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The Long and Winding Road for Chelsea
OK, so Fernando Torres has regained his golden touch, yet again. But is it the same Torres who scored that decisive goal for La Roja in Euro 2008? Possibly, not. The baby-faced striker who joined the Premier League with Liverpool is not the same man who is playing for Chelsea.
Chelsea is also missing the likes of fleet-footed players of yesteryears like Robben and the powerful Drogba. When I say the likes of, it does not imply that those players in today’s Chelsea would make a huge difference to their success. Hardcore defenders like Carvalho (now much less effective at his new club) and Paulo Ferreira were the bedrock of Chelsea’s solid defence then, along with Terry. But what galvanized the team then was the “Special One” who knew how to harness the strengths and cancel out the weaknesses of that Premier League winning side.
So today, even if Abramovich’s team has a Juan Mata, a Eden Hazard, a David Luiz,the hard-working Ashley Cole, and possibly a Falcao they are unable to destabilize quality opposition like Man City or Man United.
To get back to winning ways and dominating any opposition, the Stamford Bridge club needs two vital cogs in the wheel.
Watching the Premier League this long the Russian oil magnate should have picked up a lesson or two from Manchester United and Sir Alex. Talented young English footballers from their youth training program and from other lesser Premier League and First Division sides need to be signed on and blooded into the game to infuse fresh young legs into this team which has for a long time now, lost the speed and agility which characterized Chelsea under Mourinho. Players like Tom Cleverly and Chris Smalling have made an impact for Man United. Chelsea needs this kind of young legs.
In the long run, and that’s how Abramovich should look at his team, this is what will pay the richest dividends. Patchwork in the form of chasing already established players from other European football clubs and retro-fitting them into the present team will only help them win a bit of silverware here and there ala Di Matteo. It will not establish the club as a feared and dreaded force as Sir Alex’s Man United.
The second and most important factor for long-term success is finding a wily manager who must be trusted for a period of five years at the least. Both Villas-Boas and Di Matteo had neither the cunning of Mourinho, nor the trust that Sir Alex enjoys at Old Trafford. Erstwhile manager of Liverpool and interim Chelsea manager Benitez might be denying that he’s under pressure but the writing is already on the wall for him. The “Special one” apart, the experienced and shrewd Dutchman Gus Hiddink and the dynamic Guardiola would be worth Chelsea’s money.
This historic club located in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham clearly deserves better than its present state and die-hard fans of Chelsea like this author would want to see a true resurrection in the long term fortunes of the Blues.
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