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Increasingly worried about Chelsea
– Roman Abramovich has a very very careful choice to make in the coming days and months. He has a world class coach who is yet to reach his peak, but could potentially peak at Chelsea. Antonio Conte will reach the level of Jose and Pep (trophy wise) very very soon. Abramovich needs to take a breather, and allow Conte to do what he needs to do.
– Take the example of Manchester City. A club against who we had a six-year head start. And a club who is showing us what we could have easily been. Last December, Pep was in the top 4 race with risk of finishing outside top 4. He lost games in December, some painful ones (the Leicester one springs to mind). The whole world was criticising him for being stubborn and rigid in the way he set his team each game given the set of players. A year later, the narrative on Pep is entirely different.
– Chelsea and Conte are in the same page now. Conte is a very rigid coach. He sets up his teams to play positionally in a very rigid method. And for the second year in running, he’s had to do it with a bunch of new players, fitting in a new system. It is a miracle that Conte win a title last year, only bettered by Leicester’s title win. That was an anomaly than a norm. Conte is struggling this season. The reason we’re where we is due to points lost vs lesser teams. Including West Ham.
– A rigid insipid Chelsea posed no threat to Adrian and co. Conte has lost points but there is a bigger picture here. Chelsea must trust Conte, give him the players he needs and then judge him based on that. Had Pep failed this season, I’d have jumped to the Fraudiola camp (thank you Pep, I so badly did not want that to happen). Same way, get Conte two world class wing backs (I’m quite sure Redknapp was high when he said Moses is top 10 wing back). Get Conte a midfield player with goals. Get Conte another center forward. And another right sided attacker. All of them must be world class. That is the level Chelsea need if they are to compete domestically or in Europe. That is what the Sheikh got Pep during the summer.
– Now to the game. Before the game, I had this feeling this could be an Evertonesque performance from Moyes. In those days, I loved that Moyes’ team. They represented the few things I liked about English football. Strong, powerful, physical, robust in defence. They duly deserved to win last night. It would be injustice if we even scored and drew. Everyone in that West Ham team put in a shift. Moyes in those Everton days used to have two seasons within a season- first half relegation form, second half top 4 form. I hope for the sake of West Ham he can replicate it.
– Conte said Hazard has to do more for Ballon d’or. Here are five quick reasons why Hazard will feel vindicated to leave Chelsea (a) He plays for a team that has Cahill (b) Cahill is the captain (c) He has to shoulder more than half the team’s creative threat (d) Since he joined, his team never competed for the CL and the one time they did, the then manager played 7 defenders and asked Hazard to be an additional left back and (e) points a and b again.
– The whole point of tactics or system is to get that “multiplier” effect. When you have good players, world class players, it is the job as the manager to multiply their combination. Conte can do only so much with what he has.
Take Willian for instance. That free kick vs Man City comes to mind but a bigger question what is he good at? I just do not know. He does more harm that good when on the pitch. Morata I can give some slack for being a starter for the first time in his life in a physical league and he has not done so bad. Pedro does not start anymore (a world class player btw), Bakayoko is settling in. What more can Hazard do?
I bet that if Hazard was at City, flanked by KDB and Silva, with Aguero and Jesus with the way they are set up, he’d win the Ballon d’or in a year’s time easily eclipsing KDB as the player of the year. That is what Chelsea lack. I strongly believe Hazard’s level will go up with players of similar stature to him or those better than he plays with regularly.
– Yes, Chelsea have the best academy but let’s not kid ourselves. Conte is not the manager for these kids. Chelsea are not a club to see bigger picture with managers who may not win but build with these kids. Given all this, at least when we buy someone from the market, we must buy world class, or nearing world class level. Alonso, Zappacosta, Moses are all at best squad players to me.
– I repeat how I began the mail, Abramovich has some difficult choices to make. Unlike previous years, he may have a coach who will quit on his own accord (and Paris or Madrid may be awaiting him with funds and red carpet). Chelsea are touching dangerous waters. Myself, as a fan will not mind losing games or lack of title if it means we change as a club at how we build a squad, and this time properly having a manager for 3-5 years. I don’t believe in one manager for life. SAF has spoilt us all. But asking one coach for 3-4 years is not that difficult.
Aravind, Chelsea Fan.
Liverpool’s global appeal
I would just like to point out what a fine job liverpool have done in bringing LFC World to Mumbai.
As a fan living in India, hoping to see matches at Anfield, seeing legends is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity. Robbie Fowler, Sami Hyppia, Vladmir Smicer and Luis Garcia were all really pleasant. I never even knew there were so many fans in Mumbai and the crowd knew all the songs!
The VR systems of Anfield were excellent. They had got the CL trophy and made a replica of the dressing room and Shankly Gates. It was really an amazing experience and we were so happy that the club has taken efforts to reach out to us.
It was a brilliant experience and I hope it happens again. YNWA.
A Reasonable LFC Fan
Harry Kane scores a lot because he shoots a lot
Kane’s put in an excellent performance today, obviously, but they flashed a stat on the screen that’s dumbfounding. At the start of play on Saturday he’d taken 84 shots, which is 30 more than anybody else in the entire league.
Taking lots of shots is how strikers score lots of goals, so fair play to him there. But if he picks up the ball in the final third and he’s within about thirty yards of goal, we all know what’s going to happen. And those 25-yard curlers generally aren’t the best option.
Winston, New Haven
A dream World Cup
Right, let me begin with the caveat that this email is either inbox hubris, the actions of a seriously sleep deprived idiot, or both. Inspired by Bob Stokes’ brilliant dream Premier League email the other day – props for including ’94/95 era Le Tissier – I decided to compile my own dream World Cup tournament.
The rules were simple. 32 teams. Divided along federation lines as they are for next year’s shindig; fourteen teams from Europe, five from South America, five from Africa, three from CONCACAF, five from Asia… The only other rule? It has to be a team that has played at, or qualified for, a World Cup.
Right. So. The teams:
Spain (2010) – The most successful international team of all-time have to be in there.
Brazil (1970) – As does the best.
Italy (1994) – Didn’t win, but Baggio, Baresi, the chance to atone for that shootout… C’mon!
Argentina (1986) – Obviously.
Netherlands (1974) – Cruyff & Friends. The chance for revenge on Germany.
West Germany (1974) – Gerd & Chums. The chance to stop said revenge. I say ‘chance’. We all know they would.
England (1966) – Think you guys did alright that year.
France (1998) – Zizou, those headers, and no headbutts.
Uruguay (1930) – The originals. The best?
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (1990) – Toto Scillaci won’t be there so the rest of ye turning up is adorable but ultimately pointless. We’re clearly winning this.
Colombia (1990) – For Higuita shenanigans. And Valderrama’s hair.
Croatia (1998) – That kit. Those wonderful players. But seriously, that kit.
Chile (2014) – Just a joy to watch.
Bulgaria (1994) – Stoichkov! Were my team of that World Cup once Ireland were knocked out
Cameroon (1990) – Roger. Milla. Say. No. More.
Hungary (1954) – Puskas and The Mighty Magyars versus Cruyff’s Total Football in the quarters? Imagine it. Go on… You kind of have to like. That’s sort of the point.
Nigeria (1994) – Finidi George! Daniel Amokachi! What’s not to like?
Denmark (1986) – See Croatia (1998)
Egypt (1990) – Easily the most boring games that I’ve ever seen at a World Cup featured these gents and as perfection is an impossibility even in dreams, they’re coming along. Yay!
Scotland (1978) – Archie Gemmill. Ally MacLeod’s arrogance. Necessities.
Ghana (2010) – Because they were just brilliant. And Suarez won’t be there to be a dick.
USSR (1966) – We have the Lev Yashin Award now so it really would be rude to do this without the man himself.
Senegal (2002) – For that French result really. And the possibility of a (sort of) rematch.
Belgium (2018) – Okay, so they haven’t played yet but if they *really* are a Golden Generation TM then this should be a piece of piss for ’em.
USA (1950) – They might draw England.
North Korea (1966) – They might draw Italy.
Mexico (1994) – They beat us 2-1 that year and made John Aldridge lose his mind. However, Campos… Those wonderful jerseys… ‘Nuff said.
Saudi Arabia (1994) – Just to see if Saeed Al-Owairan could score *that* goal again… Even now, wow!
Cuba (1938) – One of only four CONCACAF teams to ever make it to the quarter finals. Their only World Cup too. Although they lost 8-0 to Sweden in said quarter-final. I dunno. I’m running out of steam now. It’s the kind of stuff that could come up in a pub quiz?
South Korea (2002) – The truest test of the Guus Hiddink effect at a World Cup.
Japan (1998) – Their reward for giving the world the magnificent Hidetoshi Nakata.
New Zealand (2010) – Okay, so I’m breaking a rule here – their being from Oceania and not from Asia as outlined above – but I have a soft spot for them; didn’t lose a match and still went out at the group stages. I wonder if they could do the same here? Not lose a match that is. They’re clearly going out at the group stages.
John (Props also on 20 years folks! Keep up the fine work), Ennis
“Ant, CPFC” post from Friday’s mails was completely on point. I have been ruminating on the issue of police misinformation in regards to football fan behaviour and the very real repercussions it can result in. I had thought out an in depth email I wanted to send and then logged onto my computer and found a professional had done a much better job than I could ever manage:
Full disclosure: Brighton fan who was at that game and saw some of the shitty aggro at the train station (annoyed as nearly couldn’t make the kickoff as a result of bellends from both sides despite arriving at the train station 2 hours pre kickoff.
I am sure I have seen this mentioned in an article on your brilliant website (congrats for the well deserved award) but just want to encourage anyone not let Sussex police off easily.
Keep up the brilliant work,
Germany enjoying VAR
I’m watching a replay of Eintracht’s defeat to Bayern, and in the 74th minute Wolf (i think he chose that last name to be cool) was shown a straight red for a lunge on James.
Much to my surprise, a quick replay later, and the ref changed it to yellow after seeing it didn’t warrant a sending off…
30 – 60 seconds is all it took to make a decision that didn’t ruin the game, or provide unwarranted controversy. How very forward of the Bundesliga.
Time for the premier league to follow suit…
Dan (Can we play Stoke every week) James
An update on New Zealand football
Been loving the updates from Japan so thought I’d send in a missive from the nicest place in the world.
Wellington Phoenix are currently playing against Brisbane Roar in the A League (Brisbane have Massimo Maccarone starting up front if anyone remembers him?) and they just mentioned that the Phoenix sacked their ‘marquee’ signing Gui Finkler for ill discipline.
In the game last week (2-0 up, still lost 3-2) Brazilian Finkler, for no apparent reason, back-heeled the ball from midfield straight to an opposition player who scored the 2nd goal. He was instantly subbed and apparently walked off, packed his bags and left the stadium before full time. He was sacked the next day.
I mean he’s always been a pound-shop Berbatov but not non-terrible for a team that is generally fighting to not finish last every year (can we do net spend and budgets for the A league?)
Can you imagine a similar situation in the UK? I mean clubs haven’t sacked people for court cases for rape or killing people in traffic accidents. Must be less money on the line down here.
Plus the Phoenix have the chant, to the tune of ‘Of when the saints go marching in’:
Oh Wellington is wonderful
We’ve got wind, the rain and the Phoenix
Oh Wellington is wonderful
And that pretty much sums up the place I call home.
I really enjoyed Matt Stead’s article on the Chelsea loss at West Ham, but wanted to point something out about the following passage:
“…Saturday provided Chelsea with an opportunity to put pressure on both City and United. They could not have chosen more presentable opponents than the side in 19th.”
I hate to be pedantic*, but wouldn’t the side in 20th (Swansea) count as more presentable opponents?
Oliver (* this is a lie) Dziggel, Geneva, Switzerland