Scott: How did you rate 2012-2013 for your club?
Joe: It ended extremely well in Amsterdam, but for the most part it was another season of thinking what might have been. Hiring Roberto Di Matteo on sentiment was ultimately a wrong move. The callous nature of his departure was something that sadly has become de rigueur at the club. Sacking a club legend (both as a player and as a manager) to replace him with it was one of the saddest days I have experienced watching Chelsea. He embodied everything that was wrong at the club at the time and ultimately proved to be the reliable prat we all know and love. We very rarely have done the right thing, but this was.
The only real positives to come out of the season were ultimately to be found in Amsterdam. People can mock as much as they like but who would not take a day on the beers in Amsterdam to watch your team contest a European trophy? It was widely regarded by many as one of the best Chelsea European away trips ever. It still felt slightly underwhelming in many respects. The squad yet again lacked the firepower to really sustain results over the course of the season. Fernando Torres remains, in my eyes, the expensive elephant in the room.
Scott: Who was your best player?
Joe: Currently a tossup between Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and David Luiz. Mata remains probably the best pure number ten in world football. Some of his goals, passing and all-around play were just unbelievable. Eden Hazard is arguably the most exciting footballer I have seen play for Chelsea. His form towards the end of the season was utterly electric. If Gareth Bale is a £100m footballer, then the £32m we paid for Hazard was daylight robbery. David Luiz also showed great improvements over the course of the year, whilst still managing to score at least 3 goal of the season contenders. Lazy media analysis still labels him as a liability, but the reality cannot be further from the truth. Probably the first name on the team sheet under Mourinho. I did personally vote for David Luiz as my player of the year.
Scott: Which player are you expecting most important in 2013-2014?
Joe: I think Eden Hazard is on course for an absolutely stellar season. Juan Mata might be the creative brain of Chelsea’s attack, but Eden Hazard is the cut and thrust. His ability to constantly play on the half turn, unbelievable first touch and exceptional skill make him a frightening prospect. He needs to add more goals to his game, something I am confident he can develop. He could well be the most talented player the club has ever had and my only concern is that Madrid come calling for him in the next two years.
Scott: If you could take one United player, who would it be?
Joe: Robin Van Persie. Just absolutely deadly and often the difference against any level of opposition. Would be incredible to see Hazard and Mata supplying him, alas we have another season of Torres stumbling around. Hoping Lukaku makes that spot his own. Probably my most “where the f**k is he!?” panic related player in the Premier League. Very rarely does Bale do anything against us, but Van Persie always seems to score. I still think it’s incredible how Arsenal sold him to you guys.
Scott: Are you pleased Fergie’s retired?
Joe: Absolutely delighted. There are so many intangibles that Fergie had that couldn’t really be quantified. All of a sudden you’ve got a normal manager with little sway in charge, with no real pedigree to speak of and you have to think that impacts United. He was a fantastic manager and losing someone of that quality is always going to have some sort of recovery period. It must be odd as a United fan to suddenly become a team whose manager is effectively there to be chopped at any point.
Scott: Where do you think your club will finish this season?
Joe: 2nd or 3rd. I have a feeling that City are the side to beat, you cannot argue with the strength of their squad. Had we bought a world class striker I might have gone for 1st spot.
Scott: Where do you think United will finish?
Joe: 2nd or 3rd. It really depends how Moyes takes to the job. Arguably the biggest shoes to fill in world football and I personally was very surprised that he landed the gig. You are always there or thereabouts and it would only take City having one of their trademark dips in form for someone to capitalise.
Scott: What are your feelings on signing, as your fans chant at him every season, the “fat granny shagger”?
Joe: Very reticent. Clearly better than what we have, but when that’s Fernando Torres and Demba Ba as your senior strikers it’s not too difficult. I don’t personally feel he’s the same player he was in his early 20s. Clearly doesn’t look after himself, weight issues, enjoys too many of life’s vices and just doesn’t strike me as a top professional. Whether last season was down to playing second fiddle and out of position I’m not too sure.
Scott: Do you believe Mourinho would have turned down United for Chelsea if we had offered him the job instead of Moyes?
Joe: Always hard to gauge – his family had their hearts on a return to London, anecdotal comments suggest his wife wanted to return to the capital and his daughter was attending university/college here. I also think that he had been making noise for quite some time about returning to where he was loved, i.e. the Chelsea job. His nicey nice approach in the Champions League was also dealt to Dortmund, so likely to have been a typical Mourinho deflection tactic.
Everything would suggest he was gearing up to return to London, but ultimately you never really know. Such huge shoes to fill, even José might not have wanted to go there!