Beneath all the nostalgia and the It-Just-Looks-Right-ness of Frank Lampard patrolling the Chelsea technical area, it’s important to consider how the players themselves may be feeling about their new and, legend status aside, unproven coach. It’d be difficult to blame some of the veteran players on the squad if they found it a bit surreal to be taking instructions from a former teammate (David Luiz, Azpilicueta) or opponent (Drinkwater).
Of course, none of the players will ever come out with any criticisms at this point, but the good vibes and high spirits have been palpable so far this preseason. Very good human Cesar Azpilicueta, now officially the club captain, too, offers perspective only a player who’s on his eight manager since joining the club in 2012 can offer.
”In my seven years here in Chelsea I have had a few different managers. It’s true that this summer is something different. We have a transfer ban that we never had [before].
”We are not here to complain about any situation, we are here to work hard. We have a new manager, everyone is pushing really hard. I think the team is getting close to what the manager wants from us. We are looking forward to starting the season.”
Last year under Sarri was supposed to be a bit of a footballing revolution at Stamford Bridge, but it never really took off. Maybe someday someone will write the tell-all book, but it seems the players never truly trusted or bought into the system. Whether they knew it was a bad fit for them or a bad fit for the Premier League — or both — the focus is now on the new system, which may actually be more familiar to most already.
And though hiring essentially an unproven manager and accepted the transfer ban without a proper fight could be easily read as Chelsea throwing away hopes of competing with Liverpool and Manchester City, Azpilicueta is not ready to accept a trophy-less season before a ball has even been kicked in official competition.
”Well the truth is that last year they opened a big gap. They raised the level more than anybody could imagine. They have been working together with the group of players and the manager for a few years.
”But it’s up to us to raise our level by working hard, by having the focus and the mentality to fight for this title. Last season we finished third but it’s in our hands to try to reach the top.”
–Cesar Azpilicueta, Sky Sports News
And that’s why we love him, Captain, Leader, Dave.