June 9th will long remain in my memory as one of the saddest days in forty five years of supporting Chelsea. The official Chelsea website has just announced that Juliano Belletti, Joe Cole and Michael Ballack will not have their contracts renewed when their contracts expire on the 30th June.
Michael Ballack was not every Chelsea fan’s cup of tea although his contribution to the team has been, in my opinion, immense. He brought personality to our midfield and whenever he was in the side I always felt we were better for it.
Belletti came when he was past his sell by date and though his long range goals, particularly the one against Spurs, will be forever remembered, he failed to make a real impact on the team.
As far as Joe Cole is concerned you will not find a single Chelsea fan who has a bad word to say about him. Whenever Joe was given the chance he gave his all for the cause and on many an occasion was instrumental in Chelsea winning games. I am sure I speak on behalf of every Chelsea fan when I say “Thank you Coley”.
Coley was one of the first signings of the Roman Abramovich era for what now looks like a piffling six million pounds. Compare that with the thirty million we paid for Shevchenko, eighteen million for Jon Obi Mikel, God knows how much for Veron, Crespo and Mutu and the fee paid to West Ham in June 2003 now looks like daylight robbery.
Like many of Ranieri’s signings in the summer of 2003 spending spree he was bought because he was available without the manager having specific plans of where and how he was to be used. Joe struggled for any sort of form and although stats for the season show that he made fifty appearances and scored three goals most were either as substitute or, if he was in the starting line up he was often taken off.
In season 2004/5 things didn’t start well but when Arjen Robben was injured on that infamous night in Blackburn Joe really came into his own. Within a few weeks he scored a wonder goal against Norwich and played his best game in a Chelsea shirt against Barcelona in the Champions League.
Whenever injuries permitted Joe was one of the star performers in a Chelsea shirt. But what really endeared him to all Chelsea fans is that he always gave a hundred percent in the Chelsea blue and never once complained, even when he (and we) felt he wasn’t getting a fair crack of the whip.
The decision not to renew Cole’s contract will forever remain a mystery. Today’s departures, three as I write this, will probably be joined by Deco who announced some time ago that he will be returning to his native Brazil after the World Cup. For the life of me I cannot see the economic sense of letting Joe Cole. His replacement will cost big money both in a transfer fee and wages, which looking at it simplistically, means that Joe’s replacement, over say a four year contract, will end up costing much more.
As it stands today the squad looks seriously threadbare and it will be interesting to see where the replacements will come from. On what little we saw of them last year Nemanja Matic, Gael Kakuta and Jeffry Bruma are ready to step into the squad comfortably. Of the players we had out on loan Franco Di Santo certainly missed his chance to prove that he is genuine Premiership material. On the other hand Miroslav Stoch won the league in Holland with Twente while Michael Mancienne at Wolves proved that he has the quality to become a top class Chelsea player.
Today’s departures plus Deco represent at least three hundred thousand pounds a week in wages. Could the big brass at the club be clearing the decks for the marquee signing that has long been touted? Kaka, Fernando Torres? We live in hope and trust in Carlo and Roman.