Chelsea FC: The Slump Diaries
A lot of events unfolded for Chelsea Football Club in the past 3 weeks. Fan Favorite Di Matteo was sacked and a Fat Spanish Waiter was appointed as the new manager, Interim of course. ‘Abrahmovich’ and ‘Manager’ terms don’t go well with each other, but ‘sacking’ does. It’s really hard living life as a Chelsea fan when your expectations get quashed one moment and overachieved in the other. The latter would obviously bring joy, but there is always that veil of uncertainty with a mercurial owner at the helm.
It is always hard for any manager to come in on a short notice and produce the desired results. Di Matteo had an idea about the team as he was the assistant coach for AVB, but for Benitez it is the usual story. The Spaniard has a good track record and has proven to be a decent tactician in the past. He has Premier League experience with Liverpool and also the Champions League. Unfortunately, nothing could be done on the European front. Hey, but there is Thursday night football to enjoy now, for a change. The fans though will never favour the new manager and will hoping for his exit sooner rather than later.
With the club reeling at the bottom of the form table and 4 points collected from a possible 21 in the League feels like the one who is fighting the relegation battle, yet Chelsea is 3rd in the table 10 points behind leaders Man Utd. Rafa Benitez’s reign had a lazy start with draws at home against Man City and Fulham followed by a 3-1 defeat to West Ham on the road. The win against Norsjaelland, though irrelevant, will provide the players with some much needed confidence. In all those matches in the slump period, there was a clear lack of leadership in the team. Petr Cech might be good as a captain, but such spirit needs to be in the outfield, not between the sticks.
The Champions League exit is a big blow for the club on all fronts. Financially, there will be a deficit of about 24mn only from UCL. Though the group was tough and Chelsea managed to rack up 10 points, it was all down to temperament and perseverance, and the teams which qualified edged out the Blues in those aspects. It all comes down to the first match at the Bridge against Juventus in which a 2 goal lead was blown and spoils shared. The players took responsibility for letting down the expectations of the club and the fans, but yes, they could have done better on the field. The prospect of Thursday night football might be a new experience for the Blues. But the folks from Manchester will know more about that and should be more than happy to share their stories.
To be honest, the Europa League too is not an easy competition to fare your trade. The likes of Atletico Madrid, Napoli and Inter Milan pose daunting challenges. With the group stages coming to an end, the possible opponents for Chelsea in the round of 32 of the Europa League are, Anzhi Makachkala, SSC Napoli, Inter Milan, Bayer Leverkusen, Atletico Madrid, Borusia Monchengladbach, VFB Stuttgart, FC Basel, Sparta Prague, Levante, Dynamo Kyiv, Zenit. St. Petersburg, Ajax Amsterdam and BATE Borisov. The teams in this list are not be underestimated under any circumstances and it will be a hard ride into the latter stages.
Chelsea face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light tonight searching for a win in 8 matches, their last one coming against Spurs in October. The Blues have Lampard back to full fitness and this should be a big boost. Mikel though is suspended for 3 games, so Oriol Romeu is sure to start in midfield. John Terry and Daniel Sturridge are still out with injuries. Sunderland are without some key players and their League record too is not so good with 2 wins in 22 games! The Blue boys travel to Japan after the match to take part in the Club World Cup. It’s ironical that you get knocked out as European Champions and the next moment you a trying to become the World Champions.