Ashley Cole Putting His Foot In It

Ashley Cole really doesn’t do himself any favours does he?

As if being caught speeding over 100mph in a 50mph zone isn’t bad enough, he then has the front to actually deny the charge.

Cole didn’t turn up for his trial, although had apparently told police at the time he thought he was only doing 80mph – still, the police being as fickle as they are, decided that wasn’t ok with a 50mph limit. Funny that!

So, Cole might not be getting to take his Lamborghini Gallardo out for many more spins after sentencing is passed at the end of this month, with Richard Lomax, prosecuting, saying “The defendant was stopped and spoken to and the words he said at the time, when it became plain that somebody was pointing a speed camera at him, were: ‘Can’t you do anything about those idiots who keep chasing me?’.  The Crown says there can be no other sensible construction of the words uttered by Mr Cole at the time than that he was conceding he was driving at a speed more than 50mph. It is plain that he found the attention of persons with cameras unwelcome and he was trying to get away from them. The only sensible inference therefore is that he was going too quickly.”

What you might call ‘banged to rights’.

Ivanovic To Force Chelsea’s Hand?

Only days after speculation about one of our defenders handing in a transfer request, we’re hearing another one is about to do the same thing.

Earlier rumours of Alex handing in a request for a move in January were denied by the club although now we’re being informed – by the press naturally – that Branislav Ivanovic wants a move. Quite handy really, seeing as he’d already been linked with a move to 3 Serie A sides last month.

However, this time we’re told it’s Inter Milan the 24 year old could be heading for having become disillusioned with his lack of playing time for Chelsea. With Alex already playing ahead of him and Ricardo Carvalho coming back to fitness, the suggestion seems to be the Serbian is looking for a move sooner rather than later.

Chelsea turned down a move for Ivanovic from Juve earlier in the season, although with Luiz Felipe Scolari making it clear he only wants players who want to be at the club in his squad, and with a lack of funds forthcoming for new recruits, could it be that Ivanovic will get the move after all?

Are Cole Rumours A Concern For Chelsea?

We’ve had rumours about possible moves for Joe Cole before, notably Villa and Liverpool in the summer although fortunately they were no more than that. But somehow the latest rumours worry me a little more.

This time, it’s Spurs with an interest in Joe Cole and that bothers me for a few reasons. Firstly there’s the Redknapp thing. Harry Redknapp is more than a little keen on Cole and they know each other well what with it being Redknapp who gave Cole his debut at West Ham. Then there’s the fact that Cole would be valued highly by his former boss – something he’s always had to fight for at Chelsea.

Add to that the fact that Redknapp knows that come the summer, Joe Cole will have just a year left on his contract thanks to Chelsea’s delay in holding talks, and these reports aren’t weighing heavily in Chelsea’s favour. Not only that, but with Cole apparently only being on around £70,000 a week at Chelsea – hardly an amount comparable with the big earners around him – he could even get a pay rise into the bargain.

And here’s what a Spurs source has to say about the whole thing “Harry loves the way Joe plays and can’t believe Chelsea are running the risk of losing him. It is behind the striker where Harry sees him for Spurs — given a licence to thrill.”

I know Cole has previously said he was happy for the talks to be put on hold because his priority was playing for Chelsea but I can’t help hoping the club get their act together over a contract just in case.

Anelka’s Form Rewarded

Nicolas Anelka has won the Barclays player of the month award for November.

Anelka clearly relished being Chelsea’s first-choice striker in Drogba’s absence and notched up 7 goals in 5 league games. Anelka started the month with a hattrick against Sunderland the bagged a couple against both Blackburn and West Brom. He also became the first player to hit ten league goals this season.

Nice work Nic.

Time For Chelsea To Sell Kalou?

I’ve read a few pieces slating Salomon Kalou lately and I have to admit, even after trying really hard to give him the benefit of the doubt and going as far as hoping I might end up eating a large wedge of humble pie by the end of this campaign, he just ain’t good enough.

He drives me totally insane.

I mean, he either looks a bit of a pussy when he’s brushed off the ball far too easily, or he’s overplaying every bloody ball and doing the SWP style ‘I can walk through players’ routine until he runs headlong into a defender and collapses in a heap.

And whilst I’ve got nothing against him personally – I actually think he seems a really nice lad – watching him play makes me want to hurt him. His lack of effect on the pitch is just so frustrating. Surely 16 goals in 76 appearances has to at least hint to Scolari that Chelsea and Kalou are just not meant to be?

Now I know it’s not usually the done thing to sell players to our rivals, and if his form suddenly had the sort of up-turn Shauny’s did when he went back to City it’d be pretty harsh on us, but £11million – it’s got to be worth the risk surely?

Is Mikel Filling The Makelele Role?

I’ve watched John Obi Mikel with a lot more interest this season – largely because Makelele had to be one of my favourite Chelsea players and having raised the question of whether anyone would fill that role, seeing  even the early signs of Mikel starting to do that has been pretty good stuff to watch.

Makelele was an absolute master in the holding role – hence the name, obviously – but he’d been doing it before he came to Chelsea (albeit fairly late in his career), and to see a 21-year old Mikel showing the first signs of growing into the role is pretty impressive. His contribution to Chelsea this season, in exactly the same way as Maka’s usually was, tends to be overlooked and that’s why I keep an eye out for it.

His mistakes are certainly highlighted and the minute he goes in a little enthusiastically, it’s only natural tongues start clucking given his previous disciplinary record but for the most part, he’s clearly trying to rein that side of his game in.

He certainly got a backlash after the Roma game, and maybe his mistakes warranted it but it’s important to look at what he has done for Chelsea this season.

Filling Makelele’s boots is a big ask for anyone, but for a 21 year old to come in with nowhere near the same level of experience and not only patrol the midfield enough to shield the defence but also to be in the right place at the right time to start counter attacks – and to do this consistently – is an even bigger ask. And yet whilst everyone was busy focusing on what Didier Drogba brought to the game against Cluj, it was exactly this contribution from Mikel that was overlooked.

I genuinely thought we’d be buggered once Makelele left, so maybe I’m just happier than most to see Mikel making such a decent job of it, although his contract negotiations would suggest otherwise.

I can’t help wondering what’ll happen when Essien comes back though….

Admirers Forming A Queue For Chelsea Youngster?

Portsmouth confirmed recently that come January, they’d be sending out of favour forward Ben Sahar back to Stamford Bridge. The 19 year old hasn’t managed to feature for them this season during his six-month loan deal and he probably won’t be any more successful on his return to Chelsea, although he’s got his admirers in the Championship.

However, it seems the Championship won’t necessarily be his next destination because Sunday saw Sahar watching Utrecht’s 2-1 win over NEC, and manager Wim van Hanegem has confirmed the Eredivisie side’s interest in the Chelsea youngster.

The Utrecht boss says “We’re indeed interested in loaning Ben Sahar. We’ll send a scout to England next week to have a final look at him before we make a decision though.”

As I’ve said before, if Sahar hasn’t been given a chance at Pompey, then he must know it’s a cert he won’t feature for Chelsea, which probably explains his presence at Utrecht Sunday.

Scolari Wants Drogba & Anelka: Will It Work?

Following on from the earlier article which questioned Scolari’s comments about Drogba, I have to say I think the Chelsea boss is being pretty shrewd here.

What Scolari said was “Drogba is important but don’t forget we are second in the Champions League group and second in the Barclays Premier League because our top scorer is Nicolas Anelka.  Drogba is one of the best in the world but I need to think about Anelka. He is as important as Drogba.”

Now of course Scolari knows that on his day Drogba is one of the world’s best strikers and he knows he needs to make comments like that because Drogba needs to feel valued. What Scolari also knows though, is that Nicolas Anelka has exactly the same needs.

You see, Nicolas Anelka has been a different player for Chelsea this season and he’s done that because of the investment Scolari has made in him. I think Scolari’s made that investment because he knows how to manage ego’s – and let’s face it, when it comes to our two frontmen, that’s what it’s all about.

On the one hand we have Didier Drogba, who’s petulance and tantrums are well documented. Scolari clearly knew when he took over that he’d have his work cut out when it came to handling him. Why else have all Drogba’s spells out been handled with such delicacy? When others recovering from injury are back out on the field way before they look fit to play, why is it that Didier Drogba seems to have got himself a gentle phased-return to work? Because Scolari knows he needs to feel ‘special’ of course.

And yet, whilst on the one hand Scolari has to massage Drogba’s ego, he’s clearly aware he has to make sure this doesn’t push Anelka back into Le Sulk mode at the same time. And he’s absolutely right to do so because whilst Drogba’s impact is evident in games like Tuesday’s against CFR Cluj, the fact is, Drogba needs to be in the mood to make that impact. And whilst a combination of ambivalence and injury has kept the Ivorian on the sidelines for much of the season so far, it’s Nicolas Anelka Scolari’s had to rely on.

And to be fair, the Scolari/Anelka relationship has been a vital one in Drogba’s absence. With Kalou nowhere near capable of filling the role in Drogba’s absence, Scolari knew he had to make the best of what he had available. So, he’s made sure he’s applauded Anelka at every opportunity and the acknowledgement of his contribution to our season even in the wake of Drogba’s winner the other night was quite right.

You see, firstly, as much as Drogba needs to feel appreciated – and Scolari made sure he bigged him up a bit too – it’s no good boosting his ego to such a point he thinks he doesn’t need to impress anymore. And bearing in mind we have relied on Anelka so far this season, and could end up reliant on him again if Drogba’s knee continues to prove problematic, then Scolari knows there’s no point making him feel second best.

Scolari quite rightly picks up on this point, saying “I have more options now he (Drogba) is fit. But he didn’t have a pre-season build-up because of injury and when he came back he got injured again. Then he was suspended and now he is back again.”

So, rather than putting either striker’s nose out, Scolari suggests “After this, it is my job to put the two together.”

But will it work?

Chelsea Shock As Alex Requests Transfer

Bloody Hell.

There’s not many headlines I read about Chelsea that surprise me but the headline I read last night suggesting Alex wants to leave was one of them.

Yeah ok, there’s been suggestions that Henk Ten Cate wanted to take him to Panathinaikos but did anyone really take that seriously?

Well, the suggestion is that Alex isn’t happy with his lack of first-team involvement having made just 12 appearances so far this season, but the man’s been out injured hasn’t he? If he’d been available for selection, he’d have played more. We’ve had both Terry and Carvalho out at one time or another and when fit, it’s been Alex who’s been called upon every time – and we’re not talking about one or two games are we? Carvalho’s barely been fit for fuck sake. What’s the problem?

Apparently Brazil boss Dunga has told Alex he needs to play more games to be considered for his country’s 2010 World Cup team but if he’s basing that on the number of games Alex has featured in this season, then that’s a cop out. I mean, we’ve played 16 games in the league for god sake and a handful of cup games. Christ, given our injuries so far this season, actually being fit enough to make 12 games is pretty good going for any Chelsea player these days.

Anyway, Alex is reported to have said “I told Chelsea a few days ago that I wanted to leave.  There are many options. But I have to think them through and see if Chelsea will let me leave in January.”

And I can only wonder if Scolari’s jaw dropped quite as much when he heard those words.

Scolari plays down Drogba impact – who is he kidding?

I’m going to make this relatively brief today, because I have often commented on this blog that I consider Didier Drogba Chelsea’s most important player. This view hasn’t changed and I don’t want to bore you with the same views again.

However, something riled me slightly last night after the narrow victory over CFR Cluj in the Champions League. Earlier, Drogba had come of the bench and scored the goal which helped Chelsea stumble into the last 16 of the competition. The striker’s influence was there for all to see and he gave the team a new dimension, a new belief and a new impetuous.

Everyone in the ground knew that Drogba had made the difference. Chelsea were looking rather short on ideas until the Ivory Coast man came on.

However, speaking after the game, Luiz Felipe Scolari seemed to play down the impact that the striker had on the game. Despite the fact that Drogba played a huge part in securing Chelsea’s first home win since the beginning of November, Scolari couldn’t quite bring himself to heap to much praise on the player.

The Chelsea boss did describe Drogba as ‘one of the best in the world’, but this was merely a brief passing comment. Scolari’s focus was instead on ensuring that people knew that Nicolas Anelka is his main striker right now.

He said that ‘our scorer is Anelka’ and proceeded to remind everyone that his team haven’t done too badly considering Drogba has only played 11 times this season. This may well be the case, but I think it is fair to say that if Drogba didn’t play again this season, the football odds wouldn’t fancy Scolari’s men to conquer in Europe.

There may not be too much to read into Scolari’s comments, I just found it bizarre that he was being so defensive. We all know that Anelka has done well in recent weeks and we all know that Chelsea are a more threatening team at the highest level when Drogba is playing. Why not just admit that? Why is there the need to defend Anelka when praising Drogba?

Chelsea captain John Terry told it more like it is. He said that it was a ‘great boost’ to have Drogba back and that he is a ‘great dimension’ for the team. These are the views echoed by everyone – other than Scolari, whose opinion is likely to have the most impact on Drogba.

Chelsea can’t afford to lose Drogba during January, because he is irreplaceable in terms of the team’s ambitions this season. Something that makes Scolari’s nervy and defensive comments even more bizarre.

Thoughts?

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about football betting