A fresh season is underway, lineups are being evaluated ... and Gary Cahill is on the outside looking in. Sounds familiar.
In a triumphant interview with Matt Law towards the end of last season, after fighting his way back into the first XI and on the eve of winning the FA Cup, Cahill described what it was like to be him.
“The majority of Chelsea fans have been unbelievable to me, but there is maybe an element of five per cent always thinking ‘get the next best thing in’ or ‘move him on’. I can feel that in a certain percentage.”
They’re back, those doubters. It’s possible that Maurizio Sarri is one of them. Cahill has yet to be included in the squad for any of Chelsea’s first three matches. Sarri has urged patience; after all he can only play two center backs at a time.
“I told him (Cahill) that he needs to be patient now. And that he is very important for us.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Telegraph
Cahill hasn’t lost the fighting spirit he so proudly described in May. On Monday Matt Law reported that the defender plans to stay and fight for his place once again. There have been rumors of interest from Turkish club Galatasaray, possibly unfounded. But Cahill intends to keep his address in London, at least through January. No Championship loan, no loan abroad before the final dregs of the summer window are finally flushed away on August 31st.
He’s been here before, albeit just on the bench instead of sitting among the paying customers. It wasn’t fun.
“I find it tough to be left out, to sit there and not influence anything. We had a huge amount of big games in important competitions and you can’t influence them. You can influence them in the dressing room and in training to a certain degree, but the business end is influencing it out there on the pitch and how can you do that when you are not out there?”
Gary Cahill; May 2018
It remains to be seen whether Cahill emerges triumphant again. He’s 32 years old and in the last year of his contract. After the international break the two-a-week schedule kicks in and playing time is sure to come his way. That’s his chance. He’ll probably do it without the captaincy, though. Eden Hazard and César Azpilicueta are considered the front runners to take the armband.
In the meantime, he has a huge supporter in the very same Matt Law, so don’t be surprised if we get another Cahill story or two in the coming weeks.
and yes I'd be playing Christensen above both but I think it's insane how Cahill is being frozen out right now. He's a much, much better defender than Luiz— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) August 26, 2018
Another veteran player on the outs is Danny Drinkwater, the £35m-man who has struggled for playing time since he joined Chelsea at the close of last summer’s window. At 28 and with a contract until 2022, he presents Chelsea with a potentially thornier problem.
In a jam-packed midfield, he would appear to be either last in the pecking order, or possibly ahead of Cesc Fabregas (simply because he still has functioning legs). Like Cahill, he, too, has no intention of giving up, according to Law.
Chelsea are, if not eager, at least willing to entertain offers to sell him or send him on loan. But Drinkwater can also see the heavy slate of games looming on the schedule and he’s another one who’s going to give it until January before he decides where he stands in Maurizio Sarri’s estimation.