I feel it is time to write down my thoughts about the club from the last few years now things have reached crisis point, a point that I am not surprised we have reached.
First of all, the calls for Jose Mourinho to be sacked – its premature. After all, he won the league last season and we are still very early in to this one, sensibly we cannot sack a Manager after this. Yes he has made mistakes and had drawn the wrong kind of publicity to the club at times but sacking him right now would only condone all that is wrong in football right now.
So what has gone wrong at Chelsea? I don’t think this is a new problem, I feel we have not been on top for some time now. Last season we won the title by parking the bus, huge slices of luck and normally winning games by the odd goal without playing well. It was only inevitable that this would continue.
The first major issue that I feel is going wrong and to me it’s unclear as to whether it is the fault of the board of the Manager, or more likely both of them. But this whole culture of buying players, giving them 20 minutes at the end of matches to impress and then selling them a few months later deeming them not good enough. So why did we spend the £30 million on them in the first place?
What this does is it puts huge amounts of pressure on new players coming in to perform straight away, whatever happened to allowing players to settle and get used to the league? Look at Mohammed Salah, Andre Schurrle and Juan Cuadrado for example, in all reality they did NOT get substantial chances at the club to cement down a role. They then all get sold on and carry on being the top class players they are for their new teams respectively.
Look at players like Victor Moses as well. Our best player in pre-season and arguably one of our best creator’s available who also possesses a good finish. Both vital things we are missing this season. Mourinho said initially that Moses was part of his squad this season, and then fobs him off out again.
What I am pointing out from the above few sentences is this all hugely affects one major thing that you need to be a successful team in any sport – morale. You can visibly see that these situations affect players morale and general happiness whilst also seeing them lose respect and faith for their Manager and Board.
A prime example of this is Thorgan Hazard, wasn’t trusted by the Manager and wasn’t even given a chance to play. He then leaves the club and I genuinely feel that has effected Eden Hazard’s happiness. Our key man and main source of goals and chances last season, has decreased morale because of these actions. I have seen these situations affect all of the players.
You are then playing for your place in the squad, playing to impress in the short space of time so you end up making errors, rushing things, trying tricks that you wouldn’t normally do and not being a true reflection of yourself. You are then deemed as not being good enough. But this is what I mean, the players are not playing as a team, as a unit. They are playing for themselves.
When you are sat on the bench week in week out you are not part of the team, you are secretly hoping that the player in your position makes a mistake or has a bad game so that you can have your chance to play. That isn’t team spirit. This wouldn’t happen if there was more faith shown in new and young players.
Which brings me to my next point, why do we have a youth academy? To make players for other teams? Because it would appear that is what is happening here. Our top class young talent are simply not being given the chance to break through.
The best example of this right now is Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Fresh, hungry, technical, versatile, tough and a real natural talent. Has impressed in the small game time he has had this season but is STILL not being given the chance to start matches. When you look at Tottenham and how they have trusted Dele Alli, he has now been rewarded with an England senior call up. That would be Loftus-Cheek if we shown the same trust in him. But we don’t and this is Mourinho’s biggest flaw – not giving young and new players the chances they deserve.
We then sign a washed up free agent goalkeeper instead of trusting Jamal Blackman to sit the bench? This ALL affects morale throughout the squad and creates problems on every level.
I genuinely think that some players have lost trust in the Manager, lost belief in his abilities and are not bonding or playing for him. Hazard is the main one I can see showing discontent with the Manager. If Mourinho stays, he will be gone in the summer, I can almost guarantee that.
We sign a young left back who was playing every game in a high standard in the German league, comes to Chelsea and doesn’t even get on the bench every game. Exactly the same thing as to what happened to Filipe Luis last season. How is this going to affect the young player? Negatively of course, especially when he see’s his competitor at the full back slot playing so poorly in the shape of Branislav Ivanovic. Again, this has a negative affect on morale throughout the squad. Luis had some good friends in this Chelsea squad, him not playing would have a domino affect on their morale.
Another one of Mourinho’s biggest mistakes was selling Juan Mata, our best creator of goals and a dressing room favourite. I know this might be a controversial comment but in my opinion Mata is a better player all round than Oscar, who was basically picked ahead of him. Mourinho claimed he did not track back enough, but then he also said that about Hazard but taught him to do so. Why didn’t he just do that with Mata if he felt it was so important? Instead of selling him to our rivals who are now sat comfortably at the top of the table, largely down to the goals and assists of that man Mata. It’s beyond belief. We are crying our for more creators who can hit that cut throat pass we are lacking and we sold our best one.
For me Oscar is not consistent enough, Ramires and John Obi Mikel are not a lot better than average, Branislav Ivanovic is just awful, Willian is wasteful in the final third and Diego Costa is nowhere near the level in quality as our rivals strikers such as Sergio Aguero.
We also sold Ryan Bertrand, who for me was the next Ashley Cole. He was playing so well for Roberto Di Matteo and was a huge part of us winning the Champions League. He was one of Southampton’s best players yesterday and deservedly got his England call up. When we are playing a right back a left back, it pains me to realise that we let go one of the best left back’s in the league who was also a fans and dressing rooms favourite, once again affecting morale.
We have so many excellent players out on loan, bring some back, it is high time that we relied on youth and gave players the chances they deserve. We have so many players who can be the answer to our current problems already registered as Chelsea players, only not playing for us. Nathan Ake also a good versatile player who is currently out on loan playing at left back – why did we sign Rahman over giving him a chance? It’s a real disgrace.
This brings me to tactics. Why on earth Moruinho keeps insisting on playing Ivanovic at right back and Cesar Azpilicueta at left back is really just shocking, pure and simple. Most of the top sides in the league play with affective full backs who get down the line and add an extra threat in attack, right now we don’t have that. We are WASTING our full back positions by having a left back who is heavily right footed not getting enough crosses in and a right back who just isn’t getting forward and can’t cross anyway.
And what on earth is with this tippy tappy football? Can someone please tell them that this style was dead and buried two seasons ago? Yes it can be affective IF you have that end product, but no way does it work when the final ball ends up going back to our holding midfielder who then tries to put one of the top and is inevitably gobbled up by a big centre half.
We need more directness and imagination, we also need to get more crosses in to the box that will get the best out of Diego Costa and Radamel Falcao who are both strong on the end of crosses. We need Victor Moses type players who can make something from nothing and play direct. Willian does this but has no confidence when he gets so far up the pitch and normally ends up going backwards, as does Oscar. Hazard being the only real direct players as well as Pedro now.
Cesc Fabregas cannot play deep and cannot defend, it is as simple as that. He is a liability in that role and adds extra pressure on Nemanja Matic and the defenders pulling them out of position filling in for him.
We are not showing the desire and spirit to defend as a unit this season, this was the only thing we were excellent at doing last season. The players morale being so low, they are not fighting for the cause and showing real complacency. This is due to all the reasons I have spoke about above. They are playing at 60% effort and the sides they play against want it more.
The defenders are getting the criticism when really its the whole teams responsibility to defend from the top and as a unit. If one player doesn’t track his runner then the rest of the players have to work twice as hard. This is due to complacency, lack or morale or simply not being good enough.
We need fresh players on, new tactics and a major revamp in the starting eleven. Mourinho claims his players are not untouchable yet he continues to play two of the worst performers this season in Ivanovic and Fabregas. Drop them and drop others, give a chance to Loftus-Cheek, Kenedy, Rahman, Traore and any one else who is showing promise in the youth side. Why the hell not? These players are not doing it and need a reality check, so give others a chance to shine. I am adamant that you will see a rise in effort levels. Then in order to keep on top of morale, keep the players who are playing well in the starting eleven and drop the ones who are not – it’s as simple as that and you cannot complain then if you are not in the side due to under performing. But you can’t drop Loftus-Cheek after playing so well for a match, you got to keep him in rather than bringing back in a poor playing Fabregas for example.
We have no real threat from distance right now since losing Frank Lampard. We are missing 20 goals a season, it’s a huge hole to leave. We don’t really have any midfielder’s who will arrive with a ferocious shot and the belief to score from distance. Willian takes a good free kick, Hazard can score goals but isn’t right now, Pedro has a decent finish but not from distance and Fabregas shooting from distance is generally poor. There is nobody. It’s a formula that we are missing and have not replaced.
We need to modernise our play, contain attacks and don’t get overly involved in controlling possession as most of the time it doesn’t lead anywhere anyway. Yes it’s important to control the game and keep hold of the ball but we sometimes need to sit deeper and invite a bit of pressure, defend with ten players and then use counter attacks at pace. Switch it up, go to a 4-3-3 and use the pace we have in midfield. We need to stiffen up that midfield and control it, provide a tougher shield for the back four. Double up on their danger players like opposition are doing to Hazard.
To finish off, I think that Mourinho looks very unstable right now. His interviews, his aggression, his confrontational persona and how he draws negativity to the club is all having a bad affect. Do I still think he is the right man to get us out of this rut? I am 50/50. Sack him? No, but he needs regain control and composure and get the respect back of the players. He needs to show trust in players and drop those who are under performing. He has made many mistakes during the last two seasons but at the end of the day he is still the best Manager this club has ever seen.
I mean, did he get refused a transfer budget this summer by the board and is there more behind the scenes we are not seeing? I absolutely believe this is true yes. There are tensions and this is showing from Mourinho’s instability. He wanted to sign more players before the season and wasn’t allowed. But he must make the best of what he does have there right now and I am certain that Roman Abramovich will see the error’s of his ways and allow for new players in January.
In all seriousness though, I’d not be upset if we turned in to a lower league side – it would certainly separate the real fans from the plastics and will also see more opportunities for our youth players to come through! I was there when we were rubbish and win lose or draw, I’ll always be Chelsea till I die.
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Simon Phillips – News Editor – CFCnet