We are nearly there folks. The new season is nearly here, and our enthusiasm is rising. This is shown by this Enthusiasm Parabola, courtesy of @FootballCliches.
With the rather drab Community Shield passed, only a few pointless international friendlies stand between us and the new season. I know plenty has been written about new season expectations, many of which seem to predict us on top of the pile come May 2014. What I’m here to talk about, is whether such predictions are justifiable and whether there is reason for us Chelsea fans to be optimistic. A sudden change from the experiences of last year, that is for sure.
The main reason for wide spread depression amongst Chelsea fans last year was the Interim One – Rafa Benitez. With Rafa now off at Napoli, and stealing Arsenal’s transfer targets, Chelsea sought the replacement and struck gold. Jose returned, completing the better romance story since Twilight. Roman flirted with Pep, but to no avail, so Jose was approached. Will the return prove a successful one? I think so, and obviously the Chelsea hierarchy do too. Some have labelled this the signing of the summer, with a manager with a point to prove taking the reins into a title battle with some rookies, it looks promising indeed.
For all that has been written about Mourinho in the press, you mustn’t forget the quality of talent at his disposal. A manager alone can’t win a title, he needs players like Eden Hazard and Juan Mata to help. Now grounded in the Premier League and well accustom to English game, these two players will be pivotal to any success the club has over the next 12 months. If we manage to win the league, it seems very likely that we will see these two nominated for Player of the Year yet again.
We don’t have just the one promising Belgian talent though. We have two more. The versatile and TinTin look-a-like Kevin de Bruyne, and raw power of Romelu Lukaku are more reasons to feel optimistic. KDB played everywhere in midfield for Bremen last season, and his versatility could work well in his favour over the coming season. Impressive in pre-season, KDB could see 2013/14 be the season where he truly announces himself on the world stage. Romelu Lukaku is in a similar situation. He returns with a point to prove, and if he can handle the pressure, Lukaku could easily better his goal tally of last season. That is though, if he is chosen as the main spearhead if Rooney or Eto’o aren’t brought in. The young talent is what makes me optimistic. To have players like Oscar at your disposal as possible back ups, you must have one strong squad.
We have plenty of positives then for sure. A top manager, young talent, a seemingly united and happy squad. However, there are possible reasons to be fearful.
If David Luiz toddles off to Barcelona for a hefty price tag, we are suddenly left with a shaky defence (if you watched the game vs Real Madrid, you will have seen what I mean). Sure the money we could get for Luiz would be helpful, but as our best centre back, selling him to a European rival would show a lack of ambition. Terry keeps getting injured, Cahill often looks shaky and Ivanovic is prone to the occasional high profile gaffe. Sure, we have some youngsters we could toss into the mix, but Luiz would leave a big hole in that back four – and no, not just the size of his hair. Luiz was exceptional in the Confederations Cup – bar a penalty – showing fantastic passion, leadership and discipline. We need to harness that. I’ve been thinking for most of the summer we needed a new centre back, and if the club sell Luiz, we’ll need two new centre backs. We can all declare who we would like as options, but for me there is no negotiation. If we want to compete at the highest level, we can’t sell Luiz.
Being a pessimist, I have another concern. Whilst we have lowered the average age of the squad and that is all good, we have sacrificed an awful lot of brute force. Especially in midfield. I tell you what, seeing a midfield pivot of Marco van Ginkel and Ramires going up against Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, I think I will wet myself. Aside from CFC360 favourite John Obi Mikel, the mountain Romelu Lukaku and a couple of our centre backs, our squad sure lacks strength. Sure, we have the technical talent. Our little, skilful players can run around and pass all day, but once Wanyama is hurtling at Oscar, we had better hope Oscar has life insurance. In order to satisfy Roman Abramovich’s fancy football fetish, we have ditched the successful blueprint of winning with power – see Didier Drogba – and replaced this with some handsome and talented footballers. Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets came up against Schweinsteiger and Martinez last year, and remember who won? Those who had got on the weights.
Anyway, plenty optimistic thoughts, and some I didn’t mention but no matter. New season, new manager, new players, fresh optimism. Can Chelsea win the league this season? Yes. Will they? It’s impossible to say. Pre season friendlies do give a teaser about what the new season may have in store, but you shouldn’t read too much into pre season results and performances, no matter how hard it may be. With Jose in charge, and Eden Hazard playing, I have a good deal of optimism for success this coming season. Provided we can shorten our trademark November-December slump, we stand in high contention for the silverware available. Bring on the new season!
Are you feeling optimistic about the new season? If so, why? If not, why? Your feedback and opinions are always welcome, and healthy debate is always good. Thank you for reading.