*Disclaimer - This was written months ago, I just wanted to upload it to get your opinions. Thankfully, if finally looks like 'change' is about to happen, your understand in a moment *
It all good..But for how long?
So Chelsea have turned the corner, have they? I don’t think it is as clear cut as bringing in a new manager in the form of former MK Dons and West Bromwich Albion boss, Roberto Di Matteo. Has he really changed anything compared to AVB. He has, and it’s who he plays. Under AVB the likes of Lampard, Terry and Drogba where all being phased out of the team, to make way to the new breed of Chelsea youngsters like Sturridge for instance. These three players alone all have big egos and a lot of power at the club, as you can see in John Terry’s interviews he refers to the clubs owner personally by calling him ‘Roman’ showing he has a close relationship with the man wielding the axe of resignation. Whereas some of the other younger players who aren’t as high up in the Chelsea hierarchy refer to the owner purely as ‘the board’. Also we can see throughout other past managers (and there’s a lot of them) such as Scolari, post-firing the newspapers were reporting about disputes, divides in the dressing-room and players such as Cech, Ballack and Drogba asking the owner to fire the manager, who at the time was still in the Champions League, FA Cup and 3rd the the league. Scolari later stated to The Sun "If results don’t get you the sack then the players will". He was also a manager since Jose, to play the football the owner wanted to see, that being fast flowing attacking football. Just go back and look at some of the results in his first few games with the likes of Deco the awe-inspiring playmaker, until he got injured.
The players should be the servants of the club, it’s fans but most importantly it’s manager. It’s not right for players to go behind their bosses back to get him fired, or play poorly so more pressure is piled upon the already pressurized manager. This is what I think has happened in the case of AVB. At the start of the season Boas had the arduous task of changing the nucleus of the team. Meaning smoothly transitioning the older players out of the first team/club in return for top youngsters. Oh, while still challenging for all major club honours, with a team in transition. In AVB’s first couple of games he kept the line-up pretty normal though he soon added an defensive high-line, which didn’t work with a crazy Brazilian (David Luiz) and a 30 something old-school defender (John Terry). The idea was soon removed, though it did make some come backs in the latter part of his reign (maybe to get back at some of the players, and impose his philosophy onto the team). This was the starting point of cracks to be soon evident in the squad; it was really a tactic used with more faster, technical, modern defenders such as Luiz. Whereas Terry didn’t fit the mould. This could be why Luiz backed the manager publicly on many occasions; sides were starting to be drawn.
There was also the problem of the 33 year old Chelsea legend Frank Lampard, a player who wants to be playing week in week out. Boas went more for the approach of want Sir Alex Ferguson does with the likes of Giggs, he started to start Lampard on the bench more, or if he was in the starting line-up, he didn’t mind substituting him for a younger model. This didn’t keep Lampard happy, he may seem like a player who is only focused on the club and playing football, this maybe be true but he, like other players holds influence on Roman Abramovich, and it didn’t take long for him to air his views publicly, by stating that his relationship with AVB ‘wasn’t ideal’. Later former Brazilian defender Alex (another player who didn’t fit into the high-line strategy) publicly said that "AVB showed no respect to Lampard". Two players publicly undermining there manager who at the time was under immense pressure from the ‘players’ and media.
Talking about the Media wasn’t it odd that, things such as training room bust ups, were always leaked from a ‘club informant’. Some rumours have gone around, (a rumour that I wound t be too surprised if it became fact) saying that the informants were Chelsea players leaking the information out, so more pressure would pile upon AVB, a manager who wanted to stand up against the player power at the club, thinking that he had the broads backing. But some of the players at this club only care about themselves, if a manager comes in and tries to reshape the team, tries to transition the squad from old to new, they will just gang up on him, alienate him and use their influence with the board to make sure he gets fired before they get sold, "no new lucrative contract for them anymore".
This has got to stop. Chelsea are not a changed club, the players are just content at the moment because Di Matteo, plays the ‘influential players’. If the next new manager were to start to put his own mark on the team and maybe even play some of the talented youth products. Something blues fans have being crying out for years they want to see players from the youth team establish themselves in the first, this won’t happen if the ‘influentials’ are still at the club, because all they will do is do what they do best, get good managers with good ideas, fired! I bet you not that Chelsea would be a much stronger force domestically and in the Champions League, if they moved on some of their older players who clog up their wage bill, or at least stamped out the player power. Chelsea have had eight managers since 2003, a situation which the chief executive of the League Managers Association described as "embarrassing". As the managers move on the same nuclease of players has happily stayed at the club, taking their money, not once blaming themselves for a managers firing.
Change has got to happen, or else the cracks will start to reappear on an already papered up wall…