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Time to address the root of our current problems


Eton Blue at the Chelsea Megastore

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There has been much debate about our stuttering form of late. The problems we are having are not new and the very same cause has reared its ugly head at some point in each of the last three seasons. We have too many players that despite their undoubted ability do not have the drive and desire or mental attitude required to be champions in the blue of Chelsea. Lets look at the culprits.

Chief amongst them is Deco. I have posted time and time again that I have never liked the player. Despite having undoubted quality he just never shows up. The arrogance painted across his nasty little face is echoes in his performances. He does not play for the team. He plays for himself. It could be argued that over the past couple of seasons he was being played out of position (something that he did not hesitate in pointing out to the press). Under Ancelotti he has been played in his favourite position, at the tip of the diamond, yet he his perfromances have been at best mediocre (despite the odd excellent finish). He just doesn't look bothered. A little flick here, short through pass there he gives the ball away far too often. That is forgivable but was isn't is that upon doing so he just shrugs and makes no attempt to make up for the error. The fans can see this and as a result have no affinity with him. I will admit that Joe is not in the best of form but he loves Chelsea and this is echoed in his attitude and effort to make a difference. Because of this, the fans warm to him. A case in point was yesterday when he put more in to his first 30 seconds on the pitch then Deco has all season. Yet Carlo seems to fit to play Deco again and again.

Now we come to Ballack. Another player of undoubted ability but despite the odd upturn in his perfromances (the end of season 08/09) he too often goes missing. I can't remember the last time he stamped his authority on the game. Like Deco, his attitude is casual at best. He seems just happy to turn up and collect his huge wages. I have no time for him.

Mikel. So much promise, so much potential, but he is a casual brother who adds nothing to the team, quite the opposite in fact, he has become a liability. Slowing down any momentum we may have, giving the ball away in dangerous areas and worst of all consistently giving away needless freekicks. It would be interesting to see how many of the freekicks from which we have conceded have been given away by him.

Combine Deco, Ballack and Mikel and you have only half a player. It's bad enough to have any one of these players in the team but Carlo has seen fit to play all three of them in the same line-up. This effectively means that we are playing with only seven and half outfield players. How any of them can be rewarded with a place in the team is beyond me and I imagine the majority of our fans. I can forgive mistakes and drops in form but I cannot forgive the lack of effort and casual attitude. Compare and contrast the effort put in by Alex and Ivanovic last night, both of whom played as though their lives depended upon it. That is what you get paid the ridiculous amounts of money to do. And it is this that the fans respond to.

Now we come to Kalou. A nice man by all accounts who does try his best. The problem is that his best is no where near good enough. I find him embarrassing to watch. He doesn't know when to shoot, where to move to create space for others or how to bring other players into play and misses open goals with an alarming regularity. The contrast between him and Borini last night could not be more apparent.

Carlo started very well and I have been impressed by his willingness to blood the youngsters. Let's be very clear about this: he is NOT another Scolari. However there are alarming signs that he is no Jose, Ferguson or Capello either. He doesn't seem to have the ruthlessness required to get the best out of his players over the course of a season. This may the reason he only won Scudetto in his time with AC Milan. This can be seen by the recent reluctance of our team to push on when one up. We only seem to up our game and take it to our opponents when we have conceded. Too often our players do not seem sure of what they are supposed to be doing. A case in point was the Everton game. Can you imagine those players making the same mistake twice in game under Jose? He would have had them in at half-time and given precise instructions as to how to defend a freekick. His persistence with the diamond system does echo Scolari. This system is too reliant on confidence. This is all well and good when things are going well but when the inevitable blip in form happens we seem to go to pieces. This is when a manager earns his money. But recently he seems to have gone missing (having said that I will admit that we do seem to have worked on the defending of set-pieces). And most worryingly of all, his persistence with this system has resulted in Frank having the worst season he has had in a blue shirt (I will give credit where credit is due for him getting Drog and Nico to play so well together).

It is his selections of late that have worried me the most. At the risk of repeating myself, how can he play Mikel, Ballack and Dedo in the same side? How can he have such a defensive formation when playing at home against the side at the very bottom of the table? Having blooded the mercurial talent that is Kakuta why was he not on the bench last night? Too often he does not reward players hwo have played well by keeping them in the side. What's the betting that despite his performance last night, Alex will find himself relegated to the bench at Upton Park.

I realize that this has turned into something of a rant. Of course we are top of the league and through to the next round of the Champions League. By comparison with others - particularly the bin-dippers ha! Ha! - there is no disaster here. However until he addresses these issues I fear that Man U will up their game in the second half of the season as they always do and we will be left floundering. So Carlo if you are reading this here is what I think you need to do:

1. Relegate Deco, Kalou, Ballack and Mikel to the bench at the most until their form and attitude deserves otherwise.

2. Have a plan 2 and 3 that allows us to get width when we need it.

3. Be more ruthless. Instill a sense of fear in the payers should they under-perform.

4. Understand that the fans want players who perform with flair. Of course it is up to the fans to lift the players but that goes both ways, it is also up to the players to lift the fans.

Onwards...

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ballack is having a good season and was probably our best player yesterday. it's so very tiring that people keep going back to talk about him, essien and fabregas aside I haven't seen a better central midfielder in the league this season.

neither deco or joe cole are convincing really (thought both were average in their own ways yesterday)- it's a position where we will probably need to sign.

lampard- it's entirely wrong IMO to point at the system to look at his form- starting at the point of the diamond hurt him early on, but once he went back to the left (where people seem to have forgotten he played most of the 06/07 season without problems) his form started to improve. then he got an injury. I'm not worried- I think he'll play his way into form, in fact so long as he stays free from injury I am confident of it.

I'd agree that mikel has been poor, but I don't think a system where ballack, lampard and deco going forward behind two attackers is a defensive system. he's not a defensive manager, and I don't think we sit back after scoring one at all. what did people really expect yesterday? portsmouth were attacking with 3 players at most- they just sat in their half and hoped for set pieces! despite that we did have a couple more clear opportunities to score which we passed up, and they got a comically flukey goal. ancelotti at 1-1 went to a flat 4 in the middle with joe and malouda wide- does that not count as a alternative plan or option?

a system being "too reliant" on confidence? what a truism! isn't that always the case?

kalou poor- obviously, but really there aren't many other options... hopefully borini is becoming one. I think kalou's been here a season too long, I think most would agree with that anyway.

I find that people who made themselves look like idiots in the summer having not followed italian football are quite eager to see ancelotti fail... when that happens you get a kind of hyper criticism, for whatever the manager does. plays the same side too often / rotates too often, changes system at random / doesn't change things up enough etc.

everton scored due to individual errors rather than systemic flaws, and if anyone watched that game I don't know how people would not be happy with the diamond- we're not being threatened in open play, we're passing well and creating chances in every game.

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ballack is having a good season and was probably our best player yesterday. it's so very tiring that people keep going back to talk about him, essien and fabregas aside I haven't seen a better central midfielder in the league this season.

You are talking about the bloke who wears the No13 shirt for Chelsea?? We must have been watching different games, a different season in fact! He does nothing more than pass the ball 3 yards sideways, or back to the person who gave it to him. I spent the first 20 mins last night watching exactly what he does because I'm still trying to figure it out, and that was it, 3 yard passes all night, and the occassional pass 'the buck' back to whoever gave it to him. He covers alot of ground and has a good engine but it's an insult comparing what Essien brings to Chelsea or Fabregas to Arsenal then compare Ballack to either of those two. By comparison he offers nothing!

O'Hara for Pompey was better than Ballack last night!

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I disagree- he passes well, tackles well, makes the cynical tactical fouls. wins things in the air, has excellent movement which is particularly important when you play four midfielders in a central area. it's good that he keeps play ticking over well. he's a great player and hugely important to us.

o'hara- head down a lot and aimed a diagonal pass at their striker. that was all he did- was one of the two players they had going forward other than the striker, but I wasn't impressed. took some set peices. not a great performance. certainly more direct than ballack, but I don't think that's a good thing. certainly not if your system relies on intelligent movement and keeping the ball well. boateng looked okay, if a bit head down also.

Edited by gullit4
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I disagree- he passes well, tackles well, makes the cynical tactical fouls. wins things in the air, has excellent movement which is particularly important when you play four midfielders in a central area. it's good that he keeps play ticking over well. he's a great player and hugely important to us.

o'hara- head down a lot and aimed a diagonal pass at their striker. that was all he did- was one of the two players they had going forward other than the striker, but I wasn't impressed. took some set peices. not a great performance. boateng looked okay, if a bit head down also.

Well have to agree to disagree on this one. Ballack came up in conversation on the way to the game and I decided took a long look at him last night, off the ball aswell, and although he covers alot of ground, he just doesn't do enough for me. Lampard is off sorts at the moment and we badly miss Essien, but when you look to Ballack to take a game by the scruff of the neck he just doesn't do it. I was expecting alot more from a seasoned international and German skipper than neat 3 yard passes and little one-two's. That's all he does. I know this system is more suited to his style of play, but I keep waiting for a motm performance from him and it just never arrives.

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when you've 11 players on the pitch, they can't all be motm at once- that being said I think he has given a fair amount of quality performances for us. "neat 3 yard passes and little one-two's"... that's how we play football. we're not a direct side, the ball doesn't go from defence to attack in ten seconds often. you have to manouvere your way into good positions and wait for the right run and the right pass. it's not a style that's as appreciated in britain as it is abroad perhaps, but it's certainly the way ancelotti plays, and for that reason alone ballack is an important player. I think he was very poor (like all of our midfielders bar essien and deco's last 20 mins) against city- we passed and moved poorly and as a result couldn't alleviate pressure... I just find it odd that whenever we don't win 4-0 INEVITABLY ballack will come in for criticism- it makes me think people would prefer a player who just tries to dribble through the middle over and over again, regardless of how unsuccessful that would be.

I was looking at the guardian chalkboard (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/chalkboards/create) for yesterday's game just now and saw ballack passed the ball better than anyone in the side, mainly short, but also longer, his passes came from an extremely wide range of positions (which indicates movement I suppose). also notable was that he won every single tackle he made (also clearly shows mikel losing a lot, which is a big worry).

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Now that Essien is injured our midfield just lacks pace and the ability to beat a player 1on1. I dont think its fair to say Mikel kills our momentum, he starts to play better attacking wise in my opinion. If there is someone who really slows down our game, its Ballack. Hes a decent overall player but he still offers little. I admit that he is good in the air, strong and able to score, but we dont really need that. We already have enough strong players, especially now as Alex is back. I would prefer Malouda over Ballack because he is a bit faster, more mobile and also more creative. He´s just a different kind of player, he adds something to the team that isnt already there.

And I think that both Deco and Joe Cole need to improve. They just dont offer enough. Joe Cole tried a lot yesterday, but the end product was horrible. Deco had a decent game, but usually his passing and commitment is awful.

Edited by german-blue
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"neat 3 yard passes and little one-two's"... that's how we play football.

Yes but Essien can also pick up the ball and drive us on, Lampard can get a goal from nothing and also bursts from midfield, linking with Drogba, Malouda can (although rarely does) get down the line and create a goal, or cover the full back when he goes forward. Deco can even thread a neat pass to create a goal. If Ballack receives the ball theres only 2 places it's going to go, either 3 yards sideways or straight back to whoever played it to him. I just expected alot more from a player of his stature.

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We have "current problems" ?

Last time I looked (every minute) we were top of the league.

Thats a very nice problem.

Seriously though, we have looked the best team overall in the league so far this season, weve beaten our 3 main competitors 2-0,1-0 and 3-0, so we cant have too many problems in defence.

Our only problem is finding some four leaf clover, and getting a gull to cack on our head, we just need lady luck to stop spoiling our opponents, I wonder how many Everton players did the lottery saturday night ? Couldnt fail to lose could they ?

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Regarding the Portsmouth game Ballack spent most of his time playing extremely deep, at times behind Alex. The thing you get from Ballack is setup and composure in the midfield. He might play a short pass more now than he used to, but he is always looking for runners or wingers. He and Lampard have played a very similar role this season, but from different positions. They are both working on setting up the attackers, not trying to do it all themselves. Essien and J.Cole are obviously different in that respect, but it doesn't mean one or the other are poor. If everyone played like Ballack right now the midfield would be slow, but if everyone played like J.Cole it wouldn't be settled. I do miss Ballack attacking though, his shooting has been limited and poor when it does emerge lately.

Deco has been off with his passing, but that can be said of many of the players lately. He is a nightmare for defenses when he is playing well and I've enjoy watching him play this season. My feeling is that if Deco and J.Cole can improve on their individual form, there will be more high scoring games and very likely the title.

Couldn't agree more with Coco. I'm ignoring the doomsday talk, my sidebar gadget shows Chelsea in the top spot!

Edited by Matt F
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I can't see what makes you think this team doesn't push on..are you comparing Ancelotti unfavourably to Mourinho without even having witnessed him see out a full season and use the team not pushing on as one of the pointers?

we have won 13 games in the premiership, 3 of those by two clear goals, 3 by 3 clear goals, 2 by 4 clear goals and 1 by five , we have scored in every match.

I wouldn't put this down to Ancelotti telling the boys not to push on.

I can't agree about Ballack either, I think he has had a good season and although he's had a couple of very ordinary games on the whole I would say he has been one of our best players so far this term.

Frank has played a different game and been poor on occasions but he has been poor in his more natural position (for poor read not up to his high standards) and this is likely just a form thing which I have every faith he will come through, just at the right time hopefully.

Anelka, Drogba Ballack Ash and Malouda have played better than ever under this Manager and I'd say Bosingwa, Ivanovic and Alex have all benefitted as well from the way he has got them playing, the only players to have had blips in form have been players that have had injuries really and he's managed to give some decent game time to some promising youngsters.

I think its very early days after a couple of unlucky games to be pointing any fingers at the Manager while he looks down at the rest of the teams surely even the Chelsea boss should be fairly content.

Edited by Chippy
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Now this always happens... the moment one starts asking a few questions one gets accused of not backing the manager. Can we collectively all say that we are entirely happy with what has transpired over the past few games? Surely not.

Had I posted my concerns after the arsenal game everyone would have been right to shout me down but it is clearly evident that there are issues to be addressed. We have looked decidedly dodgy since the magnificent win over the arse. We have looked tentative in attack and panicky in defence. Certain players have been seriously under-performing as has the team unit as a whole.

There is no doubt that we have taken our foot off the gas until events in the game have forced otherwise. Against Everton and Portsmouth we only started playing with urgency onece we conceded. Just listen to what Frank has to say about this: "It was never going to be easy with Portsmouth battling but we didn't capitalise on going 1-0 up," he said. "It's a problem at the moment. We're going 1-0 up and not pushing on like we were a few games ago." He goes on to say, ""we're having a patch at the moment where we're not pulling away from teams when we might do and every free-kick and corner seems to drop to them in a funny way. We are being punished every time and it is just a phase we are in. We went a long time without conceding goals and that was fantastic but now, we're having a patch where we are."

Perhaps certain of us are guilty of being as complacent as our beloved team. If this attitude is echoed by the players and management we will surely not be picking up the Premiership trophy come May. I qualified my criticism in my post. Carlo is cleary no Ranieri or Scolari. He has done a lot of good. I do not want to see him fail. Of course not. My blood runs blue. But anyone who thinks that everything is tickity boo in the Chelsea camp at present is frankly deluded.

Come on lads, as much as we love to crow when things are going brilliantly but we must also recognize when there is a hitch and be open to discuss how things can be improved. That is the stuff of champions.

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ballack is having a good season and was probably our best player yesterday. it's so very tiring that people keep going back to talk about him, essien and fabregas aside I haven't seen a better central midfielder in the league this season.

neither deco or joe cole are convincing really (thought both were average in their own ways yesterday)- it's a position where we will probably need to sign.

lampard- it's entirely wrong IMO to point at the system to look at his form- starting at the point of the diamond hurt him early on, but once he went back to the left (where people seem to have forgotten he played most of the 06/07 season without problems) his form started to improve. then he got an injury. I'm not worried- I think he'll play his way into form, in fact so long as he stays free from injury I am confident of it.

I'd agree that mikel has been poor, but I don't think a system where ballack, lampard and deco going forward behind two attackers is a defensive system. he's not a defensive manager, and I don't think we sit back after scoring one at all. what did people really expect yesterday? portsmouth were attacking with 3 players at most- they just sat in their half and hoped for set pieces! despite that we did have a couple more clear opportunities to score which we passed up, and they got a comically flukey goal. ancelotti at 1-1 went to a flat 4 in the middle with joe and malouda wide- does that not count as a alternative plan or option?

a system being "too reliant" on confidence? what a truism! isn't that always the case?

kalou poor- obviously, but really there aren't many other options... hopefully borini is becoming one. I think kalou's been here a season too long, I think most would agree with that anyway.

I find that people who made themselves look like idiots in the summer having not followed italian football are quite eager to see ancelotti fail... when that happens you get a kind of hyper criticism, for whatever the manager does. plays the same side too often / rotates too often, changes system at random / doesn't change things up enough etc.

everton scored due to individual errors rather than systemic flaws, and if anyone watched that game I don't know how people would not be happy with the diamond- we're not being threatened in open play, we're passing well and creating chances in every game.

Well said,

may I also point out that earlier in the season when we were playing well we had Ballack in the side. He gets injured, misses some games, and we have a few "squeeky bum" moments (against Wigan being one) and the person everyone was saying we needed was Ballack.

Sometimes I feel that unless someone is running all game, putting in meaty challenges, and playing long balls that lead to goals, then they are considered as not trying

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I definitely have no problems with Ballack . Sure he has the odd game where he doesnt perform but I dont think its because of the lack of trying . Ballack is a very committed player and he plays for the shirt .I dont think you can complain in that respect.

Agree about Deco . I would rather see Kalou play at the tip than Deco because he is an honest lad.

Well Essien is injured so that doesnt leave us with much option than to play Mikel does it ?

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I still like Mikel and think that he has plenty of talent, and plenty of room for improvement....but who would we play at DM without him and Essien?

I wouldn't mind seeing Corky have a run in the first team...but he's on loan. Am I missing anyone? (seriously, I might be lol)

The only players that I feel aren't good enough, have enough talent, or aren't committed enough for Chelsea at the moment are Deco and Kalou. Deco's moments of brilliance are few and far between, and Kalou is responsible for almost all the easy misses for Chelsea.

Joe Cole isn't in a good patch, but when he gets back to form (which he will), he should consolidate his place at the top of the diamond and dominate creativity. Ballack is solid, but unspectacular. His passing is usually effective, but he's not overly creative. Frank Lampard doesn't seem to be suited to the formation, but I feel confident he will be able to work it out.

I still think the best midfield 4 we would have in terms of balance, would be:

-------Cole---------

Lampard----Essien

------Mikel---------

Essien performs better when he gets freed up to move forward...however, having him at DM and Ballack up further would be my next option.

For now though, I don't see how Malouda isn't getting more first team action while the other mids are so out of touch. He seems lively when he makes his cameos.

For me, the second option, when the diamond innevitable fails at some stages is to go back to the one striker...Drogba obviously fisrt choice, then Anelka...

Then Malouda, Anelka, Cole, Kakuta fill the wide positions, or Stoch if we get him back from loan...then Lampard, Essien, Mikel, Ballack take over with 3 in the center.

Right now, I don't want Deco and Kalou playing over Kakuta and Borini...

Anyway, that's what I make of it.

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Now this always happens... the moment one starts asking a few questions one gets accused of not backing the manager. Can we collectively all say that we are entirely happy with what has transpired over the past few games? Surely not.

Had I posted my concerns after the arsenal game everyone would have been right to shout me down but it is clearly evident that there are issues to be addressed. We have looked decidedly dodgy since the magnificent win over the arse. We have looked tentative in attack and panicky in defence. Certain players have been seriously under-performing as has the team unit as a whole.

There is no doubt that we have taken our foot off the gas until events in the game have forced otherwise. Against Everton and Portsmouth we only started playing with urgency onece we conceded. Just listen to what Frank has to say about this: "It was never going to be easy with Portsmouth battling but we didn't capitalise on going 1-0 up," he said. "It's a problem at the moment. We're going 1-0 up and not pushing on like we were a few games ago." He goes on to say, ""we're having a patch at the moment where we're not pulling away from teams when we might do and every free-kick and corner seems to drop to them in a funny way. We are being punished every time and it is just a phase we are in. We went a long time without conceding goals and that was fantastic but now, we're having a patch where we are."

Perhaps certain of us are guilty of being as complacent as our beloved team. If this attitude is echoed by the players and management we will surely not be picking up the Premiership trophy come May. I qualified my criticism in my post. Carlo is cleary no Ranieri or Scolari. He has done a lot of good. I do not want to see him fail. Of course not. My blood runs blue. But anyone who thinks that everything is tickity boo in the Chelsea camp at present is frankly deluded.

Come on lads, as much as we love to crow when things are going brilliantly but we must also recognize when there is a hitch and be open to discuss how things can be improved. That is the stuff of champions.

I can understand You have a few concerns although I don't personally see any cause for alarm but this sentence from you're first post doesn't qualify much for me:

Carlo started very well and I have been impressed by his willingness to blood the youngsters. Let's be very clear about this: he is NOT another Scolari. However there are alarming signs that he is no Jose, Ferguson or Capello either. He doesn't seem to have the ruthlessness required to get the best out of his players over the course of a season. This may the reason he only won Scudetto in his time with AC Milan. This can be seen by the recent reluctance of our team to push on when one up.

OK you are saying he's not a Scolari but then adding he's no Jose, Fergie or Capello either? well hopefully he is none of these as he obviously has his own management style but he has so far certainly not been outshone by the one you mention (and likely the best of the lot) who is in direct competition with him,

If I dare say he had a quarter of the time here that Ferguson has had at UTD we might be able to make a better comparison.

Edited by Chippy
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At being a great friend and being Chelsea to the bone.

oh dear!

Well I'm sorry if I've abused a mate but I can only go on what I know and as I am not a hypocrite I can only say from my experiences with Barnett is that he is a slimy cretin!

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oh dear!

Well I'm sorry if I've abused a mate but I can only go on what I know and as I am not a hypocrite I can only say from my experiences with Barnett is that he is a slimy cretin!

Oh no worries mate. Believe me, I know he's outspoken and it sometimes puts people off. But that's just him. Trust me, once you get to know the w**ker on the pitch, he's a great guy. Great drinking buddy. Head full of history and stories. Funny sob as well.

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