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Experimental pre-season Blues while waiting on a Real deal


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Watching our lacklustre performance against Rangers obviously affected CSR members in different ways, but we all have to agree that the preparation for the coming season has been far from perfect and, whether you react to it calmly or fly off the handle, it is more than a little disconcerting. Let?s face it, a leopard cannot change its spots overnight, so we shouldn?t really be surprised when we don?t move smoothly from being slow, big beast passers, into panther paced counter-attackers just by bringing in one French guy called Malouda and taking out another called Maka.

Nor does it help to have a) one slightly morose and less than turbo charged central striker struggling with his form and conscience (do I really want to be here?) or ;) the fastest winger in town sidelined with either a record breaking umpteenth injury or a one way ticket to Spain burning a hole in his pocket or c) a trio of free signings who aren?t even well versed in our old methods, let alone the new, all singing, all dancing, stuff we?ve been anticipating ever since Jose shocked everyone by putting the words ?attacking? and ?new style? into the same sentence when talking about our play (yes us!) for the forthcoming season.

To put it bluntly, and on behalf of the worriers, have we bitten off more than we can chew by setting up this newly proposed, racy Romanesque restaurant, or are we less than well catered for when it comes to the chefs preparing the visual feast? We certainly showed our intent with the Malouda signing and strengthened the belief by giving Scott Sinclair some summer bench time, but Robben has derailed us somewhat. Irrespective of injury or a want away attitude, he is undoubtedly the forward who can give the opposition nightmares and if he goes there is no speedy cutting edge anymore.

In such circumstances, I suppose the laid back fans will be slightly less so and the panic stricken brigade will be suicidal. One thing is for sure - the plan will need revision and, as many have said, an Alves signing may well be the saving grace, accompanied by the placing of great faith in Sinclair.

Incidentally, it would be interesting to see if those who are unflustered at this late stage are also the same fans who are not bothered by the rush to add another system to our (allegedly) dull stock in trade. I?m guessing that the supporters craving a more entertaining style want to see the likes of Alves in our midst, whereas the calm crew have always been happy with Glen, or Diarra, or Paulo, or (now) Tal and, merely by mentioning the quartet, have any fears of their own allayed.

These would, of course, be the same fans who think that Essien?s return to midfield will give us a stranglehold there that will automatically make us look good upfront, with or without Robben?s pace, and Joe Cole can always provide the flair when required. They may also be the same fans who don?t see much wrong with a narrow midfield combined with a strike force of Drogba and Sheva, as long as Joe provides the width.

Then again, maybe I?ve got it wrong and there is a Chelsea fan out there who wants it all - two attacking full backs, a holding midfielder, two wide men and a couple of strong, quick, goal scoring strikers. Do we want them, have we got them, do we need them, can we keep them? - they?re the unanswered questions that could be resolved by a 4-1-3-2 formation with suitable personnel.

On present form, attitude, desire - call it what you will - my team for the Charity Shield would be Cech, Diarra (Alves), JT, Riccy, Cole (A), Mikel, Malouda, Essien, Robben (Sinclair), Drogba Kalou (Pizarro). At best, naturally that?s with personal preferences, it looks a very strong unit and at worst we might struggle up front. Only three alternatives given, yet the perception of the strength of the defence and a struggling attack, just by shuffling these names, is clear for all to see. It only goes to show that Jose has his work cut out merely matching players to systems, never mind future ANC absentees and injuries - and even he can't please all of the people all of the time!

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I'm already made it clear in the chelsea v rangers thread that my leanings are far more towards the "don't panic it's only a friendly" camp than with those who think it's time to panic. Don't misundersand me, I'm a million miles from complacent. I'll try to explain in a little more detail.

Firstly, there's game itself, a friendly, i.e. non-competitive and therefore not directly comparable to a league or cup game. I admit I haven't seen a minute of the game, but I've heard Radio Scotland commentators and Rangers fans claiming it to be the most competitive friendly match they've ever seen. Taking this further, you could speculate that it was in fact, more of an exhibition match.

Look at when the goals were scored. A few minutes from time, we'd made 8 or 9 changes since half time, which gave a few more players the opportunity of a run around, and for Jose to have another look at some of the new players, and also added to the unreality of the situation.

Also Hilario was in goal. Which is only likely to happen again if we're hit by the same kind of extreme circumstances as last season. And surely lightning can't strike in the same way in two consecutive season .. can it?

And finally, look at the absentees from the squad, Maka included. Ok, he's not getting any younger and will need replacing/phasing out before too long. But do you really think that his absense from yesterday's squad signifies that his time at the Bridge is coming to an end? To be honest I can't remember who else wasn't included in the squad. But I'm sure that someone else who can, will be able to make a similar point about the more likely regular starters next season.

I won't panic even if we don't win the Charity Shield. I won't like it, but it's like this:

If we win, it's a nice way to kick off the season; if we lose, it's Mickey Mouse.

If we struggle against Birmingham, then I'll start to worry. Until then, I'm keeping a very open mind.

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Well at the end when we scored our team were:

Hilario, Terry, Carvalho, Ben Haim, Cole, Sinclair, SWP, Mikel, Pizarro, Lampard and Sidwell.

So based on Dorset's prediction there are quite a few changes Jose might make to fit in obvious first team starters like Essien, Malouda, Robben (if fit/here) and Kalou.

I think the second goal was probably pretty immaterial - it had an inevitability about it really plus it was deflected.

I have to admit I'm in the more pessimistic group - not quite slitting my wrists yet, icon_wink.gif although if we play badly against Brondby my pulse will start to ratchet up a few notches.

I'd just like to see us scoring some quality goals - hell even Arsenal today won this Emirates Cup and scored 2! It also worries me that Drogba doesn't exactly seem himself at the moment, a little frustrated - we can't afford to have him off colour because he is still the main focus of our attacking play - for now.

We just seem to be struggling with fitting players and systems together. I hope Jose knows in his mind by now what his first 11 is and I think it's about time he starts picking them from the start and playing them the whole match against Brondby if possible. There has been enough experimenting for me, I've seen enough and can the real Chelsea please step forward in whatever guise Jose has decided it will be?

We need to get out of the badly misplaced passes which gift the opposition runs at our none too sturdy defence at times and we have to up our pace in midfield and get the ball up to the strikers far more quickly than we are currently doing.

True, we cannot change our style of play overnight, there will be teething problems but right now I'd just be grateful to see one of our supposed strikers (hell actually anyone) score a decent goal which came from a nice swift passing movement from midfield or cross from the wings. We've had a bad back pass goal, a goal keeping howler goal and a free header in the box goal - none of these will be given to us by the likes of MU or even Birmingham I would suggest.

I wouldn't mind us losing if the general quality of our football looked as if it was improving and the understanding of the players was getting better - but it simply isn't. Jose is going to have to do some serious work on the training pitch when we finally get back to Cobham.

So has Jose bitten off more than he can chew? Well I'm not sure but he is trying to get new players to gel into a new system all at the same time and at the moment it's not really working that well from what I've seen so far.

It doesn't help of course that we have Sheva who is basically dead weight in the team and players injured that Jose would probably like to include such as Ballack and Robben.

So all a bit of a disappointment so far for me. I'm not expecting them to put 5 goals past these teams like MU are doing in Asia but I would like to see something going in the back of net - preferably the oppositions.

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