If you are standing still, you are moving backward. This is a concept that applies largely across several topics. However, in the context of modern day football, this belief is vital to being successful over sustained periods of time.
With money surrounding European football, each team is always looking to dip into their wallet in order to make their squad better. There is no such thing as perfection, just the next step. There are always moves to be made, deals to be signed, and scouting for the future.
Chelsea are learning quite emphatically the danger of standing still. The 3-0 defeat to Manchester City is the latest of their “hands-on” lessons. The Blues lacked identity, failing to implement a style of play in the match, and ultimately playing second fiddle to their counterparts for most of the contest.
So in the wake of such an awful performance, there are a lot of things to consider.
First and foremost we should discuss Jose Mourinho’s post-match speech. Many pundits were critical of his comments trying to mask Chelsea’s performance. However, people shouldn’t be surprised that the manager stood up for his players. That’s his job, and specifically Mourinho’s style. He’s always been known for taking the pressure off of his players and putting it onto his shoulders.
Therefore, when he attempts to justify Chelsea’s loss by saying the last two goals were “fake” and due to player mistakes and that Chelsea were the better team in the second half; well that’s just Mourinho being Mourinho. We have to assume that a man of his stature, knowledge and experience understands that Chelsea didn’t play well, and should be much better. When Mourinho smiles for the cameras, he’s simply trying to take the pressure of of his players.
Moving onto the tactical analysis of the game. It’s more of the same for Chelsea. Offensively they look unimaginative. The Blues lack creativity, and a real threat going forward. Diego Costa bullied the best he could, and Hazard his moments of skill, but past that, Chelsea were flat and disappointing.
Furthermore, Chelsea’s defensive commitment was equally as poor. While Asmir Begovic continues to justify his move to Stamford Bridge, and Mourinho’s tact to bring him in, the Blues overall were very weak defensively. John Terry was nonexistent during the first half, which is probably why he was subbed for the first time under Mourinho. Kurt Zouma actually offered much more stability, and speed at the back. Ivanovic was poor again, making mistakes and getting beaten on the wing time and time again.
Which brings us to Chelsea confirming the signing of Baba Rahman a few minutes after the game ended. It’s peculiar timing by the Blues, but it is significant. Many people will view it as them trying to hide a brutal performance. But it could be the beginning of Chelsea’s remodeling process this summer, regardless of how late in the game they are choosing to begin.
There is no doubt that Chelsea need more talent. Baba Rahman will offer a different option for Mourinho. The Ghanaian will be a deputy for Azpilicueta, while also being able to give Ivanovic a rest due to Azpilicueta’s versatility. However, this must proceed more signings.
Today, when Chelsea were down 1-0 and it was midway through the second half, Mourinho turned to his bench, with an eye for making his typically impactful substitutions. What was his best option to change the game? Juan Cuadrado, a player who has done basically nothing since moving to Stamford Bridge during the last transfer window. With no other options, Mourinho opted for the Colombian, and low and behold, Cuadrado failed to impact the game whatsoever. It’s almost as though Cuadrado has a skill for hiding in matches. It’s like he isn’t even there.
Mourinho needs to be able to turn to the bench, and make a substitution that will change the context of the match. Chelsea have none. Zouma helped to sure up the defense, but it wasn’t enough. Chelsea must dip their hand into the transfer market as swiftly as possible. It must be the right purchase, but it must be soon. They are in desperate need of a fresh outlook.
Right now, Chelsea are a team lacking identity. They aren’t defending with the precision that allowed them to make it through the second half of last season, and they aren’t scoring goals the way they were in the first half. They are caught in between with poor defending, and unimaginative attacking. Cesc Fabregas has been poor as a link in the midfield, and Chelsea missed Oscar at the Etihad. The Brazilian may have offered another distinct option going forward.
Overall, this match comes at a good time for the Blues. It’s not too late. There is still time to correct mistakes, buy players, and change strategies and tactics. It also comes at a time where they will face West Brom next week, a team they should beat with ease. Chelsea must start to work out the kinks, and this week is a good a time as ever in order to correct their mistakes.
Buy players, make changes in strategy, and sell Juan Cuadrado. If Chelsea could complete these three tasks before the transfer window shuts, we will be looking at a rejuvenated squad in West London. However, if they choose to rest on their laurels, this will be a long season for Chelsea, their fans and Jose Mourinho.