Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday”--- Anonymous
The wait for “Real” games is over!!! The time for friendlies and “glorified” friendlies are over. No doubt the wait this summer was less painful due to steady supply of football via the Euro 2012, London Olympics and our own pre-season friendlies. As I eagerly wait for the ball to set rolling on the DW stadium on Sunday I paused for a moment to collect my thoughts on my expectations of Chelsea for the new season.
For a start, the diehard Chelsea fan in me will want victories in all the matches played and in all the competitions. I am sure many of you would be sharing the same feeling. That feeling / desire aside, I have stepped back and attempted to look at the larger picture and collected my thoughts on what I look forward as a Chelsea fan for the coming season: 2012-13.
1) Beginning of a Chelsea footballing philosophy / Style: When we say Champagne football the average football fan connects to the French footballing side Stade de Reims of the 1960’s and Just Fontaine; When we say Total Football the mind immediately connects to the great manager Rinus Michels and the footballing teams Ajax & Dutch national team; when we say Tiki taka we know we are talking about Barcelona. Then when we say Chelsea what does the mind of an average football fan connect it to? Yes, we can connect it to success on field but under which footballing philosophy or style of play? Now that the elusive Champions league trophy is won, Chelsea should attempt to create a template / a footballing philosophy / a style of play which would prevail from the Senior team to the Under 16 level transcending the inevitable managerial changes over a period of time.
To better drive this point we just need to look at another PL team, Liverpool. Under Kenny Daglish, 35 million pounds was splashed on Andy and with the arrival of a new manager, Brendon Rogers the same Andy is rumoured to be not fitting the passing style thought to be used by the new manager.
There are lessons to be learnt in this. I know we have a technical director of football and it is time we begin to see the seeds of a successful style of footballing philosophy being sown during the season.
2) Creative football: Chelsea has signed Eden Hazard, Oscar, Marin already and I am pretty sure there will be one or two more signings before the transfer window closes. This is almost like fantasy football. There were times during the last seasons where our only source of creative play was Mata and the poor guy was played (read flogged) almost all the matches during the season. This year we seemed to have turned the creativity deficit into a creativity surplus, at least on paper. Now, I want the plan on the paper to turn into reality. I want the likes of Mata, hazard, Oscar ably supported by Ramirez/ Marin/ Torres to weave magic in the attacking band of three “creating “ goals, running the channels, piercing the packed defenses, constantly interchanging positions, running into carved out spaces and in short: creating nightmares for opponents and a dreamy fantasy for the fans delivering us a brand of football which is both delightful to watch as well as one which is successful on the field.
3) Terrific Torres: The Drogba era at the bridge is sadly over and let this season usher in the Torres era. Drogba, I believe was one a kind who could devour opponent defenders as well as kill competition for his starting berth. Please ask Shevchenko who was no mug when he joined us. But a combination of how Chelsea was setup to play along with the sheer ability of Drogba meant there could only be one winner for the starting striker spot in the team. Now that the legend has decided to leave, it is up to Torres to grab this opportunity with both hands and come out in flying colours. Even the supply routes for his goals have been considerably strengthened with the arrival of Hazard, Oscar and Marin.
4) Managers’ watch: I would be eagerly watching the performance of more than one manager. Of course, the most important attention would be on RDM. I was delighted on his appointment and had earlier written a fan post on his appointment. You can read it here.
Chelsea have changed their managers mid- season at least 3 times the last 5 seasons. Mourinho, Scolari and AVB had their Chelsea career stopped mid- way through the season. Only the Italian, Ancelotti could complete the season and not be changed mid-way. I hope it is the turn of another Italian RDM, to finish the season as strongly as the previous one, delivering success on the field proving his doubters and detractors wrong and erasing once for all silly notion that he is just warming the seat for Pep.
Other than RDM, I will have a curious look at how AVB does at Spurs. I am not wishing the guy any failure or any success. Just curious as to how that AVB appointment turns out.
Also, as a Chelsea fan I wish our ex-Chelsea players turned managers: Steve Clark (at West Brom), Gianfranco Zola ( at Watford) and Gustavo Poyet (at Brighton) good luck and success.
5) Winning the FIFA Club World Cup: There were seven pieces of Silverware to be won as of last Sunday which is now reduced to six. We do not know how many trophies we will end up with. The desire to retain the Champions league cannot be expressed by words so is the desire to be the top dog at the league. But one trophy which I want the blues to desperately win is the FIFA club world cup held in Japan as this is the only trophy which is not currently present in our ever expanding trophy cabinet. I know some of you will think of this trophy as some mickey mouse cup still I want us to win as it completes our Trophy Slam if i can borrow a phrase from Tennis. Chelsea will play their first game ( semi -final match) on Dec 13, 2012 at Yokohoma, Japan. Corinthians ,the CONMEBOL champions are expected to give us a stiff test for this cup.
6) Success at NextGen series: Chelsea will make its debut in this year’s NextGen Series. This a tournament where the Under-19’s of the top clubs play each other and will be a good barometer of how good our academy is vis a vis our European counterparts . The last year’s finals were played between Internazionale and Ajax with the former emerging as the winners. This year the number of teams has increased to 24 and there will be participation from the likes of Barcelona, Ajax, PSV, Juventus etc. Chelsea has been drawn in Group 3 along with Ajax, CSKA Moscow and Molde. We begin the campaign at Cobham on the 28th of August against CSKA.
This tournament will enable us observe how our Under-19’s fare against the elite of Europe in a proper tournament. Chelsea has named a strong squad and it will be interesting to watch the likes of Paizon, Chalobah, Kane, Feruz, Christensen tackle their European counterparts. A break out performance from anyone of them will increase their prospects of joining our first team.
7) Successful loan spells: This point needs no further explanation. Barring Thibaut Courtois, none of the loan spells of our players last season can be deemed a roaring success. The less said about Josh’s spell at Swansea the better. I am sure the lessons have been learnt by Emanelo and team. I am aware the success of any loan spell is a combination of opportunities to perform (minutes on the field) and the actual use of the given opportunities. Here is to wishing all our loanees (KdB, Lukaku, Kalas, Thibaut and others) a memorable and successful loan spell. Hoping to see some of them knocking at the doors of the first team in the coming seasons.
8) Even more success for WAGNH: I was pleasantly surprised when Graham mentioned about the second birthday of WAGNH. I sincerely believed it was much older than two. I stumbled on this site during the last season and believe me, it has now become the one stop for all Chelsea news along with excellent articles by wonderful authors. The last Chelsea season, as a fan, which I experienced along with WAGNH was an emotional roller coaster no doubt but in the end it was wonderful having conquered the holy grail of Champion’s league along with the FA cup. This season I expect many more happy returns!!!
I believe the current members count (as mentioned by Graham) is around 3000. Here is to wish that in the coming season all the serial lurkers of this site , silent observers (I know a few of them) of the site and newer Chelsea fans will take the time out to actually sign up to this wonderful Chelsea community and make WAGNH the Numero Uno of Chelsea fan sites on the web.
Wishing all Chelsea fans a memorable, pleasant and successful 2012-13 season. KTBFFH!!!