Oh no no Mourinho

A few more thoughts

The problem is bigger than Mo.

A change at this point would not achieve much, if anything.

A change in the summer – but who? Guardiola going to Man City, Ancelotti to Bayern (probably – there or Man U)

Diego Simeone wouldn’t be much of an improvement. Don’t go down the ex-player route.

Jose needs to change, yes – but isn’t that the whole point of a long term plan? He has just delivered the championship.

He will be a better manager on the other side of this. He’s earnt the right to a bad season – however catastrophic it may end up being (as long as it isn’t relegation)

The air needs to be cleared. Either sack him or put out a statement saying that Jose will be manager next season whatever happens this. That will soon sort out which are the players and which are the passengers in the squad.

Personally I’d drop Costa and Hazard from the match squad completely (Mo is being too loyal!) – bring in Remy, Reuben, Bamford back from loan, get some young and hungry people in.

It might seem more expensive, but overhauling the playing squad – play the younglings! – is the way to go.

A few thoughts about Mr Mourinho

sad mo.jpg

1. He was completely in the wrong about Dr Carneiro. The fact that he blew up so badly at such an early stage was something of an warning sign.

2. I want him to stay. Arrogant it might be, but he is the best manager that Chelsea have ever had (possibly excluding Carlo) and he has earnt the right to work through this.

3. There are parallels with other third seasons – but the difference is that I think he genuinely wants to stay. Give him the chance Roman! Don’t go back to the previous serial changes! Let him build the club and dynasty! He’s only just won the league for you after all…

4. In football terms the problem actually seems straightforward – Matic was off the pace at the beginning of the season, and his preference for sticking Fabregas in that central two is not working. Without the defensive shield the back four are over-exposed, most especially Ivanovic, who really needs to be dropped. That, and Hazard isn’t carrying the team in the way he did last year. For now I’d recommend: Begovic; Rahman, Cahill, Terry, Azpi; Loftus-Cheek, Mikel (with Matic to take that spot back in due course); Hazard, Oscar, Willian; Costa (or Remy!).

5. I hope his visit to his dad helps to calm him down. I wish Roman would ring him up and just say ‘chum, you’ve earnt the right to one bad season, you’ve got time to sort it out’. If not, it looks like he’s about to have a melt down.

Ah well, it’s never boring being a Chelsea fan. We are the champions!

Football predictions

Time for my annual predictions, in the form of a table with added notes:

1. Chelsea
2. Man City [1]
3. Man Utd [2]
4. Spurs
5. Arsenal [3]
6. Liverpool
7. Swansea
8. West Ham
9. Aston Villa [4]
10. Everton
11. Southampton
12. Stoke
13. West Brom
14. Naarwich
15. Fulham
16. Cardiff
17. Sunderland [5]
18. Newcastle [6]
19. Hull
20. Crystal Palace [7]

[1] I’m sure these will be the top two, and I’m placing trust in Jose that Chelsea will be top. If we get Rooney I’ll be sure of it – but that’s one of the main reasons why I can’t see MU selling him to us.
[2] I like Moyes, and he is clearly a capable manager – he’s just not SAF (who is?) and there will be consequences. It’s been a shambles of a summer for them so far; they have just less than three weeks to rescue something. Even if they do, I can’t see them contending for the title with their present squad (the goalposts have moved).
[3] This is primarily a hunch – I think Spurs will improve on last year, and Arsenal are also, like Utd, having something of a ‘mare in the transfer market. This is not dependent on Bale staying at Spurs.
[4] They’ve kept Benteke (did great things for my fantasy team last year) and I really rate Lambert as a manager.
[5] All depends upon their slightly mental manager…
[6] All depends upon their slightly mental owner…
[7] I think the bottom two are pretty much write-ins; Hull have a slightly better chance simply because of Bruce’s experience at this level.

Last four years: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Football predictions

Time for my annual speculation, in the form of a table with added notes

1. Man C [1]
2. Man U [2]
3. Chelsea [3]
4. Arsenal [4]

5. Spurs [5]
6. Everton
7. Liverpool
8. Newcastle

9. Sunderland
10. Fulham
11. Stoke
12. Villa

13. QPR [6]
14. WBA
15. Naarwich
16. Swansea
17. WHam
18. Southampton
19. Wigan
20. Reading

Anyhow:

[1] I think they will be significantly strengthened by last season’s success.
[2] I hope SAF retires soon.
[3] Chelsea’s season could go completely pear-shaped, seeing RDM sacked before Christmas. I hope not (obviously) – and this is what happens if all the purchased creativity clicks with Torres. I can’t see them winning the title itself – too few strikers (why don’t they buy Berbatov?), Mikel is not a strong enough DM.
[4] Just because Arsenal seem to have lost the habit of winning. I see a big gap between the top four and the next four contenders.
[5] I don’t think AVB is good enough, yet – in a few years, if he’s still at Spurs, I think he’ll fulfil his promise.
[6] Not much to choose, as always, between the next several teams. I think Hughes will make QPR the best of this bunch, but not more than that (not this season). Haven’t really got a clue who will go down – but hope it isn’t WHam.

If I were Roman Abramovich…

I’d keep RDM and let Drogba leave as a legend – along with half a dozen other squad members.
And then if I was RDM…
I’d make Terry a player-coach (simply because, politically, you couldn’t sell him).
I’d make Lampard captain, Cahill vice-captain.
And I’d build the side around Torres – solid base, fast counter-attacks, Mata, Marin, Ramires – maybe Modric and Hazard as well – providing the ammunition.

I’d also make my kids ball-boys for the next home match…

If I were Roman Abramovich…

I’d keep RDM and let Drogba leave as a legend – along with half a dozen other squad members.
And then if I was RDM…
I’d make Terry a player-coach (simply because, politically, you couldn’t sell him).
I’d make Lampard captain, Cahill vice-captain.
And I’d build the side around Torres – solid base, fast counter-attacks, Mata, Marin, Ramires – maybe Modric and Hazard as well – providing the ammunition.

I’d also make my kids ball-boys for the next home match…

A few pointless thoughts about Hodgson’s squad

- I’m glad he’s not taking Ferdinand; and I’m sure Sir Alex is too.
- I wouldn’t have taken Terry either; it’s been a long time building but this Chelsea fan would actually be quite happy for the club to sell him off to the Middle East in the summer. I deeply hope that CFC will win on Saturday night, but if that happens, the sight of him lifting the cup…
- I would have made Lampard captain – experience and form, proven performer when it counts.
- Not sure about Gerrard being captain – look at stats for his performances for Liverpool, he seems to intimidate the others – but that might not be a factor for England. Depends entirely on what Hodgson’s plan is (see below).
- Downing? I’d rather have taken Joe Cole, who has had a good season playing on the left in France and has tournament experience (or Adam Johnson – presumably this isn’t a first choice pick so we’re looking at an impact player?)
- Forwards, hmm. I was minded not to take Rooney at all, but the reduction of the ban to 2 matches did change that calculation. Yes to Carroll, but Defoe? – the thing is, Hodgson clearly has a plan – and we don’t yet know what that is. For what it’s worth (not much) I’m glad Hodgson is the manager and most of the criticism of him is unmerited. Let’s see where we are after Brazil 2014; he’ll have my backing until then. Unless he sets us out in a 4-4-2.
- Given the squad, my choice for a starting XI in the first match (4-2-3-1): Hart; Cole, Cahill, Lescott, Johnson; Parker, Lampard; Young, Gerrard, Walcott; Carroll. That would be quite a decent side – but if we get to the quarter finals, I think it’ll count as a successful start for the manager.

A few pointless thoughts about Hodgson’s squad

- I’m glad he’s not taking Ferdinand; and I’m sure Sir Alex is too.
- I wouldn’t have taken Terry either; it’s been a long time building but this Chelsea fan would actually be quite happy for the club to sell him off to the Middle East in the summer. I deeply hope that CFC will win on Saturday night, but if that happens, the sight of him lifting the cup…
- I would have made Lampard captain – experience and form, proven performer when it counts.
- Not sure about Gerrard being captain – look at stats for his performances for Liverpool, he seems to intimidate the others – but that might not be a factor for England. Depends entirely on what Hodgson’s plan is (see below).
- Downing? I’d rather have taken Joe Cole, who has had a good season playing on the left in France and has tournament experience (or Adam Johnson – presumably this isn’t a first choice pick so we’re looking at an impact player?)
- Forwards, hmm. I was minded not to take Rooney at all, but the reduction of the ban to 2 matches did change that calculation. Yes to Carroll, but Defoe? – the thing is, Hodgson clearly has a plan – and we don’t yet know what that is. For what it’s worth (not much) I’m glad Hodgson is the manager and most of the criticism of him is unmerited. Let’s see where we are after Brazil 2014; he’ll have my backing until then. Unless he sets us out in a 4-4-2.
- Given the squad, my choice for a starting XI in the first match (4-2-3-1): Hart; Cole, Cahill, Lescott, Johnson; Parker, Lampard; Young, Gerrard, Walcott; Carroll. That would be quite a decent side – but if we get to the quarter finals, I think it’ll count as a successful start for the manager.

Why I wouldn’t take Rooney to Euro 2012

He’s not the Messiah he’s a very naughty boy…

So Fabio is being put on the spot by Rooney’s suspension (and why were people surprised that it was for three matches?) and now there is the question of whether to take him to the Euro’s at all. The argument for taking him goes something like: he’s our best player, he can turn a match around, he’ll be fresh and raring to go if we make it through the group stage.

I think it would be a very bad idea to take Rooney. To begin with it would cast a shadow over building a team with the capacity to get through the group stage. That by itself we could probably live with, but let us just pursue what might happen. I think there are three possible outcomes:

1. We don’t get through the group stages – in which case taking Rooney has wasted one space in the squad, a space which might conceivably have given Fabio another option to respond to dire circumstances.
2. We sail through the group stages in great comfort – in which case adding Rooney in would mean disrupting a team that has successfully gelled without him.
3. We struggle through the group stages and look to Rooney to raise us up to a higher level – in which case the pressure upon Rooney to perform becomes all the greater.

The first two outcomes argue against taking Rooney, but it is the third which I think is in fact the most problematic, simply because Rooney has repeatedly demonstrated his inability to cope with intense mental pressure. This would be the worst environment in which to pitch a volatile player. If English football is ever to get the best from his immense talent then perhaps the salutary lesson of not being taken to Euro 2012, and the experience of watching from the sidelines, is the best opportunity for him to conquer his demons.

I think Fabio should build a team without him, and leave the task of integrating Rooney to his successor. A front four (in a 4231) of Young-Gerrard-Sturridge, with Bent converting the chances, should surely be enough to get us to the traditional quarter-final elimination, and there are other options around too who could cover for injuries in that quartet. We need to stop relying on talented individuals, and start building a proper team, and a proper system.

Why I wouldn’t take Rooney to Euro 2012

He’s not the Messiah he’s a very naughty boy…

So Fabio is being put on the spot by Rooney’s suspension (and why were people surprised that it was for three matches?) and now there is the question of whether to take him to the Euro’s at all. The argument for taking him goes something like: he’s our best player, he can turn a match around, he’ll be fresh and raring to go if we make it through the group stage.

I think it would be a very bad idea to take Rooney. To begin with it would cast a shadow over building a team with the capacity to get through the group stage. That by itself we could probably live with, but let us just pursue what might happen. I think there are three possible outcomes:

1. We don’t get through the group stages – in which case taking Rooney has wasted one space in the squad, a space which might conceivably have given Fabio another option to respond to dire circumstances.
2. We sail through the group stages in great comfort – in which case adding Rooney in would mean disrupting a team that has successfully gelled without him.
3. We struggle through the group stages and look to Rooney to raise us up to a higher level – in which case the pressure upon Rooney to perform becomes all the greater.

The first two outcomes argue against taking Rooney, but it is the third which I think is in fact the most problematic, simply because Rooney has repeatedly demonstrated his inability to cope with intense mental pressure. This would be the worst environment in which to pitch a volatile player. If English football is ever to get the best from his immense talent then perhaps the salutary lesson of not being taken to Euro 2012, and the experience of watching from the sidelines, is the best opportunity for him to conquer his demons.

I think Fabio should build a team without him, and leave the task of integrating Rooney to his successor. A front four (in a 4231) of Young-Gerrard-Sturridge, with Bent converting the chances, should surely be enough to get us to the traditional quarter-final elimination, and there are other options around too who could cover for injuries in that quartet. We need to stop relying on talented individuals, and start building a proper team, and a proper system.