Monday, November 15, 2010

Trouble at the Bridge

It's always easy to write 'I told you so' or 'I saw it coming' or whatever when results like yesterdays' one at Chelsea happen. This however has indeed been coming for a while, results like this can be a one off but there is a larger issue at hand. Sure, Chelsea will be there or thereabouts for the title but it is clear that it is a team in decline. The key for Chelsea from here is how they handle the transition to the new breed (something Ferguson up the road has always been very good at) and whether the younger players are indeed good enough to fill the rather large boots they will be inheriting.
I don't think it's any co-incidence that Essien was missing yesterday as Chelsea regularly struggle when he is not around. As ManYoo are also finding with the likes of Scholes, Neville et all, whilst you can replace players like Lampard and Terry maybe in terms of ability, in terms of heart & commitment it's not always that simple. The spine of Chelsea's team with Drogba getting on a bit too needs serious consideration, and with the new found thrift at Chelsea the club may well be at a crossroads.
If the players coming through prove not to be good enough then what happens next? I can't see that Abramovich pumped in all that money just to see Chelsea fade back in to the pack yet at the same time they seem to be sticking to their guns on their transfer policy. Whilst it's early days for a couple of them, to my mind, Zhirkov, Mikel, Ramires, Sturridge are not Premiership & Champions League winning material, good players though indeed they are. You can see the same again at Old Trafford where many of the players coming through are certainly good but not as good as what they are replacing in terms of the last few years' vintage.
I understand that in the current climate, the top teams can't carry squads of 25 players with 50 caps or more & I don't wish to sound like a pampered, spoilt fan either, but I think Chelsea have serious problems in terms of the balance of the age of the squad, question marks over the quality of the replacements and what appears to be a chronic lack of leadership on the field when you take a couple of the ageing warhorses out of the squad. It is not time to hit the panic button but I think Chelsea are quickly arriving at a tipping point that they might not yet fully appreciate.