Saturday, 11 August 2012

Why Chelsea shall Fly into Strong Head-Winds....

Well, Let's remind ourselves of Something : Chelsea are Club Champions of Europe !! Perhaps their fate was sealed on that April 24th Evening, when we witnessed a crazy, miraculous  outcome to a Football game, with Chelsea winning the Champions' League semi-final tie against Champions Barcelona, after a 2-2 draw in the Camp Nou ; When their ball possession statistic was only 28%. The paramount reason Chelsea won that semi-final tie, and the monumental achievement of going on to the Alliance Arena to beat Bayern Munich in the finals on penalties to become Champions of Europe,  was the culmination of ex- manager Jose Mourinho's instilled dogma in the team of : SPIRIT, TENACITY, RESILIENCE.  Those elements constituted the foundations of Chelsea, and embodied by a number of players he signed, and continued by subsequent managers. That was the stand-out selling point of the team.  You could say it eventually yielded dividend.  The key issue here is Manager Roberto Di Mateo's reactionary approach of reverting to Chelsea's fundamentals when he took over as care taker manager in March this year, against the back drop of the owner's hankering for the scenic route to success.


CHANGE OF DIRECTION : No doubt about it, Plutocrat owner Roman Abramovich wanted a change of vision from the Mourinho Legacy, hence he brought in Andre Villas Boas to propagate fluidity and flair to the team's tactical story-line. That ought to be lauded, except that the unexpected happened to the Chelsea Version 2 project, and that was the new manager's naive, and poor man-management skills ; and that everyone at the club clearly underestimated how deep-rooted, the Mourinho generated playing ethos was. Simple, players make ideas work ! more specifically, a group of largely homogenous players are not going to on a whim be suited to a new playing culture that is foreign to their default setting. 

THE TRAP : Roberto Di Mateo has walked into a trap, and an idiosyncratic set of circumstances. He must have spent all summer trying to define, and re-define himself as Chelsea's new manager. In a short few months, he has moved from Assistant manager of a forlorn team, to interim manager who won the FA Cup and the Champions League ; then to wanting the job full-time, except for the fact that his achievements have delighted and bamboozeled his employer in equal measure. If the owner's thinking is for a more attractive playing style, and an interim manager found unprecedented success using the old formula, then the owner had a bone lodged in his throat..... hence he dwelled long and hard about giving Di Mateo the job full time, and when he did, it was a watered-down employment contract, which signifies a lack of trust in the new manager ; that ultimately someone else is going to be asked / has been asked to do the job ; and that for all his success, Di Mateo is not practically going to define himself, nor his approach to the job.  He starts the job in a weak position, perhaps his accidental dalliance with success implies that to be a reasonable call from the owner...  A "compromise" choice, as opposed to merit,  shouldn't be Roberto Di Mateo's fate, though... ; I subscribed to the idea of him getting the job full time, but i am starting to believe it was rough justice, and the situation was far from ideal for manager and owner - a parting of ways was best for both actually, at least in the sense that they get what represents their true worth,  and honest expectations. It looks dead in the water already ! 

ETHOS :  Chelsea discovered success last season because their Satellite Navigation system was re-routed  in the middle of no where... this time,  the route has been firmly established. That's all to do with their playing style, which i believe would be Roberto Di Mateo's brief to revamp. There-in lies the unstated caveat - Vilas Boas tried and Failed last season to wean Chelsea of it's stodginess, usher-in flair, and balance it out with winning trophies. He failed. To substantiate the point, Chelsea have overdosed somewhat in their purchase of young attacking mid-field talents. Spending over £60 million on three midfielders so far - 23 year old German international Marko Marin ; Eden Hazard, 21 year old Belgian international ; Oscar, a 21 year old Brazilian International is also on board. The wider issue is for manager Roberto Di Mateo to return to where Villas Boas failed, and that is to make them an aesthetic team, and win trophies. It just looks like an unattainable brief, and an in-built excuse to fire him. Technically offering him a one year deal makes that an easy one to deduce. 

ELEMENTS : It would be fair to say that at least, the immediate flight path Chelsea are taking for the 2012/13 season will be one in the direction of head-winds. There is a so much potential problems to come that it's a when not if it will manifest .  Having to change the style of play of an experienced group of players that have coalesced around a familiar theme ;  a manager in a precarious position ; the  departure of a true leader on / off the pitch, and a  terrific player and goal scorer in Didier Drogba ; the albatross  of being Champions of Europe feeds the anti-climax theories correctly here... ; then you have all these new, and relatively inexperienced players purchased in the quest of achieving the paradox: change and success in one fell swoop, then it's easy to see why this mission is greater than the man  Roberto Di Mateo, and even Chelsea Football Club this season.  The likely Push back against their tenuous ascent is ever more evident. Abromovich will discover that despite being European champions, circumstances have conspired to conversely  put the Club in a weaker position than they were last season. 
There is always a price for miracles, and that is reality returns pretty soon to steal your swagger. Chelsea shall soon find out.

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