Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Crown Is Lost, The Pride Isn't !!!!

    We Will Be Back

    So, Chelsea lost the big game on Sunday. And their well earned Premier League crown too. I guess I should have started with “Manchester United won the big game tonight. And their 19th Premier League crown too.” Doesn’t matter, all I’m trying to do is look at it in a way it will hurt the least. All I’m doing here is looking from a die-hard Chelsea fans’ perspective – that Chelsea lost the title, Chelsea gave it away.

    First things first, lets just agree to it that United were the better team this season, albeit a few hiccups of their own. The Premier League in general has grown so much in quality that you cannot expect an “Invincibles” season anymore. One can argue that United’s current squad isn’t the best they’ve had in recent times, but they have done enough this season to prove that wrong. To be winning the toughest league in the world and simultaneously reaching UCL finals is a huge achievement for any team. United deserve the credit, so does SAF. So somewhere down the line, you’ve got to agree United won it, fair & square. We helped, yes, but it’s to their credit that they won. While I’m at it, I’m forced to mention the relentless and ageless force that one Mr. Ryan Giggs is. Absolute legend and one of the best footballers ever to brace the sport.

    Now getting back to things regarding our beloved Chelsea, I think we didn’t lose the title today. We lost the plot midway through the season, as we quite always do. Come December, and we are struggling, season after season after season. But this year, we just went off! The loss to Newcastle in the Carling Cup was overlooked, but it kind of started that huge slump in form. For me, the pick of this slump was that embarrassing 0-3 defeat to Sunderland at Stamford Bridge. I won’t even start with the Ray Wilkins saga. We can keep on adding numerous reasons to this “bad-moment”, as ever-so-humble Carlo puts it, like the injuries to Terry, Lampard & Drogba and lack of squad depth. Fact is, we were poor, and most teams had figured out the way to disarm us.

    One of the most important reasons for our success last season was the form of our full-backs. Ivanovic & Ashley Cole in particular, had absolutely stellar seasons. Cole was literally unstoppable, which was epitomized by that goal he scored against Wigan in that 8-0 drubbing. But this season he was targeted by opponent wingers, teams like Stoke, Sunderland and even Liverpool(!) capitalized on this. This meant lack of width, which has been Chelsea’s primary attacking Plan A. Malouda’s loss in form mid-season didn’t help that fact, who is the only out-n-out winger in the squad. The other important reason of our failure to win any trophy this season has been the exceptionally out of form midfield. Lampard wasn’t fit for more than three months, but even after returning to full fitness, he wasn’t even the shadow of his former self. And then comes what is the biggest disappointment of the season for me – Michael Essien. He has looked totally out of sorts after his injury lay off last season, and simply has had his poorest season of his career till date. I believe there will be serious considerations over his Chelsea future this summer, and if there aren’t, something’s wrong within our management.

    Oh, the management! The man with “the eyebrow thing” he does. The man who won us our first double, in his first season in charge. The man who is as humble in victory as he is gracious in defeat. Carlo Ancelloti. Well, assuming he’s kept, which I hope Roman does, Carlo has a lot of challenges ahead of him now. The biggest one being to decide which big name players go. Anelka, Malouda, Bosingwa are no-brainers for me, but the tricky ones are Drogba and Essien. If he decides to hold onto Drogba, the bigger challenge is to get him and Torres to play together. The pre-season games can be very handy to try new formations and tactics, to build a team around Torres. Getting the best out of Torres will now be the priority number one. What is important next is how to utilize Lampard. His age has certainly caught up with him and he now most certainly needs to be used in a exclusive role – something like Giggs or Scholes at United. He simply can’t be playing 50 games a season anymore, scoring 20 goals like a forward. Use him smartly, 25-30 games per season, and he’ll be fit and fine.

    Now coming back to present tense, I believe what’s gone is gone. Yes we’ve been outplayed this season, we’ve lacked a number of things needed to be Champions of any sorts and yes we were lucky at times to be still in with a shot at defending our title. But what just cannot be overlooked is the character the team showed in these dying moments of the season. At one stage, after being 18 points behind the leaders, it looked like the team was going to miss out on Champions League football. So much so, some people (I don’t know who) went on to say we were “doing a Liverpool”! I wondered “what” were Liverpool doing back then! But the strength and determination Carlo and his team showed to get back & in with a chance to save the title after all that is simply brilliant. More than anything, it is this fighting spirit, this thirst for pride and the undeniable till-the-last-moment attitude that is more important and glorifying to any true Chelsea fan. This team showed all that and has simply made fans all over the world like me filled with immense pride and joy for the club.

    It is now time to retrospect, determine what went wrong, acknowledge our weaknesses, get into a positive frame, and start a new season afresh. It is time to believe in the self, to believe in the players and to believe that we will be Champions again. Sure there will be a few players leaving, a few arriving. There might even be a change in management. But what will remain forever is this spirit Chelsea FC has.

Keep The Blue Flag Flyin’ High