Wouldn’t It Be Nice?

“Oh yes, that would be so nice” – memorable lyrics from the enigmatic Brazilian chanteuse of the 1960s, Astrud Gilberto. I was reminded of this Bossa Nova classic during the Newcastle match, not only because of the rhythmic Carnaval football unleashed upon the Geordies, but during one incident in particular – the lovely Eva Carneiro attending to the temporarily injured David Luiz. Head wound comforted and bandage wrapped tight, she proceeded to console the defender by sympathetically rubbing his chest, a tender gesture I’m sure Wayne Rooney would’ve liked after having his thigh lacerated by the protruding edge of a cleat. Nice of her, eh?

Without reading too deeply into isolated events and the sentimentality of team doctors, that little moment encapsulated the grander mood at the club. Apart from eighty million pounds’ worth of new recruits, there is a distinctly different aura when this season’s starting XI strides out onto the pitch. A thick ether that once seemingly plagued its inner workings appears to have been eviscerated. Yes, the world is indeed a different place with an etched star presiding over the club crest in what I’m sure is only the first sighting in a constellation of European triumph. But something larger is at play, reverberating from the boardroom to Fulham Broadway. And one need not look farther than Roberto Di Matteo to understand the positive shift in energies collectively oozing from everyone involved.

Calm and composed as a player and even more stoic as a manager, RDM’s managerial style was uncannily reflected in Eva’s brief comforting moment. We hear a lot of talk from the pantheon of punditry and slick-voiced commentators about the need to “impose” one’s style onto a football club. Is that actually necessary? Jose was successful at doing so because of his unique ability to enamour a shared siege mentality onto everyone at Cobham, possibly even the cooking staff. How about the rest that came, saw and… failed miserably and went home with their tail tucked in between their track suit? As far as clueless, imposing clowns go, AVB and Scolari still have nothing nice to say about their time at the club.

Robbie, on the other hand, is not a footballing missionary. He certainly does not feel the need to proselytize his unwavering philosophies. In the technical area, we are not subjected to an overarching boss barking orders at his charges, gesticulating wildly or condemning the referee with a fury reminiscent of some of the more outspoken managers in the league, past and present. Instead, RDM has championed a transformational style of management, one which seeks to devolve power throughout the squad while maintaining a respectable degree of authority. A sturdy head wrap, a pat on the chest and an arm around the shoulder, if you will. In the business world, consider Richard Branson, whose vast success has often been attributed to his disdain for top-heavy management, not all too dissimilar from our own dashing pioneer.

The Matteoan school of thought has also perhaps transformed the club as a whole. Sketchy back-room politics seem to be a thing of the past. Player power never looks like it will enter the equation again. Tension between the layered bureaucracy Abramovich has created over the years is not rearing its ugly head. The board, the Russian’s advisors, Michael Emenalo and the manager would appear to be working in tandem – for once. All is quiet on the West London front. The owner, after all, has not just craved expansive attacking play, but a man at the helm who accepts his larger capacity as a coach rather than a Machiavellian manager. What role Di Matteo played in the surge of transfer dealings is debatable, but it is working despite whoever is whispering into Abramovich’s ear, and, as a result, we are being treated to the best opening exchanges of football in years.

Man management is, however, most effective only when combined with an intimate structural knowledge of the English game and peppered with bold tactical acumen. The first three matches have, in fact, shown Robbie at his best. Hazard and Mata have been authorized to wander and link as they like, a further example of his policy of devolution. The full-backs have been encouraged to get as far forward as possible, culminating in two Ivanovic goals (what an absolute hero this man is) and a delicate assist by Ashley Cole. Trailing against Reading, Di Matteo waited less than 10 minutes into the second half to make changes and soon replaced Mikel, leaving the midfield quite barren. It worked. The Catenaccio style brought about by Robbie to steady the ship last season is evolving, and the convincing dismissal of Wigan, Reading and a now-reputed Newcastle should silence any doubters of the man’s ability to build a team front to back. A midfield trio of Meireles, Mikel and Bertrand would have had most fans spilling their stout not too long ago, yet Robbie made it tick oh so well.

Regarding Eden Hazard: has anyone ever seen a foreign player, aged 21, enter the Premier League – the hypercompetitive contemporary league at that – adapt and ransack opposing teams of their training and preparation ever so quickly? If Chelsea were to achieve something extraordinary this season, Hazard would undoubtedly play a key role, and, if you ask this writer, the Belgian sensation, a perfect blend of silk and steel, has every chance of becoming the club’s very first Ballon d’Or winner. I imagine Fernando Torres will have a framed photo of Hazard by his bedside if they continue to one-two their way to glory.

And that is perhaps the last weight off the shoulders of all those involved with Chelsea Football Club – the indelible resurgence of a Spaniard who has acknowledged – and perhaps in part thrived from – the unconditional backing from a gracious legion of loyal supporters. Rabonas, cushioned heel passes and belting toe pokes into the top corner all seem to have made their way into a rivetingly confident repertoire. The fans have done their job and stuck by him. Di Matteo has revitalized his self-belief. The Hazard-Mata axis will supply him for seasons to come. He’s even getting that tad bit luckier given the questionable offside call against Reading, one which would have never gone in his favour in seasons prior.

But one would be foolish to discount the impact Didier Drogba’s departure has had on Torres. It is one thing to have Drogba charging full force or leaning the entirety of his 90 kilograms of bulk onto you. It is quite another to have the Ivorian peacemaker – and the closest thing to footballing royalty – breathing down your neck in the dressing room. No striker ever came close to being Chelsea’s main man when Didier was around, injured, suspended or otherwise. Torres now has the unenviable task of leading the line of the European champions by default. With the uncertainty and fear that once clouded his judgement and the domineering presence of our African king all but gone, it is an opportunity he is grabbing by the jugular.

I, too, fear virtually no one this season. Business on the pitch looks promising, to say the least. Off it, Moses and Azpilcueta (cannot wait to see what the fans nickname this fella) have completed a squad that is without doubt the deepest in England – and perhaps even Europe. Commercially, the club has also struck some impressive deals by bringing on board Audi, Gazprom (probably not hardest deal to close) and Delta Airlines as sponsors.

We now are on the verge of perhaps claiming our first piece of silverware this season. Surely the European Super Cup will mean less in the media and internet forum circles once John Terry lifts it. I imagine Michel and Sepp will tweet their plans to eradicate the trophy were it to happen. Lunacy of the powers that be aside, it will be a much-welcomed addition to an already abundant trophy cabinet.

Just six months ago, possibly every Chelsea fan the world over pondered, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we won the Champions League, went on to sign some of the finest young talent in the modern game in the summer and topped the league by August end through efficiently beautiful football?” So nice indeed.

There are 78 comments

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  1. mark_25

    Fab post Vik.

    Your writing makes me feel like Micky Droy compared with Eden Hazard 🙂

    Obviously I hope your opinions and about glasnost and perestroika at the Bridge are true and we can all enjoy a period of warm and cuddly success, but you can never be too sure if it’s just a calm before a storm.

    Re Eva Carneiro, I can’t remember if it was Reading or Newcastle, but when she performed her magic in front of the Matthew Harding stand she was serenaded off to a chorus which suggested her intimated parts were about to be tickled with a stick of celery.

  2. GrocerJack

    Great stuff Vik. And thanks for the rather fetching picture of Eva, looking both pensive and yet……compassionate. Time for a lie down…..

  3. Cunningplan

    Great first write up Vik, how I wish I could contribute reports/articles like many of our esteemed writers, makes me feel somewhat inadequate.
    But I will add you shouldn’t be drawing attention to the second prettiest Doctor (have to say that Mrs CP might read this) otherwise Barca or Real could come knocking with a hefty renumeration package for her.

  4. mark_25

    I also like the title.

    I’m travelling to the game tomorrow so I shall use it at the Easyjet check-in when they ask for my destination.

  5. Benjami

    Ye great article! My only concern with the optimism flowing from its every pore is that we are yet to lose or go through a bad patch with RDM.

    Only when the chips are down will we see if he has truly transformed Chelsea or just papered over the cracks.

    I fear for Christmas when we lose a couple of games, the media and fans start howling, and talk of Pep rears its head.

    I hope RDM is manager in 2 years time, but to do that in the short term I think we have to be in the top 3 at Christmas and be on around 35/40 points.

  6. Der_Kaiser

    Upon closer inspection of the pots for the Champions League draw, I note with some interest that everyone in the top seeded Pot A has actually won the most prestigious competition in European club football. Except Arsenal.

    I mean, what are those charlatans doing in such elite company? Must we sully the metaphorical star on our shirt by rubbing shoulders with that shower of ne’er-do-wells and vagabonds?

    It’s like having Jordan mix with royalty, for heaven’s sake. Is this Platini’s sop towards ‘well run’ football clubs who don’t win trophies but sell their best players to the big boys every year?

    I demand an inquiry. Or at least that the Chelsea delegation don’t have to sit near them when the draw takes place. We can’t have them seeking glory by mere association or proximity.

    • Cunningplan

      I believe Arsenal’s inclusion could well be a spelling mistake, I’m sure they meant Anderlecht afterall they do produce some very good footballers from their country, I’m on the phone to Platini for their inclusion as I type.

    • Art

      Did you also feel bad about rubbing shoulders with Athletico Madrid they also haven’t won the Champion’s league. Looked like by the end they were embarrassed that they were rubbing shoulders with you, frankly anyone watching the game was. If you want to dish out nonsense be willing to take some

    • Marc CFC/BKK

      to be fair, when we kept getting picked in Pot A before winning it, I didn’t mind – pro efficient based on said clubs participation in CL only, Arse have done ok> semi’s, qtrs, even finals. Still, we are the first and only London Champions of Europe.

  7. Fab Oh

    Vik mate, you know it’s rare we disagree on anything, muchless the Chels and I’ve gotta say this article was a great read and encapsulates my feelings as well. Spot on.

  8. Vik Sohonie

    Thank you all, you are far too kind! It’s an honor to be writing alongside the finest football bloggers on the internet – and on a blog that has consistently taken it a notch above the rest by turning the thoughts of stalwart supporters into capturing literature. “An Hazard-esque debut” – you can imagine that made my day haha. I can’t take any credit for the photo choice – that was all Nick’s idea, credit to him. It’s a great shot of Eva. And I do agree that this might be the calm before the storm, but my gut instinct is telling me otherwise. Then again, this is the football. It has less rules and certainties than life itself. Here’s to the European Champions strutting their stuff for the next 9 months.
    To all those going to Monaco – have a blast! You beautiful blues!

  9. bluebayou

    Great to read a new face around the place. An old cynic like me could never get that upbeat ’cause I assume disaster lurks round every corner. But it did cheer me up. Lovely stuff.

    And there’s Eva. Another Eden related picture surely. (there’s an off colour joke about a snake in someone’s “garden” to be mined from that I’m sure, but I’m too classy for that sort of material.)

    And what about that draw for the CL? City got badly stung. The Arse and United get their usually piss easy groups. Ours is tough but at least it’s got some interest as have a few others so at least it prevents the snooze fest that the early stages often become.

    Saying that if we play on the same night as United or Arsenal who will get the prime TV spot given that our games might have some competitive element?

  10. limetreebower

    Great read Vik, thanks!

    Although I really wouldn’t go overboard with the early season optimism. We’ve beaten Wigan, Reading, and a Newcastle squad who were in Greece 48 hours previously.

    That said, I see what you mean about Robbie’s relaxed and player-friendly style. Sadly, I suspect he’ll go the way of the more agitated and autocratic AVB as soon as the results turn iffy. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past decade of managerial merry-go-round, it’s to enjoy the good times while we have them, quam minimum credula postero as me old mucker Horace notoriously puts it.

  11. Cunningplan

    I think it’s safe to say our qualification from the group stages of the CL are now guaranteed. With Juventus on the verge of signing Bendtner from Arsenal, they’re obviously not taking the competition seriously.

    I will put in the added caveat, I hope the above comment doesn’t come back to bite me on the arse!

    • E

      Statistically speaking, most of the comments come back and bite in the arse.

      (just trying to reverse-jinx your jinx).

  12. Cunningplan

    Nick on a side note with regard the way comments are displayed, is there a reason why the new comments are not displayed in order? Mark and Fab Oh seem to be stuck as the first two posts at the top of the comments

  13. Cunningplan

    As you’re out there Mark, can you ask those lazy bastards in blue to actually join in and play. They look totally disinterested, they need to be told there’s a pot to win!

    I hope Roman is speaking to the AM president, and sorting out a bank transfer for 50 million for a certain striker, still got a couple of hours.

  14. SweetDairyAir

    Well that wasn’t a very good performance at all was it. I think this season we may have a problem similar to the latter half of last season for Man City. When teams defend deep we will find it hard like them last year to break teams down because we don’t have specialised wingers at the moment. We tend to cut inside and against most teams the quality of Hazard and Mata will be fine, but against top teams we may need a little something else.

    The defending was a shambles and the double pivot needs a lot of work. Mikel defends just fine, but Lampard is still adjusting himself to the new role I feel. In the long term I think Oscar will take Frank’s position. When he came on tonight we looked much better and you can see he was starting to orchestrate some passes, close down Madrid a lot more, and generally improved our performance a lot. When teams attack us out wide, it exposes Ivanovic and Cole a bit too much. The 4231 system tends to expose our wing backs to this kind of pressure, and again the double pivot will need to work on how to cover these vulnerabilities.

    Overall I’m still optimistic about the season and the next few years, and with so many new players trying to be integrated into a new system, I think we will have plenty of these type of results this year. When our new players bed in and the tactics are worked out, I think we will be a force, but until then I expect to be on the receiving end of a few more batterings here and there.

    Also I hope we keep Sturridge (those loan rumours worry me slightly), because he offers us a directness out wide that few other players do.

    Oh well. Falcao looks great though. I’m surprised a top team hasn’t shelled out for him yet. Let’s hope we come back from the international break refreshed (especially Mata), and ready to annihilate QPR in revenge for last year’s debacle.

    • Benjami

      We learned a lot about our team tonight, a lot more than any game so far this season. In some ways I am happy it was essentially a friendly that this happened in (though we should try to win every game, imagine how angry TSO would be right now). The most important thing we need to happen now is for RDM to go home and work out a solution to our defensive fragility.

      Considering every team will now us Athletico Madrid’s template to beat us ;/

      I have said in previous posts the double pivot with Lamps and Mikel will never work, tonights performance, and up to a point when Mikel and Meireles played together so well the other day, proves it.

      I would love to see us switch back to a 4-3-3 or 4-2-1-2-1 system. With the 3 up front of Hazard/Torres/Mata and the 3 in midfield of Luiz/Lamps/Oscar.

      With Oscar (and to some extent Luiz) a bit further back it allows them to orchestrate creativity from further back. Tonights game was just Ivanovic to Lamps to Cole and back again over and over. We needed Mata or Hazard to come deeper and pick up the ball and start something. With more creativity in the middle we will generate more opportunities.

      Moving Hazard out of the centre – He is so much more effective on the wing and that is where his starting position needs to be.

      Lamps/Oscar can rotate in the 3 midfield slots and play that attacking midfield role.

      It moves Luiz out of defence (scary stuff sometimes :P) and gives him a bit more of an expansive role. He can also push forward when Cech has the ball and give us an aerial presence further up the pitch. As he pushes forward Lamps/Oscar drop back to cover. Teams are learning to pressure us in defence, leading to Cech kicking long and us losing possession. This goes someway to counter that.

      Gives Lamps more freedom to get into the box and score goals, Luiz and Oscar can sit back.

      Oscar is fast and Luiz is no slouch, unfortunately Mikel and Lamps look like they are running backwards sometimes :/ We really needed a quick DM or 1 better at reading the game than Mikel last night.

      We also need a better plan B, RDM does not seem very good at reacting to the other teams strengths and weaknesses during the game. (Or setting us up to expose them pre-game) Our substitutions follow the same pattern each game, we are a little predictable at the moment!

      • SweetDairyAir

        I agree with nearly everything you say but I don’t think 42121 is the way to go. It is far too narrow and we will never be able to break teams down with a system like that. Also we don’t have the players for a 433. It seems like every transfer was bought with 4231 in mind. Mata is not a winger, and Hazard although good wide, cuts inside and prefers the no. 10 role. 4231 is the way we are going and it’s up to the double pivot to help our defence.

        When being attacked down the left, the left sided player in the double pivot needs to go back and cover that side, leaving the other one to cover the middle. The same goes for when Ivanovic is being attacked. I still think this may be the season Lampard is phased out of the team. I don’t want to pile on, because people rightly adore Frank, but he isn’t as incisive as Oscar (or even Romeu in some of his appearances last season). You need quick, accurate passes forward to our creative 3 behind Torres. Like you mentioned, Lampard tended to pass it sideways to Cole, then back to Ivanovic (who cannot really attack too well if we’re honest. Azpi looks like an essential signing). I wouldn’t be surprised if we find that Mikel made more forward passes tonight than Lampard.

        When Oscar came on he was harrying their players higher up the pitch, forcing errors, and creating openings for us. Lampard may just be too slow for that kind of work, with opposition players skipping past him.

        I also agree that RDM seems to be able to motivate the players for more important matches, but when it comes to the ‘friendlies’ we just walk around. For me though what’s more important to sort out is the ability to change a match when things are looking down, and this will hopefully get better as he learns the strengths of all our new signings.

        Like I said in a previous post there are signs of a good spine for the future, but there are still problems there. The double pivot absolutely needs a lot of work. That is where we need to dominate matches from. I believe we have the players in the squad to do that (so we don’t need to go crazy and splurge on anyone else), but they aren’t playing there. I don’t know what RDM has against Romeu, but I think he would play well there alongside Mikel. Oscar also. The attacking midfielders look great. We may need to buy a top class centre back for when Terry retires, and if Torres doesn’t have the barnstorming season we’re all hoping for, another top class striker is a real possibility, but overall our team is looking pretty good (at least on paper) in the long term.

  15. Cunningplan

    Guys I do like your somewhat in depth analysis, and observations of last nights game.
    My view is a little more simplistic, one team played as if it was a pre season friendly, the other team played like it was a major cup competition.

    I’m afraid in those circumstances there’s only ever going to be one outcome, we were spanked and deservedly so!

    • Blue_MikeL

      yes you can simplify it like this this and that will be a legitimate simplification. However, there is one question left “Why?”. Why didn’t we take this game seriously?

  16. mark_25

    I’m worried that your analysis is too simplistic. We did have the full team out and they were putting in the effort but just incapable of creating or stopping anything.
    But the journey wasn’t a complete disaster since by some fluke our seats were in a decent spot and we shook hands with JT and Ballack. If we’d been so inclined we could also have pressed the flesh with Platini and Christine Bleakley.
    Cunningplan, your posts often make spanking references so mybe you could shorten your ID go CP?

    • Cunningplan

      I have no idea why we didn’t take the game seriously, and yes as I said a simplistic view from me. This from Ashley Cole on twitter…

      “Well that was a lesson, absolute joke no fight, desire, passion, and a big
      reality check.”

      Just about sums it up he should know he was on the pitch and playing, and I use the word playing lightly

      Mark I don’t recall any of my posts making spanking references, apart from this one,
      but a bit of corporal punishment can be beneficial. 😉

  17. Vik Sohonie

    I believe there’s two ways of looking at last night.
    1. If you want to put this match down as “pre-season” for the Champion’s League – the charity shield of Europe – then we simply carried that miserable pre-season form into this match. Perhaps RDM wanted to keep his cards close to his chest for the group stages as he did in the summer. He definitely set us up virtually the same as he did against Bayern, but that was the final, this is the opener.
    2. Of the two most prominent opponents we’ve faced – City & Atl. Madrid – we’ve lost both matches, conceding 7 goals in total. Both matches, however, had an anomaly to them: a red card and a striker in the form of his life who specializes in European assassinations. That was one of the best performances I’ve seen from a striker just about ever. That was also perhaps Falcao’s best performance of his career. How many times have we seen teams / players bring 150% when playing against Chelsea?

    The players did not look interested if you ask me. I honestly also believe they entered the game with a sense of entitlement given that we’re CL trophy holders. I am not TOO vexed by the result, poor as it was. Think back to United v Zenit – the Russian side outplayed United that night with Paul Scholes playing volleyball in his own box. Atletico were hungrier and they had Falcao. The Europa League side often seems hungrier. I’ll begin to worry only if we put in a similar kind of shift against Juventus. Until then – still European champions. In RDM we trust.

  18. Austin Solari

    Something I noticed noone commented on which suprised me …………Mr Cech!! I sat in a lovely little French bar who know my allegiance and we were all sat anticipating a master class from Monsieur Hazard.
    But what starting infuriating me more and more, and I have seen it mentioned on this noble tome before, was every bloody time Cech got the bsll, he hoofed it down as if Drogba was still stood in the middle of te park. How many bloody headers did our forwards win last night from these pointless hoofs?? I would say NONE!!!! In fact, if you trace the tape back far enough, the fourth goal was down to Cech. We had a free kick halfway in their half, somehow the ball ended up being rolled back to Petr and bam, he hoofs another down which their centre half easily won. From his header, the ball came into our half never to leave again until we kicked off after the goal. All very infuriatin as surely, even to my untrained and failing eyes, The Drog is not on the pitch anymore??? Although I believe he was in Cobham a few days ago (pictures and report in a 2 day old Mail) perhaps Petr thought he was back playing for us for good.
    It also seemed to me that every bloody richochet and rebound went to a red and white shirt or was that just me trying to make excuses for what was a pretty shambolic performance?
    Thank God I have another week tucked away here in Brittany and don’t have to face any work colleagues for another 15 days. Actually it has been quite fun watching the Paralympics in French, I shall resume my position in front of the tv when the sun goes down this evenin.

    • mark_25

      Agree about Cech plus Ivanovic keeps crossing to an imaginary striker. Drogba is big and black and Torres slight and blonde. How many training sessions before they realise Drogs has departed?

  19. Cunningplan

    And just something for all us bloggers and fans of the Mighty Blues to bear in mind… regardless of our results, we can still cheer ourselves up by laughing at Rottenham!

    • NorthernVA

      I had the feeling of deja vu watching that. There really is no experience that can rival watching an AVB managed squad attempting to hold on to a one goal lead past the 80th minute. Car wreck waiting to happen.

  20. bluebayou

    Well it seems that Mereiles may be going to Turkey. And if this is true, he goes with my thanks. He is one of those who is perhaps not appreciated ’til he’s gone.

    Considering Essien went to on loan to Madrid we are left with Mikel, Lampard, Romeu, Ramires, Oscar, Hazard, Marin, Moses, Malouda and possibly Bertrand in midfield (I think!). Out of those, Mikel and Romeu, Lampard and Ramires strike me as central midfielders of one class or another, and indeed have been used there at Chelsea.

    Looking at the depth of personnel and given that Romeu has been very sparingly used of late, Malouda hardly ever and factoring in the patchy nature of our pressing and midfield defensive work at times, it suggests to me that Mereiles left for other than purely football reasons. (Oh Vic where is that happy ship?).

    All theories supported by reasonable evidence, or lacking that a shouty, agressive “disagree with me if you dare f***wit” kind of a tone, are welcome.

    • Ryan

      I think the story is Mereiles has wanted out since AVB was sacked. I think we’d have been happy to keep him as quality depth and considering he started our toughest league game in the pivot ahead of Romeu, Essien, Oscar, Rami etc. I wouldn’t say that RDM had any problem with keeping him but getting €10million for a 29year old CM is decent business especially if he was no longer happy at the club. Hoping for Axel Witsel in January.

      Maybe switch back to 4-3-3 in the meantime. If we are going to continue playing a double pivot I want to see Romeu and Mikel together. Not one of the two paired with a defensive liability (ie any of the others). If we have Mata, Hazard and Oscar in the band of three behind Torres I’m not bothered about having a “ball player” in the pivot. Just two CDMs with reliable distribution, good positional sense and tackling ability. My only concern being the fact that they both lack pace.

      If the rumours about us having an agreement in place for Falcao in January are true I can understand why we didn’t bother with, say, Loic Remy on deadline day. Why we weren’t asking Real about Sahin on loan if we were planning to ship out two CMs I don’t know. Can only assume we will be giving the younger guys a chance and bringing in some depth in the new year.

      P.S the new disqus format is a nightmare on my iPhone, like pulling teeth!

    • Vik Sohonie

      If I’m not mistaken, Raul was a borderline panic signing made by AVB in the final days of the transfer window. I believe we had someone else lined up, but, in typical AVB fashion, he failed to make that signing. Raul was bought to be a short term stop gap solution, at least that’s how I always saw him, although I am worried that we have shipped off two midfielders that could’ve most definitely been used this season. I could be wrong, but I was always under this impression. I very much saw him in the Benayoun mold, an average player bought from Liverpool to paper over a crack or two because for one reason or another, we couldn’t bring someone in of more quality.

      Perhaps Oscar has been earmarked to fill in where Mereiles normally would. I was more disappointed to see Essien leave to be honest. In pre-season he looked like he was getting back some semblance of his energy, pace and ability. In my heart of hearts and gut of guts, I am still convinced that everything is going according to a concerted plan involving all members of the Chelsea hierarchy. In RDM we trust 🙂 As for Raul, cracking goal against Benfica and a solid shift against Barcelona, wish him the best. But to be fair, we really won’t be able to gauge too much until about October or November in the league and February in the Champion’s League.

  21. WorkingClassPost

    I’m with your upbeat view of things, Vik, even after Friday’s excursion, which showed us as much about our priorities for this season as it did about our strengths/weaknesses.

    There was always going to be a hang-over from winning the CL, and that was definitely the place to experience it.
    Hopefully the guys now know what getting back to business entails, and Juve’s a tough start so maybe that wake-up call didn’t come a bit too soon.

    Meireles was an odd player, capable of wild rubbish mixed in with some really good performances, but he never looked happy, hope he does well in Turkey.

    My guess is that our main two targets this term: defend the CL and win back the PL are placed way above everything else, and although either one would be nice, both would be even nicer.

    Amazing what a bit of Autumnal sunshine can do to the optimist in a person!

  22. Der_Kaiser

    Never entirely sure why we went for Meireles, and I don’t think he ever really knew either. Portuguese back up for AVB? Panic buy in the absence of Modric? Who knows. Good luck to him though – played his part in the run to Munich and scored a couple of decent goals too.

  23. True Blue

    Wow this new message layout is really tough to get to grips with. Any chance we can revert back to the tried and tested method of listing message in chronological order???

    Perhaps the MOD’s would be amenable to putting this to a vote and seeing if change really is for the better?

    • Ryan

      Can’t “let him go on a free” if nobody is prepared to pay his wages. We definitely would’ve if it had been possible. I’d guess that he wasn’t prepared to take a massive pay-cut just to go and play for Lyon or whoever.

    • NorthernVA

      Classy way to speak of someone who played such an influential role in securing the first double in club history, Players Player of the Year in 2010. Contracts are a two way street so if he doesn’t feel the need to uproot his family at this point well then that’s his choice.

      • Ryan

        Agree. For the first few years he was pretty great for us. Unfortunately his form has nose-dived pretty badly. As you say though we signed him to a five-year contract so we’re committed to paying him for this last year. I think it would’ve been best all round if we could’ve come to an agreement whereby he was allowed to leave but we would make up any shortfall in wages for the remaining year of his contract.

        Don’t think uprooting his family was really an issue. His wife is Brazilian and I believe he was keen on a move to the Brasileirao but the interested parties couldn’t match his wage demands. Still sad to see a player who has played a major role in a few of our greatest achievements rotting in the reserves. Mind you for £90,000 a week I’d happily play for H.M.P Wormwood Scrubs Category. A Prisoners 5-a-side team, so I don’t exactly feel that sorry for him.

      • Blue_MikeL

        Yes, he had a good (great) season with us under Carlo, apart from it and his first ever goal he scored to Man Utd in Community Shield I can’t remember anything else.

  24. Blueboydave

    Didn’t AVB’s methods get the blame when Alex and then Anelka received similar treatment to Malouda this time last year?

    Suggests someone else is the hard bast**d at the club.
    Can I also agree with those complaining that the new “improved” disqus lay out is crap – whatever happened to “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?

    • mark_25

      Great video, thanks for posting. Makes you really feel like you’re there, which I was but up the proper end.

      I shall keep this video alongside Dambusters and 633 Squadron.

  25. Brian M

    We desperately need a ‘New Makalele’, and Mikel is never going to be that guy. Why RDM didn’t go out and buy someone to fill that role is beyond me. Mikel and Lampard do not work as a defensive midfield combination. They’re both way too slow for one thing. And Lamps, while not the box to box midfielder he was, is still better suited to an attacking midfield role. 

    There was a lot of good to take out of this game mind you (so let’s try not to lose heart), but to lose two cheap goals the way we did, is farcical.
    Brian Mhttp://www.chelseafcnewsblog.com

  26. Brian M

    We desperately need a ‘New Makalele’, and Mikel is never going to be that guy. Why RDM didn’t go out and buy someone to fill that role is beyond me. Mikel and Lampard do not work as a defensive midfield combination. They’re both way too slow for one thing. And Lamps, while not the box to box midfielder he was, is still better suited to an attacking midfield role. 
    There was a lot of good to take out of this game mind you (so let’s try not to lose heart), but to lose two cheap goals the way we did, is farcical.

    Brian M

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