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Chelsea ´04 vs Chelsea ´11


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Chelsea have been struggling of late. We've dropped too many points in the league (and sit it 5th place), conceded boatloads of goals (by our usual standards), and have to live up to the possibility of an unprecedented (in the Abromavich era) early exit from the Champions league before the knockout rounds.

Anytime Chelsea struggle fans and the media alike go searching for answers. What is wrong with the Chelsea juggernaut? How is such an expensive team struggling? Here are a few explanations we've seen:

1. Tactics. Our players (particularly our defense) can't deal with a high line, keeping possession, and generally Barcelona-esque football. We've also switched to zonal marking on set pieces, which we clearly suck at.

2. We don't have any creativity. We need a Luka Modric or Javier Pastore type to unlock defenses.

3. The manager. AVB is inexperienced, doesn't have the players ears, and is generally a doody head.

4. Raul Meireles' hair is distracting our players, as they confuse it for Neymar's and immediately throw up a little.

5. A bunch of other bull****.

I think all of these explanations have a certain amount of merit; yet, I think most of these are missing the point. The manager can only do so much; winning a game of football is about the players on the pitch, and our players simply aren't that good. Basically, I think the media, fans, and probably Abramovich are all operating under the assumption that Chelsea should perform every year as if it was 2004-2005 or 2005-2006. The reality is, however, our players simply aren't as good as they were then (and not just because of age).

The Guardian's Sean Ingle made an apropos argument on a recent football weekly (at around 14:00). He argued that the main difference between results under Mourinho and results under AVB is the players. He said if you looked at the players in the Chelsea squad from those first 2 Mourinho years, most of them would have been in the top 5 in the world in that position. Looking at the Chelsea squad now, it'd be hard to say the same.

I'd been thinking the same thing for a long time. Here, I'm going to qualitatively test Sean Ingle's theory by doing a position by position comparison of the 2004-2005 and 2011-2012 Chelsea team's. It's important to note, the question of whether or not a player is in the top 5 in that position is an inherently subjective topic. The point is not to definitively prove whether any given player is actually in that category (there will certainly be debate about some of my ratings), but to give an overall impression of the quality of the two squads (edit) compared to the rest of the footballing world at that time. Since I am more familiar with the Premier League than world soccer, I'll also talk about whether the player was/is at the top of the Premiership. I base player selection on the number of appearances they made in the premier league that season (2004-2005 and 2011-2012). Argue about the benches all you want, the point is basically the same. Here we go.

2004 GK: 2004 Petr Cech - Easily top 5 in the world, if not the best goalkeeper in the world

2011 GK: 2011 Petr Cech - Still a very good goalkeeper, but has made too many errors over the past few years (see 2009-10 season's set peices) to be considered Top 5 in the world. I'd put Casillas, Reina, Neuer, Hart, Valdez, and arguably Buffon all ahead of him at the moment. He's still one of the Top 5 in the premier league.

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2004 RB: Paulo Ferreira - It's sometimes difficult to remember just how good 2004-2005 Paolo Ferreria was. His defense was exceptional, and he provided good service on his brief forays into the attacking third in Mourinho's defense-minded system. I'd argue he was in the top 5 in the world, but that is debatable. He was certainly among the best in the Premier League.

2011 RB: Jose Bosingwa - Obviously this has been a problem position for us recently. Jose is a good attacker, and a pretty poor defender. He's not even close to being in the top 5 in the world in terms of all around play for a right back. He's not even close to the 2004-2005 Ferreira either.

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2004 RCB: Ricardo Carvalho - Carvalho was absolutely essential to our two title wins at this time. He formed probably the best defensive partnership in the world at the time with John Terry. Easily in the top 5 in the world, in my book.

2011 RCB: Branislav Ivanovic - Ivan is a good defender. But he isn't world class, and his partnership with JT isn't world class either. I can think of a number of center backs I would rather have (e.g. Pique, Vidic, Kompany, Silva, Lucio, probably Carvalho himself, etc), though I do think he's in the top 10 in the premier league at the moment. 2004 Carvalho vs 2011 Ivanovic is no comparison.

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2004 LCB: 2004 John Terry - hard-nosed, passionate, and yet to have sex with his teammates' wife, JT was the perfect captain. Easily in the top 5, if not the best defender in the world.

2011 LCB: 2011 John Terry - Once again, 2011 John Terry is a good defender, but I think the days are gone when he could be considered world-class. I don't know if he'd even be in the top 10 in the premier league. He gets way more shit from the media than he deserves, but he's certainly not even close to the player he used to be.

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2004 LB: William Gallas - Gallas was a very good LB. It's important to remember we relied much less on our fullbacks for attacking width at this time, and attacking qualities in a left-back were not as important. Gallas was versatile and generally very good. I don't remember who else was really good at the time, but I'm comfortable saying he was one of the best in the premier league.

2011 LB: Ashley Cole - If you'd asked me a few weeks ago, I'd have said Ashley Cole was one of the few players in the current Chelsea squad firmly in the "world-class" category. He's been pretty poor in the past few weeks, but I'd still feel comfortable saying he's one of the best left backs in the world (I can't think of anyone better in the Premiership other than Baines. I always suck at thinking of left-backs though).

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2004 CDM: Claude Makelele - An incredible defensive midfielder, simply one of the best in the world at the time. We've never been as consistently successful since he left the team.

2011 CDM: John Obi Mikel - Oh John Obi. Probably the most polemical player in a Chelsea kit today, there are a lot of Mikel haters out there. I used to completely hate him, but have come around to the view that he is a serviceable holding midfielder in the premier league, but nothing more. He generally adds a lot defensively, and occasionally plays an amazing pass, but is also slow on the ball and error-prone. I'm sure people will argue about this, but I don't think he's even near the top 5 in the world (see Busquets et al), and I highly doubt he's even in the top 5 in the Premiership (I'd take Fellaini, Gareth Barry, Lucas, Tiote, and Alex Song ahead of him). SADLY WE HAVE ONE OF THE BEST HOLDING PLAYERS IN THE WORLD ON OUR TEAM BUT HIS KNEE WONT GET BETTER SO I HAVE TO BE SAD ALL THE TIME COME BACK ESSIEN

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2004 Box-to-Box MF: Tiago - This dude was sick. There were a lot of good box-to-box midfielders at the time, so he I wouldn't say he was in the Top 5 in the world, but I certainly say he was in at least the Top 5 in the premiership at that point. He played an important role in a midfield centered around Lamps at his absolute peak.

2011 Box-to-Box MF: Ramires - Our skinny Brazilian friend is a hard one to rate. At times he looks like one of the best midfielders in the Premiership, while at others he looks anonymous. He's managed some great goals (Man City last year), some great passes (the one to Torres for #themiss), and some great defensive work, while also managing terrible misses (vs. Man U), and to be overrun in midfield (vs Liverpool). Thus, due to inconsistency, i'd say Ramires is not close to the Top 5 in the world, and I'm not sure if he's even in the Top 5 in the premiership (At the moment I think Yaya Toure, Aaron Ramsey, Scott Parker -- sorry boys --, and Rodwell all perform more consistently in his role. That's only 4, but you get the point). I certainly think Ramires has the potential to improve into a world class player, but he's not there yet.

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2004 AMF: 2004 Frank Lampard - 2004-2005 was vintage Frank Lampard. Not only was he the best player in the premiership, if it weren't for Ronaldinho he'd have been the best player in the world.

2011 AMF: 2011 Frank Lampard - This one is going to be polemical too. Frank Lampard is still a good player. He's our leading goal scorer, a good passer, and still a vital part of our midfield. Gone are the days, however, when Frank was one of the best in the world. He can be inconsistent and slow at times, and he's no longer a guaranteed starter when fit. Don't get me wrong, I love Frank Lampard, he's just not that good anymore. Frank plays the attacking midfield role differently than others, but there are many in the Premiership who I'd say are better at the moment (David Silva, Van der Vaart, Wilshire, Nasri, maybe Arteta).

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2004 RF: Joe Cole (or Arjen Robben) - Joe Cole was just coming into his own in the 2004-2005 season, and he was our player of the year in the following one. He, Damien Duff, and Arjen Robben all split time on the wings that year, but I'd be willing to easily call Cole and Robben at that time among the best in the Premiership, and possibly the world.

2011 RF: Danny Sturridge - He's not quite there yet, but he'll get there. Ironically if you'd asked me where our weakest spot on the field was before this season I'd have said the wide forewards, yet suddenly in Sturridge and Mata I'm very confident for this season and the future. Danny will be among the best in the Premiership for some time.

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2004 LF: Damien Duff - My favorite Irish international of all time was durable, fiery, and capable of playing on both wings. He was instrumental in attack, and a fantastic player. He probably wasn't in the top 5 in the world, but he certainely was among the best in the premiership.

2011 LF: Juan Mata - This is the only position where I think 2011 Chelsea has 2004 Chelsea beat. Mata is our best player. He's intelligent on the ball, quick, and provides good service, all of which makes up for the occasional defensive lapse. Sadly, I think he's the only "world-class" player in the Chelsea squad at the moment (though I believe Sturridge will get there, as well as other youngins like Romeu, Lukaku, and possibly Josh), along with Ashley Cole.

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2004 CF: Eiðyour Guðjohnsen - Eidur was a very good CF. He was skillful and was the second leading scorer (tied with Drogba) in all competitions. He certainly was not in the Top 5 in the world at that time, but he was among the best in the Premiership. We also had this guy named Drogba. He was pretty good.

2011 CF: Fernando Torres - So much has been written about Torres that I'm not going to say a lot, other than he's been a massive disappointment. He was supposed to be our world-class striker for the next 5 or 6 years. Instead, he's been, on the whole, pretty poor. I can honestly think of plenty of strikers in the Premiership I'd rather have than Torres, unless he suddenly pulls the old el nino out of his hat. Not taking into account personality, I think Suarez, Rooney, Van Persie, Dzeko, Aguero, Balotelli, Chicharito, EVEN DEMBA FREAKING BA are actually better than Torres right now. I can't stand it. No Chelsea fan wants to admit it, but he sucks.

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OVERALL: In the 2004-2005 season Chelsea had a better goalkeeper, a vastly better defense, a vastly better midfield, and a slightly better attack (including a functioning center forward). Ok so, big deal, everyone knows that 2004-2005 Chelsea were much better than 2011-2012 Chelsea right? My point is despite the fact that the quality of the squad has significantly deteriorated, expectations from the fans, the media, and Roman Abromavich remain largely what they were in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. We can probably finish second or third with the current squad, and maybe make a decent run the the champions league (but lose when we come up against a Bayern, Barca, or Real), but I think it's too much to expect more with these players. Some might call it pessimism, I see it as realistic.

Barca and Real are filled with the best players in the world. Man City have world-class players. Man Utd have a few and I'm scared even Spurs have actually surpassed us in terms of quality of the squad (Van Der Vaart, Modric, and Bale is a formidable trio). The reality is we aren't going to win the Premiership or the Champions League without better players, even with a genius manager. And that makes me sad.

Great analysis

http://www.weaintgotnohistory.com/2011/11/30/2595162/understanding-chelseas-woes-its-about-the-players?

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Oh I found the answer to our bad results! Yes, how could I not seen this before!

Raul Meireles' hair is distracting our players, as they confuse it for Neymar's and immediately throw up a little.

Article nailed it. Some people just fail to realize in how shit state our squad is...they expect us to win every match and beat everyone but with this squad even Jose couldn't do that. There is some spending to do ahead and I hope Roman will be able to provide the money.

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It's an unfair comparison though.

Everyone knows this squad is way past its sell-by date now. I think the double in '09-'10 actually hindered the progression of this clearance, it's why we only got a few players that summer. Like Ballack & co.

Not that I regret that glory, but it did put a giant mask over what needed to be done.

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He compared Ivanovic to Carvalho but he really should've compared him with Luiz... I think Luiz has established himself as the partner of Terry and he's better at CB than Ivanovic, although Ivan is undoubtedly our best RB. But even Luiz can't beat Carvalho, he was one of the best defenders in the world.

And the goal against ManU gives an automatic right to call Tiago sick :D

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Raul Meireles' hair is distracting our players, as they confuse it for Neymar's and immediately throw up a little.

:lol:

This is beginning to piss me off. We're NOT that team anymore, we don't have that manager anymore. Those players were world class in their peak playing under the greatest manager in the world. Why do they need to keep comparing us to then does it take articles like this to make certain fans see that?

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:lol:

This is beginning to piss me off. We're NOT that team anymore, we don't have that manager anymore. Those players were world class in their peak playing under the greatest manager in the world. Why do they need to keep comparing us to then does it take articles like this to make certain fans see that?

Exactly!!! And the players we have now who we had back then are now what 7 years older!So course they're going to be different.Daft comparing one to the other when they're not going to be the same

Pointless asl comparing Arsenals invicables to the team now...except its all about us in every sodding paper

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We'd won nothing in 04.

You fail to get the point.

We had our best season in a long time and finished second only to the invincibles. Like I said things were rosy back then for a club that had not finished second in a long time. Had we finished 10th that season you would have seen the snakes crawl out

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Never! :P

We've always been a 5th/6th position club :D

Hence I said 10th. How embarrases would those fans be who were holding the banner asking Fergie to be fired or taunting fergie about the excuses he was making for not winning a silverware. They hadn't won the league them but then you don't always have to win a silverware to find out who the idiots are..we got some on this forum and at the Bridge

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04-05 was an absolute amazing season and we had hungry players, i seriously miss those days because i never thought we'd lose a game we we're that clinical and ferocious. We have been declining since 06-07 to be honest because that was when United finished their transition and Rooney and Ronaldo were ready to penetrate. We have to make sure we are not in transition for too long like Arsenal or we will be left behind, even though i don't even think we are in transition. I think its scary the way we still have so many players at the club that were in our side when Mourinho took the reins. Cech is the only one who we should keep the rest need to leave in my opinion Drogba Lamps and Terry. How the fuck is Paulo still at the club seriously he has fucking worked wonders that man !

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my opinion (for what its worth) on our team now and why im starting to get disheartened is that with all the constant change of managers etc and romans billions were starting to turn into a bit of a mess of a football club. I feel theres no structure to your club anymore. I used to go very regular back in 1999 through to 2004 and absolutely loved our club and enjoyed the roller coaster and constant improving as a proper club. Old regs like dennis wise becomming better players due to those around him improving, jon harley jody morris john terry danny granville mark nicholls all coming through the ranks, zola who loved every minute of being a chelsea player, vialli managing with his heart on his sleeve and adopting chelsea as his club despite being tactically naive. I know weve had some great years and mourinho was amazing for us and still embedded all that was good with chelsea but its starting to grate on me now. Not just because were beginning to lose more often, Im sure as all our real fans would agree its not about glory, its about pride and theres not much but history im proud of at the min.

I want to state however that i do like avb as a man and hope to god he turns it round as hes trying his best to do a hard job. I thought winning the league was a bridge to far this season as we finished 3rd last year and appointed a new manager to change team and system as others were givin time to get better, so my moan isnt about lack of success.

Against liverpool the other night we played only josh mceachran and ryan bertrand whos 22 whos developed through our youth team. Thats shit imo. This is from a club whos youth team two years ago won the fa youth cup, most of that team then turned out for the reserves last year and won the reserve league, so im guessing the talent is there. I know theres the opinion that if there good enough they will get a game etc but i disagree, i believe players fullfill there potential playing with great players, remember wise before and after gullit, di matteo zola etc, same goes with ray parlour at arsenal and i suppose to a similar level lescott and barry at man city at min. I was present at alot of john terrys first games and i didnt see him becomming this good. I as a fan wanted to see, bruma, mancienne, borini, cork and more recent even clifford, lalkovic, chalobah get a chance. Could borini or lalkovic be as bad as what torres has been? or bruma mancienne clifford chalobah be allowed to make as many mistakes as luiz, bosingwa etc. Dont even get me started on malouda and anelkas effort for the cause.

I hate to mention arsenal and man utd but can only make my point with comparisons. I know through people in the game that the reason wellbeck has been given a chance for man utd ahead of berbatov is because AF wants a manchester born forward playin for his club, obviously he s talented but he understands what its all about for the fans aswel. Arsenal under wenger in the past when hes lost big players has given the fans what they want and let the young players have a go make mistakes and improve to there potential. What do we do? buy a zhirkov and kick our youngsters in the teeth.

I believe this is due to the constant change of manager and everyone comes with the pressure of having to succeed, they then fail get sacked and the nxt manager inherits players he doesnt want. I really want this to change and will accept the recent slump even if it continues as long as we start to move on with purpose and the staff/manager remembers that all the fans really want is players playing who love being part of chelsea fc. For me and i wont be swayed any other way that means torres, malouda, anelka and bosingwa out in jan.

On a positive note i do think that the likes of ramires, mata and luiz show enough passion to be welcomed with open arms at our club, just hope succeed or fail avb gives josh more game time in big games and a few games for clifford and chalobah would be all i want for xmas.

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