Chelsea-Blue days

 It’s that time of the year again, is’nt it ? When one club is ahead of everyone else by a mile , one club is going through a slump another club , after a horrible start to the season , is making amends and is crawling up the table and then the others are , well, they’re just there as usual . Last year it was united ahead of everyone , today it’s city . Last year chelsea was going through a hopeless patch , today , well it’s chelsea again . Last year liverpool looked good for relegation till a certain king kenny turned it around for them , today arsenal are in that position with RVP single-handedly carrying them through !

Arsenal’s fate is in RVP’s hands , clearly . THAT is a story no one needs to tell . It’s going to play itself out in a rather bland way . RVP’s going to ,at some point, lose that lovely form to a certain extent and Arsenal will book a hotel in london and probably help with preparations for the olympics . I mean , what else will they have to do next year if they don’t make it through to a champion’s league spot ? And the premier league . Well they seem to like turning up late for that too so they might as well finish with the olympics and comeback !

Chelsea , on the other hand , don’t look like they’ll have such a simple storyline . The twists and turns hardly look like they are finished . Hopefully the twists remaining are good ones and we’ll all have a happy ending .
Frankly , Chelsea can turn around their fortunes pretty easily . You just need the attackers in sync with the midfielders and scoring lots of goals and the defenders supporting the midfielders and at the same time blocking off opposition strikers and Cech keeping cleansheets and carrying on the batman act  (complete with an intimidating ,yet good looking face mask ! ) !

Yes . I have mastered the art of stating the obvious !

The reason for chelsea’s slump last year was tired legs . Most players returning from the worldcup with injuries and the rest who survived that were too tired to hold the ship steady . That chelsea finished a very close second last year was no surprise for once the players were back to full fitness , there was hardly any opposition good enough to stop them .
This year’s “excuse” is somewhat mysterious . The Age factor keeps popping up but I don’t really feel that chelsea , with it’s current squad , is being held back by the seniors . The overall pace of passing is slow and that has been a trait that has crept in in recent years not neccessarily because of the seniors.
AVB’s tactics have not been at fault either . The one thing you could blame has been , in AVB’s words , the finer details . Composure in both the penalty boxes , concentration in the last 5-6 minutes of either half , communication gaps and stuff like that .
The number of penalties and red cards we have conceded this year is shocking to say the least . And the number of occassions when possession has been lost on the edge of the penalty area at the other end has been equally shocking .
In the last 5 games , goals conceded in the last 5 minutes of the game has cost us dearly . Keeping a cool head , standing your ground for those last 5 minutes , things that the chelsea defence has done so well ,so effortlessly in recent times , suddenly seems to be a herculean task .

This premiership race is only 12 games old so don’t make the mistake of writing anyone off . Not even arsenal and specifically not chelsea . Should the transfer window make useful additions , that’ll just be great but even without that , this is a race that chelsea can still win without breaking sweat . But that , only if AVB drills those small details into everyone’s heads . Only if the crowd keeps the support going and gives the team confidence ( which they are lacking severely now ) .

Talk of RA firing AVB this early in the season is absurd . The man might change managers more often than they raise petrol prices here in India , but he has given every manager atleast one season to prove their worth. I doubt if he’ll change that policy here . The man’s strict but he’s not dumb .

The chelsea vs Wolves game is about to begin and hopefully , this will be the begining of the turnaround !
I’ll take your leave now and go settle in front of the TV for the next hour and a half ! Ciao !

  

Welcomes and goodbyes- Part 5

In a regular english premier league season , few days are as hectic and throw up as many surprises as transfer deadline day . Some managers dig into their heels to keep their players while others dig into their pockets to pull players from other clubs ! Chelsea over the last two transfer windows have become experts of sorts at signing players in the dying hours of the transfer window ! David Luis , for example , signed his contract 26 minutes before the close of the window !
More recently , Raul Meireles , signed so late in the night , I have a feeling Kenny Daglish was asleep when he accepted Meireles’s transfer request ! Come to think of it , that seems to be the plan here ! Torres , Luis and Meireles , all signed on the last day of the transfer window and late into the day at that !
Jokes apart , lot of transfer activity has happened at chelsea in this window . AVB seems to have adopted a very wise wait , watch and act policy as opposed to a jump into the market and buy policy .

The newcomers : Romelu Lukaku , the 18 year old Belgian signed from Anderlecht impressed on debut when he came on as a late substitute against Norwich city . Tall and well built he seems to be the ideal replacement for Didier Drogba .

Juan Mata : 23 year old winger from Valencia , scored on debut against Norwich as a late substitute . What was more heartening was that Fernando Torres seemed to get rejuvenated on his spanish teammate’s introduction ! It’s a partnership to watch out for !

Oriol Romeu : Another spaniard signed from the Barcelona ‘B’ Team . Great prospect as a defensive midfielder .

Thibaut Courtois : Goalkeeper from Genk , he has been sent on loan to Atheltico Madrid .

Ulises Davilla : 20 year old , Signed from the mexican side Chivas , he has been sent on loan to Viteese Arnhem .

Raul Meireles : 28 year old midfielder , a surprise signing on transfer deadline day ! Easily Liverpool’s best player last season , AVB has covered all his bases with this signing . Luka Modric or Frank Ribery looked the most likely to move but Meireles is just as good an addition to our squad .

Out on On loan : Gael Kakuta has been sent on loan to Wigan .
Yossi Benayoun has gone to Arsenal on loan till January .

The squad needed reinforcements in midfield , a defect unrectifed all last season . With all the new signings , the attack has been bolstered and with our own academy producing worldclass defenders , we have better bench strength than the last season and importantly a younger bench .

While we sort out our troubles with considerable ease , over at the emirates stadium Arsenal are having a horrid time ! 8-2 , yes thats eight -two . The scoreline by which they lost to Manchester United last week . But like Giles Smith said ” Though, just to put that romp in perspective, that was merely one goal for every first team player that Arsenal were unable to call upon on the day, and Arsenal still got two goals back, so it’s probably too early to be writing Arsenal out of this season’s story, as comforting as the notion may be, and certainly too early, too, to be marvelling at United’s tank-like, all-crushing might.” .

Meanwhile AVB is in Switzerland attending the UEFA elite coaches Forum along with Josep Guardiola (Barcelona), Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United), Arsene Wenger (Arsenal), Roy Hodgson (West Bromwich Albion), Remi Garde (Lyon), Didier Deschamps (Marseille), Massimiliano Allegri (AC Milan), Ralf Rangnick (Schalke), Thomas Schaaf (Werder Bremen), Frank de Boer (Ajax), Jorge Jesus (Benfica), Felix Magath (Wolfsburg), Vítor Pereira (Porto), Mircea Lucescu (Shakhtar Donetsk), Unai Emery (Valencia), Thorsten Fink (Basel) and Rudi Garcia (Lille).

Read the list carefully and there is one name , I for one , was surprised not to see . The special one . Jose Mourinho . I can’t understand why he would not be part of a gathering of elite coaches !

Ask him , and I’ll bet he’ll tell you ” that he’s not part of an elite league , he’s in a league of his own ” !!

Let the Games Begin !!

It’s a new season and as always the expectations are huge ! Andre Villas Boas working with a team identical to the one under Carlo Ancelotti , has made clear that he intends to win and win big . Oriol Romeu and Romelu Lukaku will be great additions to the squad and if Modric makes the move chelsea will definitely be right up among the top three on paper . But , games , seasons and trophies are not won on paper ( Real Madrid , the biggest examples of that statement ) .

The season opener against Stoke city has just ended 0-0 but that’s hardly any cause for worry for AVB . On the contrary ,
he’ll find a lot of positives emerging out of this one. The largest of which being the return to form of Fernando Torres . Yes . He is at chelsea , incase you forgot ! Looking focused , having fun , dementing the stoke defenders and coming close to scoring on a number of occassions. Ramires too looked sharp and the little we saw of Drogba indicated he was hungry for goals and ready to go for the season ahead . The other positive came  in the last 15 minutes or so when we saw what many pundits and experts said would not happen , actually happened . That strike trio of chelsea Anelka , Torres and Drogba playing in the same squad and blending in seamlessly !

A poor first half was followed by a spirited second . AVB’s half time talk clearly worked and the final score justified the game not because Stoke played exceedingly well but because chelsea had two very contrasting halves . That being said , Stoke did put in a good first half performance but chelsea were just too good for them in the second .

20th August , Saturday , Stamford Bridge will come to life again when we host West Brom !

AVB , just to make a point to the other teams , put out the most attacking team he can !

Mr AVB , If you are reading this , Here’s what I would love to see !

Starting 11 : Torres,Anelka,Drogba,Benayoun,Lampard,Ramires,Ashley,Terry,Ivanovic,Luiz ( if fit , else Bosingwa ) ,Cech(GK)
Subs : Hilario(GK), Bosingwa ( If luiz is fit ) , Sturridge, Mikel ,Mceachran

Welcomes and goodbyes – Part 4

Andre Villas Boas has taken over at chelsea and his first signing seems to be a goalkeeper ! Thibaut Courtois , is a long term replacement for current chelsea number 1 Petr Cech according to AVB.

Meanwhile the Modric transfer saga drags on like a Hindi serial with no end in sight . The playmaker has handed a written transfer request but Harry Redknapp has put his fingers in his ears saying “lalalalal-NOTlisteniiiinngggg”. Chelsea have raised the bid now to over 30 million pounds,something that spurs will find hard to resist.

While that story unfolds a transfer saga even longer than that one is unfolding at our london neighbours , Arsenal . Cesc Fabregas has pleaded Arsene Wenger to let him move to Barca atleast this time ! Barca have
bid 35 million pounds for the gunners captain and are not willing to raise that any further . Arsenal , after holding off this inevitable transfer for many seasons , might crack this time around.

Manchester United have signed Ashley Young and have set their sights on either Wesley Sneider or Luka Modric but will most likely fail in either attempt.

Back to chelsea now and in the first game under AVB , chelsea registered a 1-0 victory away to Portsmouth in the first of 5 pre-season friendlies. the only goal was an own goal by portsmouth .  Though the chelsea strikers failed to score , the midfield with Yossi Benayoun playing the holding midfielder’s role worked pretty well in the second half . 22 players got 45 minutes to play as AVB swapped the entire team at the break . 16 year old Nathenial Chalobah was the center of attraction in the second period .
AVB did not make any changes to the formation that Carlo Ancelotti used last term , a regular 4-4-3 . But what was evident was that the passing was a lot quicker and sharper than before and that seems to be the first change in tactics that AVB has brought in.

Chelsea now move far east to Malaysia for the asian leg of their preseason tour.

Till then I will scan around for more news and hopefully there will be an end to the Modric saga by then !

In search of finer chocolate cake !

Roman Abromovich bought chelsea football club 8 years ago. Since then , we have had 8 different managers . 6 managers in the last four years . The lastest of them being Andre Villas-Boas . Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti  have been the most successful of them all.Meanwhile mr RA , like a rich kid adamant for the finest chocolate cake , has been behind the Champions league trophy all these years.And like the child would do if he did not
get it , he fired his chef and brought in a new one .
Why has this not worked with chelsea? The reason is simple .
Chelsea’s has been one of those squads that has had a constant solid core , comprising Frank Lampard,John Terry , Didier Drogba and Petr Cech . Everyone else formed the rest of the team around them . This has not been particularly unhelpful . Just that it always left us “that close” to the top spot but never got us there. It worked beautifully in the first few years when Jose was incharge. We won the Premier league twice and many other titles but the champions league did not come. That led to an understanding that this team is good enough to get there but it just needs two or three big names to boost it’s chances .  And RA opened up his purse from time to time for that . The shevchenkos and the Torres’ and others of the kind are examples of that .

But what RA and the managers coming in have to understand is that the core is not as strong as it was earlier . No disrespect to Lampard ( who is my all time favourite player ! ) or any of the others but powering the team for 8 years is a big task that they have done very well and it is very obvious that it’s not going to be that way forever . It’s about time we recreated that core with younger players whilst lampard and terry and the likes are still around to give them a helping hand .
But with a change in manager comes a change in thinking and when you think too much , the problem becomes bigger. It’s simple case of new managers being unprepared to change a system that has worked pretty well .
But the arrival of Andre Villas Boas gives me hope . He is not new to English Football having worked right here at chelsea as head scout under jose mourinho , but has little experience as a full time coach and if he is anything like his mentor( Jose Mourinho ) , could’nt care less about the historical value of players at the club and (the various ) playing styles of the club .
No sarcasm there . It is time someone like that came to Stamford Bridge . Someone who is not bogged down by clichés and old school thought . Carlo was great . But even he , in his second season did not make the radical changes that ought to have been made especially after we lost the likes of Ballack and Joe cole . If we had seen CA around for another season , he probably would have made those changes but there is no point crying over spilt milk !
A 33 year old enthusiastic manager can make the difference if you ask me. If he is anything like what I have heard of him , we will see a dramatic shift from the traditional chelsea teams to a more sophisticated chelsea team with a lot of young blood and a hell lot of importance to the attack .
We have to adapt to life without Drogba and Lampard some time in the future .  Now is a good time to start the process of building a team that is not dependent on the seniors ,that can be carried forward by the youngsters and yet will be more lethal than previous teams . I certainly hope AVB can bring that . It’s a ray of hope that comes with every new manager but ,at the cost of putting more pressure on the new manager , I feel that ray is brighter than ever today !

With the hope that Andre Villas-Boas heralds the coming of a long, successful , title-winning period in chelsea’s history , I shall sign off and go in search of more chocolate cakes myself ! Untill next time , ciao , stay safe !!

Welcomes and goodbyes – Part 2

As I was saying yesterday things change quickly in the transfer season . Take for example the shocker of a report that Andres-Villas Boas has agreed to leave Porto FC and join chelsea for a reported 15 million pounds ! Regarded widely as the next Jose Mourinho , the 33 year old has no football playing experience but is one of the sharpest tactical minds around . Mourinho is
Boas’s mentor too , which is why the young portuguese prodigy is often called ” The special one of the special one ” .

 And here I was thinking Guus Hiddink would make a come back ! A chelsea fan , however , has no reason to be grieved ! For both these men are managers with great reputations and should the final “chosen one ” ( no reference to Jose Mourinho , although he would do just fine  as well ) be one of these two , the club , I can confidently say , will be in safe hands !

As for Luka Modric . Tottenham chairman Daniel levy dampened our hopes by repeating that Modric , who has 5 years on his contract still left , is not for sale at any price . Correct me if I am wrong , but is’nt this the same club that said ” Dimitar Berbatov is not for sale at any price ” back in 2007 ? And just weeks later the bulgarian was in the red of manchester united ! So maybe , just MAYBE , we still have a chance ! Never say never in this game !!

Another transfer rumour that is slowly emerging is that of Cesc Fabregas . No . Not to Chelsea . ( As much as I wish that would happen ). Fabregas has been rumoured to be moving to Barca . Ok don’t say  “wow ! really captain obvious ? Next you’ll tell me the sky is blue and that if I dived off a cliff I’ll end up  dead :-p “.  It’s been on the cards for years and although nothing is still confirmed , this is one transfer that Cesc has dreamt of and Arsene Wenger has had nightmares about. It does not take Steve Mcmahon to see that the Arsenal captain’s heart is not at the Emirates anymore.
How this is relevant to chelsea is the next question . If you thought it’s relevant because the games against the gunners next season will be easier without their charismatic captain . NO . That’s probably not true and definitely not the reason . I’ll tell you why it is relevant. Barcelona , if they are going to buy Fabregas , will have to shell out say 40 -50 million pounds , maybe more .And if that’s the case , they might consider off loading David Villa who has not had the kind of season he was hoping for at the Nou Camp . The Barca bosses too are not too happy with his performances and might actually sell him to fund the purchase of Francesc “Cesc” Fàbregas i Soler . In which case Chelsea and Manchester city will be waiting with big offers . Where he goes , if he goes , we can’t say . Lets just hope he picks the deeper shade of blue !

Wishful thinking you would say but thats what everyone said when Torres’s transfer was not confirmed earlier this year ! For now thats all I have ! Wishful thinking ! When I get more concrete information , you’ll be the first to know ! Till then ciao ! Stay safe !

Welcomes and goodbyes – Part 1

So it’s that time of the season again ! When any statement voiced or otherwise by players sparks off rumours about their ” potential tranfer to another club ! When players meet their fellow club players after a much deserved break . It’s that time of the season when fans can’t wait to see their favourite clubs back in action but the squad is off in Malyasia or Belgium or Scotland for the pre-season games  ! So close , yet so far ! 13th of August . Magic date ! When the season actually kick off !
With almost two months to go we have just 2 “high profile”
transfers and they certainly won’t be the last . Brad Friedel from Aston Villa to Totenham to replace Gomes as goal keeper and Jordan Henderson moves from Sunderland to Liverpool to strengthen the Liverpool midfield .

Rumours are aplenty . Most of them stemming from hopeful fans reading too far between the lines of an innocent press statement . And on other occassions .. well I don’t know how these come about .. Looney nut-heads I suppose . The most absurd rumour I heard of this kind is about frank Lampard . Lampard is “planning” to move to Newcastle united for a measly 1.5 million pounds because he and his wife-to-be have “identified” a lovely home in New castle . Don’t look at me ! I had nothing to do with it !

Luka Modric has expressed his interest in joining chelsea should Totenham and chelsea come to an agreement about the wages and so on . 25 million pounds is the figure doing the rounds and this is a tranfer that would really help the chelsea midfield attain that fluidity it was famous for when Lampard and Ballack formed it’s core .

Romelu Lukaku , the 18 year old Belgian has been a chelsea target for over a year now . The chelsea bosses were waiting for the boy to turn 18 to sign him . Great talent and more importantly young talent !

Marouane Fellaini has said that he would like to play in the champions league and with chelsea in the pursuit of a midfielder , it’s not surprising he has been linked with the club. But this could very well be a case of reading too far into a statement especially when chelsea are out trying to catch much bigger fish.

Javier Pastore . The young midfielder from Palermo has been on the chelsea radar for a while now bu there is no clarity on either his stand or his club’s stand on the issue .

Nicolas Anelka . For chelsea’s sake I hope he does not leave . Bringing in new blood is all good but we still need a quick striker to partner Torres and he is the solution for the time being atleast ! Rumours are that he is going to the New York bulls .

                        

For now that’s all the important Chelsea rumours I’ve found . But it’s transfer season and things can change faster than a fire in a Oil depot ! So watch this space for more !!

Holiday Season !!

It’s amazing how time flies when it’s vacation time ! I had made big plans for the week . Wake up early , go for a jog , maybe even work out a little ( that might come as a shock to those who have seen, for most people feel I hardly have any muscles to work out ).Moving  on.. I thought of maybe catching a movie or two , going out for dinner and doing all those things that I could not do thanks to all the school work I used to have ! Sadly , my life has been reduced to playing games on the computer or Ipod touch or watching repeats of various serials ( not including “The bold and the beautiful”) on Star World ! And before
I know it , the week has come to an end ! I used to look forward to the weekends . A welcome break from the boring , monotonous weekly ritual , that was school . Today , however , that has changed . The weekend is nothing but a boring addition to the already boring week ! Whats more , even my usual serials on star world don’t air in the weekend !

Why I have not done all those things I have wanted to do ? Same reason why my Blog still has no guest writers ( grrrr !! ) . LAZINESS !  I should be made hon.President of the Lazy bums association ! The only time I give my Brain and hands some work to do is when I’m here , blogging ! As a matter of fact it’s the only time I give my legs some work too ( when I walk from the room where the T.V is to this room where the computer is ) .

The EPL match fixtures for the new season is out by the way ! Chelsea are off to the Brittania stadium to play Stoke city in the opener ! Our first home game is the same fixture as a last year , West Brom !
Transfer news is slowly coming through and there is reason to be happy if you are a Chelsea fan ! Roman Abramovic has opened his purse ( A large on at that ) , once again and potential moves include Luka Modric and Javier Pastore ! This apart from the potential appointment of Guus Hiddink as manager . That is certainly something we won’t mind ! After all , Hiddink  led us to FA cup glory and to the champions league semi final in the short time that he was here !

More about all that later ! For now , I shall sign out and keep myself busy by gathering all the transfer rumours and confirmations out there !! So ciao ! Stay safe !!

Roman desires

Post the manchester united loss at old trafford , Chelsea’s title quest was all but finished. From that moment on Carlo Ancelotti would have known his job was on the line. And then a draw against Newcastle United and a loss to Everton in the season finale meant C.A was going to join a line of 8 Chelsea managers in the Abramovic era , fired for not being up to the mark.

He won the domestic double in his first term as chelsea boss , and ended up empty handed in the next . Ancelotti was a fan and player favourite , still is . Was Abramovic justified in sacking this man ?

When I come to think of it from a purely business oriented perspective , he was ! Mr Abramovic owns the club . His biggest dream for the club is to win the champions league  . It’s what every fan wants too ! He has spent a lot of money on the club and he expects returns and when that fails to happen , the cheque book turns into an axe . No title , no job . simple as that !

But , from a footballing perspective , what he did was unexplainable . You need to give time to a manager to build a squad , infuse young talent and get them to adapt to the first team’s system . When managers change , so does the system . And therefore the process of infusing youngsters into a system is slowed down because noone is sure about if the new system is working even for the regular first team !

Having said that , noone can question Abramovic for making that decision . Frankly,noone should . After all Chelsea is his toy and he can do what he deems fit for it ! If Roman desires a change in manager so be it ! If Roman desires the inclusion of a certain striker ( read Fernando Torres or Andriy Schevchenko ) in the squad against the will of the manager (read Ancelotti or Mourinho) then so be it !

It’s a strategy that’s worked pretty well because it’s yielded 3 premier league titles , 3 FA cups , 2 community shields and 2 league cups in 7 years ! The one thing missing from there is the champions league and I am fairly confident that it’ll come soon  !

But thats all the story of the seasons gone by ! For now, the hottest debate  is about who will be chelsea’s next manager ! That is for Roman to decide, so why bother speculating !( By the way , apparently Abramovic has patched up with Mourinho by gifting him a Special edition , meant-for-races Ferrari . I wonder if that means something ! ) . Anyway , The arrival of  new managers is always a fun prospect ! We’ve seen quite a lot of that over the years , Trust us we know !!

Rise like the phoenix !!

It’s been an unusual season.Chelsea carried on from where they left off last season , scoring tons of goals and terrorising opposition in the premier league and going unbeaten for long periods in the group stages of the champions league . Liverpool was , pardon my language ( no better way to put this ) , screwing up in ways people thought was not possible ,going to 11th in the table at one point, and tottenham and arsenal piling the pressure on teams above them in the premier league and the champions league .

 And then came chelsea’s “december disaster” ! Seven key players ,Lampard (who was out since august) , Drogba , Alex , Benayoun ,Essien ,Ivanovic ,and Zhirkov all out and chelsea was playing with an almost second string squad . Points dropped , games lost , confidence low , everything that should not be happening to a football club , all hit us at once ! Chelsea dropped to fourth in the table with people feeling we won’t secure a champions league spot for next year , Arsenal moved up to second .
Few weeks later , Chelsea was eliminated from the champions league at the hands of Manchester united and Arsenal by Barcalona.

And then fast forward to the 8th of may ,2011 !  Thanks to some luck and a hell lot of character Chelsea are back in second place ( coming from being  18 points behind at one stage ) with today’s game against united that could potentially decide the title ! And Arsenal , like in previous seasons , ran out of steam by the end of the season and are struggling at third . Liverpool have come back briliantly and are pushing for a champions league spot and spurs have been relegated to fifth , where they belong if you ask me .

With just three games left for the end of the season , we have two teams very much in the reckoning for the title . The premier league , in it’s glorious history , has never been decided on goal difference . Should Chelsea win today , that might well be the case come the end of the season .

The winner tonight will in all probability take home the title but as always in a chelsea man united game , there is something more than that at stake , BRAGGING RIGHTS !

I would like to point out something at this stage. Should Chelsea win today ( and I expect they will ) , United will go to Wembly with one thought in their mind . “screw this up and you go trophy-less this season ” .. AND because of that , coming into this game too , United have ALL to lose . As for chelsea , After the hopeless season that this one has been , even second place will be a victory and the title will be a BEEEG bonus ! so chelsea have nothing to lose !

Will OT become the Theatre of broken dreams ?  Will chelsea script one of the most spirited comebacks the league has seen ? Will chelsea  rise like the phoenix  and retain the title? We’ll know in about 2 hours !!

Chelsea 4ever !!!