Chelsea are in a very precarious position at the moment and many people are rightly blaming Mourinho for it. Or, are they actually right?
Consider this, Premier League Champions by Eight Points. Goal Difference 41 (second highest). Goals conceded 32 (lowest in the league). One of the most prolific goal-scorers, the best player in the league, the most dependable defence. The most creative midfielder (assists). The most destructive midfield (tackles). Highest scoring back line. One of the best clean sheets record. Next season: 4 games, 4 points.
Could any one anticipate it, even Mourinho? If yes, could he drop a couple of the best performers of last season in Ivanovic and Terry for their respective positions without giving them a fair chance? Wouldn’t any changes take time to settle and wouldn’t the resulting lack of performance raise similar cries for keeping the veterans? As they say, you don’t change a winning combination, and if Mourinho had changed it resulting in bad results won’t he be grilled for that too?
I’m in no way defending the kind of start that Chelsea have made to their Premier League season but is really everything lost? Surely, Chelsea needed replacements over the summer for Terry and Ivanovic and perhaps a midfield boost would have also been welcome. However, how many players could displace the John Terry in the form that he showed last season.
Hands behind his back at the edge of the box, standing off the attacking player. Six goals conceded as a result of one player’s error. The player was amongst last season’s team of the year. Would it have been wise to just tell him to go away after he had been so great last season.
Besides, Ivanovic was never a truly rock solid wing back. He has always had his flaws at Right back defensively. Even last season, he left the center backs to cover up on several occasions for him. His flaws have only been found out more now that he is a tad slower. The axe appears right on his head right now, but would it really have been wise to wield it at the beginning of the season.
If one has a look at his stats from last season to the current one, one thing becomes clear: his defensive actions are slightly reduced while his defensive errors have gone up five times. He is at the point of his career where his body is not going to get any better but he still can be a very good defender if he becomes more cautious and sensible in his game. A great example of that has been John Terry.
But isn’t it too much of a cautiousness that has been causing him to make these errors? He was a buccaneering presence in Chelsea’s back line last season. Brave in his defence and adventurous going forward. It is perhaps time he controlled his attacking instincts.
Besides, it is not all his fault. Nemanja Matic was hauled off mid way through second half against Palace for Ruben Loftus Cheek. That substitution says it all about his form. The other big Serbian in the team is also out of form and it takes every defender’s confidence and ability down two levels. Once that is sorted, the team will definitely see a turn around and so will Ivanovic by not being so overtly exposed.
Many a time this season, we have seen him rushing behind an attacker from a forward position causing someone else to cover for him. That is partly the center-backs job when playing with a wing back but what happens when the center back is himself not having the best of times? Errors are made, blocks are missed, clearances are difficult and goals are conceded.
Any team with two of its four defenders past 30 will struggle against a fast attack. Tottenham showed it last season itself. What Chelsea can do as a team is to adapt better to such teams. Being indifferent isn’t going to help.
4 games don’t decide the season. Chelsea lost three games last season and drew nine. Until they made the trip to St. James Park where coincidentally Alan Pardew was the then manager, the Blues had been unbeaten in all competitions. From then on, they went on a bad patch of form. Then lost again on new years day to Spurs. It is not a season that can’t yet be salvaged. Though any more bad results are sure to bring tumult and despair.
Arsenal’s invincibles might not have lost any game all season, but had still drawn 12 games. Chelsea have not yet lost that many points and so there is hope still. What if De Bruyne becomes a round peg for square holes in the Manchester City line-up? Will they be invincible all season? Will their opposition always be Burnemouth and Watford? Will every mid-table team play and win like Palace at Stamford Bridge?
It is right to be upset, and certainly changes need to be made. However, those saying that Mourinho should have seen this slump coming and reacted accordingly are neglecting the fact that these veterans couldn’t be culled from the team without being exposed as the cause of misery. It is a natural process and had to be had. That is a reality. Maybe it causes us to have an average season but that is how things work with legends and icons that Terry and Ivanovic are.
Besides, there still is no reason that these people can’t find there mojo. All they need is a couple of good results to settle in form. John Stones’ Everton are the next team we visit and it would be a great mental barrier to break by getting all the three points. So early in the season, 7-10 points can certainly be covered, City did so midway through last season, it’s still only September. Don’t Panic, yet.
Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!
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