In the aftermath of the defeat from the hands of Manchester City, there is a little bit of turmoil among the fans. “Reporters” like Jamie Redknapp, who loath Mourinho, no matter how much they try to hide it, are leaving no stone unturned to attack Mourinho. The medic saga started a wild fire and the defeat to City added further fuel to the fire.
But we are talking about the reigning champions here. This was the same squad that won the Premier League last season and players don’t turn from good to bad over the course of a 2 months summer break.
The reality is there ares some problems with the squad that have been exacerbated by a lack of proper pre-season. Fitness is important and other teams seem to fitter than us at the moment.
Did Chelsea made a mistake by not spending money during the summer?
No. The club was unable to get its targets. There is no point in buying for the sake of buying. Remember Juan Cuadrado? Remember Mo Salah? Remember Liverpool laughing at Tottenham’s spending spree and then everybody laughing at Liverpool’s a season later?
The first team squad that won the Premier League needs a world-class player to dislodge any of the current first teamers. Gareth Bale, Paul Pogba, Koke, theses players are way too expensive IF they are even available in the first place.
Also worth mentioning is that Chelsea’s transfer policy has changed. There is a focus on bringing up youth players. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is promising and so are many others. We will need to be patient for him to break into the first team.
We did spend 8M on a backup keeper which is not something a team will do if it was cutting back. Left back was an area that needed improvement and Chelsea have signed Rahman.
Are there too many dead weight players?
Ramires ,Mikel, Willian – some people like them, some do not.
Ramires played the way he always does. Just because he started against City and we were losing, he won’t become Robben cutting inside and scoring a spectacular goal. His passing won’t magically become world-class. Fans need to have realistic expectations. He is a utility player and so is Mikel. They were there last season as well and we need players who are ready to play in case of injuries and change in tactics. We can improve on them but instead of replacing them with new players, we should be giving the youth a chance.
Is Fabregas ill-suited alongside Matic?
Fabregas has his limitations at CM role. Against big teams, he might make 1-2 mistakes but we don’t have any alternative. If you want to play a player like Mikel alongside Matic, the whole team suffers for it. There is no one to link the defence with attack. I would suggest you to watch any old match over the past 3 seasons in which Fabregas didn’t play.
Jose has tried many times playing Fabregas at #10 in a defensive, counter attacking formation. The end result is we struggle for goals, and if we concede, Jose ended up switching Fabregas to CM and brought Oscar on. If you follow Chelsea closely, it has happened far too often to miss this observation.
There are very few players who can do what Fabregas do and defend better than him. Modric may be? But have you ever watched Madrid facing a team that is capable of attacking them? You will see an open-match with lots of chances which is what happened at Etihad. Just that we didn’t score goals.
Lack of creativity
Willian is a good player but he has his limitations. He is a work-horse, fast (if not the fastest in the team) and plays well on the counter attack.
However he is not an attacking threat and creates very little. He ends up with 3-4 goals and 3-4 assists every season which is not what you are looking from an attacking mid-fielder. Nobody is there at the end of his crosses. There is no point in beating your man just outside box and whipping in a cross (at light speed) if no one is able to meet it.
He is good enough for Chelsea squad and a good utility player, just not the untouchable status he has at the moment.
It is also worth noting that there are very few players who will be an upgrade on him, i.e. matching his defensive work yet are better creatively. Rather than spending in this area, we should look at our youngsters and see who can come up and challenge him in an year or two.
Ivanovic: The soldier
His performances started tailing off at some point last season. His defending seems casual and his passes sometime seem “to whomsoever it may concern”. He can’t whip in a cross and his pace has become unsuitable for him to contribute to attack without leaving us exposed to a counter-attack.
The solution is to switch him to Center Back immediately. We don’t need John Stones in that case, atleast until JT retires. However we do need a player to cover for LB and RB positions in case of injuries.
The Left back problem
Azpillicueta is not at his best at left back from the attacking point of view. We are not able to attack from the left wing that much. There is no crossing threat at all. Covering for John Terry’s lack of pace also inhibits Azpi from bombing forward at will. Switching Azpi to right and integrating Baba Rahman would be a much needed progress for the first X1.
The High Line problem
John Terry is Mr. Chelsea. But he is ill-suited for the high-line. For the evolution of the squad, we need a “higher” defensive block. I am not saying JT should be benched, just that against pacy attacks Zouma should be preferred or in case we are chasing a result. JT is not past it and he will be integral to squad this season.
Expectations for this season
With one or two of the above problems solved, we are looking at a squad which can challenge for title. However, I would go ahead and say that we are not going to win the title this season. (God, how much I would like to be proven wrong!!). This is not a conclusion I came to after the City match rather it was at the end of pre-season. By the time the squad is back to its best, it will need to cover some ground from the top of the table and be extremely consistent and will need luck to avoid injuries and suspension. The season is 38 matches long, and it is going to be a dog-fight this season.
If we look at our first-team squad, it is filled with world-class players like Matic, Fabregas, Hazard, Costa and Courtois. Coming to the manager, Mourinho is the best manager there is, at the moment. Hence, the current squad will be favorite to win the League cup / FA cup as well as very strong run in the Champions League.
Our message to the fans,
Keep calm and trust in Jose!