Last night was the second time in 4 months I have headed off to the Bridge to see FC Basel. You could wait a lifetime to see your team play them once!
This time the competition was Champions League not Europa League and the result went their way instead of ours. Which I would imagine few in the stadium last night were surprised about given the team’s performance. I even called their second goal a minute before it actually came, as it had been on the cards.
Whilst Chelsea played better in the first half as time wore on they needed to change-up the style of play and offer something exciting and new to the game. That never happened and as we struggled Basel found their feet and took the points.
On returning home I went on Twitter to see what people were saying and promptly wished I hadn’t. So called ‘supporters’ claiming for Mourinho’s head on a plate. People claiming this player is finished or that player needs to do this or that.
These are probably the same people who wanted Mourinho back in the first place.
Last year Chelsea appointed Rafa Benitez as manager and it was universally seen as the wrong decision with fans asking why Mr Abramovich doesn’t consult with the Supporters Groups before making decisions like that. If he has ever been on Twitter you can see why he wouldn’t bother!
The press aren’t always much better. They ask questions in the press conferences that wind people up, speculate about key players leaving and having rifts with the manager and generally try to destabilise the team in order to sell papers.
We had a transfer window full of Mata and Luiz leaving, neither did. Both have said they are happy at Chelsea and want to stay and yet the papers are still printing reports of them leaving. If I was those players it would annoy the hell out of me!
The truth of the matter is this. Chelsea are a team in transition.
We brought back an old manager to unify the club. There is nothing to say that Mourinho will deliver the success he brought before, no-one can guarantee that.
A lot has changed in the interim period in the style of football played and the type of players we now have. He will need time, he has a plan and at the moment I’m not sure his plan will work but we have to give it a chance.
I liked the idea of substituting Cole for Torres against Everton, it was a bold move. No-one expects you to take off a defender and bring on a striker. The problem was we barely had the ball after the substitution to see if it would work.
Chelsea have become a team with little Plan B options and that makes it easy to defend against us. We have brought a overabundence of midfielders who mostly like to play attacking football. On paper we have strong midfield combinations we can play against teams to counteract their style of play. On the pitch this isn’t being delivered.
One reason for this for me is changing large sections of the team on a match by match basis means you never achieve cohesion between players. That instinctive reaction that tells you Juan will be open on the left/ right and you can rely on him to pick up your pass for example.
Football needs to be an instinctive thing at the top-level. Your strikers should know where the goal is without having to look up for it when shooting. You should know where your team mates will be without looking for them.
The worrying thing for me is the cohesion between players that worked so well last year appears to be on the wane. Last night when Mata and Hazard were playing together the cohesion they had last season wasn’t there. Mata went to pass to Hazard tight on the wing in front of us and played the ball straight out, that wouldn’t have happened last year.
We didn’t sign a prolific striker in the transfer window, someone who gets 25-30 goals a season. Do we need a striker like that?
Chelsea have never been a side who rely on goals coming solely from strikers, we have always got goals from all over the pitch. In truth, yes we probably do need a in form striker but there is no guarantee that buying one will get us goals!
The other side of having an inform striker is the fact they need to be given the ball, in a position where they can attack the goal and score. Chelsea aren’t big on taking the ball down the wing to the byline and putting the cross on the penalty spot for a poachers goal. With a midfield full of players who fancy a nice goal themselves often the ball doesn’t get to the striker as they have taken the shot.
We have played all of our new signings now, most in small parts. Willian for me last night showed some potential, he won a few corners in the first half but dropped off in the second. van Ginkel I didn’t notice much, apart from a couple of clumsy challenges. De Bruyne I haven’t seen much of; Schurrle I think has potential but needs to settle into the style of play.
All of the players need time in the team regularly to settle into English football so we can get the most out of them but that doesn’t seem to be Mourinho’s plan.
Which brings me to Eto’o and Ba. When I read we were looking at Eto’o I couldn’t help but think it was a rehash of an article from about 5 years ago when he was leaving Barcelona. That was when we should have signed him.
Mourinho has supposedly said Eto’o hasn’t played much competitive football lately. If that is the case he will need time to get back to full match fitness and is not the goal scorer that we had hoped for.
On his performance last night my feeling was we have a shadow of the player he was at Barcelona, the shots he had would have been in the net 5 years ago. He seems to be pushed off the ball easily too. Given time he may give us the goals we need.
Ba for me should have gone in the transfer window. I prefer Torres. Against Aston Villa Ba was offside I believe 6 times. That is a lot for a striker in one match. He seems to be flat-footed and not on his toes waiting to turn. I don’t see much playing for the team and tracking back to pick up the ball either.
For me whilst Torres hasn’t got us Premiership goals he often puts in a service for the team. Last night on hearing he wasn’t even on the bench I had a feeling we would miss him. He has been unlucky at times. People berate him for not scoring but I can think of quite a few times where he did everything right but for the keeper making a reaction save. He had started to show signs that he was finding a style of play he was happy with and some confidence after the Confederations Cup but seeing pictures of him in training recently this seems to be leaving him again.
The important thing is not to panic. We are not out of the league or champions league yet but we are making it hard for ourselves. In truth we wouldn’t be Chelsea if we weren’t making it hard for ourselves, we seem to have a knack of doing just that.
If we are still dropping points at the end of October and our players are still not gelling then it might be time to say this is our transition season where we find our feet and look out world next year cause when we do we’ll have you!