A disheartening first half at Old Trafford effectively brought Chelsea’s season to an end. A spirited attempt to amend this in the second half was not enough. The most highly anticipated game of the season summed up Chelsea’s own season, chasing to recover a deficit, showing heart, passion and determination but in the end falling just short.
As a supporter of a football team it is always important to consider the positives and look to the future in the same manner, always. A mass depression descended on Chelsea fans momentarily, the media keen to speculate Ancelotti’s successor and construct a long list of Chelsea departures.
Remember though, Chelsea have come a long way, disappointment at second place in the league and exiting the Champions League at the Quarter Final stage proves that. The progress from the day Marcel Desailly and Jesper Gronkjaer sent Chelsea into the Champions League is massive. Even more considering where Chelsea have been in the past. I can’t speak for the many who followed over land and sea but I gather it was pretty bad at times (but in a strange way pretty good). Anyway, with thanks Roman Abramovich and Jose Mourinho Chelsea are now a force, domestically and in Europe. The improvement needed is minimal. Stability will bring about that improvement. Carlo Ancelotti is the right man for the job.
I’ll now take my positive stance. Despite Chelsea’s “bad moment”, they took the defence of their title down to the wire. The bad run of form lasted for too long but big players were missing at this time. Frank Lampard’s long term injury and Didier Drogba recovering from Malaria hit the squad hard. The reinforcements saw an upturn in Chelsea’s form and a revival of their season. As long as Ancelotti is in charge, Chelsea will challenge for the title, I think that can be guaranteed. Then there’s the elusive Champions League. Tactical defeats have hampered Ancelotti, denying him the chance to bring the Chelsea the one thing the owner, players and fans crave. Bad luck has played a part, the simple mention of the word ‘Barcelona’ still boils the blood of the Chelsea faithful. Despite defeats to Inter and Manchester United, Chelsea were denied clear penalties in both games (a foul on Saloman Kalou in the first leg away at Inter and a foul on Ramires in the first leg against United). The award of both could have changed both ties completely. Chelsea were not good enough in both games to go through, but things could have been different. You need luck alongside quality to win the Champions League, Chelsea’s time will come.
The summer is often a busy time at Stamford Bridge. This year is crucial building and should be focused on building a squad for the future. Now is the time to do this. But the changes don’t need to be as widespread as many speculate. I believe Ancelotti has faith in most of his squad and I don’t expect many to leave. The most realistic candidates to leave The Bridge would be Bosingwa and Zhirkov. Bosingwa’s recent spat with Ancelotti will not help his chances. He is a respectable second choice to the impressive Ivanovic but has had weaknesses exposed frequently this season. Ashley Cole showed superb form early in the season. He has been run into the ground, rarely rested, this resulting in his form dipping slightly. There have been games in which Cole could have been rested and Zhirkov utilised. He wasn’t. I feel this shows a lack of faith in him. Personally, I could add to the list of departures, but the exodus of last season affected this season for Chelsea. Thinking rationally it would be wise to keep a slightly bigger squad, with the introduction of youth and flair.
For what its worth, selling either Lampard or Drogba would be ridiculous; both more than capable of contributing to Chelsea for at least three more years. Both are still vital to the squad and offer much more than their performances on the pitch.
Newcomers to Stamford Bridge need to reflect the new, vibrant, exciting and explosive direction Chelsea need to take. The two more likely additions would be Gregory Van Der Wiel and Neymar, with Ryan Bertrand or Partick Van Aanholt coming in to back up Ashley Cole. Chelsea adding a Kaka or Luka Modric is tricky; with Benayoun staying fit and Josh McEachran getting more involved, this could add the spark, subtlety and class Chelsea currently lack. Daniel Sturridge will add youth and excitement. A player more willing to do the unexpected and try something different with what appears a natural talent in front of goal than most in the present set up.
The signings of Fernando Torres and David Luiz were a stroke of genius by the club, both players add so much to the current squad and will go on to become Chelsea legends without doubt. Luiz should take a back seat to Alex next season. I rate Alex highly and feel Luiz will need next season to learn more and gain more experience. What he does do is increase competition an increase the depth of the squad. In that I mean no disrespect, he will be better than Alex, possibly go on to be the best centre back in the world, but not just yet. For me though, Ramires will be Chelsea’s best and most important player next year. For a first season in the Premiership he has been superb. It took him a few months, he started to look the player he is now before his injury. In the second half of the season he has been one of Chelsea’s best players. He has learnt the English game rapidly, he learnt from his mistake at Manchester City, getting caught in possession to allow City to counter and Tevez to score. Ramiers has the desire and belief, the pace and agility and pure Brazilian class to further develop next season.
As for Carlo, he still has the personality, determination and character, the same qualities he had when winning the double for the first time in the clubs history in his first season. Next season is important for him, a chance to prove his true worth. This season has cast some doubt over his abilities, but he has maintained the support of the Chelsea faithful, something a few ex-employees failed to do. He ensured Chelsea kept ‘making history’. For that Carlo, thank you. We want you to stay.
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