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Holding Out For A Hero?

Eton Blue at the Chelsea Megastore

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Trust me, flu and fluke results go together like grape and grain with the after effects leaving you debilitated to the point of hallucination. Weren’t we once clear at the top of the table by as many points as we’re now adrift and wasn’t that only five minutes ago? And, whilst I’m not really that interested, where the hell has Woy gone? Needless to say, emerging from an antibiotic-induced state leaves a lot of questions unanswered if you’re a recuperative Chelsea fan, but the most important of these must surely be an enquiry into why we have drifted off the pace when United continue on course and unbeaten whenever and whatever the opposition. Let’s discuss…

The general consensus seems to be that our squad is wafer thin when compared to our rivals and we should have seen this threadbare state of affairs arising before it turned into defensive holes and paucity of goals. In my opinion, this is an annoying argument that should be swatted because it flies in the face of logic. Not that Fleet Street’s finest logic has ever been allowed to encroach on a Chels-bashing story, especially when it is easy to find the target - an ageing first team squad starts to creak and a failed youth development policy prevents smooth mid-season transition from old to new. Throw into the melting pot the usual Roman interference or disinterest stories (insert either as required) and you have the bog standard reaction of the ill-informed summed up perfectly.

Dealing with just one aspect within the current collage of claptrap reveals a typical example of the sort of negativity adopted by many journos, from a sniffily superior Sam Wallace through to the dullard churnoulism of Matt Hughes. These two can point as many accusatory fingers at our bench as they like [and they do], but squad strength extends further and always has done. Their blasé belief that United’s back-up is better than ours, whether that be because of Frank Arnesen’s perceived failure or an equally prosaic devotion to The Cliff conveyor belt, needs investigation and convalescence has led me to the following cold hard facts which they might, in their infinite wisdom, wish to consider using sometime.

Squad strength extends to the loan system, where players you are prepared to develop, primarily for yourself, also benefit others in the short term. Here a comparison between United and Chelsea loanees would not only reveal the extension of strength beyond the respective club’s immediate spotlight, but also the commitment of each club to this ever-growing {Platini-driven] important area of the game. Opening with United, the club has six players out there at the moment, a goalkeeper (Ben Amos), three midfielders (Cameron Stewart, Danny Drinkwater and Tom Cleverly, plus two forwards (Danny Wellbeck and Nicky Adjose), although there were a couple of others with umbilical links to the Ferguson clan, when Darren was at Preston. Subsequently, they returned home for reasons best known to the piqued of the parish - a sad reminder of Thomas Hobbes ‘Leviathan’ with the life of the Fergie loanee consigned to being ’solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’. However, looking on the brighter side [as they do] Cleverly (Wigan) and Wellbeck (Sunderland) are clearly the high profile duo in the pack, but before developing this theme and others here is the Chelsea list in all its glory…

Goalkeepers:- Matej Delac (Vitesse Arnhem) and Rhys Taylor (Crewe). Defenders:- Slobodan Rajkovic (Vitesse Arnhem) Ben Gordon (Sc**thorpe) Ryan Bertrand (now back from Nottingham Forest) Jack Cork (Burnley) Michael Mancienne (Wolves). Midfield:- Connor Clifford (now back from Plymouth Argyle) Nemanja Matic (Vitesse Arnhem) Michael Woods (Notts County) Danny Philliskirk (Sheff Utd).

Nearly twice the United number, this looks to me like the catch from a net cast much further than the North of England (admittedly Wellbeck hails from Basingstoke) with the emphasis placed firmly on defence and midfield. Cleverly’s progress mirrors that of Mancienne while Wellbeck does battle abroad to outgun the lucky Little Pea already in the pod, a stark contrast to Danny Sturridge’s home grown attempt to climb over Kalou and into a regular first team place. An insightful comparison, I think you’ll agree, but to contend that Chelsea are in any way deficient in this particular area compared to United, as Wallace and Glummit have done so often, is Red myopia in the extreme.

Of course, these hacks would no doubt say ‘Who cares [if we ignore the facts when it suits us] nobody can deny the callowness of the bench, we’re just elaborating on the underlying cause of a points-dropping problem’. Well, if you are prepared accept the wraparound shoddy journalism and economy of truth, so be it, but a more in-depth look by them at the positions we are covering in the form of our loanees would provide strong evidence that we’re not searching to develop attacking heroes within their ranks. Indeed, we would wait a long time if we were and, should we drop many more points over the next few weeks, there simply isn’t time to waste. That said, you cannot develop the ultimate in superior youth systems as we have without being aware of the gaps appearing at any given stage. Need pinpointed or not, the deficiency is very much up front and we shall soon know if a present problem is to be addressed now or deferred until some future date, for some spurious reason. And should that be the case, we might as well all start believing in the Roman losing interest theory.

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I think you answered your own questions, Dorset. Do we have a player on loan who has made such as impact as Danny Welbeck and Cleverly?

I don't think so. Some players on loan are doing OK, but that is about it, and therein lies our problem. No diamonds in the rough for our on loan players.

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