Chelsea must re-establish their never-say-die attitude
Three years ago Chelsea were at the height of their powers, indeed some may even call it the golden era in the club’s footballing history, but the last two seasons have gone some way towards showing that Chelsea are a shadow of the team they once were.
This can be explained by a variety of factors such as the instability created by continuously chopping and changing managers to the point of being led by a Mr Potato Head, hiring an entourage of technical staff who have no knowledge of the game and retaining players who simply cannot play, but most of all the fault lies firmly with the players.
Back when Sir Jose – as he will be known in five years time – was manager, the Blues were the epitome of a team that simply would not die. If the performances were not up to scratch at half time, the outspoken and wily Portuguese would let his employees know that committed fans had paid a hefty price for their tickets, and send them out with a cunning plan – along with half a dozen piri piri chillies stuffed up their arse – which would almost always secure a turnaround in fortunes.
In the last couple of seasons, however, it has become abundantly clear that only the old guard along with the likes of Juan Mata and David Luiz truly cherish the never-say-die attitude. The majority of the squad couldn’t give a rat’s arse about beating a club against whom Chelsea have had many memorable ties, made perfectly clear by the fact that at the start of the campaign, Chelsea were battling on seven fronts. They are now competing in one competition considered to be a “diet” Champions League, or “Champions League Zero.”
The spectacular crumble against Liverpool was unacceptable. Yes, Chelsea often bear the brunt of ridiculous refereeing decisions such as the amount of time added on and the like, but the squad’s defensive fragility and lapse in concentration to pick up a player quite literally chomping at the bit was frankly unacceptable considering their closest rivals had secured maximum points.
Fatigue has no doubt played a part in Chelsea’s pale performances, and this is where Rafa the gaffer must be held accountable. For all of his supporters lauding him as a tactical genius, the waiter wouldn’t know a blindingly obvious decision if it jumped up off the bench and slapped him across the face.
Aside from a well-taken goal, Oscar hardly contributed (and this is true of his previous few games), Cesar Azpilicueta – or Dave as he is affectionately referred to – couldn’t put in a single decent cross and Mikel cannot pass the ball forward to save his life. Why Chelsea engaged in a drawn out legal battle over a player who can’t shoot, pass or cross is a mind-boggling mystery to me as well as many of the Chelsea faithful.
What riled many fans up was the omission of a man who lives and breathes Chelsea and should have been on from the very start. Lampard has already chipped in with 14 goals this season with 12 of them coming in the league. Apart from the goals, he creates chances and his passion is there for all to see. Quite simply, why would Rafa leave him out?
Chelsea have shipped in goals all season and to leave out Demba Ba, who could have bagged a goal and John Terry to shore things up defensively is inexcusable. To bring on Yossi Benayoun… Mind. Blown.
This summer, Chelsea must secure the services of world-class players who can actually pass, shoot and score. The answer may lie in Falcao, Shurrle or Fellaini. Indeed it may be resolved by recalling Lukaku and MacEachran.
What is clear though, is that a status quo is intolerable and Chelsea have to find a way of stumbling over the line and into fourth place to give themselves a biting chance of bringing a top class manager to Stamford Bridge to restore their status as Kings of Europe and an elite club whose name alone makes other teams shudder.