Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Season. New Manager. New Expectations.

 91 days. That's how long we have had to wait between our final match of the 12/13 campaign against Everton and our first match of the 13/14 campaign against Hull City.  In that time we have added Andre Schurlle, Marco Van Ginkel, and Mark Schwarzer to our first team squad.  We have also seen the return of Michael Essien and Romelu Lukaku from loan.  We have played exhibitions in the United States, Asia and again in the United States. Oh yeah, we also brought Jose Mourinho back. Even with all that activity, those 91 days felt like 91 months.

I have high expectations from our squad this year.  We have a great mix of experience and youth.  We have strong players in Essien, Lukaku and Ba.  Then there's our skillful players, Hazard, Mata and Oscar.  Then there's players like Cahill, Terry, and Ivanovic who will sacrifice themselves just to block a shot.  Our squad is very balanced and we have the perfect manager steering the ship.  Mourinho is great at managing squads and Chelsea's squad will allow him to pick the perfect lineup to matchup with any team we face.

Looking back, I have to give Rafa some credit.  He did a good job while he was here but once we signed Jose, I realized the biggest difference between the two.  Rafa came because he loves managing. Jose came because he loves Chelsea.

I have never felt so confident heading into a season and the main reason is Mourinho.  He's one of "us". We, the supporters, have his back and he has ours. The sky is the limit this year and I see silverware coming back to The Bridge.

There will definitely be ups and downs this year but I can promise one thing, the next 270+ days will go by a lot faster than the last 91.

Come On You Blues!! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

My First Time at Stamford Bridge

What an experience. I arrived in London Thursday morning and spent the day wondering around the city until mid afternoon when I checked into my hotel and then headed down to Brogan's before our match against Rubin Kazan. Once I found my seat in the Matthew Harding end, the atmosphere was amazing. It was even better than I imagined it would be. I stood as much as I could throughout the game. It was surreal to be there with all the fans singing. It was something I always dreamed of doing and it didn't seem real that I was actually there.

On Sunday I went to the Sunderland match as well. Although we did not pay well, we came away with the 3 points. I always knew I would love it at the Bridge once I made it inside. To me, there is no other way to watch Chelsea. One day I will be able to attend every match there. Until then, I will savor every moment I get to visit London and to watch Chelsea.

Forever Blue.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Stamford Bridge

Just an update to say that I will be at Stamford Bridge for my first time on Thursday April the 4th for the match against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League.  I will also be attending the Sunderland match on Sunday the 7th.  Both games I will be in the Matthew Harding section.  I cannot wait for my first experience at the Bridge!!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Where's the Passion?

"Passionate. Intense. Proud." This was a marketing slogan that the Philadelphia 76ers started using last year.  I think they should sell the rights to Chelsea FC.  Every Chelsea fan out there feels these three simple adjectives.  This is what makes it so difficult to see our side lose to a team in a relegation battle. Our players don't play with the same Passion, Intensity, and Pride that we have.

It's one thing to watch a game and see your team give 100% for 90 minutes and lose. It's another to see partial effort for the majority of a match and 100% for the last 15-20 minutes.  There's no excuse for lack of effort in my book.  I get frustrated as a fan because I know we are better than what we show.  Sometimes a team just isn't good enough and you can deal with a loss like this because the talent is not there.  We have the talent.  It's there. The missing ingredients are intensity and consistency.  I think it is hard for some players (i.e. Marin, Moses, Benayoun, Bertrand) to have these attributes when they play so infrequently.  They sit on the bench the majority of the time and only play in "meaningless" matches.  That doesn't help ones confidence.  Is this an excuse? Absolutely not.  This is where I think Rafa has it wrong.

Is Benitez a good manager. Yes.  Is he a good manager for Chelsea. No. I understand resting players for big matches but the constant changing of the lineup has a negative impact on the team.  I know from my experiences with team sports, it is frustrating when there are always new people around.  Communication is off, timing is off, execution is off.  I think he has the right intention with resting players but he just doesn't do it at the right times and with the right players. The 3 players who have the highest energy and work rate are Hazard, Ramires, and Luiz.  Where were they? That's right, on the bench.  Tactically, I don't have a major problem with Rafa. It is the inconsistency in the lineup that frustrates me.

Benitez says he wants to win trophies for Chelsea. That's great but at this point in the season, a top 4 finish is more important.  Conspiracy that he is here to "sabotage" Chelsea is ludicrous.  I honestly believe he wants Chelsea to be as successful as possible this year.  Our main "success" for this year should be a top 4 finish and that is all.  Would the FA Cup be great? Yes. Europa League? Obviously, but we will need signings and a new manger this summer and I don't know who will want to come if we are not playing Champions League football next year.

So what does all of this about Rafa have to do with passion, intensity, and pride?  For me, it is a matter of Rafa getting the correct players out there from game to game. Yes we have a busy schedule and players need rest but there are players who give their all every game and will play hard even if they are not fully fit.  This player will have a more positive impact on a match than one who is fully fit and plays half hearted.

As a fan, I am always there to support the team and always will be.  It's a little frustrating right now but we have a solid core of players who have been in tough situations throughout their career and will help guide Chelsea to a top 4 finish this year.  As a fan base, we need to keep our heads up and support our team and show them what it means to be Passionate. Intense. Proud.

Chelsea Till I Die!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Back and Better Than Ever

It's hard to believe it has been almost 4 months since my last post.  From here on out I am looking to get in about 2 posts per month.  I'll go with the excuse that because Chelsea seemed to be taking a break that I decided to do the same thing.  After Sunday's performance in the FA Cup, I can no longer stick with this excuse.

What a game.  Wow.  That was THE definition of "A Tale of Two Halves." The last time I felt that proud to be a Chelsea fan at the end of a match was 19.05.2012. After a rough start for about 20 minutes or so, I was not sure we would be able to get back into the game, especially with the attitude we were playing with.  Once we came out in the second half, it was like watching a whole new game.  We looked lively, energetic, and, most of all, passionate.  This has been the missing ingredient for this rough patch the last few weeks.  Clearly there is talent, but passion, that's what the game is all about! I don't know what made everyone click but whatever it was, we need to keep it going for the final few weeks of the season.

I was glad to see the team turn around like that.  Our season seemed to head downhill after our early meeting with Manchester United so it only seems right that we right the ship against them.  I was on such a natural high after that draw and it felt absolutely amazing.  For the first time in a long while I was finally able to take a deep breath and say to myself, "This, THIS is Chelsea Football Club."

Blue is the Colour!

Monday, November 19, 2012

What Should We Do Come January?

Has it really been 6 months already since that night in Munich? It is hard to believe.  In such a short period of time a lot has happened at Chelsea.  We saw a legend in Didier Drogba move on. Raul Meireles, Michael Essien, and Salomon Kalou.  We also signed great talent in Eden Hazard, Oscar, Marin, Azpilicueta, and Victor Moses.  We've gone from the top of the league to third place in a very short time as well.  Torres seemed to be getting back to his old ways early this season but his form has dropped off the past few weeks.  This, to me, is the biggest concern we have.

Some of what I am going to say may contradict what I said in my last post but hey, this is my opinion, and the last time I checked you are allowed to change your opinion. To set the record straight, just because I think we need another player does not mean I do not support Chelsea.  I will always support those in a blue shirt.  It is clear to everyone that Torres has not lived up to the price tag and at some point there has to be change.

We need another striker. Plain and simple. I have supported Torres from the beginning and I will continue to as long as he is wearing a blue shirt.  I will even continue to support him even if he is no longer at Chelsea whether it be sooner or later.  There comes a time when enough is enough and it is time for someone to move on.  At times it seems the old Torres is back but it often comes in very shorts spells.  A club like Chelsea cannot have a striker scoring 11 goals in 40 league appearances.  Suarez already has 10 just this season.  Mata and Torres both have 24 goals for Chelsea in all competitions since their arrival.  We NEED more productivity, especially if we are going to play with 1 up front.  

Torres has contributed in ways other than just goal scoring which is great to see.  He just seems to lack that confidence that he once had.  There are times when all I want is for him to shoot and put the ball on goal.  Let the opposition know that you are trying to score.  When he gets the ball I don't even think he is going to score.  On Saturday, when Sturridge got the ball, I felt like he might put one in.  I like that feeling when our front man gets the ball.  

So what are our options? Clearly the biggest name out there is Falcao.  Is another 50M pound striker the answer? Who knows. It could be but we also know what can happen when you spend that kind of money on a striker.  Maybe someone like Klaas-Jan Huntelaar would work as well.  He would be a lot cheaper than Falcao but could provide solid finishing up front.  I don't see keeping both Torres and Falcao but if we brought in Huntelaar, Torres should stay.  We need depth at striker.  Maybe someone new will light a fire under Torres and bring him back to his old form at Liverpool. Maybe.

Clearly I don't have the answers to the problem.  Something has to, and most likely will, occur in the January transfer window.  Maybe before then Torres will come on strong and we won't need to drop the big bucks on Falcao.  But maybe we will.

All I can say is I hope Torres will prove me wrong the next month and half.  I would love nothing more than to see him scoring and contributing in the way we all know he can.  I have confidence that he will get back to his scoring ways but time will tell if it is in a blue shirt or not. Even if he does get to his old form here, we still need to go out and pick someone else up to add some depth to our attack.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fernando Torres: Past and Present

£50 million.  We have all heard it over and over again.  It has been beaten to a pulp.  Yes, Torres was expensive and, yes, he has not quite lived up to his hefty price tag.  Has he improved since making his move in January, 2011? No doubt, but he has not been playing at the level he once was at Liverpool.  Do I think he can make it back to the form he had while at Anfield? Without a doubt and I believe it will be sooner or later.

I have always been curious as to what it was that made Torres such a dynamic player at Liverpool so I decided to search on YouTube for his Liverpool goals.  I found a compilation that had all 81 goals.  I watched it one time through and I noticed that a lot of his goals were scored after he settled the ball and shot or scored shooting with his first touch.  I decided to start the video over and keep track of how he scored.  I made 5 categories: 
1. One Touch (includes a touch to settle and then the shot or shots with his first touch) 
2. Dribble (taking more than 2 touches) 
3. Headers
4. Headers 
5. Assists from Gerrard.  

These were the numbers I came up with:
1. 45 goals
2. 23 goals
3. 13 goals
4. 5 goals
5. ~ 19 goals

If you add categories 1, 2, and 3 together you get his total of 81.  Obviously goals from outside the box and goals assisted by Gerrard fall into one of the first three categories.  The first thing I took notice of was that of 81 goals, only 5 were from outside the box, approximately 6% of his goals, or to look at it the other way, 94% were scored inside the box.  If you add his headers to his one touch goals, that brings his total one touch to 58 goals, or 72% of his goals.  That makes the other 28% of his goals coming of the dribble, therefore creating his own chances. 

I saw at least 19 assists from Gerrard (I am sure there were more but you could not always see the pass due to the video) and a lot of the other assists came from Dirk Kuyt.

So what do I make of this?  First off, I want to say that most players are a product of their teammates.  While at Liverpool, Torres had two great creators in Gerrard and Kuyt.  These two were able to find Torres with layoffs and quick passes, most of which Torres put in around the penalty spot.  Most of these goals were fairly easy to score, but they still required a solid finish which Torres provided.  Without these two playmakers finding Torres for easy goals, he would not have scored 81 goals.  On almost every goal, Torres was making a forward run and was found with a great pass right at his feet and from there he was able to finish.  

How does this mini-analysis translate to his slow start at Chelsea? It was clear to me that although Torres is able to create his own goals, he is more deadly in front of the goal as a clinical finisher facing the goal.  The only playmaker we had during the 2011/12 campaign was Mata as Lampard was playing deeper in midfield.  With Didier Drogba, we had a striker that we could play long balls to and have him with his back to the goal, turn, and score.   I can't remember seeing 1 of Torres' 81 goals at Liverpool being scored this way.  So when we threw Torres into Drogba's role, clearly he was not going to do as well.  You can't expect a player to change their play style overnight. 

This new look Chelsea will benefit Torres and we can already see that happening. In 6 Premier League matches he has 3 goals.  5 goals in 10 matches total.  This is a scoring rate one would expect out of a center forward, especially one of Torres' caliber. With young playmakers like Hazard, Mata, Oscar, Moses, and Marin, we can expect Torres to score more goals and be more productive in the future.  All of these players are new to the system except for Mata.  It will take time for them to gain chemistry with one another but as the season progresses, their chemistry will improve.  I can only see our attack getting better which will be dangerous for other teams as our defense has been very solid.  Torres' form will improve as the year moves along and I can easily see him getting 20 EPL goals this season.  

So although Torres has not played at the level he was at during his time at Liverpool, our young talent will only benefit him and help him get back to his old ways as one of, if not the, top strikers in England.

Come On You Blues!