Willian seems to be trapped in the upside down. When he’s good, the team is bad. When the team’s good, he is less so. In 2015-16, otherwise known as “The Mourinho Season”, Willian was voted Chelsea’s Player of the Year. Last season we won the title but Willian lost his place in the starting lineup.
Of course, it could just be that he’s steadily consistent while everyone else either plays amazingly well or amazingly poorly around him. Willian may not dazzle as much as his more fanciful teammates at club or national team level (i.e. the likes of Hazard and Neymar), but rare is the game where he doesn’t display obvious effort, determination, and commitment to the cause.
This season, he’s set a career high already with 13 goals, to go along with 11 assists in 48 appearances and is on course for 3000 minutes played after falling short of 2000, even, last season. But despite those individual successes, the Blues aren’t even London’s best anymore, let alone the Premier League’s. And that’s painful certainly painful, for both the fans and the players (especially those who have been around for a while like Willian).
“Yes. I think that hurt a little bit. It doesn’t matter the team, to lose isn’t good. I think something will have to change for next season.
“If a team like Chelsea wants to reach the top four we can’t draw against West Ham at home. We can’t lose against Tottenham at home. Of course we still have the FA Cup to fight for. We still have six games to fight for. But we have to change something.”
Change is certainly on the horizon, be it a new manager (or not) and a re-organized front office, plus rumors that a free-spending summer might lie ahead. What Willian sees clearly is that Chelsea are too big a club to tolerate failure. He’s in his fifth season at the Bridge, and he understands the pressure and the expectations set by Roman Abramovich.
“For me, Chelsea will always be Chelsea. It doesn’t matter where we are. The name is too big.
“Of course, the football has to improve. Chelsea always want to win titles and to see these teams in front of us is difficult. We want to be there. But Chelsea has won everything in the last 15 years. The club is one of the biggest in the world now.
“That’s why the pressure is coming – because Chelsea has to be top four, fighting for the title, fighting to do something special every season.”
One of the criticisms leveled at the current squad is that it doesn’t have any leaders. There was a time when Chelsea had at least five national team captains on the pitch — in 2007-08, for example, we had John Terry, Michael Ballack, Didier Drogba, Petr Cech and Andriy Shevchenko; later the likes of Branislav Ivanović and Mikel John Obi also joined that group. Now, we have ... one, maybe — in Eden Hazard — and some feel that that partly explains Chelsea’s inconsistent for from season-to-season, game-to-game, half-to-half.
Willian doesn’t agree.
“I think we have this kind of player. Of course these guys were very special here – JT, Ivanovic, Lampard. But we have Gary Cahill. We have Azpilicueta. We have David Luiz. Players. Leaders.”
One name he doesn’t mention is his own. Which is odd, given that he thinks he has to kill a lion every time he plays (to prove himself) and, along with N’Golo Kante, is the hardest working man on the team. He’s tireless, dedicated, plays both sides of the ball, but he says he’s not a leader.
“To become a leader like that isn’t in my profile. I’m just quiet. I want to go onto the pitch — play. But I think we can win titles when you don’t have leaders but if you train, if you have a plan to go into a game.”
As befits his strong-but-silent type of personality, Willian only sees one way out of Chelsea’s current “difficult period.” It doesn’t involve words. It does involve killing proverbial lions.
“I don’t like to switch on the TV and see someone saying, ‘Willian has played very bad’. This is hard. But the big players, they respond on the pitch. Not with words or something like that. In football you always have to give your answer on the pitch.”
-Willian; source: Mirror
So say we all.