‘A team in transition’ Finally. Something I agree with old Rafa Benitez about.
Like it or not, we are exactly that. No club can go on winning trophies year after year for decades, and although they seem to be the best at this ‘transitioning’ stage, even Manchester United have had poor seasons and spells.
I wouldn’t say it is wrong to be worried and skeptical about our immediate future, and I do agree that Champions League qualification is vital, but not much more than that is.
Last season and this season have been very much ‘transitional’ seasons, but next year is the one where we must push on and compete both domestically, and continentally.
The presence of Drogba was the biggest loss, there are few strikers like him in the world, and last season, he contributed very little to the League campaign, and of course has not been here for this one, a massive reason why we are currently struggling.
The likes of Hazard, Oscar, Azpilicueta have all came in and started brilliantly, and you only have to look at games like the wins over Arsenal and Spurs, and the demolition of Aston Villa, to know that we are heading in the right direction. Asking the players to do a whole season of this level though? Optimistic. It isn’t as simple of just sticking players into a team.
The transition to the 4-2-3-1 formation is coming along, and the midfield five of Ramires, Mikel; Hazard, Oscar, Mata will be the certain preferred five over the next few years.
There are two big examples of these ‘transitional’ periods, look at Arsenal down the road. Yet to replace the likes of Henry, Vieira, Seaman, Pires, they have sank to oblivion, and will be hard-pressed to join the elite any time soon. Luckily, we won’t follow their plight; solely down to the fact that Abramovich spent when it was needed, and made sure we had the tools to clamber us through and become challengers yet again.
The perfect example of our troubles is a certain FC Barcelona. Mostly known for their recent Champions League exploits, but not forgetting their 05/06 win over Arsenal, they then went three years without a trophy, before the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, and Lionel Messi took centre-stage.
It was no coincidence though. That CL final winning team included, Ronaldinho, Deco, van Bommel. All players that would have hit their peak at Barcelona, and needed to be replaced.
The only difference with Barcelona, is that both Xavi and Iniesta were on the bench and didn’t cost anything to bring in, whilst Lionel Messi was just coming into the starting XI.
During the two trophy-less seasons, Messi would score 16 and 17 goals respectively, whilst Xavi and Iniesta were to be weaned into the team slowly. Skip forward to 2009, and with an almost unrecognizable squad from that three years previous, they triumphed over Manchester United, in a season where they completed the treble.
Now I do ask you all, please don’t panic. This isn’t the spiraling downfall of Chelsea Football Club, it is a transitional period, one that will hopefully end in a similar way to Barcelona’s did.
By Brad Smith