Jul 232013

Blues’ Rooney chase: Could they do better?

This summer has been an interesting one to date as far as Chelsea are concerned. Eventually, they were able to bring back Jose Mourinho for a second spell as manager, while Roman Abramovich celebrated the 10th anniversary of his takeover of the club. They’ve also managed to sign a couple of young stars in Marco van Ginkel and Andre Schurrle for something in the region of £25m.

While both new arrivals and veteran ‘keeper Mark Schwarzer would add something to the club, there is one area where the Blues appear to be light: up front. The promising Romelu Lukaku aside, Chelsea haven’t got many goals in them. The hugely underwhelming Fernando Torres and injury-prone Demba Ba might not have what they need to challenge on home and European fronts.

Heading south?

It’s no secret that Chelsea are after the signature of Manchester United’s troubled star Wayne Rooney. Having recently had a bid turned down by the current Premier League champions, it seems that Mourinho is desperate to get his man. While Rooney is a renowned goalscorer, his extra baggage might dissuade the Blues from bidding more than they have done thus far.

If he costs £30m or less, the price would probably be about right, but his wages, which could be well in excess of £250,000 a week may prove to be a stumbling block. Although Chelsea can afford him, perhaps there is better value elsewhere if they need an additional striker to complement the likes of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard in midfield.

Scouring the world

If Rooney is out of reach, either because of hesitation on Chelsea’s part to up their bids for Rooney or United’s reluctance to sell, who else could they sign? With some of the world’s top strikers deciding to either stay put with their current clubs or seal moves to some of the nouveau riche of European football such as Monaco or Paris Saint-German, their options are limited.

However, there are a few strikers who might flourish should they join the blues. Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke is a fine example, enjoying a great debut season in the Premier League despite his current club’s struggles against relegation. He will probably cost £25m, and is younger and fitter than Rooney, plus some of his Belgium teammates including Hazard and Lukaku are already there.

Other possible options might include Valencia’s Roberto Soldado, the promising Italy striker Stephan El Shaarawy of AC Milan and Robert Lewandowski of Borussia Dortmund. The latter two might be harder to get hold of though, while Soldado is 28 now, and is unproven at the very highest level. For now, it looks like Rooney or no one.

Jun 082013

It’s the time of year that Homer Simpson loves more than any other – the cut. Chelsea have announced the release of 8 players – and there aren’t too many surprises. While some of the names on the list are relatively unknown, there are several players that once showed promise and potential. Of the youth players, Amin Affane, Aziz Deen-Conteh and Archange Nkumu are the unfortunate leavers, and they leave with the club’s best wishes for the future. Joining them are Ross Turnbull, Hilario, Florent Malouda, Paulo Ferreira and Yossi Benayoun.

Turnbull has never really inspired confidence between the posts, and few fans will be sorry to see him leave. At 28, Ross is far older than most people assume, and he should be hitting his peak. Hopefully he can find first team football elsewhere and move his career forward. Joining him on the bus out of town is 37 year old Hilario – another goalkeeper departure that few fans will be concerned about. Hilario spent 7 years at the club and yet only managed 20 first team appearances. I’d love to say he’ll enjoy his retirement, but by all accounts he’s been enjoying it for a few years now.

Yossi Benayoun was a promising signing in 2010, but he never really established himself, and spent the majority of his playing time out on loan at Arsenal and West Ham. Benayoun was rarely anything but a bit part player, and it’s good for the club to get his wages off the books. However, Paulo Ferreira and Florent Malouda were far from bit part players. Malouda was a £13 million pound signing from Lyon who made almost 150 appearances for the club before falling out of favour with both fans and successive managers. Similarly, Paulo Ferreira was one of the first big signings of the Abramovich era. He joined from Porto in 2004 for €20 million euro, and quickly established himself as first choice right back with some tremendous performances. Although he has struggled in the last two years, Ferreira was a dedicated and exceptional player for us, and he was rightly applauded for his cameo against Everton on the last day of the season. Ferreira now retires from professional football, and we can do nothing but thank him for his service to the club.

And so here we are – out with the old and in with the new. The spots that have opened up in the squad will now be filled by youth players and new signings – and that is far more exciting for any fan…despite what Homer says!

Jun 042013

It’s taken a while to have confirmed what everyone and their dog already knew, but Chelsea have finally and officially confirmed the appointment of The Special One Jose Mourinho as their new manager. Mourinho has signed a 4 year deal reportedly worth £8.5 million per year, making him the highest paid gaffer in the league. Only 10 days ago, we spoke about the importance of giving Mourinho time to build his own dynasty if and when he returned, and it seems like that is exactly what the man himself has in mind for the club.

In an interview with Chelsea TV, Mourinho was quizzed on his tendency to spend only a couple of years at a club before moving on. When asked whether this had changed and whether he wanted a long-term project, Jose replied
“I hope so. When you look at the profile of the Chelsea squad I think it’s what they need at this time. It’s very important for this club and very important for the balance of the squad, but it’s a young squad with a lot of talent and I think they need stability to reach a high point of their evolution and for their careers.

“They need stability, stability I hope I can give them and between me, the owner and of course the club, we have no doubts about what we want to do and the approach we want to have.

“I am the same, physically the same, but every day you have to think about yourself and about evolution. I have the same nature but I’m much more mature with a different approach to things, I’m more ready to be in a club and stay for a long time.”

Mourinho also confirmed that it was not a difficult decision to return to the club he left in 2007. Reports since then have always said that Mourinho’s relationship with Roman Abramovich has soured, but when asked whether it had taken a long time to come his decision, he said it was quite the opposite.

“It was an easy decision. I met the boss, the owner and I think in five minutes after a couple of very short but pragmatic questions we decided straight away. I asked the boss ‘do you want me back?’ and the boss asked me ‘do you want to come back?’ I think in a couple of minutes the decision was made.”

Mourinho will bring some of his backroom staff from Real Madrid with him – namely technical assistant Jose Morais, goalkeeping coach Silvino Louro and fitness coach Rui Farai. It’s not a complete clean out however, with Steve Holland, Chris Jones and Christophe Lollichon remaining at the club. This is wonderful news for all Chelsea fans – most pleasing of all is Jose’s attitude and humility. He is showing great respect to the club, and his talk of a long-term project is hugely encouraging. We all know Mourinho specializes in short-term success, but we need something more substantial than that now.

We need something “Special”, and I think we’ve just found it.

May 262013

Long term transfer target Edinson Cavani is reportedly top of the list this summer as Roman Abramovich looks set to open his chequebook once again this summer. Cavani, the 26 year old goal-scoring machine, has been at Napoli for three seasons where he has netted an incredible 104 goals in just 138 appearances. The Uruguayan has long been admired by many of Europe’s top clubs, but we look to be the first to make a big move this summer in the hope of beating other big spenders like Man City to his signature. However, there may be one big unknown in this situation – Rafa Benitez.

Benitez looks set to be officially named as the new Napoli boss in the next 24 hours. Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis is an extremely difficult man to predict, and by all accounts difficult to work for as well, but it seems Benitez is willing to take on the massive task. Abramovich will be hoping that Benitez will be more willing to discuss terms with the team he just won a Europa League with, but it is difficult to understand just how Benitez feels about Chelsea.

Rafa did not have an easy time at Stamford Bridge. Many fans were extremely vocal in their distaste and dislike at his appointment, and they never warmed to him. The fact of the matter is that Benitez actually did a very good job in his short time at Chelsea. He managed to win back some of the power from the dressing room, navigate a dreadful fixture schedule while keeping his major players fit, and ended the season comfortably in 3rd position with a Europa League to his name. If Roberto Di Matteo had only come in when Rafa did and achieved the same results, he would be considered a hero. Unfortunately for Benitez, his reputation preceded him, and the fans never gave him a chance.

This may have left Rafa with a bad taste in his mouth, and it would be understandable if he would rather not do us any favours. At this time, it’s guesswork as to how open he is to doing business with Roman, but we must hope that his relationship with our board remains strong. Cavani at Chelsea would be an incredible signing, and one that would strike fear in to every team across Europe. As far as strikers go, Cavani is the genuine article, and we should be moving heaven and earth to land him. Fingers crossed.

May 072013

Andre Villas-Boas returns to Stamford Bridge tomorrow night for the first time since he was sacked as the manager last March. The 35-year old has spoken before about it and is obviously unhappy with the way he was treated, although he must have known that Abramovich has been going through managers the way most people go through toilet rolls.

His Tottenham side are currently lying outside the Champions League places in fifth place and they desperately need a win to push them above Arsenal. So you would think that AVB would not try to do anything to wind the Chelsea players up and make his task even harder. Well you would be wrong, because the Portuguese coach has suggested that it was the players’ fault he was sacked.

“The experiences of managing Chelsea and Spurs are different and I learned a great lesson from last year,” said Villas-Boas.

“It becomes easier when the players are willing to commit to your ideas. They need to be able to take something from learning new things and also enjoy learning new things that they can use in their game.

“All the players have received me well and, when you receive that sort of openness, you can create a good environment.”

I am sure those words will help you and your team to get a good reception tomorrow Andre! If it was not for Di Matteo steadying the ship last season and steering us to a fantastic Champions League triumph, Chelsea would not have been in this season’s competition and may even have gone into a downward spiral.

AVB seemed to upset a lot of senior players and his tactics were not working, so whose fault is that? His `brilliant` tactics for Tottenham this season seem to consist of giving the ball to Bale and hoping he scores.

We beat them 4-2 at White Hart Lane back in October and we are playing much better now, so hopefully we can do them some serious damage tomorrow. You can be sure the Chelsea players will be fired up for it.

Apr 302013

The fantastic and versatile Brazilian international David Luiz is a popular choice to become the next captain od Chelsea, and the change could happen sooner than expected, apparently. The 26-year old has been putting in captains’ performances for the Blues lately and more than once his drive, skill and determination have rescued Chelsea, most recently with a last gasp winner at Basel.

According to the Daily Star, the Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich wants Luiz to replace Terry as club captain this summer, although it is unclear whether this would mean an end to Terry’s career at the club or simply a demotion. This could be speculation on the paper’s part, but Luiz has been receiving lots of plaudits from everyone at the club recently.

Of course, if Jose Mourinho takes the reigns at Stamford Bridge again at the end of the season, he may want to do things his own way and might think it is a bad move to drop Terry from the role after all he has done for the club. Luiz is the sort of no holds barred player that the Special One loves to have in his team and I am sure that Luiz will be captain one day, but have my doubts it will be this summer.

Mar 272013

If Rafa Benitez was brought in to replace Roberto Di Matteo as manager of Chelsea because Roman Abramovich thought he would inspire Fernando Torres to find his old form, it failed. Benitez will not be at Stamford Bridge next season and neither, hopefully, will Torres. The club must accept that there is no chance of getting back much of the £50 million they paid to Liverpool for the Spaniard, but he may help the club in his own way.

Torres began his career at Atletico Madrid and burst on to the scene for club and country. He supported the club as a boy and may be heading back there. The manager, Diego Simeone, has spoken about Torres and suggested that he would be welcome back. That should be all the encouragement Chelsea need to offer Torres as part of a deal to bring the Colombian international striker Radamel Falcao to London and the Premier League.

It could make the difference in fighting off the likes of Real Madrid, PSG and Manchester City for the prolific 27-year old. Falcao, with 27 goals already this season, is on course to beat last year’s tally of 36, and the Spanish club have accepted that they will have to sell him this summer. Chelsea need to make sure that he does not go anywhere else but the Bridge.

Mar 042013

Chelsea will definitely have a new manager next season. Rafa Benitez even admitted as much in his much publicisedrant last week. The fact that his job title was interim manager was a bit of a clue as well. The question is, who will it be. Earlier in the season it was widely thought that Roman Abramovich had arranged with the former boss of Barcelona to come to Stamford Bridge after his year away from football. Pep Guardiola surprised everyone, however, by taking the job at Bayern Munich.

There are lots of reports in the media about possible replacements for Benitez, but there is also a belief that some managers are wary of taking the job because of the recent history at the club. Abramovich is seen as way too keen to wield the axe, especially after the Di Matteo scandal. One man who has the confidence in his own ability not to worry about that, is also the man who most Chelsea fans would love to see back at the club, Jose Mourinho.

Petr Cech has been speaking about the possible return of the special one, and it is clear that the keeper would be delighted to see him take over again.

“We had fantastic success with him, so why not? He is a fantastic manager.

“Of course the fans sing his name. Jose Mourinho did a fantastic job for the club and people loved him, so he rightly deserved that.”

PSG are apparently trying to persuade Mourinho to move to France at the end of the season, but I am sure Abramovich could convince him to come to London instead. Will it happen, and if not, who should be the new boss?

Feb 272013

It is fair to say that Chelsea have been missing Didier Drogba this season. Fernando Torres has been better for the Blues this year, scoring 15 goals in all competitions so far, and Demba Ba has added some physical presence up front since signing from Newcastle in January, but has only scored once in his six league games so far. There is a player on Chelsea’s books who has the strength and pace to replace Drogba, and he has scored 12 league goals this season. The problem is that 19-year old Romelu Lukaku has been scoring them for West Brom.

It is no surprise to hear that the West Brom manager Steve Clarke would love to keep the young striker at the Hawthorns for another season, especially after one of his other forwards, Peter Odemwingie, showed zero loyalty during the January transfer window farce with QPR. Clarke would love to take the Dutchman permanently but would need to win a jackpot at www.MansionCasino.com to afford to pay what the Dutchman is worth!

Clarke said yesterday: “If Chelsea want to leave him out for another season somewhere, I think we would have a strong chance of getting him back here, but it is a discussion for the summer.

“It’s a package that has been good for all three parties. For such a young player, the sky is the limit.

“He has all the attributes to be a really top player. He is very level-headed and he understands why he came here and what he has got to do in the future to be a big player at a really big club.”

A lot will depend on who is in charge of Chelsea for next season, almost certainly not Rafa Benitez, and what Abramovich decides to do about Torres and any new signings. We have been linked with Falcao and Cavani, but we are also short on strikers. Lukaku has come on in leaps and bounds at West Brom and is still very young, so maybe it would be better if he has another season there.

Feb 232013

The most successful period for Chelsea was also the most successful period for the manager at the time Jose Mourinho. The `special one` has also proclaimed those three-and-a-half years as his happiest time in football. The beautiful friendship could soon be rekindled, according to another former manager of the Blues Ruud Gullit.

The Dutchman thinks that Mourinho is set to take over from Benitez at the end of the season, and also that he was going to come back to Stamford Bridge last summer. The only thing that delayed his return was that Roberto Di Matteo guided us to Champions league glory.

“Rafa Benitez’s main objective this season is to qualify for the Champions league and then to make way for Jose Mourinho. I have a gut feeling that Mourinho will come back to Chelsea.

“I have a feeling that he was meant to come back after the Champions league final, but then when Chelsea won it I think he thought better of it. It’s no coincidence that right after the final he signed a new contract with Real Madrid.”

That would explain a few things. Mourinho has not really had his mind on the job with Madrid this season, and has spoken about returning to England, despite his new contract. He has fallen out with a lot of the Spanish media, not seeming to care if he ruins his relationship with them for the future. He has been spotted back in London on occasion, and it is no secret that Benitez is only an interim manager.

Of course, it is up to Roman Abramovich, but he has surely realised now that he should have kept hold of Jose before, and we have never been as good since he left.