We won comfortably on Saturday against Wolves – kept a clean sheet and scored three goals that were more than a little pleasing to the eye. But let’s not fool ourselves – Wolves were utterly woeful. An over-60’s Asthmatic 11 could have given the Black Country team a run for their money as they were not only pedestrian but had also been the only people on this planet that were obviously unaware of our current defensive frailties.
You would have though three goals in the first half would give the manager the perfect opening to give Torres some playing time, but evidently not. The majority of the crowd also seemingly wanted to see the introduction of the Spaniard to the field and vocally left AVB in no uncertain terms of this. Personally, I am not one for demanding from the stands the introduction of this player or that – substitutions should not be decided X-Factor style, but the manager’s treatment of Torres does seem a little unwarranted. Even Lampard came off the bench to be given a full 20 minutes and it’s not as though anyone needed reminding of what he does. Torres has been given just 20minutes in total in the last three matches – and I’m not sure what AVB expects in terms of how this will work in the long run.
Does he not want the Spaniard at all and this is his way of demonstrating this both to the player and the board? Is Torres’ performance in training so poor that AVB feels he cannot trust him with anymore match time until his form improves? Something else?
Whatever the issue, personally I think we should be trying to build his confidence, as soon we will be reliant on him whether we like it or not. Rumours abound that Anelka will leave us in January and his current absence perhaps is an indication that the destination is already decided. The African Cup of Nations too will take Drogba and Kalou from us which leaves us Sturridge & Torres – so should we not be trying to form a partnership there?
One of the reasons that Torres came to Chelsea initially was that he wanted to play in the Champions League. After the disastrous game in Leverkusen, we may find ourselves playing in the 2nd rate European competition – now that really would be coming back down to earth with a bump!
We have no one to blame but ourselves – the Germans looked happy enough to play out a mutually beneficial draw while we (as usual) did our best to shoot ourselves in the foot and succeeded The lack of effort was painful to watch and you can’t blame the manager for that – that lies firmly at the feet of the players themselves. Of course this means we have to go out all guns blazing against Valencia. We no longer can do cautious – we cannot seem to hold on to a slim advantage either – so it will be interesting to see what that means in terms of personnel and tactics on the day.
In fact we are now entering a potentially pivotal phase of the season with real tests for both team and manager coming thick and fast – whether it be the aforementioned do or die Champions League game, or the match against the potential new giants of English football Manchester City, we also have games against current over-achievers Newcastle and Tottenham to over-come. If we can get to the end of December in the top 3, history shows us that anything is possible.
Our two successive titles demonstrated that not every club is susceptible to a dip in the season but Chelsea fans need to pray that those standing between us and the summit of the table experience such a dip in results for us still to be in contention.
I never expected to win the title in AVB’s first season, but nor did I expect to drop out of the top four – evolution, not revolution has always been my mantra. For all I know, that is exactly what AVB is attempting – it’s difficult to know as he doesn’t really tell us much in his press conferences and it is not easy to really decipher what he is trying to do when we see constantly changing teams.
Hopefully things will become not only clearer but more successful and more entertaining too – AVB needs to succeed – we cannot, must not, keep changing managers. Guus Hiddink in any capacity is not the answer either.
Hopefully trust, some tweaks to the squad and time on the training field will help us achieve great things – this will only succeed with total buy in from the players which I don’t think yet can be described as whole hearted. It may mean some tough choices – some Chelsea favourites taking on a less prolific role or leaving the club completely – and this needs to be understood by the fans too. If we do things in half measures, we will only achieve half hearted results – so time for a bit of faith from everyone involved.