Hiddink factor fizzing out?

Gus Hiddink although an experienced manager and a veteran of the game, lacks the dynamism of someone like a Simeone or a Mourinho. It seems he has some ideas but is too afraid to experiment. The current plight of Chelsea Football club although improved under Hiddink initially still remains one with question marks. Our defensive frailties were much exposed during the first half of the season although somewhat diminished by the surge in performances during the initial few months under Gus, has somewhat fizzled out.

We have conceded an unthinkable (at least in terms of Chelsea of old) 39 goals already this season (not to mention the one we just conceded against West Ham), a far cry from the defensive stronghold we once were considered to be.

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Hiddink factor not working anymore?

 

Starting cautiously, with a string of draws and intermittent  wins in between, our performances have dipped again of late with a heartbreaking defeat to PSG and an embarrassing loss to Everton, eliminating us from the FA Cup as well.  With no trophies to fight for this season, the only positive come May can be in the form of a Europa League berth. This although looks a long shot, is still mathematically possible with 10 more games to go. But, with Diego Costa banned for 2 matches and Eden Hazard on the sidelines due to a hip injury, it looks slightly daunting to achieve.

Even if we qualify for Europa, would we seriously want that? With a team in transition, wouldn’t it be better to refrain from the stresses of playing in Europe and concentrate on the English Premier League? I personally believe that it’d do us a world of good to stay away from Europa league next season.

PS: Read this post on We Ain’t Got no History

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Europe Next Season? Yay or Nay!

Over the years, we have become accustomed to seeing Chelsea at the very top of English football decimating teams all over England and Europe. Chelsea has been the best ranked English team in the UEFA rankings for quite some time now which only goes to show our consistency in Europe season after season. As such, this season’s debacle is hard to swallow which is even more mind-boggling when considering the fact that we were league champions last season and Champions League Semi-Finalists.

We, as Chelsea fans have become spoilt over the years, winning 4 League titles in a short duration, winning the Champions League and making into UCL finals twice. This makes our capacity to digest absence from UCL next season even more daunting.

For years, I’ve laughed at Liverpool, what with their delusions of grandeur. They expect to win trophies every year. They start the season believing they’re favourites for the title, being linked with world-class stars every year. It’s hilarious but I’m not laughing now.

Everton v Chelsea - Premier League
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

With no Champions League next season, I do not believe Chelsea have the pulling capacity to bring in world-class players they had in the recent seasons, even with the imminent arrival of Antonio Conte. With FFP regulations and the onus of balancing our books, we cannot spend more than we earn.

There seems to a general consensus amongst Chelsea fans that there won’t be any garage sale at the Bridge this summer but I wonder if it isn’t a delusion. There certainly won’t be many better keepers than Courtois available in the market.  Conversely, do we expect Courtois to turn down any decent offer for a move away from Chelsea in the form of money, European football and a chance of winning trophies? Same goes for others as well. How many of these vacant spots can we fill realistically? Why would any top player want to join us? What if big bids come in for the likes of Costa and Hazard, does anyone expects us to hold a player against their wishes and regardless of what is on offer? We have a stadium to pay for, books to balance. I believe, when the bids come in, business will surely be done. There’ll be a lot of churning at the Bridge this summer and we might not come out on top.

So, to believe that this season was just a blip and we still hold enough pulling power to bring in top talent is a farce. We need drastic changes and a move away from the rampant mismanagement we’ve seen over the past few years. We would have to act early in the summer, identify viable targets and go with the decision. Offloading players would be necessary as we cannot keep knocking off bids for our stars.

I believe getting into top four next season won’t be easy and it wouldn’t be the World class stars that’ll do it for us. We’d have to rely on our young stars to get us there and it might take longer than expected to reach there.

Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!

PS: Read this post on We Ain’t Got no History

FA Cup: Confirmed Lineups – Everton V Chelsea

So, the list is out Chelsea travel to Goodison Park without Eden Hazard who’s ruled out for the crucial fixture because of a hip injury. Diego Costa makes the starting lineup and John Terry return to the bench. Pato is still not on the team sheet.

Go get ’em, boys!

Everton Line-Up (4-2-3-1):

GK: Joel Robles

DF: Leighton Baines, Ramiro Funes Mori, Phil Jagielka (c), Seamus Coleman

DM: James McCarthy, Gareth Barry

AM: Tom Cleverley, Ross Barkley, Aaron Lennon

FW: Romelu Lukaku

Substitutes: Tim Howard, John Stones, Arouna Koné, Oumar Niasse, Muhamed Bešić, Gerard Deulofeu, Leon Osman

 

Chelsea Line-Up (4-2-3-1):

GK: Thibaut Courtois

DF: Kenedy, Branislav Ivanović (c), Gary Cahill, César Azpilicueta

DM: Nemanja Matić, John Obi Mikel

AM: Pedro, Cesc Fàbregas, Willian

FW: Diego Costa

Substitutes: Asmir Begović, Baba Rahman, John Terry, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Oscar, Bertrand Traoré, Loïc Rémy

 

 

Manager Situation …. huh Conte or Simeone?

For the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of speculation in the media over the Chelsea FC manager situation. If certain reports are to be believed, Antonio Conte, the current Italy boss is in poll position to be Chelsea’s manager next summer albeit after Euro 2016. Chelsea fans will remember him from the 2013 UCL campaign when his then side Juventus came from behind in our opening group fixture to draw the game 1-1 at Stamford bridge. And, again in the reverse fixture when they slaughtered us 5-1 at home. It makes a lot of sense bringing a coach of his ilk to the Bridge this summer for a job which would be difficult to pitch by the Chelsea board to any decent manager in World football right now given our dismal standing in the league and no hope for qualifying to Europe whatsoever. As such it’s strange to see us being linked with names like Allegri, Conte and Simeone. The latter, of course, has denied receiving any offers from any European clubs whatsoever and doesn’t seem keen for a move away from Vincente Calderon in the summer.

Although Allegri has refused to comment on the Chelsea situation, Giovanni Branchini (Italian Football’s most powerful dealmaker), however, has denied Allegri’s chances for a move to Chelsea Football Club citing his contentment and commitment to Juventus and the Juve Project, I think it’s fair to say that this chapter is closed as far as this summer is concerned.

On the prospect of Diego Simeone, the manager has declined to comment on the speculation about Chelsea but is one of our most sought after target this summer. The added charm of him working with Diego Costa (The Guv’nor) and Thibaut Courtois will be tempting to him of course but, with Chelsea’s almost certain absence from Europe next season, it’ll be difficult to tempt him away from Vincente Calderon. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for that one.

Now on to our most realistic targets for this summer, Antonio Conte, the present Italy boss who has a contract with the National side until the end of Euro 2016, could be lured into making a move to England by Abramovic’s coffers and a guarantee to work with complete autonomy (Michael Emenalo would like to have a say in that though). Conte, however, has already met with Chelsea board in London and is slated to meet them again in Monaco this coming weekend possibly to finalize the deal. It is also mooted that Conte is looking for a 3-year contract with full control over transfer policy.

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Italia-Antonio Conte

I personally believe that Antonio Conte could do a wonderful job in England for Chelsea even with the incoming threat of Pep Guardiola to City confirmed last month. Let us pray Marina Granovskaia gives us Conte and a bright future to look forward to.

The Eden Hazard Conundrum

Eden Hazard is one of the most gifted footballers in the modern era. He certainly has the ability to turn a match on its corners on any given day. But, he doesn’t seem to be playing well these days. Adding to that, his constant ramble about PSG or Zidane makes it a worrying situation for Chelsea Football Club. It’s not as if his admiration for PSG or Zidane is anything new, he’s openly admitted to being a fan of Zidane in his childhood days in the past but, that fact that Hazard was the best player in the Premier League at that time made it sufferable for Chelsea fans. Now, however, the situation is completely different. Having had no goals in the league with two-thirds of the season gone by makes for a sorry statistical reading for a player of his stature and capability.

 

Chelsea v Swansea City - Premier League
LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 08: Eden Hazard of Chelsea reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on August 8, 2015, in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

 

With an ongoing dismal season for the club as well as the player personally, it is expected that Hazard should be doing all the talking on the pitch rather, he’s resorting to making remarks in the media like a spoilt child adding fuel to fire for a potential egress from the Club in the summer.

“It’s hard to say no to PSG, as with all teams capable of winning the Champions League.
Now, PSG are part of this category. And for me, winning the Champions League is the main objective. But for now, I do not dwell on it.
(When asked of his future) ‘I do not know, because there is always uncertainty in football. If we stick to the contract, I’ll still be at Chelsea next season.
Even if things are complicated this season, I am at Chelsea. I’m in a good group that can win trophies every season.
(Of Zidane at Real Madrid) ‘Of course with Zidane, it makes you want it as he was my idol when he was a player
‘I want to work with the best coaches in the world. But I do not know if Zidane is already part of this category, he has only led Real since early January.”

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that his own hype from last season has caught up with him that’s what’s making him say all these things in the media. But, having said that, I still believe that he has a lot of great things to offer for Chelsea Football Club in the future. Ending on a high, here’s a reminder of what he can do.


PS: Photo credit to media.90min

PPS: Video credit to MNXD

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PSG v Chelsea

The men in blue travel to Paris to face our opponents for the next round of Champions League, PSG for what seems to be an exciting match. We travel of course without our Captain, Leader, Legend John Terry, whose out of the mid-weeks tie with a minor injury [We’re screwed]. That means we’ll be employing the services of Branna ‘Branislav Ivanovich’ and Gary ‘James’ Cahill in the centre of defence with Ceaser ‘Dave’ Azpilicueta shifting to Right-Back and Baba Rahman on the left of defence. With Kurt Zouma out for the season and probably half of next, Matt Miazga gets a chance to be on the bench and probably some game time in the weeks to come.

In the central midfield, Fabregás will most certainly be partnered by the iconic John Obi Mikel. There should be no change in our forward lineup with the exception of Oscar who comes back after an injury.  

Possible Chelsea XI:

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Prediction:

Looking at the form PSG is in, if Chelsea remain in the tie after 90 mins, they’d have done well. Keep the blue flag flying high!