So here we are at the end of another season – and I don’t think I have ever been more pleased to see the back of a campaign. For me personally, since Mourinho went it has been a hard slog. Guus has received many plaudits for the way he has handled the team in the interim, and I have no doubt that he is a good guy – but his style of play and tactics have hardly been revolutionary –a draw specialist and with the exception of a couple of notable games, a dull spectacle for the fans week in week out.
Of course it could be argued that had Jose stayed, there was a real possibility that we could have been relegated – we’ll never know that and we’ll probably never find out what really went on in that dressing room. In recent weeks, a few of the players have come out and talked about letting him down – but it’s all too little too late. I think many expected a dramatic upturn in performances and our results after the high profile sacking, but we never really saw either.
Without knowing which players in particular fell out with Mourinho we cannot speculate which scenario would have been better for the club in the long run. Thing is now, we just all need to move on – put our hope and faith in Conte and pray that he’s a man with a plan.
What hasn’t helped is hearing the likes of Courtois and Matic whining to the papers that they want out. As a fan, these gripes are pretty difficult to stomach given that the performances from these two, amongst others, have put us in the position that we are in.
The most difficult aspect to predict is how much interference from the club will the new manager have to endure. Will he be buying the players or will they – how much input will Emenalo have –if things don’t go to plan, will the club stand by the manager or not – on recent evidence we can only hope that Conte hits the ground running.
Hazard has committed his immediate future to the club and miraculously found his fitness and form with only a handful of games left – not ideal but a timely reminder of the fact that he is special and can single handedly change the fortunes of a team – if he was involved in the player revolt we need to just swallow our grievances and accept that a Chelsea team with Hazard in it will always be better than one without. Can the same be said of the myriad of other players that let us down this season? The jury is out on many of them.
The only thing really left to resolve is whether John Terry will still be with the club next season. This all has the potential to get ugly – Terry fired the first shot across the bow by coming out publicly with the club’s reticence to give him a new contract. This pre-emptive strike was initially successful in terms of galvanising the fans support behind him and putting the ball very much in the club’s court. Since then we have seen some carefully worded statements from both sides. But the club finally got its act together and took the upper hand in the PR game by making a statement that an offer was on the table and that JT was considering it. Now the club could have offered anything – half a pint of lager and a packet of crisps for all we know. If JT accepts they win, if he rejects the papers will no doubt make him out to be just another greedy footballer and the club win again.
JT has partially mitigated his decision not to accept immediately by again going public (obviously) that the role is ‘considerably different’ to his current role. Rumour has it that the financial package is considerably less, he must relinquish the captaincy and that he will not be an automatic choice for the first team.
No player can consider himself an automatic first team starter and Terry with his experience etc must understand that more than anyone – but relinquishing the captaincy would hurt. It has always meant a lot to him and is part of who he is and how he is – would he be the same player? The same man? Could he remain at this club with such a reduced standing? Who knows?
Then there is the financial reparation – exactly how much have they slashed his wages – I get impression that the club don’t care whether he stays or goes so I would say the cut has been significant.
‘But he’s a millionaire a dozen times over, if he really loved the club, he would just accept’ I hear some of the more naïve of you cry –it just doesn’t work like that. A player wants to be wanted, he wants to be important to a team, and whether we find it palatable or not, they have a certain lifestyle that they and their families have got used to. Also, no-one knows what his financial situation is. The board at Chelsea are currently just paying lip service to him to play the PR game and to placate the fans – this could get very ugly before it is resolved – after all JT’s contract doesn’t actually end until the end of June so this could run for a while yet.
The Chinese offer on the table is purportedly huge – that said, I’m sure that offer would still be on the table next season – should he want it. If I were him, I would accept whatever the club have offered – and then announce that it will be his final season. Leave on his terms as it were. I still think he has it in him to play his way into a regular starting spot – unless we make some very big defensive signings indeed. He can then go to China for a couple of years and ensure that he and his family are financially set for life. Hopefully then his relationship with the club will be such that he can come back as coach – and the fairy-tale ending would be him managing us one day – although managerial jobs by their very nature seldom have a happy ending. Whatever happens – I hope it happen sooner rather than later as watching it all unfold publicly is uncomfortable and unnecessary.
Anyway – back to the season that was – perhaps this disastrous campaign has been a timely lesson – I think every now and again we need bringing back down to earth lest we become too spoilt, too used to winning. In a way, a shocking season is a way to re-affirm your support – no matter what happens – we the fans will be here – we may whinge, we may moan, we may rage, we may curse but we love the very bones of our respective clubs and will do til the day we shuffle off this mortal coil. So here’s looking forward to next season – and many, many congratulating to Claudio and Leicester who proved that the fairy-tale is possible; have a good summer and see you all in August.
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