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Squad Status: 2017/2018 Season

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Holymoly   

I was trying to think what the difference is between our current squad and that of between 5~10 years ago and it finally struck me. The vast majority of the current squad are not invested in the club apart from drawing their wage every week. It doesn't seem to hurt them when they lose a game.

Back in "the good old days" you could depend on the team to put in an honest shift in the big games and rather in the same way of the United teams under SAF the opposition could score more goals but the squad never honestly believed they had been beaten by a better team. Back in the days of Terry, Lampard, Drogba, Ballack, Cole, Essien and Makelele if they lost, they would be spitting feathers and you could tell that it hurt. Today, and maybe I shouldn't be restricting this to just our club, the players when they lose tend to shrug their shoulders, smile and clap the opposition on the back. It's only the supporters who seem to care about the result.

Maybe we will never get back to those days in my lifetime but no wonder football supporters get so frustrated with the players at their club. They see these multi millionaires strolling around the pitch with the proverbial cigar in the mouths, falling over at the slightest touch, expecting someone else to get the ball back when they lose it. As far as I am concerned there are only two players at the club that hark back to earlier times and those are N'golo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta.

I would love to see a manager come in that was prepared to coach the players into being better versions of themselves that arrive at the club, that select players based on heart and commitment and not just a perceived ability that can vanish like summer dew. This lack of coaching to improve is the main reason that the youth players never seem to make the step up at Chelsea, they have to go abroad to achieve that. We need to stop believing we can buy success. Long term success can only be achieved by recreating the Chelsea ethos. That Chelsea FC is a club worth caring about and not just the next step on the career ladder.

Roman, you've had a fair degree of success that has really been a series of one offs with little in the way of continuity. Maybe now is the time to begin creating your true legacy, the recreation of Chelsea FC the dynasty.

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10 minutes ago, Holymoly said:

Back in "the good old days" you could depend on the team to put in an honest shift in the big games and rather in the same way of the United teams under SAF the opposition could score more goals but the squad never honestly believed they had been beaten by a better team. Back in the days of Terry, Lampard, Drogba, Ballack, Cole, Essien and Makelele if they lost, they would be spitting feathers and you could tell that it hurt. Today, and maybe I shouldn't be restricting this to just our club, the players when they lose tend to shrug their shoulders, smile and clap the opposition on the back. It's only the supporters who seem to care about the result.

Maybe - but here is a different way of looking at it.  In pretty much every season 5 to 15 years ago, we were close to winning the Prem.

I know there is some chicken and egg in this - you have got to want it to end up being close, but there was no shortage of desire in 14/15 or 16/17.

image.thumb.png.9ec92ab5acc35eddadea2b8a6e3d0f7a.png

Recently we have gone with a first 11 and little back up policy.  Sh** or Bust.  If it works it can win the title, but it is highly likely to blow up in our faeces (sorry couldn't resist leaving in the freudian!).

One day I'll find the time to make a table of PL starts for each season and it'll show just players from 13th to 20th place .  I suspect the names, quality and frequencies of starts will tell a very strong story.

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1 hour ago, Holymoly said:

I was trying to think what the difference is between our current squad and that of between 5~10 years ago and it finally struck me. The vast majority of the current squad are not invested in the club apart from drawing their wage every week. It doesn't seem to hurt them when they lose a game.

 

Further evidence of that is that usually only Dave goes over to applaud the fans at the final whistle - unlike the old days when Terry and Lamps always did, usually joined by the Drog and a few others. This lot clear off the field like someone's called "dinner time".

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xCELERYx   
7 hours ago, Holymoly said:

I was trying to think what the difference is between our current squad and that of between 5~10 years ago and it finally struck me. The vast majority of the current squad are not invested in the club apart from drawing their wage every week. It doesn't seem to hurt them when they lose a game.

Back in "the good old days" you could depend on the team to put in an honest shift in the big games and rather in the same way of the United teams under SAF the opposition could score more goals but the squad never honestly believed they had been beaten by a better team. Back in the days of Terry, Lampard, Drogba, Ballack, Cole, Essien and Makelele if they lost, they would be spitting feathers and you could tell that it hurt. Today, and maybe I shouldn't be restricting this to just our club, the players when they lose tend to shrug their shoulders, smile and clap the opposition on the back. It's only the supporters who seem to care about the result.

Maybe we will never get back to those days in my lifetime but no wonder football supporters get so frustrated with the players at their club. They see these multi millionaires strolling around the pitch with the proverbial cigar in the mouths, falling over at the slightest touch, expecting someone else to get the ball back when they lose it. As far as I am concerned there are only two players at the club that hark back to earlier times and those are N'golo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta.

I would love to see a manager come in that was prepared to coach the players into being better versions of themselves that arrive at the club, that select players based on heart and commitment and not just a perceived ability that can vanish like summer dew. This lack of coaching to improve is the main reason that the youth players never seem to make the step up at Chelsea, they have to go abroad to achieve that. We need to stop believing we can buy success. Long term success can only be achieved by recreating the Chelsea ethos. That Chelsea FC is a club worth caring about and not just the next step on the career ladder.

Roman, you've had a fair degree of success that has really been a series of one offs with little in the way of continuity. Maybe now is the time to begin creating your true legacy, the recreation of Chelsea FC the dynasty.

While I agree with much of what you've said in general. One area I'll comment on in particular is where you've said you'd love a manager to come in and coach the players into better version of themselves. While I know I'm not the only one who has played sport during their lifetimes on these forums, from a personal standpoint a lot of it falls back onto the players themselves and not the coach. We could have the finest coach in all the land, but if a player isn't willing to take constructive criticism, learn, and work hard then no amount of coaching is going to help. The players themselves have to be held far more accountable for what they do on (and off) the pitch - this includes improving on themselves personally and professionally. It doesn't, nor should it, fall purely on the manager and manager alone. While they certainly have a huge part to play in the development of players, the players themselves are also as equally responsible for their improvement. 

For me, that's the big difference between early RA era and now. We had players like Terry, Lampard, Drogba, Essien, Makelele, Carvalho, Cech, etc that were always hungry to improve themselves and be better players. They never really sat on their talent and tried to coast by on it. Taking a look at us these days and it's the entire opposite. Cahill, Azpilicueta and Kante are probably the only three players from this group that have had that sort of industry to their game and personality, thus for the most part have improved as players during their time here. Some have had moments where they look like they may take that next step - Willian, Hazard, Luiz and Courtois for example ultimately taken one step forward and then two steps back stagnating at times. 

As for the lack of youth players making the grade - big part of that is the constant changing of managers. Just as soon as a young kid may impress the current manager and begins to get some first team integration, we have someone else in charge and that progress is lost. The other thing, which may be a more unpopular view here, is that maybe we, as fans, simply overhype just how good our youth players are at times. While no doubt some are great within the level they currently feature in, that doesn't always translate up into senior football at our level. We've released and sold a number of youth prospects over the years who have been labelled talented players and subsequently had vocal backing by fans to be among the first team, only for these players to sort of drift off into the footballing wilderness and ply their trades at lower levels after leaving. From players like Mancienne, Scott Sinclair, McEachran, Nouble etc. Maybe it's down to our blue tinted glasses at times and overestimating what is actually needed to be genuine success at first team level, and overrating the actual talent of these players purely because they play for Chelsea. The better ones who do end up forging successful careers like a Bruma, still aren't at the level we desire. I know we have this problem when it comes to judging the quality of our first team players - which involves reputation somewhat skewing actual ability or fit.

We lost ourselves when we tried to recreate tika-taka football. We stopped signing players who were hard workers, powerful, athletic - and instead focused on flair, speed and creativity more. That then got compounded further by introducing the 30+ rule with contracts. Incoming transfers being largely based around potential and re-sell value long term, rather than immediate proven quality for the present. With eventually a board who seemingly control the majority of the transfers in and out.  In the end we've ended up with a right mess of things. We've got a squad that now lacks an identity and character. We've got some talented individuals who on their own are good solid enough players, but as a team don't necessarily mesh well together as a unit. What needs to happen is that RA and the board need to sit down with management (whoever that may be), create a medium to long-term plan of what they wish to achieve and how to do it - this includes the style of football to be played (which should work in conjunction with the manager appointed). With a more defined plan in place where everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal, we can then look to rebuild this side (something I wanted done in 15/16 personally) and do so in a manner that will see us sign players that fit in with the agreed upon vision. No more working against each other from all levels. That's never going to provide a stable foundation to build from, nor does it begin to attract managers or players later down the line with so much constant upheaval. 

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Holymoly   
29 minutes ago, xCELERYx said:

We lost ourselves when we tried to recreate tika-taka football. We stopped signing players who were hard workers, powerful, athletic - and instead focused on flair, speed and creativity more. That then got compounded further by introducing the 30+ rule with contracts. Incoming transfers being largely based around potential and re-sell value long term, rather than immediate proven quality for the present. With eventually a board who seemingly control the majority of the transfers in and out.  In the end we've ended up with a right mess of things. We've got a squad that now lacks an identity and character. We've got some talented individuals who on their own are good solid enough players, but as a team don't necessarily mesh well together as a unit. What needs to happen is that RA and the board need to sit down with management (whoever that may be), create a medium to long-term plan of what they wish to achieve and how to do it - this includes the style of football to be played (which should work in conjunction with the manager appointed). With a more defined plan in place where everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal, we can then look to rebuild this side (something I wanted done in 15/16 personally) and do so in a manner that will see us sign players that fit in with the agreed upon vision. No more working against each other from all levels. That's never going to provide a stable foundation to build from, nor does it begin to attract managers or players later down the line with so much constant upheaval. 

Obviously it's completely pointless hoping for a manager to last more than 3-4 years at any club these days but if the "ethos" could remain as you suggest then it wouldn't be such a huge upheaval when there is a change. I think what 99% of the supporters would prefer is evolution over revolution. Roman and the board should remember that they inherited the core of a dynasty that would develop and ultimately go on to win the CL. That is now gone and they have to somehow find a new "Mr Chelsea" around whom the next 10 years can be built.

This season has been one of the most disappointing I can remember with the entire club appearing not even able to summon up a decent player rebellion. I can only hope somewhere over the summer we are able to acquire a manager or some players that invigorate a very tired looking squad.

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Apologies for the repetitive nature of my post, but talking about a possible squad next season is the only real fun thing to discuss about in regards to Chelsea right now...

I really liked the experiment with the 3412 formation we started with against Burnley. I'd have gone for something more attacking myself personally;

------------------------Courtois

Azpilicueta--Luiz-Christensen-Alonso

------Willian-----Fabregas-----Kanté

------------------------Hazard

-----------Giroud---------------Morata

Of course, Conte isn't the type of manager to play that (if all players were available). That back four certainly has it's weaknesses. But we won't beat Man C playing the way we play now. We have to play with a lot more intent, better attacking combinations and a more direct style without losing the finess. Kanté and Willian playing inside shuttlers (box-to-box if you like, deadly as counter outlets), supported by good crossers in Alonso and Azpi, while still being very good defensively. We need defenders that can defend, but also defenders that can play. I really believe in Christensen long-term, but perhaps he needs to have a little less pressure on his shoulders? Maybe him being our CB3 is enough to let him get eased in? I think it's fairly visible that he has played too much this season. Mental fatigue delux. 

To have the option to alternate between 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-1-2 would in my view be the most interesting. Spinning on from my previous squad;

Quote

 

For next season, a squad built to play 433/4231/4312 should be aimed for and could be looking something like this;

GK: Courtois (F1), Caballero (F2), GK3 (U-21)

RB: Azpilicueta (F3), Moses (HG1)

LB: Alonso (F4), Emerson (F5)

CB: Luiz (F6), Christensen (HG2), Rüdiger (F7), Cahill (HG3), Ampadu (U-21)

CM: Kanté (F8), New CM (F9), Fabregas (HG4), Drinkwater (HG5), Bakayoko (F10)

AM: Hazard (F11), New AM (F12), Willian (F13), Pedro (F14), Barkley (HG6), Loftus-Cheek (HG7), Hudson-Odoi (U-21)

S: Morata (F15), Giroud (F16), Batshuayi*(F17), Abraham (U-21)

Captain: Azpilicueta

Vice captains: Fabregas, Cahill

Go all in for world class talent in CM and AM. Just go for £150m+ for those two positions. It needs to be players that elevates us to a higher level. If we really want to make a real push for it, we could sell on Bats and replace him with a new top striker and perhaps need a £200m+ outlay to achieve that. But we managed to spend approx. £220-240m on Morata, Bakayoko, Drinkwater, Rüdiger, Zappacosta, Emerson, Giroud and Barkley. Although we managed to recoup £180m of that by selling off two first team players (£100m) and fringe or loan players (£80m). 

4th priority for me would be a new CB1/CB2 to degrade Christensen to CB3. For me Luiz is CB1 at the moment with Christensen CB2, Rüdiger CB3 and Cahill CB4. But which player would make way? Cahill has HG status. Rûdiger just signed and has performed admirably for his first season here. I'd like to see what another manager can make out of Azpilicueta, Moses, Luiz, Christensen, Rüdiger, Cahill, Ampadu, Alonso and Emerson. 

What could we realistically get from some of our players that are not needed? One would hope that there are some significant fees (min. £5m+) to be had from Zappacosta, Zouma, Baba Rahman, Baker, Batshuayi (if sold), Boga, Hector, Miazga, Kalas, Clarke-Salter, Tomori, Kenedy, Pantic, Piazon and Pasalic (apologies if I have overseen someone's contract situation or otherwise exaggerated).  £100m? £140m with Bats? Less? Either case, it will have to be a significant outlay without selling off first team players. Maybe £100-130m net spend...But if we do, we certainly have a squad to fight for a top four in the league and be a knockout stage club in the Champions League again. 

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jones   
13 hours ago, The_Ghost said:
Quote

For next season, a squad built to play 433/4231/4312 should be aimed for and could be looking something like this;

GK: Courtois (F1), Caballero (F2), GK3 (U-21)

RB: Azpilicueta (F3), Moses (HG1)

LB: Alonso (F4), Emerson (F5)

CB: Luiz (F6), Christensen (HG2), Rüdiger (F7), Cahill (HG3), Ampadu (U-21)

CM: Kanté (F8), New CM (F9), Fabregas (HG4), Drinkwater (HG5), Bakayoko (F10)

AM: Hazard (F11), New AM (F12), Willian (F13), Pedro (F14), Barkley (HG6), Loftus-Cheek (HG7), Hudson-Odoi (U-21)

S: Morata (F15), Giroud (F16), Batshuayi*(F17), Abraham (U-21)

Captain: Azpilicueta

Vice captains: Fabregas, Cahill

 

Agree with much of this, but think there is too much dead wood here for it to work. Players on big pay rolls with high ambitions that are not being used are like cancer to a team. Drinkwater and Pedro of the players you list. Also because there is not much point in including our brightest prospects unless they are going to play quite a lot, and with EL coming I would sacrifice Pedro's experience for giving the chance to Hudson-Odoi. I would keep Batshuayi as I think we need three CFs when we have no real world class striker on our books now. And then we can reassess in a year where we are. With three CFs in the squad, Abraham would stagnate. Needs another PL loan.

But yeah, we should sell deadwood and loan players to finance two big money signings that can strengthen us in CM and AM. Milinkovic-Savic and Leon Bailey would be my favorites as of now.

3rd priority is a CB, and largely depends on what the thing is with Luiz. With one year left and injuries a big problem, you would think the club is considering cashing in. Especially with Cahill's contract running out too.

A move to 4-3-3 or 4-3-1-2 and a squad like this would make me comfortable about 1) getting back into top four; 2) giving enough chances to RLC, CHO and Ampadu:

GK: Courtois, Caballero, Blackman 

RB: Azpi, Moses

LB: Emerson, Alonso

CB: Christensen, Rudiger, Cahill, Luiz or world class CB

DM: Kanté, Bakayoko, Ampadu

B2B: MILINKOVIC-SAVIC, Loftus-Cheek (or MVG)

Playmaker: Fabregas, Barkley

AM: Hazard, Willian, BAILEY, Hudson-Odoi

CF: Morata, Giroud, Batshuayi 

 

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We need to clear out some players and start a fresh me thinks. For me, I would do the following: 

Sell - Zappa, Baka, Bats, Pedro then various loan squad members Piazon, Baba etc.

Buy - 1 x world class CM, 1/2 world/top class AM's, New CF, 1 new CB/RB 

Squad 

Courtois, Willy, HG GK 

Luiz, Christensen, Dave, Ruidger, Cahill 

Alonso, New RB/RWB, Emerson, Moses 

Kante, New CM, Cesc, Drinkwater, Amapadu 

Hazard, New AM, New AM, Willian, Odoi/Kenedy

Morata, Giroud, New CM 

As for players such as RLC, Abraham etc, I only see them back if we decide to go at the Europa as a U23's competition. Additionally, I think Courtois and Hazard may be off this summer so they will need replacing. 

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15 hours ago, The_Ghost said:

What could we realistically get from some of our players that are not needed? One would hope that there are some significant fees (min. £5m+) to be had from Zappacosta, Zouma, Baba Rahman, Baker, Batshuayi (if sold), Boga, Hector, Miazga, Kalas, Clarke-Salter, Tomori, Kenedy, Pantic, Piazon and Pasalic (apologies if I have overseen someone's contract situation or otherwise exaggerated).  £100m? £140m with Bats? Less? Either case, it will have to be a significant outlay without selling off first team players. Maybe £100-130m net spend...But if we do, we certainly have a squad to fight for a top four in the league and be a knockout stage club in the Champions League again. 

I suspect in many of those cases they are on salaries which mean no one will take them until their existing contract expires and they can start on a new salary base.  
Given the club's continual contract re-signing (Kalas for example got another 4 years from 2017) they many end up on loan for a very long time.

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I wouldn't sell anyone  in the current squad other than possibly Drinkwater if he wants to go. Add two quality attacking midfielders and a top class cm and we will be there or there abouts. A world class striker would be nice but few and far between and very expensive so we will probably have to stick with what we have which wouldn't be the end of the world. 

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