It has been a while since my last fanpost, so apologies if this seems to be all over the place...
First things first: That loss to United. Losing like that is going to feel really tough for any Chelsea fan. We cannot say that we were going to win, especially after Ivanovic was correctly sent off, but the momentum was clearly in our favor and I almost feel like going a man down gives us some extra drive. Torres's second yellow was very dubious. There was clearly contact and he goes down. He was adjudged to have been trying to deceive the referee but if there is contact, then it is not deception. From then on, it was always going to be a battle to hang on to the draw and Hernandez' goal just added salt to the wound. How many more games like this are we going to have before the FA decides to implement offside/goal line etc... technology into the game? I will feel completely vindicated if we give United a mauling in the second game tomorrow.
The loss to United, coupled with the midweek loss to Shakhtar, have highlighted one glaring problem that we have; The lack of a world class centre-back. I love Terry as much as the next Chelsea supporter, but he is no longer of the same caliber as he use to be. As the season got under way, I was feeling that the Cahill/Luiz partnership was stronger than any involving Terry, but the Cahill/Luiz combo is getting roasted too often for my liking. My feeling is that we really need a 4th centre-back to push the other 3 and fight for a starting spot. Ivanovic is no longer a centre-back and cannot be expected to take a spot in the middle and perform like he use to. A squad challenging for major honours must have 4 quality centre-backs. United have Vidic, Ferdinand, Evans, Jones and Smalling. City have Kompany, Lescott, Toure and Nostacic. Bayern have Boeteng, Dante, Badstuber and Van Buyten. Real have Ramos, Pepe, Albiol, Carvalho and Varane. We have Terry, Cahill and Luiz, with Ivanovic being considered at a stretch, but we still need at least 1 more centre-back.
We may need to dip in to the transfer market as early as January for defensive reinforcements. If any of those 3 centre-backs were to pick up an injury, we could be stuck with the same 2 centre-backs playing every single game. Personally I don't think that Bruma is anywhere close to ready for Chelsea's first team and he is probably the most advanced of any of our youth centre-backs. We will need to buy someone. One possible solution is Montpellier's Yanga-Mbiwa. The young centre-back was one of the prime targets of AC Milan in their attempt to replace Thiago Silva, only to fail due to an unwillingness to meet Montpellier's asking price. The 23 year old ticks all the right boxes when looking at Chelsea's plan for the future: Young, composed over the ball, great technical skill and ambitious. He has pace, strength and a very clean tackler. AC Milan bid €6.5 million in the summer and were rightly knocked back by Montpellier, as the didn't want to lose the base of their defense. They wanted to be able to mount a challenge in the Champion's League and in Ligue 1, neither of which has turned out very well. The French international could easily be persuaded to join the reigning European champions and getting him for up to €13 or 14 million would be a great deal. He would help strengthen our defense and his natural pace and anticipation would be well suited to the premier league.
We also need to look at our defensive situation come the middle of next year. Even if we do end up buying someone like Yanga-Mbiwa in January, it will not be sufficient for the next few years. Terry will be entering the final year of his contract as a 32 year. I don't know if he is going to sign a contract extension, wants to go to Valencia (or somewhere warm) or the USA/Asia ( for a big final payday) but it is something that we seriously need to consider. He is not the player that he use to be and as much as it pains me to admit, I see him entering a similar situation to that of Jamie Carragher: Lacking pace, lacking consistency and starting to look a little bit out of depth next year. If he does go, then we are presented with an opportunity to finalize the new 'spine' for the next 5 years. We have had Cech-Terry-Lampard-Drogba and you can even add Cole onto there. Looking to the future, I see the spine as Cech-Hummels-Mata. Hummels is, for me, the best defender in the world. He may have had a dip of form recently, but is still easily better than anything that we have lining up in the blue jersey. Incredible passing, great strength, pace, anticipation. I would run out of superlatives to describe him. He will be key to any Euro or World Cup victory for the German national side in the future. He is only 23, stands 6f3' and is the penalty taker for Dortmund. We should make Mats Hummels our number one transfer target in the summer and break the bank to bring him to the Bridge. Anything up to €35 or 40 million euros would be acceptable to me, but I would think that the figure would be closer to €25 million.
That leaves us with the conundrum that keeps Di Matteo up at night: What to do with Fernando Torres? I will just start by clarifying that I love him. Torres. He is getting better and better while having to adapt to a new style. He is working very hard for the team, dropping back to defend, getting assists and slowly scoring goals. Keep the faith and we will be rewarded. There is so much going around linking us with Falcao and I think that we need to stay clear of him. €60 million euros would be an outrageous investment that will be 27 next year. We made that 'mistake' already with Torres and I don't think that we should take the risk again with Falcao. He is deadly at the moment but how many players score THAT many goals season after season. Our striker situation will also depend on what happens with Daniel Sturridge. My gut tells me that he will be going in January because he wants to play up front and his contract is almost up. We will likely be able to get €10-15 million for him from a club like Liverpool and that will be that. We will need to bring in at least 1 solid replacement in January already.
There are plenty of names being thrown around. I have not seen enough of Remy to be able to make an informed decision on him. Muller would be a great choice because of his versatility. He is able to play up front or anywhere in the attacking band of three, is an extremely hard worker and proven goal scorer. He already has 8 goals and 11 assists in 18 appearances for club and country this season. The 23 year old had 23 goals and 24 assists in 64 games last season (with 12 of those appearances being as a substitute) and 22 goals and 27 assists in 61 appearances the year before. He is young and will likely fall down the pecking order again at Bayern when Robben and Gomez come back from injury. My top choice as he adds more versatility and does not directly compete with Torres for the stop up front but is able to step into that if need be.
Jovetic is the other main option for me. Fiorentina's young captain is very strong, quick while not being lightning fast, very unpredictable with the ball and never shies away from a challenge. He is a joy to watch as he drops deep to start attacks and loves to shoot from outside the box; curling the ball around the keeper in to the top corner. He is very aggressive but not selfish, rarely making the wrong decision to pass or shoot and strong in the air. I don't think that he would have much trouble adjusting to the premier league as his physical style suits it well. Another player that could easily slot into the line-up with Torres and add a bit more physicality and strength to our attacking band of three.
Lukaku would be able to play with either Muller or Jovetic and the prospect of a partnership with either (in another year or two) is just mouth watering.