Is it Time for a New Chelsea Blue Revolution?

This was a season of disappointment for Chelsea. Since the dawn of the Abramovich era it isn’t common for words like “dismal” and “depressing” to become synonymous with the teams exploits. However this year, bar an end of the season resurgence, was a fairly painful one for fans of the West London club. Despite starting the season in blistering form the team quickly faded into mediocrity and from there dropped in to a spell of stagnant ineptitude for months.

Carlo “The Don” Ancelotti, our once highly praised manager, had basically resigned himself to defeat by season’s end. Was this slide in form the Italian’s fault? In part, yes. Ancelotti’s team selection was spotty at times, his ability to motivate the team was questionable, and he had no backup plan. However, personally I believe Carlo’s firing was part of a bigger plan being calculated by Abramovich. As I groggily logged on to my Twitter account several weeks back my newsfeed exploded with news of his dismissal. It wasn’t too surprising. He’d been on the outs for some time now, but the more I thought about it the more his dismissal and our incessant transfer rumors smacked of change. Not minor changes, but a smaller scale Blue Revolution. It was a sign that Abramovich was ready to give the club a facelift.

Essentially, the squad is still Mourinho’s Chelsea; maybe not in terms of style but in terms of personnel. With a few small additions the spine of the team remains the same as it was the day “The Special One” walked out of SW6 for the last time: Terry, Lampard, Mikel, Essien, Drogba etc. If at least half of these transfer rumors are to be believed, Chelsea is attempting to change the face of its squad and bring in some new players to evolve out of the “Mourinho’s ghost” phase the squad has been in the past few years. Despite experiments with Scolari’s wing back driven offence and Carlo’s 4-3-3, our squad has never really developed a new post-Mourinho identity. Our game plan has largely remained the same: get the ball to Drogba. This stratagem worked wonders when the large Ivorian was in form. The goal hauls of his previous seasons and our trophy cabinet are testament to that. However, what do we do when Drogba, as he did this season, hits a rough patch? What is our game plan then? That was Carlo’s greatest failure this season. He didn’t have one.

It was embarrassingly apparent how lost Chelsea’s strike force looked when it got around the box. There were no incisive passing or runs and more importantly no player who could dribble at the defense. That is what made Malouda, and subsequently, our attack so dangerous last season. He had magically learned how to dribble outside from the wing. It made things happen and it kept the defense guessing. We’d finally gained a sense of unpredictability. Sadly that skill seemed to have vanished with his samurai hair cut. This is why we need a player like Neymar. Chelsea have lacked a pacey dribbler since Robben left years ago. It’s reached the point where the only game plan was to slay the ball up to Drogba and hope he could create something out of nothing. That tactic is one of the several reasons Torres wasn’t effective. He’s not the sort of player you boom the ball to in hopes he’ll turn and beat his marker with pace. Torres needs to have service that gets the ball on his foot facing the goal. With Drogba aging and with Torres seeming to be the new star of our line-up, it is time for some changes. Were I in the new manager’s shoes, most likely those of Guus Hiddink, I’d make it a priority to bring in the aforementioned Neymar and a creative midfielder ala Wesley Sneijder.

Young Sturridge has more than proved himself with his spell at Bolton that he can score in a withdrawn role and Neymar’s goal tally also shows that he is more than capable of carrying some of the goal load. More importantly however both Neymar and Sturridge have demonstrated excellent touch and skill on the ball. They posses a sense of creative flair Chelsea has lacked for quite some time and that flair could finally endow us with the air of unpredictability the squad so badly needs. It simply makes sense bringing in a more withdrawn, width focused player. Torres has demonstrated time and time again he functions best as a lone striker who can get the ball at his feet and find gaps to run through. He was average during the World Cup whenever he was called on to partner Villa and he’s been average with us whenever he has partnered a like minded target man like Drogba. It simply makes sense to bring in Neymar or at least a player like him. Those three up top could be a feared strike force for years to come.

Equally as important as the players playing off of Torres is the man slotted behind him. Players like Fernando need service. Good service. It’s no secret that Benayoun played a big part in his success at Liverpool and certainly had at least a small role in bringing him to Chelsea. If Chelsea are going to build an offense around Torres it needs a player in Benayoun’s mold; clever on the ball, quick to find an incisive pass, and creative with his decision making. Unfortunately Benayoun himself struggled with injury all of last season and is getting older. Similarly Lampard is no spring chicken and usually lurks a little further back in the midfield unless he is poaching goals from the top of the box. Essentially what this means is we need to sign a player to sit in the pocket behind our front line. We’ve been linked to Sneijder for around €35 million and reports are going back and forth about the likelihood of Modric leaving White Hart Lane. While both signings may be a bit of a stretch I take it as a positive that we are at least linked to players in a mold we desperately need.

Summer has only just begun but something tells me it will be an eventful one for fans of Chelsea Football Club. On top of links to Sneijder and Neymar each day seems to bring us closer to signing Belgian wonder-kid Lukaku from Anderlecht. Clearly it would be a signing for the future though. Most likely he’d be given some time to grow under the tutelage of his idol; Didier Drogba while Torres leads the current line. Here’s to hoping it’s the type of eventful that will see us finally give our beloved Blues a much needed new identity.

26 thoughts on “Is it Time for a New Chelsea Blue Revolution?”

  1. I think you are right that this summer marks a high water mark at Stamford Bridge as the spine of the team that Mourinho built reaches retirement age.

    I think this summer will be a landmark one with several long standing players leaving or taking on lesser roles.

    A new manager needs to come in and rework the squad and build a team that is not reliant on one way of playing with depth and a youthful edge.

    This should be evolution not revolution!

  2. I agree that our performance in the just concluded season shows that the club needs an overhaul. However, I am concur with eChelseafc that what we need is an evolution. We need to bring in new players that can replicate the creative flair of the likes of Robben and Shaun Wright Phillips. No doubt, our mid-field was the most hit in the just concluded season. We saw a Lampard and Essien giving a below average performance. I see a Chelsea team playing as strong as ever with a touch of flair in the coming season, so long as we rejuvenate our mid-field with the likes of Sneider and Modric and can get some creative wingers to partner with Torres up front. Blues, I stand.

  3. Yeah, as I said in the opening part of the article we need a smaller scale “Blue Revolution.” Was just going off the whole idea of how the first “Revolution” gave our team it’s new identity and we’ve yet to have a drastic enough change in style or personnel to really create a post-Blue Revolution identity.

    To be honest I’m a little nervous about bringing in Neymar. It sounded like a done deal a few weeks back but I haven’t heard a single thing about it in a good week or two. In this case no news is not good news in my opinion. If we can’t bring him in I really hope we look for a player of his style. Maybe we’ll go back in for Sanchez. Wouldn’t mind that at all.

  4. i don’t know what all the panic is about from clubs as soon as they go a year w/out winning something. they won the double the previous season and almost made a huge comeback to put them in contention for the title this year and still finished second. if they didn’t have that dry run mid-season then they still would have been favorites and right up there. w/their current squad they’re capable of success and just need a summer to get the pieces right and develop a working system to get their newly added players adapted.

    look at man utd. did they get into a panic and start cleaning house w/their players because they didn’t win the league, fa cup or champions league last year? no, the only player who they brought on that made an impact in the first team was chicharito really, which was not even expected nor the plan for his first season, but just ended up being a pleasant surprise. w/the league being so competitive, teams really can’t expect to win it all every season, it’s just not going to happen.

    what chelsea needs is some stability and plans for the long term. i blame the owner. just as he’s the reason why they’ve had success over recent years because of the money spent, he’s also the reason why they don’t have a consistent manager in place to build anything and develop a system from top to bottom. only then will we start to see consistent results brought to the club because they’re no doubt a dangerous team as we’ve seen in recent seasons.

    1. I agree with you whole-heartedly. It goes without saying that this is what happens when you try to buy success. you must always buy great player, but the owner was always thinking about the here and now, as opposed to the bigger picture.

      A lot of other teams will meet the same demise as their bank blowing squads reach an end due to age. Give Man City 6 or 7 years and see what this money will do for them. except City’s players will either leave due to age, or more importantly lack of playing time.

      1. Citing the whole “Chelsea buy it’s success” argument has kind of become an empty platitude in and of itself. Besides Roman’s first two seasons here we have easily (bar Arsenal) been one of the more frugal top teams in the PL. Check the numbers. Bar Torres we have not made any splashes in the transfer market in a good number of years.

        Personally I fail to see how bringing in younger, talented players in positions where we are thin can be considered not seeing the bigger picture? If anything I’d find it to be the total opposite.

        1. You’re right. And that’s part of my point. But they don’t look to the future with their potential youngsters from their youth squads. I’ve barely seen them use kakuta or sturridge. It’s always the same lineup. It’s definitely something i would like to see from Chelsea. Those players are up to calibre and need to be playing more football with the first team on Chelsea. Loaning them away will only do so much.

          Hopefully the impact Sturridge had on his time away will impact the amount of playing time he has with Chelsea.

        2. They shouldn’t panic. They should bring in the right player, not someone because they can afford them.

          I’m holding out hope that I’m incorrect in a few years, but I think paying so much for Torres was a mistake and if he doesn’t show signs of his value early next season, the mess may be a problem that Guus or whoever the new manager is may have on his hands.

          IIRC, Carlo didn’t want to buy Torres but it was a decision made at the very top… aka Roman’s call.

    2. The difference between ManU last year and us this year is that our spine of the team is getting old. With Lampard, Drogba and Terry all getting in their 30’s, they will probably never have seasons like the ones they have had in the past. Although Lampard did have a good end to the season last year, was his long injury just an odd ocurance in his career or could it be a signe that he is getting old and won’t be abble to play 30 plus games in the premier league for that many more seasons? For Drogba, 33 is old for a striker and is it worth haveing to deal with his personality of always wanting to play and cause a disturbance in the squad? Terry, our brave leader, seems to have lost some of his pace from his younger days and will never recover from it.
      I do agree with the idea of not changing a squad after one bad season, but the team Mourinho built is getting old and we need to bring in two or three younger players this summer. We need to change out our older players with younger ones over they next few years.

  5. I agree with the general thrust of all this, but I do think Ancelotti was unlucky in a) losing Lampard and Essien for a slab of the season b) in finding that neither was half the player they had been when they came back, and c) in having Drogba ridden with malaria for so long. But even without those blows, you would still have been right – a revolution is called for: a change of pace in midfield when we need it; a winger with the penetration of the old Robben or Duff; a Modric with the quick, deft touch to pass through defences. I spent six weeks in the North in the last half of the season on work assignment and saw Sturridge five times in all. Why oh why did we lend him out? Wrong, Carlo. Get him back. We also have one of the best young midfeld talents in the land. Play him. Start him! 6,7,8 games in a row. he can take it. Byebye Ferreira, Obi M, Malouda, Lalou, Anelka, Alex (last 5 cd all do fabulous jobs for others elsewhere. Hardest of all, byebye Didier. The Torres £50m means there is only going to be one centre forward. Abramovich drives me mad with his interfering, but three titles, three FA Cups. one Double…We shd be glad he is interested again!
    Wesley N will not come.

  6. This isn’t about panic, it’s about progress. We have had very little personnel changes for several years now and it’s undeniable Chelsea is getting a little long in the tooth. I never said we have to revamp the entire squad. I said we need to make 2 or 3 big signings and begin to put a new face on our current line up. This seasons performances as compared to last years is a perfect example of how much impact one extra year can have on a team of aging players.

    Also, this isn’t like we hit a bump in the road that kept us from winning a title last season. Coming from someone who watched the matches week in week out we were ABYSMAL. It was painful to watch. Our point total this season was lower than it has been in years, and by quite an extensive margin. Carlo simply didn’t have what we needed to maintain the success he brought us the year before. I’m not saying his dismissal wasn’t a tad harsh but nor was it just some wanton decision by Roman. It is seeming like more and more it was a calculated decision to bring in Guus. The last manager we’ve had (albeit for only a small portion of the season) under who’s leadership we gave off that feeling of invincibility.

    1. they’ve spent over 80M on two players in the winter, but you can’t expect players to just fit in right away, especially in the middle of a season, that’s a rarity. problem is essien isn’t the same for you guys and fat frank was pretty much out the entire season w/injuries, except the very end when he began to show signs of his former self. i agree that carlo’s tactics were far too conservative the majority of the time w/his team selections and formations. w/such an attacking force at their disposal they need a more aggressive-minded manager who can at the same time manage the players that they’ve got into their respective roles so that they can play in a cohesive system – that takes time and stability within management.

      1. No arguments there. That is another reason why I think if Guus takes the helm it was a good move. Our dressing room was nearing capitulation by the time Big Phil was let go. Hiddink came in and garnered (reportedly at least) a great relationship with all the players and steadied the proverbial boat. He rejuvenated a disgruntled and disillusioned squad, adjusted our formation to return us to our previously fine scoring form, and was generally well liked and respected by all the players.

        I totally agree we need stability and continuity to really establish a “dynasty” ala United. I just don’t think Carlo was right for it. I think Guus (despite his age) will be great to lay the foundation. ESPECIALLY if we bring in Zola as his assistant as has been rumored.

        1. ya i’ve heard the same. as a united/holland supporter i’m just hoping it doesn’t happen because i think the grey guus would make you guys a real force if he stays for awhile. also the fact that he’s dutch and could influence sneijder’s arrival due to their relationship is very bothersome as i would love nothing more than to see him in a united shirt. i still think united could use a little more dutch class in their squad.

  7. Great article; I agree that evolution is necessary, but I wouldn’t discount a bounce-back season from the old guard. As other commenters have mentioned, Diddy, Lampard and Essien struggled with injuries, so we can’t necessarily predict a continuation of their poor performances. It’s why I think additions to the squad are necessary, and why we don’t need to clean house until the retirement notices start coming in.

    The current problems of the squad are tactical, and the personnel problems can be alleviated with new formations. For instance, I’d like to see a version of a 4-2-1-1-2, sort of a modified diamond in the midfield (maybe a rhombus?):


    This came to mind when thinking of the Dutch national side. Chelsea’s two African stars can break up play (much like van Bommel and de Jong), and the central midfielders can change places (I also think Anelka could stand at the top of the box, since he’s also good at controlling the ball and running onto it). This would also require Cole and Ivanovic to continue to join the attack, much like recent years. Finally, it demands a lot of lateral movement by the strikers (to disrupt central defenders simply marking them out), and more buildup play to get the ball onto Torres’ feet (especially) at the end of the motion.

  8. Who was at the helm in regards to the transfer dealings ? I don’t think Ancelotti was. It’s been said in different publications that Chelsea left several of their experienced players go at the end of last season and they were not adequately replaced. So I don’t think Ancelotti has any options when Drogba started to contract Malaria and the other key players’ forms started to dip.
    Mourinho had a free reign: Abrahamovich let him buy whom he wanted to buy (except Shevchenko probably). Same thing with Scolari: he was allowed to bring Deco. I didn’t see it happen with Carletto. See summer 2009 transfers: Turnbull, Zhirkov. Matic and Sturridge. While summer 2010 brought Ramires, Benayoun (often injured), Tomas Kalas and Matej Delaj (a goalkeeper); they lost Beletti, Deco, Carvalho, Ballack and Joe Cole.

  9. The first thing Chelsea needs to do is figure out who the main striker is going to be. Drogba is getting old and Torres is no longer as good as he was at Liverpool (he hasn’t been good for Spain either). Neither of these two players is going to improve Chelsea’s frontline. Sell one or both and buy a couple of better and younger talent for the front-line.

    In midfield, Lampard and Essien are not going to get it done like they used to. Sell both and bring in reinforcements.

    At the back, Terry has to be replaced as he can become a liability as he lacks pace and goes into tackles more rashly. A better right back is also needed.

  10. Chelsea have their future stars who can assured to become a chelsea legend if provided with chances rather than cameo plays. It is true chelsea do have the likes of sturridge to lead the attack,josh as a brilliant playmaker, And a brilliant left back in ryan bertrand what’s more is that all these players are english talents so chelsea does not have to splash out heavy amount on english talents like what liverpool ,Manchester united have had to pay for english starlets.Further chelsea also have the likes of chalobah(English),Piazon(Brazil),kakuta(france),Bruma(Dutch).So chelsea needs to only buy players to fill in the remainig gaps.

  11. Chelsea’s woes lay with the owner. His limited understanding of football prevent him from realizing that there may be no imemdiate solution that money can buy or not.
    Too often he has traded managerial stability for the misguided hope that the new manager will win it all by himself.
    Even Mourinho had built his team largely on Ranieri’s four years of work. But in 2007 Roman started a samba of manager appointments and firings.

    Roman is also childishly fixated on the fallacy that that a new world-class striker will will win the CL for him at first attempt. Goes without saying that he’ll also wrap up the league by March.

    1. What? Mourinho build his success on Ranieri?

      Mourinho’s starting 11 in 2004-2005 was Cech, Ferriera, Carvalho, Terry, Gallas, Makelele, Lampard, Mendes, Cole, Robben and Drogba. Mourinho brought in Cech, Ferriera, Carvalho, Mendes, Robben and Drogba. So that’s 6 of the 11 starters in year 1. In addition key subs Tiago Mendes (who played in 51 matches) and Kezman (who played in 40 matches) were also bought by Mourinho.

      If you look at the additional players that came in in 2003-2004 that were bought after Roman Abramovich took over we can add Claude Makele (who played in 50 matches in the 04/05 season), Damien Duff (who played in 48 matches in 04/05), Joe Cole (who played in 46 matches in 04/05), Glen Johnson (who played 28 matches in 04/05), Alexey Smertin (who played played 25 matches in 04/05), and Wayne Bridge (who played in 25 matches in 04/05). Each of those players were only bought after Roman took over.

      Yes, Ranieri helped build up Cheslea and was key to Mourinho’s success but if anything that team was built on the players that Roman and Mourinho bought. The only players brought in before Roman’s takeover that were key in Mourinho’s first year were Terry who came over in 1998, Gudjohnsen who was bought in 2000, Lampard who was bought in 2001, and William Gallas who was bought in 2001. But Claudio Ranieri was only responsible for the last two, Lampard and Gallas. And yes, Lampard has been and still is key to Chelsea and Gallas became Ashley Cole that is responsible for only two of the seventeen players that were key to Mourinho’s first season.

      You bash Roman and say he’s Chelsea’s problems but it was Roman that laid much of the foundation for Mourinho’s success.

  12. Great article. I agree that at times Chelsea looked lost last year, especially when teams parked the bus and we had no individual able to break down the defense. However, I think Chelsea’s problems this year stems more from us relying on older players to play every UEFA, PL, Carling Cup, FA Cup, and international game. We had no bench this year either due to lack of talent (probably not the case with Sturridge, Kakuta, Bertrand, Zhirkov, Ferreira, Kalou, Bruma, and McEachran) or Ancelotti not willing to play them. With the exception of Ramires and Kalou which bench player saw consistant time?

    Chelsea’s team is aging and slowing down but I don’t think we need to blow it up. Yes, we need to add speed and creativity but we do have a solid framework in place. This year our starting lineup (before the winter transfers) was Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Terry, Cole, Mikel, Essien, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka, and Drogba. Those players were 28, 26, 28, 29, 29, 23, 27, 32, 30, 31, and 32. The average starter’s age was 28.64 years old. Just for comparisons I looked at Man U’s average age was 26.32, Barcelona’s average age was 26.45 and AC Milan’s was 29.18. Yes, we’re older but we’re not so old that we need a new starting 11. We just need to add some young players. Just by replacing Alex with Luiz (28 vs. 23) our average goes down 28.18 years. Replace Anelka with Neymar (31 vs. 19) and our average goes down to 27.09.

    Yes, Chelsea needs to add some youth but players can succeed into their mid 30’s. Instead of blowing up the roster Chelsea should look to tweak it. Adding Neymar and Sturridge in amongst Malouda and maybe Anelka as our wings should help keep the older players fresher and help add some much speed. In addition, all of Chelsea’s hopes wouldn’t be placed on two players who have a combined XXXX games starting for Chelsea. Ramires and Essien can fill the box-to-box role together (and considering Essien is rarely healthy Rarmies will get plenty of time). Drogba has always relied on his speed and strength. Sadly, those two things go first. Torres and Drogba should be able to split time considering all the matches that Chelsea will play next year and considering neither Torres nor Drogba can be described as healthy. They should be able to work together if their egos can manage it.

    The next Chelsea coach needs to rotate the starters, play the youth against weaker teams and during the Carling Cup, and let starters come out when your up big. There is no need for Essien, Lampard and Cole to play the entire game if the game is over after 70 minutes. Let them rest and stay fresh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *