Amazing isn’t it – how differently people see a game. I saw only one difference between us and United last Sunday and that was their sharper finishing in front of goal. Yet there was much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth following our 3-1 defeat. The Chelsea message boards were full of rants of woe on how we weren’t going to win anything and how we needed half a dozen more players and how the team were too old…..it all sounded rather familiar – exactly the same moans that were being aired at the beginning of last season – and we all know how that turned out don’t we?
That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t welcome a couple more players – assuming that Ramires is a done deal, a striker and creative midfielder wouldn’t go amiss. Not that any other team bar Man City are particularly splashing the cash either. I think most are waiting until City have finished gorging themselves before showing their hand, having learnt the hard way from last seasons gazumping and attempted gazumping by City.
That aside, there seems to be a new thriftiness around Stamford Bridge this season, bordering on the penny-pinching one might say. Ancelotti has obviously memorised the script speaking not of players being another year older, but another year “experienced” – not focussing on the four midfielders out, but on Essien’s renewed fitness – likening him to a new signing. Of course we have signed Benayoun too – but really, is he the answer to anything? I don’t think so.
I wish I understood what happened with Joe Cole – the claim was that Cole was being greedy – but if it was about money, why spend £5 million (before wages) on the Israeli who is two years older that Cole, and has been nothing more than a bit part player in a largely unsuccessful team for quite some time. And just as Joe Cole was finally getting fully match fit. It doesn’t make sense. I was sad to see him go – but even sadder were his “please love me” clichés about “joining the biggest club in the country” – not even Liverpool fans believe that – and then there was the one about the hairs on the back of his neck standing up when he ran out at Anfield while playing for Chelsea – pur-leeaaase – pass me a bucket. I’m just waiting for him to complete the set with the nauseating “one of those special European nights at Anfield” (or should that be special Europa nights….).
But I digress…..
The Charity Shield proved very little bar that we should have somehow factored in a couple more friendlies prior to the start of the season. The whole squad has only been together barely two weeks and it showed – a few games under our belt and we should be back in the swing of things.
I’m hoping that delivering the double last season Ancelotti has bought himself enough good will with both owner and fans to properly start integrating some of our very talented youngsters into the first team. This will need patience from all involved but can only be beneficial in the long run. It’s a fine balance as finishing within the Champions League places is a pre-requisite these days, but with the home grown player rule coming into effect we need to bring the youngsters through.
Of course the inclusion of a couple of youngsters would not automatically make us a poorer side, but inexperience is bound to show at times and I’m not sure whether the majority of our fans or Abramovich come to that, are willing to put up with that.
Football fans generally have become an impatient bunch – looking always for the instant gratification and to the hell with the future; we need to change that mind-set. It’s a simple and obvious fact that not every team can win all the time. Now is a perfect time for the Chelsea team to look at the future – the team is another year older…..I mean experienced and the youngsters could learn from the professionals we have. I would give up a season or two of silverware to see that.
This season will be a particularly intriguing one. The spot-light is of course on City – bumper purchases and Mancini with his feet under the table are expected to do great things. Liverpool and Arsenal fans have had enough of the recent barren years – the disquiet and discontent could get out of hand should they have another disappointing season – although the likeable Hodgson should initially escape the brick-bats for the honeymoon period at least. Chelsea and United will have the usual weight of expectation on their shoulders – while the Tottenhams, Villas and Evertons of this world need to step it up if they are ever going to break the monopoly of the upper echelons on a regular basis.
So it’s on your marks for what is going to be a rollercoaster ride – another season of over-paid, over-exposed, over-sexed footballers, weekday 600 mile round trip away games, extortionate ticket prices, over-zealous stewarding and countless refereeing blunders – I can’t wait! Come on Chelsea!!!