Christmas has been and gone. The hangovers are (just about) easing up, the turkey is still there in abundance and Slade, Wizzard and Band Aid are all stored away for another 12 months.
After a season of overindulgence, a new year often brings with it the promises to change – lose weight perhaps, spend more time with the family, or maybe finally achieve that lifelong goal. And football clubs are no different.
As far as 2014 goes, for us Blues is could be fair to say it has been a year of two halves. January saw us well in the title race and looking good a tilt at the Champions League once more, but as the season headed towards May, we saw ourselves fade out of contention as our infamous little horses were pulled up before the home fences.
However, after a wonderful summer which saw us remove some dead wood and bring in some world class talent (and a familiar Ivorian face), barring a slip in the North East aside, we have been steamrolling our way to the end of the year, where we harbour genuine ambition of a quadruple and most importantly sit proudly atop the Christmas tree that is the Premier League table.
Looking ahead to 2015, the most important resolution Chelsea could make is ensure we continue to play the football that has put us where we are now, and earning us great plaudits nationwide. While Jose Mourinho has maintained the tightness at the back which has become a trademark of his managerial career, he has now really brought out a fantastic attacking flair from the team. The midfield pairing of Fabregas and Matic exemplifies Mourinho’s new philosophy to a tee – Matic the steel of the operation, keeping things tidy and ticking over solidly while Fabregas is the silk, spreading his wings and linking his deep-lying position to the attacking foursome ahead of him. It is imperative that regardless of opposition we do not abandon these principles if we are to earn that quadruple.
In the immediate future, it is important we continue to keep the squad trim and of high quality. For the first time in a long time, Chelsea fans can say there is real strength in depth in every position. Two world class goalkeepers and a very able 3rd choice in Courtois, Cech and Schwarzer. Three proven goalscorers in Diego Costa, Drogba and Remy. A wealth of attacking talent to slot behind them – Willian, Oscar, Hazard, Schurrle. There’s even a rejuvenated John Obi Mikel, who – when allowed – has finally shown what he can do, proving able deputy to Fabregas or Matic. The squad is looking superb the whole way through and it is essential when February rolls around that it is still the same.
When May comes, it would be nice to say we’ve got the Capital One Cup safely on display and we’ve already made the room for three more. While four trophies is ambitious but genuinely possible, a domestic treble could – maybe even should – be on the cards after Easter.
Looking a bit further ahead and into the 2015/16 season, the biggest thing I personally would like to see us promise is to give more game time to our fabulously talented youngsters. There are several who are out on loan both domestically and in foreign lands who deserve a shot at first team football now – Patrick Bamford, Nat Chalobah, Lucas Piazon to name three, but there are many many more – and given their performances, especially of the former, they deserve their chance. There are many youngsters in our youth sides who also must be given a chance to make the grade. Nathan Ake and Lewis Baker immediately spring to mind as players who can easily supplement a very talented first team. Our academy is highly rated the world over, and our youth teams regularly make tilts towards every competition they are involved in and is vital we do not lose the talent we are producing with amazing regularity.
Ideally, in a year’s time I can reflect on this piece and say everything has gone to plan and looking ahead to 2016 I can honestly say the only resolution is to keep things the same. Whether it goes to plan or not remains to be seen, but right now there are all the ingredients for a very fruitful and silver-laden 2015.