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Ahead of this afternoon’s game between Chelsea and United, here are the thoughts of Chelsea fan Andrew Turmer on his team’s efforts this season, selling Matic and signing Morata.
Scott: How would you assess Chelsea’s season so far?
Andrew: There are so many issues with Chelsea right now that it’s hard to know where to begin. One has to make clear that before the season started I – and no other rational Chelsea fan I know – thought we’d compete for the title. This isn’t just the 20/20 clarity that comes with hindsight speaking. It is instead the crushing disappointment of experiencing endless trophy victories being ruined by the complacency that runs through the club which told us not to get too excited about a title win leading to long-term dominance.
The experiences of Carlo winning the title in 2010, asking for players, getting ignored and then being fired or Jose winning the title in 2015, asking for players, getting ignored and then being fired should have told everyone how this season would play out for Antonio. We are a club who mix chaos and complacency like no other and appear to find stability from instability and whilst the mess and stress of this season has all been so avoidable we have all got used to it by now.
Talking more specifically about this season, if I had to grade our efforts thus far I would give us a solid B+. A must try better. Ok but nothing more. A school canteen lunch – acceptable but hardly memorable. The positives have been thin on the ground but Morata looks like the mobile, quick, deadly finisher we thought we were buying when Torres arrived and hopefully Morata will be leading this club to success for the next 5-10 years. Azpilicueta has grown from his consistent, underappreciated role into a real leader and captain and Andreas Christensen has oozed class, poise and calm at the back in a nice boost for our academy.
However, the negatives have been striking. From Eden Hazard breaking his ankle, spending three months recovering, missing pre-season and then being asked to carry us, score goals and regain his fitness simultaneously to watching Marcos Alonso pant and waddle and desperately ask for a rest or the shambles that is Gary Cahill – we have won more games and conceded fewer goals with him out of the side and yet he is still untouchable – the lack of cohesion or even basic competence has been alarming.
The biggest worry has come from Antonio though. He is a coach we love like no other and yet it is clear he doesn’t know how to handle 3 games a week. His rigorous tactical and physical preparations are unrivalled when he has seven clear days but with only two days on offer his rotations have been baffling and the side looks desperately unfit. His poor European record at Juve warned us this type of drop off was coming but it has still been disappointing to see.
Scott: What do you make of the club’s decision to sell Matic?
Andrew: Would I take him back? In the short-term yes as we have been forced to rush Bakayoko back from knee surgery to play whilst Kante saw his hamstring go pop, Drinkwater get locked in the physio room and Cesc go from playing at walking pace to just standing still for 90 minutes but in the long-term it was still the right decision to sell him. His contract was running down, he didn’t want to stay and sign a new deal and unlike City we have to sell to buy.
Whilst I’d love us to just keep experienced, high-earning players in the background in case we have an injury crisis (hi there Yaya!), we just can’t afford to do that. There’s no need for anyone to break out their tiny violins for us but next season with a fit Bakayoko and Kante and the honeymoon splurge that always arrives with a new coach, the decision to sell Matic will be vindicated. And he’s hardly been playing that well in the past month has he? Cue a dominant performance this afternoon…
Scott: If you could have any player from United who would it be?
Andrew: Ok this question is just mean so I am going to cheat and pick two. The obvious answer here would be Pogba. A Pogba-Kante midfield backing up Eden? I am making frankly unacceptable noises dreaming about that. But Pogba is too obvious so I will go for Valencia and Luke Shaw (Luke has been ostracised to such an extent that he barely counts as a player right? So I can get away with stealing both of them from United).
Our 3-4-3 relies on three things to work effectively: 1. Kante. 2. Eden scoring goals. 3. Our wing-backs having the mobility and fitness to support the back three and then transition to support the front three within a couple of seconds. Alonso is so tired that it’s getting a bit uncomfortable watching him play and Moses has already seen his hamstring go and if we could borrow Valencia and Shaw off you for a few months our side would be transformed.
Oh and just another example of the lack of support our title winning managers get – Antonio asked for a new left-back as he knew Alonso couldn’t play 60 games this season. So we bid laughably low amounts for Alex Sandro, waste 2 months of the transfer window and end up giving Antonio a back up left winger who we kicked off pre-season for making racially offensive remarks as his new left back. Now that’s Chelsea.
Scott: Morata or Lukaku?
Andrew: Both? Please. Pretty please. If we had the ambition or carefree approach to Financial Fair Play of City, we could have bought both. But we don’t so I have to pick one. I would still pick Morata and that’s not just because of Lukaku’s dodgy October or the fact we embarrassingly didn’t get his deal over the line this summer. Morata offers a subtlety and class we have never really had with Chelsea strikers recently. We have always been characterised by the physicality or power or nastiness of our number 9’s and despite his player of the year wins, I have never felt it truly suited Eden – quick reminder that we are a one man side who have to do everything to make Eden’s life easier as he is our superstar. Lukaku will score more goals than Morata but in the long term – and under a different coach – Morata will be one of the most important steps to seeing Chelsea play a more progressive style of football which will take Eden to the next level. Now, how much will it cost to get Pep a house in London so he can come and manage us for a little while…
Scott: Prediction for today?
Andrew: Chelsea 1 – 2 United. Mourinho masterclass? Hardly. Expect another Cahill calamity. We are just too tired, too confused and too slow right now to compete with the best. A fit Kante and Eden with seven days to prepare would see us give you a proper game but those aren’t the perfect conditions that come with being a Champions League side. A battering will in all likelihood see Antonio get fired in the international break but for now I think this will be another embarrassing step as we stumble to 4th place, prioritise a fun Champions League run and wait for Tuchel, Simeone or – god help us – Carlo to arrive.
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