, Lewis Baker and more on the fringe.
Let’s be a force to be reckoned with once again –
Stamford Bridge is a fortress, this season however it has not seemed like such a scary place to visit. We have lost two games there this season which has been unheard of in recent years. A lot of that is due to our style. But we need to bring back that crazy atmosphere that we have been used to at The Bridge. We need to act as that twelfth man again and bring the house down, turn it in to an intimidating cauldron of noise. There is a small pocket of die hard voices at The bridge, but it would be amazing if we can get that going around the whole stadium, it makes such a difference.
I remember when we used to turn teams over winning by 6,7 and even 8 at times. That was not too long ago. We need to bring back that confidence and that ability to score goals, create more and finish our chances. We defend as a unit, as a team. Now we need to attack as a unit, flood bodies in to the box and be hungry for goals and believe we will score more. Hopefully with the addition of a goal-scoring striker, this will make the world of difference, but we still need to change our style to a more expressive one and let our ball players play.
The ‘close to do-able’ line up I’d like to see stepping out next season –
Azpilicueta Cahill Terry Shaw
Willian Barkley Hazard
To sum it up, we’re in a good spot, we have a great Manager who has a vision. We are in transition and with some slightly heavier tweaking over the summer, we can speed up this transition period and turn us back in to a force in football once again. Never say never Blues, the season is not over yet, anything is possible!
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Simon Phillips – CFCnet News Editor