We find ourselves at the half way point of the season and speaking purely for myself, I am struggling to remember a season where I enjoyed the football less. Not only am I struggling to enjoy it, but am finding it difficult to understand the manager’s philosophy.
There seems to be little logic behind his team selection and even less when it comes to substitutions. Of course our current malaise isn’t simply down to the manager – the team are hardly covering themselves in glory either with their often lethargic and hesitant displays
We can count ourselves very fortunate indeed that the other contenders seem to be doing their utmost to ensure that it remains a bit of a competition for the league title. For the record, I am of the opinion that we will have our hands full simply trying to secure a Champions League spot to much worry the true contenders – whoever they are (PLEASE not Tottenham). I am hoping that the optimists have got it right and that all it will take to unlock the “new” Chelsea is a couple more of AVB’s own signings, but, I have my doubts.
I believe we have far too many “average” players or players who have either become complacent or have been found out – my exit list is extensive but does not necessarily mirror AVB’s judging by some of his team selections. He has persisted with these players despite our average performances/results rather than utilise some of our talented youngsters. It is evident that he does not necessarily have faith in many of them – personally I don’t think they could do any worse than some of our first teamers.
But then is it fair to put them in to a team going through a slump? Would it harm their confidence or would it build character? I’d imagine that depends on the individual but we have seen many highly rated youngsters released year on year and it would be a boost for all those currently in the academy to see one of their number actually get a real chance.
So AVB hasn’t exactly set the world alight but ask most supporters whether they want him sacked though and I believe that the majority will say no – not because they necessarily think he is the right man for the job, nor because they are particularly pleased with what he has achieved so far – AVB will be given more time because of those before him that weren’t. Not exactly a resounding endorsement, but then he hasn’t really done enough to earn him more than a “C+ – could do better” has he?
But we were never going to get a seamless transition with such a young and inexperienced manager were we? Even a seasoned manager who inherits a team full of names and reputations would have quite a job on his hands so the question is are we all expecting too much too soon? Probably.
The Premier League is a steep learning curve in all sorts of ways; AVB’s lesser role under Mourinho would not really have prepared him for the invasive, malicious media and he has not quite learnt how to deal with them as of yet. The inconsistent refereeing displays are difficult to accept when so much is at stake and I do wonder how his spiky awkward manner works in the dressing room. By that, I want to qualify that I am not of the opinion that he has “lost” the dressing room – I just think that after a number of more “personable” managers (for want of a better word), the players may not know exactly how to take AVB.
But these are just side issues – put simply we have not been good enough this season – in all areas. There have been a few highlights – Ramires, Mata and Sturridge have almost single handedly kept us in the mix- but they cannot do it all. Romeu too has helped to shore up what has sometimes been a shaky defence and we certainly look more convincing when he is on the pitch.
What the rest of this season holds is anyone’s guess as trying to predict the team, the tactics or the team effort from game to game has proved impossible. January is not traditionally when all the big money is spent – but will we see some panic buying to try and prevent us losing that all important Champions League place? Or will the plan be only to buy for the truly wanting positions – I imagine this will best demonstrate who he rates or rather, who he does not.
One thing is for certain, if the manager has found the first half of the season hard going, he ain’t seen nothing yet – the likes of Ferguson, Wenger etc are used to ramping it up another notch in the run up to the prize giving and AVB needs to keep pace with them at the very least. There are going to be some very difficult decisions to be made in the coming weeks. We will see not only whether he has the balls to make them – but whether he has the authority. Reputation, owner endorsements nor financial aspects should affect what is best for the team and all involved should have the good grace to accept that.
The decisions that are made over the next six months will probably not have a baring on the title – but on the direction of the club and where it lies within the hierarchy of the Premier league for the next decade or so – a heavy burden for any man, notwithstanding one so young. And we as supporters need to have faith as there is little we can do to affect the decisions made by the men of power. Time to strap ourselves in and hope that its not too bumpy a ride! Come on Chelsea