Pre-season football is always un-predictable, especially when you’re involved with Chelsea Football Club. So many players coming and going over the years, we’ve had mixed results and performances in pre-season. This year was no different.
I re-call a quote that I read this morning from a supporter on a social networking site saying that ‘pre-season matches are glorified training sessions’. This is a quote that I agree with, to a certain extent. In terms of getting match fitness back and experimenting players in other positions, it is just like a training session. But we do have the world watching and paying supporters, so that’s where it differs.
Chelsea at times did play well, especially in the final game against AC Milan. I was very impressed with how well they kept the ball and passed it around, until the final third. They lacked the urgency that you will see when the competitive matches begin, but that’s purely because they don’t need to win the game, after all, it’s a transition period, we are blending in new players and experimenting positions, so therefore the result is not important.
I’m happy with what I have seen in general; the only real issue for me is the right side of our team. Branislav Ivanovic is our main right back at the moment, unless we sign another, which we are highly rumoured to be. Two things concern me with this. One, he has openly said he is a centre back and would rather play there, and two, he is not fluid enough, quick enough and doesn’t offer enough going forward for me.
Defensively, there is nobody better than Ivanovic. But going forward, he doesn’t provide the attacking outlet that Ashley Cole does on the other wing. We need someone who is quick up and down the wing, and can attack just as well as he can defend. Now if we’re to be playing fluent, creative and fast attacking football that Roman wants to see, then Ivanovic isn’t our answer at right back. Against stronger opposition such as Barcelona, then Ivanovic must start, but against lesser teams, we need something more down the wing.
The other problem I currently see is that Ramires for me, needs to be playing as a box-to-box midfielder in a deep line. He played as a right-winger yesterday, and although he has performed well there for us last season filling in, it’s not his best position.
He lacks imagination and skill when trying to beat a player. He has pace, and uses that well, but surely his match engine and speed will be far better in the middle. We need more of a creative brain with flair out on the right, someone who can cut inside and shoot, or get to the by-line and cross. Marko Marin or Eden Hazard could do this, and perhaps maybe will do. But Ramires is not our right-winger.
There is a few other little positioning and tactical issues that Roberto will need to address, but nothing overly important. These will be dealt with over the next few weeks.
We must be patient. I’ve seen many negative comments this morning regarding our pre-season loses, this disappoints me immensely and is very narrow minded and pessimistic. We must look beyond the defeats, its pre-season, it’s all about practicing for the opening day. We have signed new players and will bring in two more; it’s bound to take time for these players to be integrated in to the team, and for them to settle in London. This will affect the whole squad and we can’t expect miracles over night.
Roberto Di Matteo and his staff must be sharing these same concerns as me, seeing as there will be two more right sided players added. This should solve my personal concerns. Whether it’s Debuchy or Azpilicueta at right back, it will be the type of player we need there. Whether it’s Moses or Hulk on the right side, they will also provide the further options that we need on the right wing.
Last season, Roberto Di Matteo was thrown in at the deep end. This year, he will be looking to bring in his own tactics and formation. It will take time so patience my fellow blues, is a virtue.
Simon Phillips – News Editor
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