Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chelsea Have Cash To Burn And A Lot More To Prove

It was, in many ways, a very, very disappointing season. After the highs of 2010, the glory of a league and cup double and the early promise of yet more Premier League glory, second place just wasn't enough for Chelsea Football Club. In the end, it was a mid season slump which did them in, a period of extreme mediocrity, a "bad moment" which was explained later by Carlo Ancelotti. Apparently, the former AC Milan man's teams never play well in the winter.

But, for better of for worse, Ancelotti is gone now, though he has left behind a team old and arrogant, ineffective and slow; in serious need of a make over. At the heart of this new stodgy, Chelsea FC is Ancelotti's final signing, a Spaniard who has scored fewer goals than fellow January recruit David Luiz, despite Luiz being a defender by trade. Yes, who ever comes in to Chelsea will have to sort out the Fernando Torres problem, one which seemed to fester more and more every passing hour last season, as the former Liverpool man struggled with form.

It is perhaps unduly harsh to judge Fernando Torres on half a season at Chelsea, but one man who deserves to be judged based on last year's showing is Didier Drogba. The Ivorian, though much improved toward the end, was missing in action when going got tough, to such an extent that even his Malaria wasn't a viable excuse. Drogba's exit may well be the first part of Chelsea's summer transition, one man supposedly about to come in to the club is Romelu Lukaku, a striker of Drogba's ilk, but one still in possession of the youthful enthusiasm that Drogs so lacks.

Along with Lukaku, the men rumored to be wanted by potentially incoming manager Guus Hiddink simply roll of the tongue. Diego Godin was fantastic at World Cup 2010, as was Alexis Sanchez, not to mention Wesley Sneijder. As indicated by the title, Chelsea have the funds necessary to bring in those aforementioned starts, and if they stump up the required sum, well, it isn't often that players quote Elvis Costello when conferring with their agents over potential moves to West London.

Along with Manchester City, Chelsea are likely to be very active in the summer transfer window. Since taking over the club in 2004, Roman Abramovich's stated wish has been to win the Champions League, a target which is as of yet unfulfilled. Whether you think a Chelsea team reinforced by Sneijder, Sanchez and Lukaku would be capable of winning Europe's premier competition, there is no doubt that those signings would show quite some ambition.

I imagine that the Stamford Bridge faithful will already be loading up their Fifa 11 mock Chelsea teams with next season's potential stars, and I would certainly dub that kind of response as over enthusiastic. However enticing this star speckled Chelsea side would look on a video game console, on an actual pitch it could very well resemble something different. As proved by the Galacticos' paltry return of trophies over the last three seasons, a hodgepodge of stars doesn't guarantee a winning formula, and as of yet, Guus Hiddink has not proved that he is capable of harnessing a big club's ego filled dressing room. During his time at Chelsea, Hiddink was an ideal band aid for Chelsea's plethora of wounds, but whether he is capable of starting and finishing a long term project is debatable. There is no doubt that Hiddink is the master of international management, but a different skill set is required at the club level; it would be risky for Chelsea to pin their hopes on a man who only boasts real, long term club success at the much lower key environment of PSV.

As with all cash splurges, there is a risk that Chelsea's pounds to burn could be burnt up in a fire of under performance, but that is just as distinct a possibility as a much brighter one. Great players have forever made up great clubs, and while Chelsea are not yet a great club, they have motivation to go with their funds, a determination which could push them up into the pantheon of greatness.

Who would be the best choice as Chelsea manager?
Who should the Blues sign this summer?
Who should be offloaded this summer?

Read more by "The Chairman," David Yaffe-Bellany @ Red Flag Flying High and EPL Talk

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