Super Chelsea

A Chelsea Blog For All Chels

Super Chelsea - A Chelsea Blog For All Chels

NO MEN WENT TO MOW, STILL HOPE FOR TOMORROW

First Team
One person said I was delusional to think we would get anything in Naples. I would agree, if I didn’t make my predictions based on numerous assumptions. Lineup, formation, strategy and certain players like Didier turning up in the flesh that can actually make a difference.

Football is midfield, defence and attack. I don’t think we should sack AVB but I’m afraid he makes tactical errors, albeit errors related to the players we have. Some managers are good at building a team that suits their plans (right positions, right styles), some are good at shuffling and making the best of what they have, some others are good motivating a team regardless of these factors.The first needs a bit of time if you don’t splash cash, and is much easier if you actually choose to reward the investment put into your youth system. Yesterday the Chelsea youth team came back from 3-0 down to win 4-3 in the FA youth cup. A day after the first team lost 3-1 in Naples.

I digressed, back to midfield, defence and attack. 4-2-3-1. Three attacking midfielders, lone striker, the ever critical holding midfield pivot and a regular back four. I’ll start from the back. Having to lose Bosingwa and put in a half-fit Ashley Cole is just part of the unexpected you expect in football. My problem however was the positioning. We had a slower,calmer right side of defence (Brana and Cahill) and a faster but more erratic left side (Luiz + Cole/Jose). I’m not a real manager, but surely you want to balance the speed of your back four, most especially when you go against a pacey front three. You see, Lavezzi will attack the space  between RCB and RB, Hamsik will attack that between LB and LCB and try to playing in Maggio (a right midfielder that makes byline runs), while the potent Cavani picks either of those pockets or the main one between both center backs. Lavezzi scored 2 goals and Cavani scored one by losing Brana. Right side of defence? YES. Might have been slightly better with JT around cause he will always play LCB. To digress, some of the best defence we played this season was when we had Brana-Luiz-JT-Cole. I know Brana loses his left winger/ left back a lot but its better when he has a fast defender like Luiz right next to him.

The midfield pivot of Ramires and Meireles is, simple, stupid. Ramires is a runner, Meireles is a … floater (i really cant find a word to describe him, thinking about it makes my head hurt). Better combinations would have been Essien-Meireles, Mikel-Lampard, Romeu-Ramires, anything with a DM. The more attacking the second MID is, the deeper the DM you want to play. Even though its a pivot(meaning both players share responsibilities in attacking and defensive transitions), you have to play with what you have. Secondly, Ramires and Meireles are relatively bad passers, possibly the worst amongst all our midfielders. On Tuesday, Meireles was unsurprisingly as bad as he has been in recent weeks, Ramires was shockingly abysmal maybe due to the fact that he’s just back from injury. Together, they conceded the 1st goal.

The attack. I said in my match preview that there are 2 Drogba’s which we all know. The bad one turned up, and I don’t know why he finished the game. Firstly, he’s more suited to 4-3-3. Secondly, any manager should be able to see when Drogba is having a horrible game. It never changes. He just gets worse,and worse and we hardly ever win. The fact that he had a poor game just made our attack impotent as a unit. Mata didn’t receive the ball enough cause the poor pivot weren’t making the right transitions and passes to draw Napoli’s midfielders out to free him. Sturridge was occasionally selfish but he made things happen despite hardly having runs to pick out. Malouda was Malouda, no explanation needed. Mata was decent and might have been more effective if he had a Torres in front of him. No Didier/Nando debate here, I’m only saying Drogba had an off-day you can spot from miles away and the 4-2-3-1 is El Niño’s forte.

I can complain about schoolboy errors we made on each goal even though that’s how we got our goal. But the main problems right now are confidence, and managerial decisions. AVB doesn’t seem to know his best team and keeps trying experiments. Confident and motivated players can still manage to win games in a bad tactical setup, but two things are working against us right now and it’s sad. We just have so many players out of position and they aren’t even happy. So much pressure from the media and things are looking blue for the fans, the players and the manager. But there is the future to look forward to, more on that later. Way out of this slump? A couple of lucky wins (even though you create your own luck), improved confidence and a small streak can return us to winning ways, and help AVB determine his first team.

 

The Youth Team
For the last 2-3 years, I’ve been following our youth team actively and there is one thing that shines through them. Spirit. When you talk about playing for pride of the badge and the club, they know what it’s about. Not to mention a bunch of real quality players we ignore to sign hyped players (e.g. signing Lukaku instead of keeping Borini). Practically every great win I’ve seen in the FA youth cup have been comebacks. The 2010 final, every round last year and the last 2 rounds this year have been proud moments for me as a Chelsea fan. But what they did yesterday was even more awesome than the last minute comeback from the previous round.

Feruz is a real gem, looks even better than Borini was at the same age. Piazon has acclimatized and is performing at such a high level. Amin Affane is so good for his age you wonder where we found him. I could go on and on. I don’t buy into this bullsh** that you shouldn’t put young players under pressure by playing them in high profile games. Why? Because they are young players and you have to invest into their future, with games. They have to make mistakes at the highest level to get to that level. It’s the club’s duty to have faith in some of these lads and not just dish them 4/5 year contracts for reserve games and random loans to Vitesse Arnehem and championship clubs. We don’t have a Pep Guardiola nor a La Masia, but this needs to be soaked into the roots of the club, regardless of the manager in charge. It helps, having a long-term coach but when a club has a proper plan, it flows through the whole club.

If we didn’t have quality young players, that would be another discussion but we’ve clearly invested a lot into these young lads, scouting them, signing them and training them. Just to think Brendan Rodgers worked with Josh McEachran at youth level should put into perspective the quality down there. We have some players that have been here since ages less than 10 that are quality on the pitch and have desire to play for this club, the kind of desire you can’t just fake or find elsewhere. Play them. Throw them in the deep end. What you sow is what you reap. Some might fall off, but some will definitely make it. The reward is the sweetest and it’s a cycle that will continue. There’s nothing fans love more than committed players and watching our very own wear the first-team shirt. I continue to watch the Youth Cup in hope that someday our very own, will remain our very own.

PS: 10 Men went to mow (the song behind the title)

Win or Lose, Up the Blues
Over land and sea, Chelsea chelsea carefree.

Toye

CHELSEA ARE BACK, CHELSEA ARE BACK, ‘ELLO ‘ELLO


Penalty to Chelsea, Frank Lampard sets the ball on the spot, waits for the referee’s go-ahead, missed penalties this season flash before your eyes, you squint and murmur “Please Frank don’t lose this one”, he smashes it down the middle and you… (Insert your personal celebration here). At this point all blues felt several emotions rushing all at once. Relief that we were beating the best side in the league this season against all odds and ‘aggressiveness shown towards us’, proud of a wonderful comeback by a team that was smothered in the early stages of the game, pessimistic we might not hold on to the lead (Until that point where Drogba ‘nutmegged’ two City players and tried the most audacious shot ever and you knew it was going to be a blue day) and excited, excited by this never-ending roller coaster ride that is supporting Chelsea Football Club

‘Chelsea are in crisis’ was the talk in all the papers 2 weeks ago, due to 5 losses in 9 games that weren’t taken into perspective, all goals wrongly blamed on a high line, players deemed to be past it or rubbish and then praised again whenever they put in amazing shifts (Lampard, Terry, Luiz etc). Three Three-nil wins and an ending of the only unbeaten run in England later, everyone thinks we’re back.

The truth is, the only outstanding performance in all those wins was against Valencia. Don’t get me wrong the rest were very decent, but nothing much different from what we’ve been playing all season. A little luck with refereeing decisions and it would have been a different story. I accept that it is a results business but when you see that a team’s losses are a slight margin away from being victories, never call it a crisis. The results often come eventually, bar a mental breakdown. AVB understood this; I understood this, a few Chelsea fans – also understood this. But Journalists don’t, they write what people want to read, a team in crisis, manager to be sacked soon, team to be overhauled, outrageous transfer fees, and sadly some ‘Chels fans’ buy into this ‘hocus pocus’ instead of staying focused on their team and supporting forever. I kept the belief and I’m happy to see the team winning again, as I knew would happen.

I won’t dwell on the Man City game as it is just another 3 points albeit one that closes the gap between us and 1st to 7 points. It’s been a great week and a half, back to back wins in the league and Champions League qualification in 1st place.

Positives

· Oriol Romeu
8 starts, 7 wins. 1 loss in the Carling Cup. He averages 93% passing and at least 5 interceptions-plus -tackles. Has made the holding midfielder position his in recent weeks, and we’ve been winning. Stalwart.

· Daniel Sturridge
Improving in every game. Adjusting to the RW position. Better late runs into CF position. Better tracking back. Raping Left Backs. Better at beating his man on the outside. Better passing on counter attacks. Now switches play. Better squaring of the ball when on the outside (Raul vs City). Now does heel chops to switch feet faster. Livewire

· Drogba
He’s benefitting from an extended run of games and confidence shown in him, won’t be the first nor second time either. Great to have a striker who can lead the line, crucial to our recent form. Talisman

· Essien
The Bison is back soon!

· The rest like Mata, Ramires etc are very obvious, not directly related to our recent form(as they’ve been great all season) and don’t need any highlighting from me.

Negatives and After-thoughts

· Fernando
We still need to get him firing, and I suspect this would happen when Didier leaves for the AFCON. He should get the same treatment DD is getting and now and only injury can stop him. From what I’ve seen this season, all he needs is a consistent run of games, to find consistency and avoid scrutiny.

· Alex, Anelka and Kalou
Kalou not confirmed yet but these players need to be replaced this January. We’re doing good with injuries now but what if to say Sturridge and Torres get sidelined during the AFCON? Imagine our front line then? I certainly don’t want to.

Thought of the week
We’re doing fairly badly in the youth department. Kakuta, Van Aanholt, Ulises and Delac are getting no games. Ulises and Delac will have to wait till season end. Van Aanholt, we can find another club for in January although I feel he can’t usurp Bertrand anymore. Kakuta, needs to come back here now that players like Kalou and Anelka are leaving, he’s best at right wing, a position we clearly lack in. Josh needs to go on loan as we’ve all concluded.
Bruma is having a decent season, in fact so much that he won’t come back to Chelsea without being guaranteed games. I foresee a permanent HSV deal in the near future.
On the upside, Lucas Piazon and Islam Feruz are having great starts to their careers. Islam is the real deal and Lucas is improving with every game, showing class all the time.

Golazo by former blue Miroslav Stoch

So forget the title of the post, Chelsea are not back, we were never gone, nor down, but rather we are forging forward.

Keep the Blue Flag Flying High and Up the Chels!

Twitter: @toyecfc

Chelsea Should Stop Paying Its Youth Lip Service

Chelsea Academy

Let us be honest with ourselves; there has been no prominent youth product coming into our first team since John Terry. Roman has spent millions in investing in our youth academy.  We employed Frank Arnesen as Sporting Director to replicate Ajax renowned youth system at Chelsea. Arnesen drew up a 5-year plan; we were supposed to reap the fruits of labor starting with last season.

The following players earned promotion to the first team: McEachrun, Bruma, Borini, Van Aanholt and Kakuta. Let us see what happened since then. Borini did not make a single first team appearance last season in all competitions. When we were struggling for goals at certain points last season, Borini who was in top form for the reserves was never brought into the game to show his worth. The reason why Borini did not get game time because he refused to sign the rip-off contract Chelsea offered him. Who wants to be poorly paid and made to sit on bench too?

Bruma made only two appearances for us in the league last season. He would have only made an appearance if we had not run short of defenders. Alex’s injury and Ivanovic reaching the yellow card limit forced Carlo to play him. Can you believe Carlo chose to play Ferreira at center back over Bruma the week before Bruma made his second league appearance? Bruma did not do enough to impress Carlo and so we sent him on to Leicester City in January. There is rumor flying that Arnesen will leave to Hamburg with Bruma.

Van Aanholt made six appearances for Chelsea last season. Out of the six, three were game starts and three were substitution appearances. He started one Carling Cup, 1 FA Cup and 1 Champions league game. The three sub appearances came in the Champions league. Van Aanholt has been one of our few lucky youth. He has signed a new contract so there is still hope for him. We have sent him on loan on three occasions. I just hope we do not treat him like Scot Sinclair.

We received a lot of negative publicity signing Kakuta from Lens. We nearly faced a transfer window ban for signing him.  You would think after all that hustle; we would give him much game time. Kakuta made one start and four substitute premier league appearances for us. In total, he made four game starts and nine bench starts in all competition for us before we sent him on loan to Fulham. He made two game starts and five substitute appearances for Fulham.

McEachran is the only youth player to have had it good this season. He has had the most appearances amongst our youth products. He has one start and eight substitution appearances in the premier league. He has made two starts and four sub appearances in Champions league games. He is the only youth player in our first team that was not sent on loan. Every Chelsea fan knows the boy has the potential to become an excellent player but it will not happen if we do not play him often.

Chelsea has been in need of a right-winger for seasons now; our academy produces Miroslav Stoch. Stoch is very promising; he can play on both wings and is full Slovakia international. The kid even made it to his country’s world cup squad and what does our club do? Our club sells him to Fernerbache for 5.5million euros and buys Benayoun. Benayoun is injury prone and he struggled to make it to Liverpool’s first team. We chose Benayoun over a promising Stoch who showed he could 45 games a season at Twente. In addition, Stoch would not have demanded what Benayoun gets as salary. McEachran even made more appearances than Benayoun did last season.

Manceinne has been on loan from Chelsea for four years. Players sign 4 year contracts not go on loan for four years. If he is good enough, he should return to Chelsea, If he is not we should sell. It is not fair how our club is treating him. We sold Scot Sinclair to Swansea last season after we sent him on loan to six different clubs in 3 years!

Our Chelsea youth will not magically turn great; we have to give them the right opportunities. United has a good blend of youth and old players in their team. I do not see why we cannot achieve the same at Chelsea. It is time our board stopped paying lip service to youth. In the last two seasons, our youth have won the FA Youth Cup and the Reserve league. What else do they want to our youth to do before we give them proper chances?

CareFree

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Could youth now be Chelsea’s key to winning the Premiership?

Chelsea Academy

We’ve all seen how Didier Drogba has transformed himself into one of the world’s greatest ever strikers within a matter of years at Chelsea. Nicolas Anelka has also flourished, collecting the golden boot in his second season after scoring 25 times in the 08/09 season. But age is not on the side of Chelsea’s two most prolific scorers in recent years,Drogba (33) and Anelka (32) will soon be of an average retiring age for a footballer. So how can Chelsea replace in confidence the players that would guarantee them goals every season?

The answer may well be lying with the three youthful strikers that they have loaned out this season. After moving to Chelsea in the summer of 2009 from Manchester City for £3.5million (fee could rise to 7million depending on conditions) ,Daniel Sturridge has thrived under Bolton manager Owen Coyle who must take the credit for turning another famous youngster into a top professional in the form on Jack Wilshere, and Carlo Ancelotti must be delighted that he has worked his magic again this year on the young Chelsea forward. After making 9 appearances for Bolton Wanderers since his loan move at the start of January, he has set the Premiership on fire scoring 7 goals and setting up many more. Sturridge has also deserved his call-up on the national scene for England u-21 being named in the 40 man squad for the championships later on this year in mid-June in Denmark.

The second of the three potential young gold-mines in Chelsea’s deck of cards is the Italian Fabio Borini. Having thrived at Chelsea in the reserves team after being made first choice striker he scored 10 goals in 11 appearances making him top scorer for the side. On 17 March 2011, Borini joined Championship side Swansea City on loan until the end of the 2010–11 season where he has linked up with his former Chelsea youth team boss Brendan Rodgers. Borini began his loan spell with the Swans by scoring a brace against Nottingham Forest and so far has 6 goals in the 8 appearences made for the club. Borini however will not be going to the European U-21 championships in Denmark after Italy failed to qualify for the competition.

The last of the three talents at Chelsea’s dispense is one Gael Kakuta, a young Frenchman who joined the club in 2007. This was not without controversy however as it was judged by the FA that Kakuta had breached the terms of his contract with old club Lens to join the current defending champions. He won Academy Player of the Year after finishing as the top scorer in the youth side finishing his first Chelsea season with 12 goals in 24 appearances and has achieved major acclaim from his team-mates including former team-mate Michael Ballack who said after a reserve game “Go see the French lad, he is the star”. In the recent transfer window he moved to Fulham to work under Mark Hughes (a legend at Chelsea) were he has made 6 appearances scoring against Sunderland for his first goal at the club.

So have Chelsea invested well for the future? Judging by the form of these youngsters they could be world-class players within a matter of years which will make Chelsea fans extremely happy to see how the future unfolds.

By Aaron McLoughlin
mcglok5@twitter.com