So I haven't written anything in a while. Well, that's not strictly true, I've just had my content on www.footballfancast.com and haven't really had much time to add stuff here.
For those that don't know, I am a regular on the Chelsea FanCast (link opens up iTunes) which is a weekly podcast (mostly directly after games) on Chelsea Football Club. We review the games, rumours involving the club, sing a song from the songbook and answer questions and comments from our listeners on facebook.
But coming very soon is our own Chelsea Fancast website. In fact it's so close, I've already written a little something and since you can't read it there I'm putting it up here...
Be Patient With Carlo
So Chelsea are in a bit of a rot. Well, as much of a rot as a team topping the league, in the last 16 of the Champions League and last 8 of the FA Cup can be. But a comparative rot nonetheless. Ineffective away from home, essentially since the 3-0 drubbing of Arsenal last November and looking dithersome at home in defeat to Man City last weekend.
Things aren’t quite right and the blame can quite evenly be placed on the manager, players as individuals and the rotten luck with injuries. Since the diamond formation was probably rightfully ditched at the end of the year there have been square pegs in round holes, players out of form – namely Joe Cole, John Terry and Nicolas Anelka – along with others who haven’t shown a high level of quality – Mikel, Ballack – and then there has been the loss of Michael Essien and Ashley Cole, two of the best players in their positions in the world.
But as I opened with, Chelsea are top of the league. As bad as some of the performances and recent results have been (barring what I thought was a positive performance in the San Siro last week) Manchester United have been worse – albeit just – and Arsenal are clearly inferior at the top level, although have managed to see off the rest of the league in a more assured manner. Furthermore, the quality of the league has risen across the board. Tottenham managed to open the season in non-relegation form for the first time in living memory, Aston Villa and Everton have shown they’re a step up on the rest of the league and Man City have upgraded enough to be a big threat on their day.
Then add in tricky teams such as Fulham, Stoke and err, Liverpool and the week-in, week-out pressure is upped. While Chelsea should be beating these teams more often than they are at present there are fewer games to coast through and an increased demand for top-level, professional performances during the marathon that is a Premier League season.
Plus, there’s the squad as it currently stands, which is sorely missing a dynamic, creative attacking presence. Deco, as almost everyone could see before he signed, was never young or physically gifted enough to fulfil that role and Joe Cole, since coming back from his cruciate injury has suffered possibly the worst run of form since his arrival seven years ago. And the team is getting older too. From the middle of the park upwards, only Mikel, Essien Cole, Kalou and Sturridge aren’t either in or entering the final stages of their careers. As a consequence the team isn’t brimming with pace where it matters.
Sure, this team should be doing better and if Chelsea fail to win the league this year it will be a big chance missed. But this is Ancelotti’s first season in charge and in terms of personnel at his disposal it very much feels like a rusty version of Mourinho’s final squad. The players are still getting used to his style of play, he still has signings to make and the youngsters coming through aren’t quite ready yet.
For the present, Essien should be back soon (which will cure a few ills!) and for the future things are definitely not as grim as they seem to be on the pitch at the moment. Us fans would do well to be patient and realise we can’t have everything all at once.