Petr Cech, who we’re lucky enough to have as our goalkeeper has achieved his 100th cap for country during the past international break. With well over 500 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions and a record 139 clean sheets, any person who affiliates themselves with Chelsea in the slightest way must appreciate the impact Cech has had on our success.
Starting with Chelsea in 2004, Cech was lucky to get some game time after our 1st string goalkeeper after our first choice Carlo Cudicini suffered a preseason injury. This allowed Mourinho to promote him to the starting 11. In his first season Cech set a record of 1,025 minutes without conceding a goal. Although Cech has been plagued with his own injuries (Petr missed 22 games in the 2007/2008 season purely due to injury, calf injuries in the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 season, a knee injury in 2012 and a groin injury in 2013). His most notable injury remains the skull injury he picked up during a 2006 game against after colliding with Stephen Hunt. After undergoing surgery for a depressed skull fracture, Cech was unable to play for over 3 months.
Despite these, Petr Cech has consistently been one of the best players since his time at Chelsea began. How many goalkeepers can boast that he has never conceded a goal to the great Lionel Messi? Not to mention the 2012 Champions League final. We have to split our gratitude equally between Didier Drogba and Petr Cech. Drogba, scoring the equaliser and the final penalty, and Cech saving that extra time penalty and well as two in the penalty shootout saw Chelsea become European Champions.
From all this we can see just how important Petr Cech is to our success. Unfortunately, Cech is climbing up the ‘age ladder. Although he has a contract doesn’t expire for another 3 years, if recent history is anything to go by, our wonderful owner Roman Abramovich seems to have a problem signing a valuable player over 30. Not to mention our sad excuse of a second-string goalkeeper, Ross Turnbull. In all fairness to him, he has barely had any real game time, but it’s hard to empathise when he was almost single-handedly responsible for the embarrassing fixture against Brentford. Multiple blunders by Turnbull saw Chelsea almost get shown out of the FA Cup, if not for Fernando Torres’ late goal.
All of this to say it’s time for us to do some work on our goalkeepers. If Petr Cech were to retire or pick up an injury tomorrow can we say we’re comfortable with Ross Turnbull or Henrique Hilario finishing off the season in place of Cech? No. Absolutely not. Chelsea has a crazy amount of young, talented players out on loan all over Europe. The board has already gotten themselves into a bind with our forwards, an absolutely ridiculous predicament to be in. Why loan out Lukaku for another season when you know you only have one other striker?
It essential Chelsea recall Thibault Courtois from his loan at Athletico Madrid at the end of the season. Yes, he is only 20 and yes, Cech does have a few years left on his contract, but it would be foolish to bring Courtois into a completely different league at the last possible minute. It would be best to bring him this season or at latest next, to give him some time to adapt to the pace of the Premier League. Even loaning him to another Premier League team would be more favourable than leaving him in La Liga until our only other option is Turnbull.
Courtois, who has shown great potential over at Athletico Madrid, should be given adequate time to adapt to Chelsea’s playing style.
He needs time to build up chemistry and understanding between himself and his defenders. Imagine how much prepared and valuable he will be to us if he has Petr Cech at the club as a mentor, moulding him into his likeness before he departs. Initially Courtois will unfortunately have to be a second option to Cech. There’s no need to throw him straight into the deep end of the pool and hope he doesn’t drown. Let him wade in, with Petr Cech there to throw him a safety line in case he struggles. Let him play against teams at the bottom on the table such as Aston Villa or Reading when they come to Stamford Bridge. They don’t pose the biggest threat to use, giving Thibault the perfect environment for first team experience.
I’m not foolish enough to suggest we let him make his debut against Manchester United or in the Champions League (unless we’re lucky enough to get FC Nordsjælland again). Petr Cech has already proven himself to be a great mentor; he has learnt six languages and is in the process of learning his seventh which helps him to communicate with new players, making them feel more welcome.
C’mon Chelsea, do the smart thing. Prepare for the inevitable.
Your move, Roman.
By: Chantalle Byron