Jose Mourinho may only be a day in the Chelsea job, but he doesn’t have much time to waste as he goes about organising his summer schedule. Chelsea have a good squad of players, but there is still a lot of work to do in preparation for the coming season. One of Mourinho’s first jobs will be to assess the squad and decide who stays and who goes. Identifying the needs of the team comes before any big moves in the transfer market, and while some decisions are easier than others, one of the biggest decisions he will have to make is what to do with Michael Essien.
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It is perhaps a sign of how good a job Rafa Benitez actually did in the Chelsea dressing room, but there hasn’t been the kind of media outrage at John Terry’s exclusion from the Chelsea first team that we might have expected in recent years. Terry has struggled all season with injuries, and while he is still capable of big performances, he is in no way guaranteed to be first choice come the end of the summer. Terry fell behind David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill this season, and all 3 are far from falling into decline. It seems incredible that Terry can no longer get in to the team, but the question now becomes what will Terry’s role be at the club?
Poor Luis Suarez is reportedly devastated by his ten-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic last weekend, but only because it will probably destroy any chance he had of being named as the Player-of-the-Year for his goals for Liverpool.
He whined: “I am unhappy because this could break my dream of being recognised as the best forward in England this year.”
At least Suarez can console himself by being recognised as getting the biggest ban of the season, which eclipses the 8-game ban he got for racially abusing Patrice Evra a couple of years ago. I can’t help but feel really sorry for this decision as personally I think he should have been banned for life!
Chelsea have still got eight games to play this season. That includes the Europa League final at the Amsterdam Arena in Holland on May 15th. To get there, the Blues have got to get past the Swiss side Basel that knocked Tottenham Hotspur out in the last round. They are a good side, but Chelsea are better and have got the added bonus of Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole returning from injury.
The 27-year old central defender Gary Cahill seems to have been out of the Chelsea team for ages following a minor knee operation, but he is on the verge of returning. That is great news for Chelsea, as there could still be nine games to play if we reach the Europa League final by beating Basel in the semi.
There is an outside chance of Cahill making the match at Liverpool on Sunday, but if not then he will ready for the first leg against the team from Switzerland. He has already won the FA cup and the Champions League in his short career at Stamford Bridge and does not hide the fact that the group stage exit as holders of the European cup, along with exits from the English cup competitions were disappointing.
When Chelsea agreed to loan Michael Essien to Real Madrid for the season, there was not too much complaining from Chelsea fans, probably due to the fact that the 30-year old had made just 14 Premier League appearances the previous season and did not look the same player he once was. His form has got better since joining Madrid, however, and he has become an important player for the Spanish champions.
Watching him play against Galatasaray, who had another former Chelsea player Didier Drogba in the side, in the Champions League quarter-finals made me think that he should be back at Stamford Bridge. It’s a shame we can’t bring him now, with the Chelsea squad groaning under the weight of the fixture pile up.
There was just one thing that put a negative on yesterday’s win over Manchester United. With the mammoth fixture list facing the club, the sight of Ashley Cole limping off holding his hamstring was the last thing we needed. The injury is not as bad as first feared, however, and the England left back should return in a couple of weeks.
It seems unlikely, though, that Cole be able to take part in the next FA cup game, against Manchester City at Wembley stadium on Sunday April 14th for a place in the final. Gary Cahill is also likely to miss that match, but both players should be back around that time or soon after.
Chelsea are still on course for a Europa League and FA cup double, after an absolutely outstanding piece of magic from Demba Ba produced the only goal of the game against Manchester United. The Blues will now fave Manchester City on Sunday April 14th at Wembley for a place in the final.
Rafa Benitez is not exactly the most popular Chelsea manager ever, but the fans have relented a little on him recently. His comments and statement that he would definitely be leaving the club at the end of the season have drawn an uneasy truce, but if Chelsea go out of the FA cup against Manchester United today after resting key players and losing to Southampton, he will get dog’s abuse.
The Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez has been speaking about his captain John Terry, and has revealed that the 32-year old defender has overcome his recent fitness problems. Chelsea have a very heavy fixture list and some vital games coming up, so the availability of Terry will be a huge boost.
Tomorrow’s trip to Southampton is the first of six games for the Blues in 16 days, and these include FA cup and Europa League games and a possibly crucial encounter with Tottenham in the Premier League, so Benitez is going to have to do some of the tinkering that he is infamous for.