In life, attitude is everything. You can be one of the most gifted artists in the world, but unless you’re willing to work hard and have the right attitude, your chance of success is slim. The same applies to football.
A perfect example of this is at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea have a talent pool of football millionaires who are playing like spoilt schoolboys. If this was international football, the gods known as Ballack, Deco, Anelka, Lampard, Terry, Cole and Carvalho would be lighting up the world’s stage for their respective national teams.
We all know that these players individually can be some of the world’s best. We’ve seen evidence of this for both their club and country. Personally, I don’t buy the argument that this is an aging or poor team. They’re playing awful but it’s not all down to tactics or whether they’re playing the zonal marking system or man marking system, or whether they’re match fit. Luiz Felipe Scolari is missing the bigger picture and that comes down to attitude.
As evidenced in their performance against Man United on Sunday afternoon, there are far too many Chelsea players who simply don’t have the right attitude. Sure, they want to win as much as United, but they’re lacking the focus and the determination to give 100 percent for the entire game.
For me, the blame needs to be aimed at Jose Mourinho. The legacy that Mourinho has left behind at Stamford Bridge is similar to a disease. If you were a fly on the wall at Cobham training facility or Stamford Bridge and you had a chance to listen to Chelsea’s players in private and I have no doubt that they’re constantly comparing what Avram Grant did and what Scolari does to Mourinho. The Special One was such a part of the fabric at Chelsea that I honestly believe that no manager, no matter how experienced or special he is, could surpass Mourinho’s achievements at Chelsea.
I’ve finally made time to read “Damned United” by David Peace, the amazing novel about Brian Clough’s reign at Leeds United. When Cloughie joined Leeds in 1974 to replace Don Revie, who took the England job, the confines of Elland Road were still alive with the memory of Revie. It was almost as if Revie had never left. In the book, Clough took the first steps in exorcising the demons of Revie by taking an axe to Revie’s desk and creating a burning pyre in the car park.
While I don’t recommend that Roman Abramovich or Scolari attempt a similar tactic, what I do believe is that Chelsea have two choices in order to turn to winning ways. Either they can bring back Mourinho. Or they need to start all over again. It’s as simple as that.
To rebuild from ground zero and to rid Chelsea of the players that have attitude problems, the club couldn’t afford it especially at their current lackadaisical work in the transfer market. Their better option is to admit, in private, that they made a mistake and to ask Mourinho to return. The challenge, for Chelsea, is that for Mourinho to return to west London would be a step backward for the Portugese national. The only way to win his heart would be to make him an offer he couldn’t refuse. For Abramovich, this would be a less expensive option than completely rebuilding his side.
Chelsea, for the first time in their recent history, find themselves in a perilous position. Premier League teams no longer fear them. Chelsea’s current form will see them exit the Champions League to Juventus. And, overall, the team faces a crisis of confidence that will take them weeks to repair, if not longer.
Near the end of The Special One’s tenure at Chelsea, I was critical of the Chelsea players because they seemed to be playing for Mourinho FC instead of Chelsea FC. The manager was larger than life at Stamford Bridge, and the players were more commited to their leader than their club. While the expected exodus of players devoted to Mourinho never materialized, I believe it would have been better for Chelsea if that had happened.
In Tuesday’s Chelsea press conference, Scolari took the first step in trying to exorcise the demons left behind by Mourinho. While his words were a somewhat coded attempt to let clubs and agents know that Didier Drogba is available to be plucked away, there’s also an opportunity for other Chelsea players to be sold. With Chelsea’s current predicament and the club’s willingness to let some of their top players go, there’s no better time than now to purchase a superstar at a bargain.
To close, here are Scolari’s words from yesterday’s press conference. Read them and weep Didier Drogba:
“If one player does not want to stay at Chelsea then now is the time to go away.
“Until now no-one has made an offer. But come now and pay us. Don’t make a problem for me and Chelsea. Come now and buy the player. Now you can do it and make an offer.
“After January if no clubs have come in then it’s too late. So I say to the agents and clubs, come here and buy now because now is the time. Send a club here and buy and finish it.”