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Dorset last won the day on September 10 2018

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  1. The exact quote was “I talk with the club about the market but only one or maybe two times, not more. I spoke about positions and characteristics but no names. So, I don’t know. I think we need something, but maybe only a player. We have very good midfielders, but maybe a midfielder with different characteristics [would be a good fit].” Those different characteristics can be interpreted in many ways, but, on the assumption that Kante and Jorginho are permanent fixtures and Hazard is the only player in a similar situation up front, my guess is that he's after another option on the right of the front three. No surprise there then, bearing in mind the rumours surrounding Willian leaving, but if he stays a 'different characteristic' to his might well be that the player concerned has the versatility to play in the central role as well as compete for that right-sided berth. To my mind, that rules out Zaha, who by [almost] common consent is another who is more comfortable on the left, along with Hazard and Hudson-Odoi. If this speculation is correct [it wont be] the best available option is undoubtedly Martial, as he ticks all the boxes, whether Willian goes the other way or not. Alternatively, the only black cloud on my horizon and one that I hardly want to mention but will, is that Sarri remains unconvinced over RLC, believing him to be too much like Barkley and Bakayoko and in need of yet another loan spell. Hodgson would love to have him back at Palace and his only bargaining chip is a certain Wilf Zaha, who definitely has 'different characteristics' to both Rueben, Ross and Baka, mores the pity. Perish the thought Sarri doesn't give RLC a fair crack of the whip, though stranger things have happened to the lad under our last two managers, but other Academy green shoots are there to be seen in Ampadu and CHO and Rueben has reportedly laid down the law regarding game time recently, so it isn't as if this scenario wont have been considered by the hierarchy.
  2. You too DB. The Shed End is a much more interesting place post Conte and it could get even better if Sarri kicks one of our habits (failure to play youth through fear of failure full stop) well before he's likely to kick one of his own. Conte ended up being just a big drag, but as far as I'm concerned Sarri can have as many as he wants if he gets the likes of RLC, Ampadu and young Callum performing regularly in the first team. Have you seen CHO's first 45 minutes of Sarriball? - the kid is the real deal no doubt about it. There aren't many who go back as far as me, but if they are on here they may well have spotted that Callum plays a lot like Bobby Tambling with a few modern day tricks thrown in for good measure. The same slightly hunched shoulders, rolling gait and directness that scares the life out of defenders. Tambling made his debut aged seventeen, just after I started going to the Bridge and all he had back then that Callum isn't gifted with now was a rocket shot with his left foot after going past his man either on the outside or cutting in.
  3. The evidence is there - Jose appears somewhat scared by the prospect of Martial joining a rival Premier League club, a clear indication that he believes the boy has talent aplenty and it would probably surface pretty quickly if he is sold and then played in his preferred position of central striker by his new club. Imagine a Chelsea front three of Hazard, Martial and Hudson-Odoi…. that really would be a scary prospect!
  4. “Honestly. I think that I’m giving - the players are giving - everything this season. We are working very hard to try to have a good season, but I think that, in the end, we are deserving this season. It means that our value is this.” Antonio Conte (post match press conference) This simple summation is, I would contend, the continuation of a Conte mantra of the last few months. In essence, after applying his work, work, work ethic, you get what you deserve in life and this is where CFC deserves to be under his leadership at this precise moment in time. We have the team we deserve, the ambition levels we deserve and, by the same token, the manager we deserve. Yet in reality I'm sure Antonio doesn't quite see it all in these black and white terms. Certainly not when it comes to his own culpability, his own ever-increasing sulleness and muted contribution to the season's campaign. He believed he deserved more when it came to the board's backing over transfers and in his eyes, without that financial support, his level of ambition was never going to be satisfied, there would be no second Premier League title and no Champions League success story to tell. From the beginning of the year Antonio Conte has had the air of a man resigned to his fate and no amount of fighting-against-the-odds rhetoric was going to dispel the negativity that type of body language brought with it. Indeed, the Premier League form table for 2018 [so far] shows Chelsea in 14th place, level with Crystal Palace, a point ahead of Arsenal and Saints, Stoke, Huddersfield and West Brom bringing up the rear. This is not company we should be keeping, especially when we are being told that it is no more than we deserve, and to suggest that such form is 'our value in this' and is reflective of the whole season is to be about as uneconomical with the truth as you can possibly be. In truth, the team has not been worthy of the name since its manager denounced it as deserving of no more in that Great Scheme of Things otherwise known as the Title Race. Little wonder, if ever we were going to give up on a much treasured home record against Spurs it was going to be in such circumstances, almost as if we should be knowing of our new place in the Premiership pecking order and the fans, along with the board, must accept the situation for what it is - a failure to evolve as a result of our not spending more than we did in the transfer market, at the behest of a manager who, we are told, has already started to look for pastures new. And, lest we forget that this financial route to success is the only way some fans would see us competing against the likes of Man City and United, we then had the rather unedifying sight of Callum Hudson-Odoi being brought on in the 88th minute, as if to emphasise the futility of our even giving a moment's thought to bringing these kids through the system if we want to compete at this level. All so depressing, especially for Roman, who must now ponder over the timescale to bring all this breast-beating to an end. In short, it is all that remains to be done and on this occasion I have less sympathy for our latest managerial fatality than I've had for others over the last decade. I sense he hasn't really been with us for a while now, having assessed our 'value' and our potential to increase it over the next few nomadic seasons he merely waits for Roman to pull the trigger and with it signal a final payoff, the owner for once being loath to maximise his managerial losses quite so readily Nor, unless I'm very much mistaken, is there any likelihood of an FA Cup winning saving grace to salvage this sorry situation, for even if the Saints are unlikely to go marching in against us either United or our newly-created nemesis are more than capable of keeping Conte's beaten cup final record intact. That said, I have it on good authority, regardless of how hard we work... we don't really deserve it anyway.
  5. Diego being Diego should not surprise any of us, yet this public airing of dirty linen, unlike the one that took place during the post title-winning celebrations, is not a pretty sight for Chelsea fans. Let's face it, he has always had a penchant for winding everybody up and that includes those of us who would never hear a bad word said against the guy. For many he will always be remembered for revelling in the role of Premier League arch villain, but the fact that most of us will be calling for two strikers to be brought in to replace him says it all about the weight of lone striker load he's carried for the team over the last three seasons. I'll miss him when he's gone and I've got a grandson who will be even sadder to see him go, whenever and wherever that may be. Indeed, timing is everything when it comes to Costa's acting career and he has probably seen fit to give this soliloquy after a textual prompt from a boss who cannot really leave the restless, foot-tapping Lukaku waiting in the wings, a-nodding and a-winking, for much longer. He, understudying alone, will not convince the majority of fans that this is a problem solved and I for one hope our interest in Alvaro Morata is not only genuine, but boardroom-committed enough to see him arrive at the Bridge instead of pitching up at Old Trafford. Both Jose and Antonio will believe they can personally influence the Spaniard's decision-making over and above any financial aspect, so it will be interesting to see if money talks sufficiently loudly at a time when United cannot wait to spend as much of it as it takes to get somebody (anybody?) in to replace Zlatan. It would appear, despite stage right direction from his agent, that Chelsea was Lukaku's preferred choice in a head-to-head contest with United and it remains to be seen if Morata follows suit. Indeed, it seems that gone are the days when Jose could be counted upon to rustle up a Drog or Diego to spearhead a campaign and he will be desperate to show that Zlatan was not the [somewhat ancient] last knockings in that particular line. After an apparent Lukaku rebuff, the need for a Special One transfer coup is undoubtedly greater that Conte's, so it would be a real body blow if the Italian could land a Lukaku/Morata double-whammy.
  6. The plain and simple truth is it’s rollin’ on over - the Chelsea deadwood stage that is - and if the game against Arsenal is anything to go by we are already in a dangerous land and there’s no time to delay. So Antonio, by all means whip-crack away, whip-crack away, whip-crack away! Apologies for that rather self-indulgent trip down Calamity Jane musical memory lane, but nothing seemed to sum up our plight better, nor pinpoint the overriding factor that has led to our reaching such a parlous state, namely a club cartel made up of sluggish, rapidly ageing players and the need for Conte to either whip them into shape or relieve them of their first team duties. For some, Cahill and Ivanovic and to a lesser extent Matic, being rested may well come as a blessed relief, but for others such as Willian and Oscar it would be nothing short of a shock, albeit a short, sharp one. In truth, those five sorely need to take five and if everything else had been equal on both the injury and squad strength fronts we can only hope their respective respite packages would have been put in place a lot earlier than the Hull game. But, of course, everything else is never going to be equal - transfer targets still remain as such, JT gets crocked, crises of confidence abound and Conte is (probably as a direct result of all three) still nowhere near knowing his best line-up or formation. Trusting his experienced players hasn’t helped either, as it has been misplaced in the main and probably led the Italian to drift aimlessly into that oh-just-one-more-time mode selection-wise on Saturday. It proved to be one time too many and for my money was Conte’s first mistake of real note. More of the same-old after that humbling against Liverpool should have been avoided at all costs, even if it meant bringing Victor Moses into a five-man midfield and taking the gamble of going 3-5-2 for the first time this season. In the end, backing away from that switch until as late as the third goal going in smacked more of desperation than inspiration. So, deadwood stage we are definitely at, but if by some chance Conte should actually take all this bull by those Carabao horns and decide to make wholesale changes for the Hull game will it really be an indication that he’s addressing the problem at source, or merely be the machinations of a man seeking a short term solution? After all, unless it was all part of some self-harm master plan, he can’t have been working towards this situation, but now that it exists and urgent action is required why not grasp the opportunity with both hands, then place them around the necks of certain individuals and wring the changes for effect, if nothing else? C’mon Antonio, play Nate, bet Victor, SOS RLC, hey Michy [let’s see if you really can] blow my mind, Ola Aina!… fit them all in somehow, because it would do wonders for your reputation as a hard taskmaster whilst at the same time rattling the cages of a few old birds who have begun to sit all too comfortably on their first team perches. Go on, be our guest, whip-crack away.
  7. I think Conte does have options and they have been made all the more attractive by three performances in particular last night. Cesc has thrown the gauntlet down at Oscar’s feet, Moses has definitely edged ahead of Willian in the battle for the right wing berth and Chalobah has made the most of his debut, looking very composed and assured. Therefore, taking all this into consideration and subject to JT‘s fitness (agreed he is irreplaceable) my starting line-up (Plan A) against the Arse (4-1-4-1 formation) would be:- Azpi, Cahill, JT, Alonso, Kante, Moses, Luiz, Cesc, Hazard, Costa. However, Conte has a stated preference for playing Geezer at the back, so more likely is JT partnering him and a choice made between Matic and Chalobah to give extra bite in the middle of the park. It is possible that Nathaniel and RLC will fight for this selfsame spot in the future, with a switch into a 3-5-2 formation more easily made in this present set-up by including one of them in the above-named side, again at Gary Cahill’s expense, in this my (Plan B) team :- Azpi, JT, Luiz, Moses, Chalobah/RLC, Kante, Cesc, Alonso, Hazard, Costa. Ironically, the dilemma for Conte, should he makes this adventurous selection, is that we can’t keep a clean sheet to save our lives and a right-sided pairing taken from Azpi/Moses/Willian, or a left-sided one taken from Alonso/Aina/Hazard isn’t exactly going to make us more defensively secure, just incredibly offensive. Perhaps it has to be done, though, especially if you want to see [as I do] Batshuayi (not Hazard as in the above line-up) becoming the second striker. Something [someone] has to give to even get close to achieving these objectives and as Edin shouldn’t be sacrificed, the best I can come up with is (Plan C):- Azpi, JT,Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Cesc, Moses, Chalobah, Hazard, Costa. And yes indeed, it is our old friend the 4-2-3-1 formation, but based purely on my perception of the present form of players and the flexibility of the system. Naturally, the fear is that a holding two of Kante/Cesc would not be strong enough to cope in the normal course of events but, as Fergie used to say of another north London club ‘Lads, it’s Arsenal’ next up and they will play their own game regardless of the size and physicality of the players in these positions. In short [as both players are] I think we are better served giving as good as we get going forward on the break, with Cesc or Geezer providing the Route One long ball over the top to Diego - like him, it‘s not pretty, over-elaborate, pass, pass, pass, rocket science, but we should leave all that to the Emirates experts anyway. So there you have three plans put forward for consideration, though none of them are likely to see the light of day until more points are gathered in and we are as supremely confident as Pep Guardiola’s squad must be at the moment. Still, you live in hope and a rewarding run of games for Victor Moses, a recall for Cesc, plus a promising debut for Chalobah, are definite steps in the right direction.
  8. a) Stones or Luiz in the squad? Well, I have to admit to being an admirer of John Stones ability on the ball from way back in his early days at Everton and I was indeed prepared to defend him against those critics who said he couldn’t, even throughout his worst of times under Martinez. Undoubtedly his best years are yet to come and I would have liked to have seen them on show here had we been able to broker a deal instead of becoming embroiled in an [oh-so-principled] Scouse-fest. But we couldn’t and with hindsight I’m now of the opinion that it was probably the right outcome for all parties, primarily for reasons other than those surrounding these two players. Let me explain - and in so doing you will see why I’m now happy to see Geezer back in our squad rather than the Barnsley boy. Stones arrival as JT’s eventual replacement would have signalled the end of the more naturally progressive Academy-fed succession claims of Andreas Christensen, Fikayo Tomori and Jake Clarke-Salter in one fell swoop, albeit an always faintly flickering flame in most of our hearts, but nonetheless one that is certainly not extinguished by the return of David Luiz. Of more concern, however, would have been the captaincy situation and the faith we might have had to place in Stones leadership qualities. Here the choice between him and the Brazilian is far more clearly defined and weighted heavily in the latter’s favour. Stones for Kompany long term, or Luiz for JT short term? Who has the better chance of carrying the captaincy off in this predominantly show-us-your-medals world? Of course, it may all turn out to be of little consequence in the great scheme of things, but, on what we know of both of them so far in their careers, I know which I’d prefer. b) How highly do I value defensive reliability in a central defender? I’ve gone some way towards explaining my position already, but I’m also going to take the liberty of quoting from one of your earlier posts on this thread… “what I will say is that in addition to all of the qualities davey mentioned (and barney, when I say charisma, amidst the obvious criticism, I mean it sincerely- he [David Luiz] has on pitch charisma. he gets the crowd and the team going and that massively helps. it is a rare quality and I couldn't name more than five players we've had in the last ten years or so who have it. he's one of them), I do not think zouma and christensen are a ready made partnership. stylistically they could work, but I don't want two youngsters playing there together. they'll need an experienced player alongside one or both of them. I don't think cahill should be that player, because as much as I appreciate him, I've never felt he was a top player. he's a wholehearted, but ultimately limited footballer and when JT goes I can't see him being more than a squad player. So those young kids will need someone in his peak alongside them. luiz is 29, for me that is when defenders peak. maybe conte will get something out of him that others haven't. barzagli wasn't considered a truly top defender when conte first started working with him at a similar age so I suppose it is not impossible…” … couldn’t have put it better myself, although I did make a stab at it in the previous paragraph. So in conclusion, I can only ask you to trust in David Luiz just a little more, as well as in Conte’s ability to mould him into what we all hope will be a formidable 3-5-2 shape. You never know, give it a season or three and we might both have what we’re looking for in the following first team line-up:- Courtois, Zouma, Christensen, Luiz (3) Azpi, Willian/Oscar, Chalobah/Kante, Hazard, Aina (5) Batshuayi, RLC/Abraham (2)
  9. If he's better than stones (and imo he's got nothing on him, let alone stone's potential to improve) why did Jose sell him and try to sign the supposedly inferior player? My guess would be that it was good business to sell for £50m and there was every likelihood of getting Stones for much less. It didn’t happen, but not because the ability of either player, or an assessment of it, affected that situation. Why were psg happy to sell him at a loss with no chance of signing a replacement? I’m not sure that PSG even knew of our interest until late-on or can be described as happy to sell at all. As you said, they had no time to get any replacement in and, like any of big [un-Everton-ish] clubs you can name, were not prepared to keep an unhappy player. Stick with the dodged bullet theory if you wish, but the only similarities seem be that they are both ‘didn’t see that coming’ scenarios, no more no less. Where was guardiola's interest in this genius footballer? Admittedly, any interest from Guardiola would have come as a surprise, [eccentric] genius or not, but he probably wasn’t aware of availability either. He has other younger fish to fry [try] in an ageing squad that he too cannot afford to flood with youth prospects, although whether many of those exist at the Etihad I seriously doubt. Stones provided a viable English alternative and suitable home grown get out clause, so it was taken regardless of inflated price. You dont judge a magician on his props. You judge him based on whether he manages to deceive you. Something dave has managed to do with rather more success than his day job, in my assessment. Day job deception by sleight of hand rather than foot is an interesting accusation to make - could it be akin to JT hiding his lack of pace all these years by tricking us all into thinking he can actually defend? More fool us, eh? What kind of reasoning is this? imagine what a pathetic, sorry club it would be to cower from a signing in fear of the fans crying on social media. It would be nice if decisions were taken with the benefit of the team in mind rather than appeasing the false or idle. "Think what you're doing! Signing david Luiz won't bring back your failed crop of youth team players!" Don’t get me wrong on this point. I have no grouse with the Glazers or the Abu Dhabi boys spending as much as they like, just don’t seek to make a virtue out of it whilst at the same time shipping the kids out by the boatload to the Moyes Strait [back down again] or Phelandia. Also in answer to my "… and say what you like about David Luiz - he will never, ever be described as mediocre." Come on mate, with a bit of luck he might be. A nice drowning of the player well below the mediocre waterline line there g3, but as we both know with these charismatic characters, it will take a lot more than this put down to sink their spirit, never mind a lot of fans admiration of it.
  10. My immediate reaction to news of the potential return of our dearly(?) departed Geezer was similar to Barn’s, especially after being so disappointed to see him go to PSG, but realistic enough to appreciate the financial sense a move made, both for the club and the player. Always an accident waiting to happen and as artful and entertaining as the proverbial cartload of monkeys, David Luiz was never less than totally committed before and never more likely to be so now, such are his extremes of downright dottiness. Yet we are guilty of extremes too, as evidenced by the many curmudgeonly comments that followed the above, either stating or supporting unequivocally the belief that he can’t defend. No half measures and no mistake [allowed] no varying degree to which he can’t tackle, no reckless one ever backed away from, no aid given to a defensive cause - he simply cannot do any of it - full stop - or so we are being told. In my opinion, this is nothing short of gross oversimplification. Lest we forget, John Stones has exhibited an equally high aberration level without a single medal of honour to wave in defence of his defending and yet his frailties are quickly brushed aside in the loads-a-money rush to pay £50m for his services. And please, no laughing in those less than cheap seats after City stumped up, for we had once competed with them having previously chuckled all the way to the bank ourselves, laden with PSG’s dosh for David. Looking at both players now, with handy hindsight at Stones last two seasons and Geezer’s trophy-strewn track record in blue, who looks the better buy for the price? In all honesty, with mistakes still to be ironed out of him and totally lacking in comparable goal threat, whether it be 30-yarder or set piece, the new Pep purchase doesn’t hack it [often enough] for me, whereas with our prodigal Brazilian you get what you see and some good old fashioned heart-on-sleeve stuff never goes amiss at the Bridge at the best of times, never mind when it is in such obvious short supply. Indeed, Antonio Conte is foster-in-chief of this culture, although in the current market place he has always stressed the importance of aligning cost-consciousness with it. That’s why I believe this is a Conte-driven purchase (whether you construe it as a mistake or not) and an obvious statement of future intent, a finger-pointing alternative to the excess embodied in the Pogba-buying approach of those United moneymen who had him once, let him go for a pittance and bought him back for ten times the amount. We had David Luiz once, got much better value for money out of him, then sold for £50m and now we are buying him back for less, knowing full well the pros and cons of doing so, unlike our Northern powerhouse rivals who can only hope and pray that their ‘choice’ lives up to the extravagant hype surrounding his transfer. Viewed in the cold light of day, I believe that what we have here is an all-embracing choice made (accepting the rough Diamond Geezer with the smooth one) when placed in the invidious position of being asked to pay through the nose for a Koulibaly or a Romagnoli and having a completely finished product, like Leonardo Bonucci, removed from the frame early doors. Conte envisages the Brazilian on the left of a back three, protected by the best security system in the business, N’golo Kante, and he thinks he can bring the ball out of defence at pace and with the authority required. The rest will be what it always has been with this guy - a rollercoaster ride that is often far from enjoyable, yet you still keep coming back for more because it is really exhilarating in the typically-Chels way we all know so well. In truth, we’ve been eyeing this central defender transfer merry-go-round all summer-long looking for a safe, economic ride to go on and there hasn’t been one available. Had we paid over the odds for any of the cheap non-thrills variety you can bet your bottom Glazer dollar there would have been fans aplenty complaining that they’d never heard of him or that he’s a dodgem waiting to happen, so we should have. Naturally, they would have wanted their money back (don’t fans such as these always treat the money as their own?) but in this instance they would have been absolutely right, because playing the kids has to be a better option than the pursuit of even more over-priced mediocrity in the Mou-mould of old. … and say what you like about David Luiz - he will never, ever be described as mediocre.
  11. The earliest Euro dawning on Conte’s management skills broke during The Guardian Podcast prior to Italy’s group stage defeat of Belgium. The presenter, James (Jimbo) Richardson, was encouraging debate on who was likely to win the match with his assembled crew for that morning, one of whom was Michael Cox, the newspaper’s very own tactical analyst. It was he who bucked the trend in favour of Belgium and the conversation went as follows:- Michael Cox - “There is something about this side [belguim] that I don’t trust that I do trust with Italy and maybe that’s all about the manager. Italy have probably got the best manager in the competition, whereas Wilmotts is somebody who hasn’t really proved himself at any level of football.” James Richardson - “You’re a Conte fan are you?” Cox - “Oh, I think he is the best manager by far in this tournament, by absolutely miles.” Richardson - “Really?” Cox - “I can’t imagine any other manager in this tournament getting a really top club job.” Richardson - “Okay…” Cox - “…whereas Conte obviously is… well, it’s Chelsea you know…” Richardson - “Okay, interesting, interesting. “ Interesting, indeed, and classic dumbing-down on Richardson‘s part, bearing in mind he is a self-confessed admirer of the Italian game and therefore knew of Conte’s qualities only too well. The fact that he struggles to give Chelsea the time of day, let alone have any time for the club at all, accounts for his feigned surprise and rapid closure of conversation, but Cox was prepared to go out on a limb anyway and has duly emerged as a good judge of Conte’s managerial talent. The Italian press were also quick to follow suit, a rapturous Gazzetta match report concluding “Italy played the most beautiful game of the Conte era. They did it playing in an Italian style - but in the most noble sense of those words - without using catenaccio, but defending themselves with a compact and intelligent block to then counter into those spaces that [belgium manager Marc] Wilmots presumptuously failed to close.” Then Xavi gave his two-pennyworth, in a prophet of doom style prior to Spain’s comeuppance. He didn’t mince his words either - “When Italy need to come out with the ball, having three at the back and two wide players means they have five possible people to carry it out - which makes it difficult for Spain to press as they would like. Then, playing with two strikers complicates things further forward, because it occupies both of our centre-backs and then one of the two full-backs has to step forward to close down [Antonio] Candreva or [Alessandro] Florenzi - leaving you with only three at the back. At the World Cup in Brazil, both Holland and Chile chose to use a 3-5-2 against us and it put is in great difficulty.” Such a contrast in mood and honesty when compared to an indifferent Marc Wilmots who, clearly bristling at the criticism he was getting, dismissed Belguim’s humiliation in all too simplistic fashion, declaring it to be the natural outcome when faced with a back three steeped in irreplaceable knowledge of the Conte system and its workings. To imply that the Italian can’t replicate this tactical master class with another set of three [or a mix-and-match of them] is both naïve and ungracious, but I suppose the proof of this particular pudding will come next season, when he is with us in the Premier League. Of course, there are many Chelsea fans who believe our new boss should think again about playing 3-5-2, regardless of personnel, citing the system’s failure in other managerial hands in recent years, but if anybody can repeat the back three card trick with a completely new deck it is surely this man and his well drilled backroom staff. More to the point, he has a massive pack to draw from, not only defensively, but in the other interwoven midfield and attacking areas as well. At the last count, Chelsea’s retained list of Contract Players had a Carlsberg feel to it, with probably the best and longest retained list in the world looking like this in alphabetical order… Abraham, Aina, Ake, Ali, Angban, Bekanty, Azpilicueta, Baba, Baker, Bamford, Beeney, Begovic, Blackman, Boga, Jeremie, Brown, Cahill, Chalobah, Christensen, Christie-Davies, Clarke-Salter, Colkett, Collins, Conroy, Courtois, Cuadrado, Cuevas, Costa, Dabo, Dasilva, Davey, De Souza, Delac, Djilobodji, Fabregas, Feruz, Grant, Hazard, Hector, Houghton, Ivanovic, Kalas, Kane, Kiwomya, Loftus Cheek, Maddox, Marin, Matic, Miazga, Mikel, Mitchell, Moses, Mount, Muheim, Musonda, Nunes Ancient [Kenedy], Oliveira Dos Santos [Wallace], Omeruo, Palmer, Pantic, Pasalic, Perica, Piazon, Pedro, Quintero, Remy, Rodriguez, Salah, Sammut, Scott, Solanke, Suljic, Swift, Terry, Thompson, Tomori, Traore, Ugbo, Van Ginkel, Willian, Wakefield, Zouma. By my reckoning, a half-dozen, half-decent 3-5-2 teams can be cobbled together from this lot and while I wouldn’t know where to start in terms of selecting, schooling or motivating them, who can deny that Conte isn’t the right man for that job and he wouldn’t be able to find a Premier League winning team in there somewhere within a season or two? Leonardo Bonucci certainly wouldn‘t and I‘ll leave the last words of eulogy to him, delivered after yesterday’s victory over Spain:- “Conte is a coach who is really able to implement a plan. He is more and more important in every match. This process [which he] started two years ago has been essential. This national side is shorn of great talent, so we have to come together as a team. We need a playing style, and Conte really is the master in this area.” .
  12. After seeing the Juve fan’s comments in the recent pages on this topic and the video above, it seems certain that Conte will set his standard 3-5-2 stall out as soon as he arrives at the Bridge. Our new boss would like nothing better than to repeat the immediate success he had with his Juventus team and this would be the logical way to achieve that aim with the minimum amount of fuss made or risk taken. However, looking at what he has to work with at the moment, he will doubtless make just as many changes in personnel as he did back in that summer of 2011, and a few more besides. Not to do so would imply he’s been hamstrung in the transfer market, by virtue of lack of funding (unlikely if the latest reports are true) inflated price or lack of CL football, and would leave him looking at the following first team squad of players fulfilling the requirements of those numbered positions, as outlined and explained so concisely in the video:- (1) Courtois (2) Dave/Zouma (5) JT/Cahill (3) Branna/Clarke-Salter (4) Fabregas (6) Matic/Mikel (8) Willian/LRC (7) Pedro/Kenedy (11) Hazard/Baba (9) Costa/Falcao (10) Remy/Traore This core group [bar Willian] seriously underperformed last season and certain players unsuitability for the next one are glaringly obvious to those of us who watched in disbelief as events unfolded and plans unravelled. Now Conte’s plans are to be implemented and when the essential tactical elements are broken down further into possession categories (see video) it becomes increasingly evident that he will have major decisions to make, not least in terms of ditching the old guard in favour of new recruits, whether they be replaced by new signings or emergent talent. For example, if Conte’s remit echoes Roman’s insistence on the advancement of our loan and Academy players, combined with financial restraint, our young lads suddenly come into the reckoning as genuine contenders for first team places rather than to merely make up the numbers, as several substandard signings did last season. How this pans out is made easier to understand by reference to the video and the possession categories….. In Possession - playing out from the back accurately against a low press, the back three are split wide and this makes the need for pace in the (2) and (3)s essential - we have it in abundance in the 2s, but not in both of the 3s and therefore Clarke-Salter, Ake, Aina and Chalobah may well have opportunities for advancement. They also have to tackle and pass well, directly into the strikers and behind the back line so, as JT was [is] arguably the best at these skills centrally, the likes of Christensen, Miazga and Tomori should stake their claim to be his long term successor. If not, rumours that JT has had to settle for a new role in his final year can only mean that either Bonucci remains on our radar, or the alleged continued interest in Stones is more fact than fiction. The offensive midfielders (6) and (8) clear pathways to the strikers and here the (8)s look fine to me, but the (6)s were often ponderous last season. Baker and Palmer are more suited to the (8) role and are very talented, so we have an embarrassment of riches in this area, whereas the same cannot be said of the (6)s, unless Ake is given his chance here instead of in defence. The (8)s must also support the strikers, often in wide positions - Willian is better at this than RLC, though the latter has proved capable of doing the job in the England U-21 side playing well in the hole behind Redmond and Watmore in the Toulon tournament. The (7) and (11)s drop to support, playing their 1-touch stuff behind the full backs, and the four we have are ideal, although some will have their doubts about Baba even though on last season’s evidence he is the best crosser of a ball we‘ve got. Swift has good delivery too and this has been recognised, as he is often the replacement for the versatile Watmore in England’s U-21s. My view on him is that, should Conte feel he is not going to make it with us, we could do a lot worse than make a tempting offer for Watmore, in my opinion the most promising young wing back/striker in the Premier League. The (4) role is made for Cesc and we have no readymade understudy, but, as many of you know from other threads, I did like the look of Kyle Scott and still hope he stays and makes the necessary step up. If not, Charlie Colkett is another who has the range of pass, but he is more of a (6) than a (4) and looks to me like a future captain in the making in this position. The (9) and (10) pairing must stay close for combinations and be prepared to make runs behind defenders to receive one-touch passes, which sounds like the perfect Cesc/Costa partnership in action, with Traore/Solanke/Abraham looking to impress as understudies. This is our weakest area in terms of experience, which is presumably why we are in the market for a tried and tested Morata or a once tried [and might be tested again] Lukaku. Out Of Possession - sliding across in defence means the back five becomes a back four and there’s a need for (2) and (3) to be able to defend one-on-one in wide areas. No problem for the (2)s above, but the same cannot be said of the (3)s - long term Ake and Chalobah look the best bets to fulfil this role, along with Sterling perhaps, if he continues his rapid progress. Incidentally, it is here, when retreating on turnover to a low block, that RLC gives the impression of being at his laziest. Covering the spaces in the last third and sensing the danger that exists in this area is what Vidal and Marchisio did so convincingly for Conte and trusting a young RLC to do the same on a regular basis would take a big leap of faith, especially as it fits the skill set of both Matic and Mikel like a glove. On the other hand, if the Nainggolan rumours are true, RLC could end up either as a perfect understudy, or merely a fourth in line player, dependent upon how Conte ends up rating everybody. With a back five and midfield three the (7) and (11)s have to retreat quickly, sliding on a switch of play, and out of the four we have currently for these positions the (7)s look to have the versatility, especially Kenedy whereas the (11)s, being more attacking by nature, appear less well equipped. There is little to add about the (9) and (10) role out of possession, except to say that when we pressed and countered from deep last season only Costa directed play and prevented switches expertly. The job was simply not done properly in his absence and when Conte studies the performances of the rest at their various levels only Abraham will stand out as a tireless worker. Sadly, his lack of experience is likely to keep him at the back of any queue for this spot if we persist in keeping Falcao, Remy and Pato in it as well. In truth, whether the majority of fans are in favour of big spending or youth development, in our present parlous mid-table state it is immaterial, because the only preference that matters now is Conte’s and the level of disillusionment has been such that Roman can, in all probability, do no right in this situation. Backing the new boss to the hilt with cash could mean the arrival of a host of players and at the same time a mass culling of expectations in the Academy and loan sectors, whereas an insistence on wholesale youth progression stymies Conte before he even steps off the plane. A successful balance has to be found - and over the coming months that will be the toughest part of the Italian’s new job. .
  13. A few cold hard FSW facts - five Chelsea youngsters are in the current England Under-21 group - Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathaniel Chalobah, Lewis Baker, John Swift and Kasey Palmer. Add to these Jake Clarke-Salter, Dominic Solanke and Tammy Abraham, who are in the England Under-19 squad (a level down, but with the exception of RLC probably just as advanced [or not] in terms of gaining first team status) and you have eight good reasons why Conte should be looking seriously at giving youth a chance at the earliest opportunity. Not to do so would run the risk of losing a fair number, perhaps en bloc, to rival clubs only too keen to take advantage by supplementing their first team squads in the [almost] certain knowledge they could easily have at least one Marcus Rashford Mark11 on their hands for very little financial outlay. Okay, you can see those fans who are clamouring for us to make major signings being quick to pick individual holes in this evolution - Swift will never be good enough, Solanke can **** off because he’s too greedy, Chalobah isn’t as talented as his younger brother, blah, blah, but this English eight are starting to achieve at international level even before being given a genuine chance at their parent club, and there are those who would also go the extra loan-minded and unbiased mile by lifting my little-Englander selection barrier to press the priority claims of Nathan Ake, Andreas Christensen and Charly Musonda, which would take the likely lad list up to eleven. But sadly of late there has been a slow shift of opinion away from championing the cause of radical youth development, the pervasive attitude being that (despite massive investment in the Academy) Roman has never really wanted it to happen enough and the call now is for buying our way out of mid-table trouble as best we can, settling for security and adopting a ‘we know our place’ attitude in the process. Personally, I would much rather Conte show us and all these potential big spenders exactly how to get a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, if that is what we are going to perceive our present group of overpaid, lazy good-for-nothing first team squad players to be akin to. Forget who’s fault it was performance-wise last season, never mind where we end up table-wise this, let’s just demonstrate that the emergence of youth at first team level at Chelsea is a viable proposition. Imagine the stark contrast with United under Jose, where his new regime looks likely to adopt a virtual care in the community approach - Zlatan helped into the Falcao zimmer-support role? Rooney retirement-homed to where the younger more angelic Mata will no doubt fear to tread? Carrick dangled the carrot of an extra year in the anticipated absence of a Giggs unifying presence, disable[y] supported by Schweinsteiger when fresh legs are needed? - the average age of a team with that lot in it would rocket at a stroke that many of them would likely suffer after a season-long track back chasing trophies on four fronts. Getting in under the radar is an optimistic phrase that’s been used on here to describe how Conte’s first season might go, emerging from anonymity and benefiting from it to break back into the big time. With no great expectations in the short term and plenty of long term objectives, what better time will there ever be to bring about radical change? We have so many young players knocking on the door of international football, let alone the barn of a one fronting our own domestic league, if we don’t listen up pretty soon these kids will stop knocking and go away in their droves…. and who can blame them in such circumstances? .
  14. True, Chelsea faced a similar situation when Mourinho joined Inter Milan and Real Madrid, but allowed those clubs to use his name under licence. We are taking a different approach on this occasion, not least because United want to own the trademark outright.

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