Pearce Warns Players Off Chelsea

Well, well, someone clearly stole Stuart Pearce’s sweets and judging by the rant he’s just had to the press, that someone must’ve been wearing a Chelsea shirt.

According to the England Under-21 manager (who by the way has plenty of young Chelsea players in his squad), emerging players should avoid us like the plague. He suggests “If a lad rang me and said ‘I’m 16, playing at Crewe and Chelsea have come in for me, what do you think I should do?’ I would reply, ‘Stay where you are and play some football with the club you are at.”

You see, Pearce reckons Chelsea simply buy top players for the sole purpose of having a decent reserve team. He says “I watched Chelsea train last year. I saw Steve Sidwell, Reading’s best player from the previous season, and Tal Ben Haim, Bolton’s best player from the year before. But neither was in the first team. So Chelsea have cherry-picked the best players from elsewhere and stockpiled them. That is not right. I’ve seen too may players move club, then suddenly their careers seem to grind to a halt.”

Not that these players we brought in just didn’t make the step up Chelsea had expected them to of course? Who was that sitting on the bench for Man City against Wigan by the way Mr Pearce – because it surely couldn’t have been a certain Israeli defender Chelsea stockpiled for an entire season would it? Of course not, because then that would mean Chelsea weren’t the only club to bring in a player and sit him on a bench wouldn’t it?

And these players whose careers we halt, they must be devastated right? What was that Sidwell said again after he too had been ‘stockpiled’ for a whole season? Well, I must’ve misunderstood him because I could’ve sworn he said he had no regrets. And Shaun Wright-Phillips, what were his parting words again, after we’d finally decided twisting his arm up his back to stay was no longer fun? Something along the lines of “don’t make me go” I believe!

Scolari The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread?

It’s only been a year since Jose Mourinho walked out of Stamford Bridge in a blaze of publicity, but whilst he’s busy making new enemies in Italy, it seems Scolari could be doing quite the opposite at Chelsea – or at least, he is as far as the press are concerned anyway.

Whilst Mourinho’s defensive football and offensive personality didn’t endear him to the British press, Scolari’s attempts to entertain more both on and off the field seems to have the media casting a more positive eye over all things Chelsea right now.

You see, even while Chelsea weren’t splaying the ball around the pitch against Stoke on Saturday the fact that even a little of our quality showed through in what was effectively a workman like performance was picked up on by the press. No, it wasn’t ‘beautiful, flowing football’, but it there was a little more willingness to go forward at 1-0 than we’ve become accustomed to. So for now at least, the knives have been put away.

Even the crowd, (at Stoke at least) were reported to have been won over – and not just from Chelsea’s side either it would seem. Because, if anyone is a certainty when it comes to the expected oppositional slating, it has to be John Terry. When it comes to PR, the Chelsea captain seems to have got it completely wrong from the minute Mourinho arrived at Chelsea and he’s won himself a lot more enemies than friends along the way, as the rendition of “Terry is a tosser” accentuated following the game. However, to his credit, JT’s unexpected reaction to this was to walk over to the home fans, sign a few autographs and hand over his training top. And probably even more unexpected was the fact that this was actually warmly received, with the Stoke supporters this time singing his virtues.

New assistant first-team coach Ray Wilkins stated after the game “It was a very tough afternoon but our players really battled through it and have shown qualities that a lot of people didn’t think they had.”

But even Wilkins points to it being Luiz Felipe Scolari who is largely responsible for the change, stating “We can’t have a go at Jose [Mourinho]. He won a lot of trophies for Chelsea and he produced winning football and a mentality that has been carried through. But the new manager has come in and he has a totally different philosophy, including the way full-backs should play. We’ve got some very good players who can play very good football, though. If you have got people who are prepared to work and who can also handle the football, as ours can, then you’ve got every opportunity of creating far more opportunities for the strikers.”

So, we’re flavour of the month again with the press it seems and for now at least, Scolari is the best thing since sliced bread. But before any of us start to get carried away, maybe we’d do well to remember Mourinho was hailed a “breath of fresh air” in his first season at Chelsea too.

Mourinho: ‘Frank Is In My Heart’

Frank Lampard was always going to upset someone this summer. I mean, he’d got both Chelsea and Jose Mourinho wrapped around his finger, whilst he continued to deliberate over his very expensive future in football. Would he stay at the club he ‘loved’ with ‘his people’, or defect to Italy where his old boss sat confidently informing the press he could take his pick of his former players?

Well, we all know what decision Lampard made, but now we’re getting to hear about some of his little indiscretions along the way. No, no, he wasn’t caught on camera with another hottie on a night out, this time his indiscretion involves the unrequited love of someone a little more ‘special’ than that.

Because with Jose Mourinho apparently on a roll in the press again, in between hurling abuse at Claudio Ranieri and upsetting the Italian media, TSO has spoken out about how the Chelsea midfielder left him in the lurch.

In a manner not too dissimilar to a woman scorned, Mourinho suggests:“Frank is in my heart for everything we have done together but I’m left with a bitter taste in the mouth. He said to me ‘I will go with you to Inter, if it’s not possible now, then in a year we will be together’ Afterwards he changed his mind.”

I’m not going to analyse his choice of phrase too much because I’m told there’s adult websites for that sort of thing but I’ve no doubt the form Lampard seems to have rediscovered this season will only make Jose’s pain even harder to bear.

My heart bleeds!

Didier Drogba: ‘Why I Stayed’

After an indecisive summer full of want-away stories and quotes of displeasure, Didier Drogba has had a quiet start to this season. However, it was inevitable he’d find his voice sooner or later – and he appears to have chosen a slot on Chelsea TV to explain his decision to stay, and that night in Moscow.

On all the stories we heard during the course of last season, Drogba says “It was in my head to leave but just a few days after Moscow I knew what I was going to do the next season and where I was going to be. I could not leave without winning anything, especially when we lost the Champions League Final after coming so close.”  But according to the Ivorian striker, with half an eye on a move somewhere else, it wasn’t just losing that made him stay, because he goes on to say “Of course, when you watch things like the European Championship you always think you could go to this club and play with those players. But when you have a contract it is important to respect it, and I’m very happy with my contract.”

So that’s as clear as mud then. First, he stayed because he couldn’t leave without winning something, and then it was because he ‘respects’ his contract. But hang on, because before anyone decides which reason sounds the most likely, he has another one for us. You see, whilst resuming his relations with the press, Drogba has told them it was actually Scolari who persuaded him to stay at Chelsea.

On his new boss, the Ivory Coast man says “Scolari is one of those coaches who is very close to the players. His style is similar to Mourinho’s. I like this type of coach. I feel much more comfortable with this style of management. I spoke with him [Scolari] and he showed he wanted me to stay and that’s what finally convinced me. It’s true that it was 50/50 as to whether I would stay but I still think I have something to prove.”

And with Luiz Felipe Scolari making his expectations of our players clear this week, stating “What I want from all my players is that they’re happy they play for Chelsea, rather than only if they’re playing in the team. This is Chelsea, we’re a team, a group. If players are unhappy then in January they will be out. Any player. They need to understand they all win as a group. Any player who’s here for themselves needs to go somewhere else”, maybe that’s exactly what it is Drogba has to prove?

Anyway, with him opening his soul, what does Didier Drogba have to say about that night? Well his explanation goes like this: “I was sent off because I was very frustrated and emotional. I don’t see how you could not be emotional at that stage of a game like that – the second half of extra-time, with three minutes left. It is something I should not have done but I do not think it was a red card.”

Good to see him taking responsibility, I assume the apology will be in the next interview?

Tantrums, Winning and Scolari’s Chelsea

Phil Thompson had what can only be described as a ‘bit of a paddy’ on Sky Sports yesterday, as soon as talk turned to Chelsea.  The minute Jeff Stelling mentioned Scolari taking all four competitions seriously, the ex-Liverpool man went on a complete rant, embarrassingly losing his head whilst shouting about “Chelsea always saying they’re going to do the quadruple every year.” Not that he believes every headline he reads of course, but Thompson seems to equate Scolari saying he will “try to win all four” with the Brazilian saying he will actually do it.

I mean, fair play, in the days of Mourinho there may well have been much bragging in the press about what we would do, but that’s how TSO liked it. He did after all, like to generate more headlines around himself than the players. But I’m not sure I’d agree with Phil Thompson that Luiz Felipe Scolari has said anything in the press yet that remotely resembles bigging himself up. If he’s saying he’ll ‘try’ surely that’s because that is the job he’s been employed to do, to try and win what’s there to be won?

If anything, I’d say Scolari has had the balance about right so far. He seems to have the right personality for Chelsea for a start, omitting the egotistic, attention-seeking persona of Mourinho but at the same time, much larger than life than the sour-faced, monosyllabic Grant. But the man is nobodies fool either. Gone are the days where the players’ egos are routinely massaged by the man in charge, with Scolari instead taking a more authoritarian approach. In the Brazilian’s book, the players are paid to do a job and whilst choosing to do that job doesn’t warrant excessive arse kissing from the boss, failure to do so will not go unnoticed.

Having said that, Scolari seems to communicate his expectations in a positive way to the players and I’ve no doubt he gives praise where it’s due, he just chooses not to do it via the media. When it comes to the press, he seems to talk sense and sadly for them, doesn’t rise to their baiting.

Certainly, there have been questions about Scolari’s motivation in taking the job and his naivety when it comes to the Premier League – and I’ll hold my hands up to being amongst those asking exactly those questions. But from what I’ve seen so far, he seems to be taking the job seriously and notably, with the departure of Steve Clarke potentially threatening to upset the apple-cart, the acquisition of Ray Wilkins to provide the essential knowledge of all things oppositional signals his intent almost as much as his team selection in domestic competition.

As for the football, slowly but surely Scolari seems to be making his mark as well. Gone are the painful defensive displays, with the message that we should be satisfied with holding on for a 1-0 because “winning is the important thing”. And in its place is a pass-and-move style, much more fluid and attacking, not to mention easier on the eye. Not that I’m getting carried away with the belief that we actually will win everything in sight but after a few years of a less attractive style of play, culminating in the appointment of Avram Grant’s ‘I just want to slit my wrists’ style of football, even I have to appreciate the change Scolari’s brought about.

The sight of a manager jumping up and down on the touchline because we’re not pushing forward despite already having taken the lead might well be an alien concept at Chelsea in the past, but it’s a concept I’m sure we could all enjoy getting used to.

So Phil Thompson can show himself up as much as he likes on Soccer Saturday, because having watched us for 90-odd minutes yesterday, even he was forced to admit that right now, Chelsea are getting exactly the return they deserve.

Chelsea Earn Another Win Away

STOKE 0 – 2 CHELSEA

The good news for Chelsea, but bad news for Stoke came before kick-off with the news that Rory Delap had withdrawn through injury. So no long throw-ins to contend with, although we still found ourselves up against a spirited Stoke side.

Chelsea controlled the first half although were stopped from making the most of their possession by a busy Thomas Sorensen on a couple of occasions, with both Ballack and Drogba denied an opener. However, a lovely weighted pass from Frank Lampard saw Jose Bosingwa slam past Sorensen on 37 minutes. To be fair, Bosingwa, who’d got himself goal-side of Cresswell, looked like he was trying to put the ball across the face of goal before a deflection from Andy Griffin gave the right-back his first goal for Chelsea but it was the end result that mattered.

For all Chelsea’s domination in the first half though, there was some sloppy play at times and the effort to make that domination count seemed to be lacking. Whilst they always looked comfortable, a little more penetration wouldn’t have been too much to ask.

Having said that, we started the second half with some incisive, one-touch passing and a defensive error with Stoke giving the ball away on the edge of the area saw a Malouda shot hit the woodwork after Sorensen had somehow got a hand to it.

To be fair to Stoke though, they’d come out fighting for the second half and were definitely holding their own, almost succeeding in getting an equaliser from a corner, only to see John Obi Mikel clear off the line.

Nicolas Anelka, who’d come on for the fragile looking Kalou after the break, should have doubled our lead in the 67th minute, although as is too often the case for the French striker, got it all wrong, going for power rather than accuracy. So, when Belletti replaced the rusty Didier Drogba soon after, it looked as if 1-0 would be the best we could hope for from the game. Anelka had other ideas though, making up for his earlier miss in the 76th minute, taking advantage of a Bosingwa cross from the right side of goal and banging it past Sorensen.

Ballack came close to making it 3-0 soon after and Lampard could have had a couple in the finishing stages although Sorensen kept it at a respectable 2 goal deficit.

All in all then, a fair result which reflected Chelsea’s better passing and control although we were made to work hard for it. A little bit of impatience crept in as the game went on and it looked as if we might fail to capitalise on our lead but our overall dominance paid off in the end with us ticking off our sixth consecutive away win in the Premier League.

A comfortable enough win which puts us back to the top of the table, for a couple of hours at least.

*Edit: Arsenal were shite so we stay top 😀

 

Teams:

Stoke: Sorensen, Griffin, Cort, Diagne-Faye, Higginbotham, Olofinjana, Diao, Lawrence (Tonge 66), Cresswell, Kitson (Fuller 53), Sidibe (Faye 81).

Substitutes not used: Simonsen, Sonko, Soares, Whelan.

Chelsea: Cech, Terry, Cole A, Bosingwa, Alex, Malouda, Ballack (Paulo Ferreira 90), Lampard, Mikel, Kalou (Anelka 46), Drogba (Belletti 73).

Substitutes not used: Hilario, Bridge, Ivanovic, Sinclair.

 

Goals

Bosingwa (36), Anelka (76)

Carling Cup: Chelsea At Home

 

Luiz Felipe Scolari has suggested he’ll be giving all four competitions an equal amount of respect this season and practised what he’s preached with the strength of his team against Portsmouth in the Carling Cup mid-week. The subsequent 4-0 win has seen us through to the last 16 and today’s fourth round draw has given us a home tie against Burnley.

Burnley dispensed with Fulham with a 1-0 win on Tuesday night and will no doubt be happy with a trip to Stamford Bridge.

All Premier League ties, see cup holders Spurs at home to Liverpool, Arsenal play Wigan at the Emirates, and Blackburn away at Sunderland. Manchester United meanwhile, will be entertaining QPR at Old Trafford.

The last 16 ties will take place in the week commencing November 10.

 

Full draw for the Carling Cup fourth round:

Sunderland v Blackburn

Arsenal v Wigan

Chelsea v Burnley

Swansea v Watford

Man Utd v QPR

Stoke v Rotherham

Brighton/Derby v Leeds

Tottenham v Liverpool