Is that a gasp I hear? How could a season without even remotely coming close to contesting for silverware be just the tonic the Blues and Roman Abramovich need?

For one, it might force Chelsea to confont someAi??hard truths. Chelsea’s modus operandi, off the field recently, in response to slumps in form, crises and indifference has been to engage in misguided retail therapy. Buying the services of the manager du jour, or the latest nimble-footed starlet have clearly not helped the club. Instead of trying to make a mad dash for a future, trying to play in a manner that looks a lot like Arsenal’s, Chelsea need to wake up to the present.

The Premier League hasn’t changed. For all the magic of the Cazorlas and Hazards, it’s the quiet solidity the Toures and the Lampards provideAi??that will make the difference come season end. In trying to shape the wave of the future, Chelsea have plunged off the cliff into uncertainty, with no coherent strategy or style. Tough love requires True Blues hold up a mirror to Chelsea, and point out the glaring flaws, the hard truths, the warts and the unpalatable facts that the Blues can no longer ignore.

Here’s a list ofAi??facts (or “fachts”), Rafa Benitez would be proud of.

Chelsea

When We Were Kings

UnpalatableAi??Fact #1: Chelsea Are A Two Man Team

Arsenal was supposedly all about Cesc Fabregas, and later van Persie. Liverpool was all Gerrard, surely. And Manchester United was at different points, comprised solely of either Cristiano Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney. One man teams, all of them. Except they seem to have now found newer talent to share in the lone ranger spotlight. Chelsea who prided themselves on being all about the “spine” – as Terry, Lampard, Drogba and Cech were called – are now being reminded it wasn’t so much Drogba’s attacking prowess that they miss.

It’s the mere presence of Terry and Lampard in the team. Without the captain and his deputy, the Blues sadly look a mid-table team at best going 7 games without a win. Chelsea have been incredibly short-sighted this past decade seeing both Terry’s and Lampard’s styles as hallmarks of a bygone era, to be ushered out respectfully in the near future. With nobody bought to fill their shoes, the Blues have a long way to go before they dig themselves out of this predicament.

UnpalatableAi??Fact #2: Hazard Has Been Found Out

Eden Hazard, who spends more time boycotting Israel than he does on the ball, has outlived his honeymoon. After the narrow 3-2 win over Shakhtar Donetsk, Hazard was chewed out by the Chelsea dressing room for perceived lethargy when it came to trudging back and doing the dishes. The Blues wanted a team player; instead, they got a diva.

And it was other teams that figured that out, before Chelsea did. As Hazard masterfully weaved his way past defenders, managers began to instruct their players to flood his space. While Hazard was adept at weaving out of tight spaces, he couldn’t do it with the regularity the Premier League prizes. With decreasing efficiency comes drooping shoulders, and after sweeping the League like a hurricane at the beginning, Eden Hazard has discovered the lull after the rush can be a depressing one.

UnpalatableAi??Fact #3: Mikel Isn’t The One. Seriously.

Few players elicit the whole spectrum of reactions from Chelsea fans, that John Obi Mikel does. His passing success rate might be stratospheric, but most of those passes are to the most obvious target nearest to him. What Chelsea need is a real dyed-in-the-wool defensive midfielder, in the mold of Yaya Toure or Claude Makalele. Obi Mikel is a good player, but in a midfield devoid of Essien and Lampard, Mikel simply does not have the pedigree to dictate play.

While Mikel can play second fiddle, Chelsea need a real heavyweight to shore up the midfield – their traditional area of strength. Mikel doesn’t make too many errors, but when he does they’re simply far too costly for the club to rely solely on him as their shield.

Chelsea

Going Down (Ca)hill

UnpalatableAi??Fact #4: Cahill Is Only A Sidekick, Sadly

Gary Cahill was supposed to be a young Terry in the making. And while Cahill impresses occasionally, he lacks the leadership necessary to helm the defensive lines. In Terry’s absence, Cahill has been a partner in crime with David Luiz as the Blues have shipped in goals, past an over-exposed Cech. Which makes it likely that Cahill at 26, is nowhere near the leader John Terry was.

When Luiz marauds up front, and Ramires and Mikel get adventurous, Cahill’s deer in the headlights expression isn’t helping his cause. At this age, Terry was marshalling his team-mates and pulling the team together after they conceded. When Chelsea dithered, it was Terry’s runs up front that provided the impetus. Cahill’s slalom runs are solo efforts, that inspire nobody else. It might be unfair to compare the 26-year old wtih Mr. Chelsea, but Cahill does not even exert the leadership presence that Vidic did in 2008-09 or that Kompany does for City today.

UnpalatableAi??Fact #5: Torres Should’ve Left A Long Time Ago

Nobody has squandered goodwill at the speed Fernando Torres has. Rehabiliated in a squad that has made every attempt to coax the best out of him, Fernando Torres spent his first half an hour after Chelsea’s historic Champions League win, complaining about how he wasn’t given his due. When Chelsea obliged next season, he turned out to be the emperor without a robe.

At the end of December, when Benitez will have expectedly failed to get Torres scoring again, it will be time to ship the striker out to Juventus, Athletico Madrid or any other club that will choose to have him. A break-the-bank offer for Falcao, or a more reasonably priced one for Schurrle, could help shake Chelsea out of its goal-scoring poverty.

UnpalatableAi??Fact #6: Chelsea Must Return To The Boring Basics

It won’t sell jerseys, but Chelsea’s return to basics is the need of the hour. The style that Chelsea’s owner fancies might yet come to dominate the league, but that could take years. Until then, Chelsea’s crystal ball gazing into what English club football will look like in 2020, is counter-productive. Premier League football in 2012 looks a lot like it did in 2009, and Chelsea’s team of yore with Essien, Lampard and Ballack would have had the current side with Oscar, Mata and Hazard for dinner. Trickery can only take you so far.

Benitez

Like a bad rash…

UnpalatableAi??Fact #7: The Blues Cannot Afford to Fire Benitez

Firing Benitez, might bring down the house at Stamford Bridge as gleeful True Blues go giddy, but the next morning Chelsea will wake up to an unchanged reality. A torrid winter, with even fewer managers out there to take the job. The only alternative is for Chelsea to “fire” Benitez without exactly “firing” him. There are reports that Avram Grant was approached to help bring Chelsea some steadiness, working in conjunction with Benitez and then sidelining him in real matters until the end of the season.

Chelsea categorically denied the story, which probably means there’s more truth to it than Gourlay and Buck would like to let on. And if it’s true, it might be the smartest thing the Blues management have done in a long time. Avram Grant, or another manager with strong ties to Chelsea’s seniors, appointed to a Football Director’s role would let Benitez keep his job and pride, and let Chelsea maintain some semblance of sanity.

UnpalatableAi??Fact #8: Chelsea Must Keep The Door Open For Mourinho

The purists will certainly find this one unpalatable, and so might a certain Roman Abramovich. Chelsea have spent the last 5 years trying to be anybody’s team but Jose Mourinho’s. It will take a big heart, or a lot of chastening to go back, hat in hand, to Jose Mourinho. Fortunately, for Chelsea that is, Mourinho has managed to rub those at the Bernabeu the wrong way, even after finding a way to silence Barcelona.

Mourinho also has the personal charisma to call upon players from half a dozen teams who will heed his call. There are men who will follow him to the end of the Earth.Ai?? Mourinho at Chelsea, might just ensure a player like Sneijder chooses to go Blue, instead of Red. And what better joy for Chelsea than to ruin United’s welcoming party for the Dutchman.

Hold On!

UnplatableAi??Fact #9: Forget The Club World Cup

Benitez might want to add another trophy to his tally, but the Club World Cup is no great shakes. Winning it, like he did with Inter, did nothing for the squad. It only delayed the inevitable before Inter slid into obsolescence.

Rather than run a whole new campaign on Chelsea’s sore legs, Benitez would do well to sacrifice a personal milestone in order to give Chelsea a fighting chance of Champions League football next season.

UnpalatableAi??Fact #10: Buy Short Term

Caught between a rock and a hard place. That’s how any manager would feel at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have their icons – Cech, Cole, Lampard and Terry all over 30. Chelsea have their army ofAi??young guns aged 24 and below. But there’s only Ivanovic and Torres in the critical 27-30 age range. With Torres living on borrowed time, that leaves just one player in the age zone that most other teams are strongest in.

The pundits were wrong. Chelsea have to buy short-term. Players in their late 20s need to drafted into the side in January, if Chelsea are to balance their squad in time for the final third of the season. They might not be around for a long time, but their mix of youth and experience will help bridge Chelsea’s great divide.

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4 Responses to “Let Chelsea Go Trophyless”

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  1. Tristan says:

    I agree with a lot of this except leaving a door open for Jose is most definitely palatable!

  2. adekunle says:

    Well spoken

  3. A Blaugrana says:

    With the sort of cash at the club’s disposal, it’s a surprise as to why they aren’t targetting the likes of Yohan Cabaye or Tiote?

  4. Kola obanigba says:

    There ar many articles like this last season wen d world taught chelsea was finished. Many football pundit predict cfc‘s ends, but at d end, d most coverted trophy was won!