Jump to content

Playing Your Cards Right


Dorset

Recommended Posts

By common consent, and even from the higher CSR authorities, the Premiership race is run with United virtually assured of victory. There is never a good time to concede defeat, but now is as good as any because the Bolton game encompassed so much of what our season has lacked, both in terms of fact and fortune. Here?s my take on the unfolding events in a season in which, even though it hurts to admit it, United have won almost every critical game in spectacular fashion and will therefore, deservedly, end up taking the title.

Of course, the Media perception will be far more adulatory than that, but the truth of the matter is that we have not lost the race by losing matches, but by drawing too many of them, with several being close encounters of the very unfriendly kind. Yesterday was a particular case in point and, whereas in the last two seasons we have been able to cope with the pressure in tight games, there comes a time for every high wire act where the tension is too great and you simply fall off. In contrast, United have viewed the entire campaign in a different light?

I?m guessing that around twelve months ago Fergie realised his time was running out and, if he was going to engineer any sort of worthwhile exit strategy, voluntarily actionable as opposed to enforced, the following twelve months needed to be memorable. Halting the Blue Machine was one thing, but undermining them had to be the first step and this he has achieved by adopting an all out attacking policy at every opportunity, especially when ahead in games against lesser opposition. This was a blatant assault on our own controlled style of play and probably the only way a direct comparison could easily be seen to be both better and of superior quality - good for football and oh so laudable, win or lose.

Aided and abetted by a fawning Media, everything fell into place right from the start, even to the extent that the pursuit of Hargreaves failed and a far more creative Carrick arrived. Rolling over and tummy tickling became commonplace with the opposition seemingly so hell bent on a beating that many appeared guilty of a new perversion known to Chelsea fans as Saddo-masochism.

Four teams escape this criticism - Arsenal (how perverse is that?), by playing United off the park (twice); West Ham, by contracting new manager syndrome (Curbishley still doesn?t know how or why he did it); Pompey, by standing up to them and Southgate?s lot, by sticking doggedly to the belief that they?d get a penalty decision going their way eventually (they didn?t, should have won by getting one, but in the end settled for the inevitable and a draw).

How does this assessment compare with the oppositions approach to us? Well, I would contend that only the full 3 points we dropped against Boro was down solely to poor play, whereas the Spurs debacle was down in part to Poll, but in the main to pressures of our own making. The same could not be said of the Anfield defeat, due to our lack of central defenders. However, the draws against Villa (twice), Reading and Fulham do fall into that general pattern of our failing to break clear of sides that really should be defeated - the first two having readily rolled over against United with the latter getting hit by that Ronaldo sucker punch.

Of late and likewise the Barcodes and Bolton formed a dull, but effective, Northern alliance and thus we return full circle to the debate over managerial tactics with Jose in the dock charged with no style and substance abuse, while Old Red Nose gets away Scot free from a 2-0 deficit. Is this justice being seen to be done? I suppose, if you live by the sword and are prepared to die by it as well, it must be.

You can bet that Fergie?s realised he?s on a winner either way, but, for his sake, I hope he takes the door marked Exit when the season is over because it?s always best to quit while you?re ahead and the future really does look brighter down South. Just take a peek at the cards that will soon to be dealt - big money for Hargreaves matched against the already embedded Michel, Diarra, Kalou, Sinclair and Sahar - no wonder Jose wants to stay and play another hand or two.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I think it is time we reviewed our style of play, particularly our midfield. During the summer break last year, when it became obvious Mourinho favoured athletes over artists in midfield, I wondered would this signal the "death of football". When the club with more money to spend than any club in the history of football chooses to spend it on athletes rather than footballers what would this mean for the beautiful game?

Tragically for Chelsea fans, but I have to say happily for the game of football, Ferguson has shown it is possible to achieve the massively high standards we have set, while still trusting in skill, and setting out to score more than the opposition rather than strangle the life out of them.

For next season Dorset you have wondered whether Mourinho would be excited by the prospect of working with Mikel, Diarra, Kalou, Sinclair and Sahar, and I have no doubt he will be. As certainly in the case of the first three it looks like more of the same to me (although Mikel has a pleasingly languid style which I imagine Mourinho might like to knock out of him).

The less hysterical speculation coming from Stamford Bridge is that Abramovich has looked for a more expansive style of football as a return for his massive investment. That seems fair enough to me, he's entitled to have a say. The challange is can Mourinho deliver on this and maintain our winning habit?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The other great myth bandied around by the mee-ja was that we had/have great strength in depth, whereas we all know that our lack of quality beyond the 'untouchables' has cost us dear. The goalkeeping situation could never have been forseen, but starting the season with just 3 centre-backs, no top class right-back and only two recognized forwards was a little short-sighted. The lack of a right-back cost us at Spuds and having no centre-backs done for us at Liverfool. If you add the number of games Essien didn't play in midfield, it all adds up to a bit of a shambles. I don't know if Jose wanted to test himself, or whether Kenyon was trying to tighten our collective belt, but it was crass stupidity either way.

The players are now beyond tired, especially Lampard and Drogba. When they need that little extra, that 5% more, it's not there. The Premiership has gone and I fear for us on Tuesday, especially without the organizational skills and expertise (yes Just, expertise) of Carvalho. We've hit some highs this season but if it comes down to parading the Carling Cup around the streets, will we all be able to focus on the good things or will we wonder what could have been...with a decent centre-back, a top class right back and the option of another centre-forward?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mythology is right. A possible answer to the conundrum of why we didn't strengthen our squad in January comes from Jason Cundy who stated that this was down to Roman Abromovitch making a stand. Something like "I've put enough money into this club for the time being. Now get on with it". Of course the myth of our strengh in depth goes hand in hand with the allegation that Jose just buys up all the best players to stop anyone else getting them. Even after the Reading game, the media in general were of the opinion that Chelsea should have seen it coming? Ok, so when was the last time any professional football club lost their first and second choice goalkeepers through serious injury in the same game? But as we all should know by now, the vast majority of what the media chooses to say about Chelsea FC can be dismissed as complete and utter crap. One reason being that the four teams most commonly supported by members of the press are W*st H*m, T*tt*nh*m and L*v*rp**l, and of course the Mancs. Which brings me to yet another myth - that Jose has worked hard to create a sense that the whole world is against the team. Noooo ... the whole world (ok most of it, especially the idiot classes who choose to believe every single word spouted by the Great British Gutter Press) is already against us. It's always been the same, or at least similar. Back in the '70s when hooliganism was rife throughout the land, it was Chelsea fans who were first to be banned. Not Leeds, not Mancs - and definitely not angelic bloody Scousers but Chelsea. And it was with great pride that I wore my "You can't ban a Chelsea fan t-shirt". And it was true. At places like Derby, for instance, so many "banned" Chelsea fans turned up, that they had to open a section of the ground just for us. In a nutshell - sod the lot of 'em.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it is time we reviewed our style of play, particularly our midfield. During the summer break last year, when it became obvious Mourinho favoured athletes over artists in midfield, I wondered would this signal the "death of football". When the club with more money to spend than any club in the history of football chooses to spend it on athletes rather than footballers what would this mean for the beautiful game?

Tragically for Chelsea fans, but I have to say happily for the game of football, Ferguson has shown it is possible to achieve the massively high standards we have set, while still trusting in skill, and setting out to score more than the opposition rather than strangle the life out of them.

For next season Dorset you have wondered whether Mourinho would be excited by the prospect of working with Mikel, Diarra, Kalou, Sinclair and Sahar, and I have no doubt he will be. As certainly in the case of the first three it looks like more of the same to me (although Mikel has a pleasingly languid style which I imagine Mourinho might like to knock out of him).

The less hysterical speculation coming from Stamford Bridge is that Abramovich has looked for a more expansive style of football as a return for his massive investment. That seems fair enough to me, he's entitled to have a say. The challange is can Mourinho deliver on this and maintain our winning habit?

Top post Liam, and for the first time, I have to strongly disagree with Dorset.

Dorset, I think you do Manchester United a great disservice with a Scouseresque belitting of their achievements. To say that other teams have just plain "rolled over" for Manchester United is utterly wrong- did we not cringe when the same comments were levelled at us following a 10-man demolition of West Ham last season to end a downward spiral? Did we not take offense when the same thing was said after the sack of Liverpool?

A great team will make a poorer team "roll over" and that's precisely what Manchester United have done this season, what we've done previously and have been unable to do this year. The Everton game as a case in point- Manchester United had upwards of 60% possession, consistently, through the game. Everton were shocked and dominated in the first half and- although this is similar to an "if my aunt had balls..." argument - if United scored once then, it would've been a similar rout anyway. Let's move on to the other examples- Fulham, Reading, and Villa. You seem to absolve Chelsea of any blame, instead it is the opposition's 'fault' that we drew. In reality Dorset, a great team, a champion team, should make the opposition play to its whims, not vice-versa. At the start of the season, the title was in our hands to win, a defeatist attitude in blaming other teams for our own inadequacies is symptomatic of leaving winning in the hands of the opposition, which plainly is not a deserving champions' attitude.

The question that we all seek answering is obviously "why us?" Why do teams roll over for Manchester United and not for us? Where is the hatred gone for the Man U teams of the past? It's easy to just say "everyone's against us, the all hate Chelsea" but that isn't true (Spurs aside). Teams have their own fortunes and Manchester United, Chelsea are simply big names that need to be beaten regardless of the circumstances. The difference is Manchester United, with their attacking, effective and dominant style of play strike fear into lesser teams; contrast this to Chelsea's "1-0 and she'll be right" approach, coasting to win games 1-0 or 2-0 rather than sending out a message of dominance. Manchester United dominate teams into submission, so that they can't muster a comeback; Chelsea dominate, but there is always a window of hope knowing that nicking a goal could turn the tide. The difference this season is that while the Mancs have risen up to the level of bigger opponents and stayed, we have been playing down to the level of our lesser opponents, never exerting ourselves unless we have to. The keywords there "unless we have to"- compare the Reading and Villa performances with the Valencia's rabbits-in-headlights performance in the second-half at the Mestalla. We have the ability to play and dominate, it's merely that we choose not to in the name of pragmatism.

The disappointing thing, though, is that you seem to feel that United's attacking approach is something to be avoided and not aimed for, something that is almost unworthy of Chelsea. We need to reclaim our Champions' arrogance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personally, my hat is off to United. With a mere three games to go they haven't won it yet, and that much is testament to the resilience of this Chelsea side. But if for a minute we took Chelsea out of the equation, what Man Utd have been able to do this season in the EPL is quite stunning. We can't take that away from them. But back to Chelsea, yes we do have good squad depth, but the reality is that there is still a difference between our obvious first eleven and the players that come in to give those first eleven a break. And yes, the controlled style of play can and does come back to haunt us because rather than blow teams apart, we allow them to hang in there and there is always that possibility that they nick a goal to draw us like Bolton did.

But should we really think about changing our style? I don't know. Yes, I would like to see more attacking committment, but you have to keep in mind that we have lost Joe Cole and Arjen Robben, our two most creative attacking players, for large parts of the season. Also, SWP and Kalou are still adapting to a new team and way of playing, and in the case of the latter, a new country and league. Neither of them, yet, have the class to be able to lift their games above their limitations.

I feel that rather than change our style of play, and in reality we haven't done too bad this season considering all the injuries, Jose should be thinking to make strategic additions to the squad. As has already been pointed out, we have weakness at right back and center of defense that need plugging. But I also feel strongly that we should be after a Ronaldinho or Kaka. I know it may be difficult, but another world class creative player will (a) give us additional attacking oomph, and (B) provide us with more options when other creative players are out injured.

Cheers,

Butch

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I think a change in style is just what we need.

Yes we can continue to play the way we are, manage to grind out results and shut-up-shop when we are a goal ahead or get the odd win by a larger margin, but you have to ask, is this Boltonistic (in terms of hard end stuff) approach what Chelsea FC and its players are all about?

When we are capable of playing super attacking football, creative football and reaching the sort of form that would instil fear into every club, the same fear that a certain Robben instilled when he was new on the scene and the same fear Ronaldo instils into defenders who are set to play against him the next day, then why would we want to continue on this hard end track? Im sure the players would be happier playing creative football, im sure we will still get the results as whatever style we play, we are a tough team to break down; and im sure Roman will be happy, which is important as he is the head of the family and if happiness starts up top then it spreads and players end up playing better football instead of reading articles about Jose's future.

I dont think the answer is to start with Robben and Joey - and expect the team to play creative football again. I think the answer is to start with 11 players, and keep those as the starting 11 which is subject to change only for tactical reasons, injuries and rotation.

I think we should go back to the 2 players for each position policy, like we did in Jose's first season, and play the 2nd player if the first is out, like playing Boula for Ricky instead of pushing Essien to CB. We should attack at every opportunity, and that doesn?t mean asking Ashley to cross the ball in so that Drogba can head is down and lampard can make a run - i mean real attacks, where the team keeps the ball on the ground and players charge forward together like an army, like United have done, and dare i say it .. Blackburn in shades.

Id like to attribute our 2nd spot to the injuries, but I don?t think that?s the reason. Yes we had many key players injured, but to think of it, if we didn?t draw Bolton, won 1 extra game and beat Manu at the Bridge, we would be Champions again. However, United deserve it based on their style and 'team' play this season, if we had won it, we would have deserved it on our strength and ability to adapt (perhaps to grind out results) given our injuries. Oh, United flushed Roma with 7 key players out and came back against Milan with the same players injured.

Here's a shout out to Jose - lets get back to winning ways, not buy muscle, but by skill.

Lets float like Butterflies, not charge like Elephants.

ps: i doubt any team would have achieved what we had this season, given the injuries. I think the players have put in a super effort and deserve a lot of credit for their fighting spirit. We have everything to go on and win the 2 cups, and i think we will do it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's about consistency within matches, yogic. Tottenham and Man City at home in the EPL, Aston Villa in the Carling Cup, 2nd half vs Valencia, 2nd half vs Manchester United, Barcelona and Liverpool in the Champions' League. We're capable of it, it's a question of having the presence of mind to do it consistently through a game.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hat's off to United.

The table never lies, and you will always find the best team right at the very top.

Ronaldo has turned into the best player in the world on current form. Rooney has had a fairly solid season. Add to the fact that Giggs and Scholes have turned back the years, and Sir Alex has come up trumps.

His side have a resemblance of the 1999 side that blew everything away. Caution being thrown to the wind. The message then, was Attack Attack Attack, and the team has a similar feel to them nowadays.

Sure Chelsea have had some devestating injuries, and the bottom line, as we are all too aware, is that we have drawn too many games, and failed to find that final peice of quality to finish off teams, whilst United have torn apart the 'lesser' teams more often than not.

We entered this season with bare bones in terms of numbers, both at the back, and up top, and this became all too obvious once the injuries took their toll. To this extent, the blame can only be shifted towards Jose's door.

It is true that 'You are only as strong as your bench' and i think this has been the key difference.

The interesting part will come, when Jose enters the summer transfer window.

The signature of another defender is a no brainer, but if Jose opts to sign a winger, or a flair player then it will signal that he is going after Ferguson, and the 4-3-3 days may return.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Top post Liam, and for the first time, I have to strongly disagree with Dorset.

Dorset, I think you do Manchester United a great disservice with a Scouseresque belitting of their achievements. To say that other teams have just plain "rolled over" for Manchester United is utterly wrong- did we not cringe when the same comments were levelled at us following a 10-man demolition of West Ham last season to end a downward spiral? Did we not take offense when the same thing was said after the sack of Liverpool?

A great team will make a poorer team "roll over" and that's precisely what Manchester United have done this season, what we've done previously and have been unable to do this year. The Everton game as a case in point- Manchester United had upwards of 60% possession, consistently, through the game. Everton were shocked and dominated in the first half and- although this is similar to an "if my aunt had balls..." argument - if United scored once then, it would've been a similar rout anyway. Let's move on to the other examples- Fulham, Reading, and Villa. You seem to absolve Chelsea of any blame, instead it is the opposition's 'fault' that we drew. In reality Dorset, a great team, a champion team, should make the opposition play to its whims, not vice-versa. At the start of the season, the title was in our hands to win, a defeatist attitude in blaming other teams for our own inadequacies is symptomatic of leaving winning in the hands of the opposition, which plainly is not a deserving champions' attitude.

The question that we all seek answering is obviously "why us?" Why do teams roll over for Manchester United and not for us? Where is the hatred gone for the Man U teams of the past? It's easy to just say "everyone's against us, the all hate Chelsea" but that isn't true (Spurs aside). Teams have their own fortunes and Manchester United, Chelsea are simply big names that need to be beaten regardless of the circumstances. The difference is Manchester United, with their attacking, effective and dominant style of play strike fear into lesser teams; contrast this to Chelsea's "1-0 and she'll be right" approach, coasting to win games 1-0 or 2-0 rather than sending out a message of dominance. Manchester United dominate teams into submission, so that they can't muster a comeback; Chelsea dominate, but there is always a window of hope knowing that nicking a goal could turn the tide. The difference this season is that while the Mancs have risen up to the level of bigger opponents and stayed, we have been playing down to the level of our lesser opponents, never exerting ourselves unless we have to. The keywords there "unless we have to"- compare the Reading and Villa performances with the Valencia's rabbits-in-headlights performance in the second-half at the Mestalla. We have the ability to play and dominate, it's merely that we choose not to in the name of pragmatism.

The disappointing thing, though, is that you seem to feel that United's attacking approach is something to be avoided and not aimed for, something that is almost unworthy of Chelsea. We need to reclaim our Champions' arrogance.

I have to say that I find your grounds for disagreement a little confusing, SydneyChelsea, if only because your conclusions seem to run parallel to my own in almost every aspect except the level of ineffectiveness shown by teams when they come up against United. Let me explain, initially by using my own words in answer to your criticism?

?United have won almost every critical game in spectacular fashion and will therefore, deservedly, end up taking the title.?

I don?t think I can be fairer than that, but if you want to interpret it as a great disservice and belittling their achievements I?ll move on to my indictment that teams, in a number of instances, ?rolled over? all too often and all too easily.

?The same could not be said of the Anfield defeat, due to our lack of central defenders. However, the draws against Villa (twice), Reading and Fulham do fall into that general pattern of our failing to break clear of sides that really should be defeated - the first two having readily rolled over against United with the latter getting hit by that Ronaldo sucker punch.?

I?ll use this paragraph as evidence to dispute your comment that ?I seem to feel that United?s attacking approach is something to be avoided and not aimed for?. Far from it! After admitting our failure to go clear of these teams I took it for granted that readers would see that I too wanted wide margin victories. With hindsight, perhaps my eagerness to point out these teams? different approaches when playing against us, as opposed to United, meant that I?d assumed too much.

On this last point, I?ll stick to my guns because I don?t think there is much doubt about Reading?s approach to their games against us (especially the first) and Coppell?s forelock tugging meetings with his old club - dishing it out in the former and playing an open game in the latter. Also, Villa?s massed ranks, both home and away against us, seemed to part all to easily in League and Cup games against United. Still, you could be right in your belief that a great team will make a poorer team roll over but, if you are, Pompey?s performance showed just what a little bit of extra fight can do against even the greatest of teams.

In your penultimate paragraph you appear to agree that some sides do roll over against United - ?The question that we all seek answering is obviously ?why us ? Why do teams roll over for Manchester United and not us?? Your conclusion is that they dominate whereas we do not and there is some truth in your assertion that we never exert ourselves unless we have to. However, the assumption that their ?domination? led to this season?s entertaining flood of goals just doesn?t ring true to me. Here?s why?

United don?t dominate, they counter-attack and they do it remarkably quickly, more often than not with an end product. The Arse dominate, they don?t do it quickly and they don?t score enough goals as a result. Like it or not, we dominate with possession and, hopefully, when Robben, Cole, and perhaps even Sinclair are up and running at the opposition, we will also do it with pace. Do we need to change our style of play as well? If we do it will probably involve ceding some possession due to greater risk taking, but that?s bound to be entertaining, isn?t it? Trouble is, unlike the approach of some teams playing against others this season, we never seem able to rely on the opposition playing ball.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

United don?t dominate, they counter-attack and they do it remarkably quickly, more often than not with an end product. The Arse dominate, they don?t do it quickly and they don?t score enough goals as a result. Like it or not, we dominate with possession and, hopefully, when Robben, Cole, and perhaps even Sinclair are up and running at the opposition, we will also do it with pace. Do we need to change our style of play as well? If we do it will probably involve ceding some possession due to greater risk taking, but that?s bound to be entertaining, isn?t it? Trouble is, unlike the approach of some teams playing against others this season, we never seem able to rely on the opposition playing ball.

I think this is where we disagree and agree at the same time. United are a great counter-attacking side, I grant you that. And yes, one thing that's missing this season compared to last was the speed of our counter-attacks. But they are also keen to play in possession and possess a threat from possession- Rooney's goals against Everton and Milan a case in point. For some reason, we don't play this way anymore.

Everton didn't play ball against United. Everton were simply hoofing the ball clear to their forwards. I don't think teams play any less defensively against Manchester United than they do against us, the difference is our mentality compared to Manchester United's. We've had no problems when we're focused on attacking- ask Valencia or Spurs- but it's when we have no reason to dominate that we don't, it sends the wrong message out to opponents.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...
Please Sign In or Sign Up

Well, this is awkward!

Happy Tech GIF by Atlassian

The Shed End Forum relies on revenue to pay for hosting and upgrades. While we try to keep adverts as unobtrusive as possible without pop ups, we need to run ad's to make sure we can stay online and continue to keep the forum up, as over the years costs have become very high.

Could you please allow adverts on this domain by switching it off. Some of the advert banners can actually be closed to avoid interferance of your experience on The Shed End.

Cheers now!

Sure, let me in!