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A personal view on where we are right now


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First things first, this will probably be long. I abhor verbosity in others, so I will apologise now for engaging in my own long-winded soliloquy. It's also going to be a bit scattered. I would call it a first-draft, but that implies there would be a second-draft and there won't be. I haven't even spell-checked this sucker so I apologise for it being somewhat unreadable in parts. Everything from this point on is my own opinion and I am very biased. I’ve been extremely fortunate in that this club has been on an upswing ever since I started going and I personally don’t want that to end, so it’s unlikely I’ll countenance the idea of this club returning to mid-table mediocrity any time soon.

But there are a few truths that I wanted to get out of the way first just to give an idea where I’m starting from.

  1. We weren’t the best team in Europe last year. Now that doesn’t really matter much since sport isn’t about the best team or the best individual winning. It’s about the team who performs best on the day, who has that slice of luck or rub of the green or bounce of the ball or whatever cliche you want to use. The best sports stories aren’t always about dominant teams steamrolling their way to glory because that’s usually fairly boring. The best tales, the ones that live long in the memory and inspire the majority of people who live lives of quiet desperation are the ones about teams beating the odds and winning when no-one expected them to. That was us and it brings me on to my second point that.....
  2. Winning the Champions League papered over a lot of cracks. I’m talking chasm-sized cracks that were the result of poor planning, bad decisions and short-term thinking. Despite that I think that....
  3. Roman has learnt his lesson. He’s not a stupid man by any measure and I absolutely love the man not just for what he’s done for the club but for what this club seems to mean to him. I don’t pretend to have any special insight into his mind, but I do know what I see and that’s a man who seems to love the very notion of owning a football club. People deride us as his ‘little plaything’ but what’s the point in owning a club if you can’t have fun? Sure you have the owners like Bill Kenwright or Dave Whelan who put themselves through hell for the love for their clubs, but there are also the likes of the Glazers or the much-loathed Arsenal board who use it as either scaffolding for their other businesses or simply one more investment in their portfolio. Roman unabashedly loves watching this team and isn’t afraid to unleash his jerky spasms whenever we get near the goal. But....
  4. He didn’t learn it fast enough and this season is his, and our, punishment.

The mistakes we made are all to familiar, although much-exaggerated by the media. We spent too much on established players which meant our team became old and there was no-one behind them to pick up the slack or take the reigns. The core of this team is still very much the one Mourinho built and the Champions League win was achieved on the backs of Cech, Cole, Terry, Lampard and Drogba. That win against the odds came through sheer force of will of some of the strongest personalities we’ve ever had at the club but I think we will come to look back at that triumph in Munich as the last hurrah of a great group of players who were into year 7 of, at best, a 5-year plan.

One of the cracks it papered over was the fact that we finished Sixth in the League. Any other season that would’ve been unacceptable but we had two trophies to point to as well as Villas-Boas to blame for getting us into that position in the first place. Now I’m no great fan of AVB and he made enough mistakes in managing the team for his sacking to be rationalised, but I think he was a victim of player power. I’ve already acknowledged that our players’ strong personalities are what carried this team over the finishing line against Barcelona and Bayern, and also very nearly did the same for Avram Grant, but you can’t celebrate the good that can come from having such dominant men in the locker room without recognising that it can be problematic when someone comes in trying to change a few things. AVB simply wasn’t ready for something like that and the players had become used to a certain way of doing things. This is one of the mistakes I think Roman made - he didn’t coin the term ‘Untouchables’ but it seems increasingly true.

The senior players attained such power simply because they became the constant at the club. They became the dominant personalities in lieu of a manager who could assert himself on this club and put a bit of himself into it. Ancelotti was a great manager for us, but it never felt like his team. It still felt like Jose’s and it’s sad to say but we, the club and the fans, haven’t moved on from him. He popped our cherry and no-one has measured up to him since. Now we’re stuck with possibly the worst possible choice for Chelsea manager and we’re at possibly the lowest ebb that I can remember in a fair while, yet if we’re honest the main feeling when he was hired wasn’t one of shock but of quiet resignation.

The pursuit of Pep became all-encompassing for the club and Roman was strung along by this exotic lothario for almost two years before reality dawned and the stability of Bayern Munich (and let’s be honest, they’re the best team by far right now in Germany) appealed more to a man who seems to think three years at any one club is about the maximum before burning out and going somewhere else. I won’t say this was the first time that Roman was turned down by someone because I simply don’t know, but it was the first time that such a slap in the face was delivered to the owner of Chelsea Football Club in full view of the English media, and his German counterparts weren’t shy in pointing it out to him.

Which is where we reach the part where the recriminations end and we try to look to the future, resplendent in it’s as-yet untarnished beauty.

1.We’re not signing Andrei Shevchenko again. That’s a very specific thing to celebrate considering he was rather mediocre in his time here, but I’m using Sheva as a symbol of the reckless spending that was the signature of Roman’s first few years in charge and culminated in the signing of Torres (who will in time take on Lord Voldemort proportions at this club and simply be referred to as ‘he who shall not be named’). Unless your surname is Sutton, Veron or Mutu then I’ll assume your opinion on our signing of El Abominationo is somewhat negative but there’s a couple of things to note. Since the signing of Torres, our average transfer fee has been around £10 million and the average age of the signing has been less than 22. Despite that we’ve signed some players who show signs of being capable of filling positions for many years (Azpilicueta, Lukaku, Courtois, Moses) as well as players like Mata and Ba who have come straight into the team and made a massive difference. That suggests a massive swing towards sustainability over short-term gains.

2.We have a fantastic youth academy, that is apparently now the premier choice of tabloid royalty! Or if you want to celebrate something more tangible, there are the two FA Youth Cups in the last three seasons. I won’t bother listing the names of players who might be good, but it’s important to recognise that there are quite a lot of them in all positions.

3.The financial situation seems better. Yay for creative accounting - long may it continue.

So going forward things look positive, but that brings us onto this season and our punishment. This season will go down as one of the most tumultuous on record, coming in the midst of scandal and the club seemingly lurching from one PR mishap to another. We’ve got the smallest squad I can remember for a while and the players we might look to simply put on the bench are off plying their trade at other clubs.

But that is another result of the mistakes of the past. These players should have been behind older guys in the pecking order, but those guys never matured from the academy for a number of reasons, but primarily because of poor planning. Only now are we truly reaping some of the seeds sown in the Youth Academy, but we’re in a holding position where they aren’t yet ready to contribute. If you look at the likes of Cleverley and Welbeck or even Jones and Smalling at United, they had time at other clubs where they learnt what being part of the first-team was all about before they joined United’s first-team. We just haven’t had those kids come through and the players who might have backed up the first team like Essien or Benayoun were signed to big contracts that were agreed before we entered this period of austerity. Calling this a period of transition is an understatement because it’s not simply a few personnel changes that are being made, but the way the whole club is being run has been completely restructures and it comes down to that one word - sustainability.

That’s what I cling to. I have to look at the multitude of challenges facing this club at the moment and think that it’s part of a bigger plan. When Roman first took over he had to spend big to get us to the top of the tree, but we can’t expect him to pump tens of millions of pounds into the club year after year. There are also external challenges like FFP and even the new television deal which means prices might be pushed up even further, all of which means that we have to be run like a business.

I sincerely believe this is as bad as it gets for us now, and I know the 10 year old me would kill for this to be his bad. We’re a battered, wounded ship drifting towards the safety of shore with an inept Captain Pugwash at the wheel and some of the crew facing up to the reality that they aren’t going to see another glorious voyage with us. But the hull will be strengthened, the masts will be repaired and we’ll set sail with another skipper at the helm and we’ll see many a new sunrise on the horizon.

And in five months time fatty gets to walk the plank.....

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Good text so far (still reading it), you just need to seriously improve the layout though...

EDIT: You have edited the layout, lol.

EDIT 2: I absolutely agree with you until you start talking about our future. I dont think it is as bright as you make nor as simple...

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Our future is bright - if we engage a good manager in the summer, who can lead us forward, galvanise the team and give opportunities to those players on the 'verge'...

It's a tough job... I don't know right now who I'd pick to do it... I know it's irrational and illogical - I just don't want it to be Rafa...

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Our future is bright - if we engage a good manager in the summer, who can lead us forward, galvanise the team and give opportunities to those players on the 'verge'...

It's a tough job... I don't know right now who I'd pick to do it... I know it's irrational and illogical - I just don't want it to be Rafa...

It can be, it is different....

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The future of Chelsea depends on the board & their deals in the summer. Plenty of young talented players are scattered all over but not getting many chances with the club.

It will be essential to sign new manager. Someone with clear vision as to where the club should be going.

Personally, I feel just two or three new players should be signed, that´s all. I would rather see these loaned young players brought home & slowly giving chances to play.

If stability is implemented after the summer, then we all can see prosperous Chelsea once again.

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It absolutely depends on who we get in the summer, but I wrote elsewhere that I think the Pep saga has been a massive wake-up call to Roman. He was led on and then rejected, something that hasn't happened during his time at Chelsea. For most people that would be a humbling experience and I think Jose might be experiencing one of those in Madrid too.

If the two have learnt something then maybe they can come together and build something special here. There have been many mistakes made at the club, but the encouraging thing is that we seem to have learnt from them and not repeated them. We just need to learn how to do better with managers...... :blink:

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It absolutely depends on who we get in the summer, but I wrote elsewhere that I think the Pep saga has been a massive wake-up call to Roman. He was led on and then rejected, something that hasn't happened during his time at Chelsea. For most people that would be a humbling experience and I think Jose might be experiencing one of those in Madrid too.

If the two have learnt something then maybe they can come together and build something special here. There have been many mistakes made at the club, but the encouraging thing is that we seem to have learnt from them and not repeated them. We just need to learn how to do better with managers...... :blink:

I agree - but with Emanulo there it will never work...

Would I sacrifice him to have Jose back - sure, show me where to sign.... I really don't like the guy, the more I read about him, the less I like him... Obviously, I'm only judging this on 3rd hand knowledge... but if he went I wouldn't shed any tears ;)

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I agree - but with Emanulo there it will never work...

Would I sacrifice him to have Jose back - sure, show me where to sign.... I really don't like the guy, the more I read about him, the less I like him... Obviously, I'm only judging this on 3rd hand knowledge... but if he went I wouldn't shed any tears ;)

You have to give Emanulo some credit though, some of the players we've signed over the last 2 seasons are more than likely due to him....

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You have to give Emanulo some credit though, some of the players we've signed over the last 2 seasons are more than likely due to him....

Hmm... He's certainly not in the same league as Newcastle set-up - buying gems, polishing them and they turn out good players... Nearly ALL of our recent signings have been 'big money' signings, with a proven track record that even I could have said were good players...

I guess he was also involved in the purchase of Torres? ;)

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Hmm... He's certainly not in the same league as Newcastle set-up - buying gems, polishing them and they turn out good players... Nearly ALL of our recent signings have been 'big money' signings, with a proven track record that even I could have said were good players...

I guess he was also involved in the purchase of Torres? ;)

Torres was a Carlo signing. I think Elemeno was only promoted to this 'technical director' role when AVB took over.

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I made this point in another thread. Without a stable manager and a proper project, we are never going to improve. yes, we may have been able to buy success by changing managers all these years, but over the years, we have blooded ZERO youngsters into the first-eleven. We either sign a definite starter (Oscar, Mata, Hazard, Luiz) or a young guy who gets loaned out to various clubs before leaving (Stoch, Sinclair, Borini, di Santo, Matic) or guys like Zhirkov, Romeu, Sturridge who are not given the chance at the club.

Other clubs continously blood talent giving them more and more action every season before eventually becoming first-team material. Welbeck is a great example for this. so is Wilshere, Caulker etc

Imo, we need stability. As much as trophies are important, we are not going to improve without stability

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I made this point in another thread. Without a stable manager and a proper project, we are never going to improve. yes, we may have been able to buy success by changing managers all these years, but over the years, we have blooded ZERO youngsters into the first-eleven. We either sign a definite starter (Oscar, Mata, Hazard, Luiz) or a young guy who gets loaned out to various clubs before leaving (Stoch, Sinclair, Borini, di Santo, Matic) or guys like Zhirkov, Romeu, Sturridge who are not given the chance at the club.

Other clubs continously blood talent giving them more and more action every season before eventually becoming first-team material. Welbeck is a great example for this. so is Wilshere, Caulker etc

Imo, we need stability. As much as trophies are important, we are not going to improve without stability

I don't think Chelsea really started taking the youth academy seriously until 2005 so it was going to be a while anyways to see the fruits of their labour. And judging by the insane amount of loanees out there, they looked ahead to where they will have replacements for outgoing players over the next several years, especially this summer. I think Pep going to Bayern was a wake up call to Roman and in a good way in the long term once Rafa is excused.

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I don't think Chelsea really started taking the youth academy seriously until 2005 so it was going to be a while anyways to see the fruits of their labour. And judging by the insane amount of loanees out there, they looked ahead to where they will have replacements for outgoing players over the next several years, especially this summer. I think Pep going to Bayern was a wake up call to Roman and in a good way in the long term once Rafa is excused.

We have really good prospects to get in and expand the squad next season. Tomas Kalas in defence, de Bruyne in midfield and Lukaku in attack are almost ready for the step up. Hope the new manager coming in is made aware of this

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Good read!
As u rightly pointed that the entire Pep fiasco was like a slap on Roman's face in front of the media ... I hope that it would be lessons learned for Roman and he really takes a leaf from it.

For us to have a bright future, the club management has to give the time and power to the manager with least amount of expectation. because i believe a new manager is not the solution rather it is the cowboys who are sitting on top who need to keep their guns in the holster rather than drawing them every now and them.

We need to understand that "Rome was not built in a day" ... not sure why Roman is in such a rush :P

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All I read is the same old stories. Most are blaming Rafa for this sad state of the club.

How about look into the Chelsea officials for a change ?

That's a fair point, but it's hard to really know who to blame. Let's be honest, no big decision is made without Roman's say-so, so ultimately he's the one who should bear a lot of the blame but as I said above I think (or hope) he's learnt from his mistakes.

If we take the Torres signing and the Ancelotti sacking as a watershed moment (granted it's about a six month period) then you can see real changes in the way the club has operated. Transfer fees on average came down whilst the age of the player being bought dropped too. We had a massive intake class in the youth team that season and again this season (16 players if I recall) and Roman appointed a young manager with a view to a long term commitment.

Now certain things didn't work out but the right noises were being made. Even now we have 22 players out on loan with the majority of them young kids who we would look to make part of the first-team squad. We're sprinting to do that now because we weren't doing it effectively 3-5 years ago.

The problem is that if you want to blame the hierarchy, some of the main culprits simply aren't around anymore. The constants have been Buck, Barnard and maybe Tenenbaum. People like Gourlay and Emenalo seem to be doing their jobs pretty well, Gourlay on the commercial side and Emenalo on the scouting side. There's just this gap between 2005 and 2011 where we probably weren't doing what we should have been doing and we're paying for it now.

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