Where’s Gullit Seen Drogba?

I came across an article yesterday that struck me as a little odd. The article was about some comments Ruud Gullit had made regarding Didier Drogba – and diving. Not all that odd you might think, seeing as he wouldn’t be the first to talk to the press about Drogba’s amateur dramatics and yet it’s odd because Gullit suggests Didier no longer indulges himself.

According to Gullit, The former Marseille man has learnt to cut the diving out of his game with the help of his team-mates. The ex-Chelsea boss says “When you complain all the time and when you try to cheat, that is against the honesty of the game and the laws of the game. But you can educate people and Drogba has been taught by his own players that he had to stop diving. When he stopped diving, all of a sudden he was getting things (going) his way.”

Gullit points to the influx of foreign players in the Premier League for the lengths some players will go to, to pull the wool over the match officials’ eyes, stating “If you are in Italy and dive and you get a penalty that is not cheating, it’s like you have been clever. But if you do that in England then you are a big cheat – so this is a difference of mentality.”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree with Gullit on that particular point, but back to Drogba, I have to admit his comments have left me a little confused. You see, as I’m sure we’re all very well aware, last season saw a return of the mysterious sniper in the crowd whenever Drogba took to the field and he’s barely seen a Chelsea shirt this season, never mind worn one.

So when exactly has Gullit had the chance to see this reformed character?  


Wright-Phillips To Get A Game Sunday?

Shaun Wright-Phillips has finally given in and agreed a move back to Manchester City. He becomes Chelsea’s second departure in a week, again for an undisclosed fee although it’s thought to be in the region of £9-£10million.

Not much of a return for the £21million we lashed out on him initially, although we clearly overpaid initially and the fact he’s struggled to get in the Chelsea side, starting only 43 games won’t have helped his value much either.

The 26 year old, who agreed a four year deal, is expected to be unveiled at a press conference tomorrow and could be making his second debut for City against Sunderland on Sunday.

After signing today, the winger stated : “Obviously I’m delighted to come back to City and I just can’t wait to get started again.”

Good luck to him with that.


Andriy Shevchenko: Thankyou

So, Andriy Shevchenko’s two year spell at Chelsea finally came to an end yesterday following his medical at AC Milan and he had this to say via the club’s official website:

‘I would like to thank Chelsea Football Club – the fans, staff, players and management – for all the support you gave me during my time at the club. ‘I would also like to express my gratitude to Roman Abramovich for all his help and encouragement.

‘It was unfortunate I suffered a number of injuries during my time here but I always gave my all, whatever the circumstances.

‘I really have enjoyed playing in England and have made many friendships that will stay with me forever. I will always look back with fond memories of my time at this really great club. Thank you.’




Great player, great attitude. Good luck.


Will Mutu Give Up The Fight Against Chelsea?

An announcement on the Official Chelsea web site yesterday confirmed Adrian Mutu has been ordered to pay the club £13.68million in damages. Mutu, 29 failed a drug test in October 2004 and was subsequently banned for seven months and sacked by Chelsea.

Harsh maybe? Well for a start, despite being in a privileged position, earning a substantial amount of money, Mutu was having far too much fun shovelling Bolivian marching powder up his nose to count his blessings. He had a contract, which I assume he’d read before signing and therefore knew the consequences. He also showed very little in the way of remorse either immediately after the test or in the time since.

In fact, Mutu and his agent have fought Chelsea all the way.  From the initial hearing with the Premier League and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who incidentally both agreed Chelsea were within their rights to sack the player for “sporting just cause”, on to FIFA’s Disputes Resolution Chamber. But rather than sitting back while the DRC initially declined to take up Chelsea’s case, Mutu was busy keeping himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons whilst whingeing about how unfair Chelsea were being in his fight against a decision. And despite being ordered to pay £9.6million some two months ago, Mutu and his agent again decided to contest this and drag it out even further.

On announcing the ruling, the club stated:

“This is an important decision for football.  Not only did the DRC make us a significant monetary award, the decision also recognised the damaging affect incidents involving drugs has on football and the responsibilities we all have in this area.” 

So, is FIFA’s decision to hand out the biggest ever fine to a player harsh?

Well, Chelsea paid out £15million for a player who ultimately failed to either behave in a professional manner or adhere to the terms laid out in his contract and whilst there are some who’d suggest the club failed him with the manner in which they responded to his drug habit, it should be noted it was his poor conduct and inability to carry out his job which prompted the test in the first place. So whatever the club did would be a risk: keep him and risk further negative press as well as the possibility a lengthy spell in rehab could fail (as is very often the case), leaving the club with a player who was neither use nor ornament and certainly un-saleable; or let him go and spend the next four years running up a six-figure legal bill.

Sadly, with Mutu almost certain to argue the decision yet again, it’s doubtful we’ve heard the last of this yet.

Is Lampard Really A Chelsea Legend?

The Frank Lampard contract saga has brought up plenty of issues, from wage capping, to loyalty, players honouring contracts and even a player’s status within their club. And it’s the final one on that list I have issues with as far as Lampard’s concerned. I mean, he keeps being referred to as a ‘Chelsea Legend’ and whilst I’ve repeatedly stated I’d always acknowledge the huge contribution he’s made to the team during his 7 year stint, ‘legend’ isn’t a word I’d use when it comes to describing him.

When I think of Chelsea legends within my own lifetime, there’s one man who epitomises that for me, and when I recently heard a supporter suggesting they are of equal status in Chelsea’s history, well it prompted a reaction to say the least.

You see, the epitome of a Chelsea legend for me comes in the shape of a 5 foot 6 Sardinian who arrived at Stamford Bridge in November 1996. A player with nothing to prove when he arrived, Gianfranco Zola’s impact was instant. He put his heart and soul into Chelsea from day one and despite joining us part way through a season, just six months later he’d been named the Football Writers’ Player of the Year.

Zola turned in a series of devastating displays, his technique and repertoire of tricks adding something pretty special to an inconsistent Chelsea side. Who could forget his free-kicks, the sight of him leaving the United defence for dead in a league game before sliding the ball past a static Schmeichel? And what about his equaliser against Liverpool in the 1997 FA Cup game that saw us eventually turn them over 4-2? Not forgetting Norwich, what can you say about that back-heel except – sublime?

Taking players on, setting up countless goals and scoring some spectacular ones himself, he illustrated everything that is great about football. His vision and sheer hard work, along with the partnership he struck up with Mark Hughes helped Chelsea to FA Cup victory in 1997 and the League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup the following year. Sparky said of him at the time “He’s so good on the ball it’s untrue. He sends in these inch-perfect passes which are so accurate that you don’t have to break stride. If I cannot play well with a player like Gianfranco Zola then it’s a bad reflection on myself.”

Even when he had the disappointment of injuries in his second season coupled with missing his life in Italy, and later still, facing family pressure to return, Zola just got on with it like a true professional. I swear the man always played with a smile on his face. In fact it wasn’t just his football that endeared him to fans of not just his own club but many other clubs, it was his character. A real down to earth player who only ever hit the headlines for the right reasons – unlike some of today’s media whores.

Anyway, it came as a very sad day when, shortly before Roman’s arrival Zola made the decision to return to Italy. In true Zola style though, rather than returning for one last year in Serie A, having vowed to one day return to Cagliari, Zola decided it was time to honour that promise. Not for him either personal or financial gain, just the desire to repay them what he felt he owed and in doing so, showing what a true gentleman of the game he was. In November 2004 Zola was awarded an OBE for services to football. The British Embassy described Zola as “the most enduring and popular foreign player in the history of Chelsea.” Dead right.

Zola played for Chelsea for seven years, scoring 80 goals, helping us to six trophies and marking himself out as the best player ever to wear the shirt. In June 2005, after some 20 years in football, in a career during which he’d achieved more than most players can even dream of, Zola retired – and the number 25 shirt for Cagliari, just like the number 25 for Chelsea previously, retired with him.

Of course, we tried to persuade Zola to make a return but unlike the players of today, the little man could not be bought. You see, money was never Zola’s god and he sums up what stands him out against our players today when he says “Money can give you many things but respect cannot be bought. What I have achieved in the way people regard me, in my mind, is remarkable.”

Talking about money, that brings me nicely on to Frank Lampard. He too has had a seven year stint at Chelsea, but for me, that’s the only thing the two players have in common.

Lampard definitely still had something to prove following his £11million arrival in 2001. Here was an average midfielder with a far from average price tag, who wasn’t even liked at his former club and his first two seasons did nothing to warrant that transfer fee as he was completely outshone by Gianfranco. Only when Zola departed and the team was built entirely around him, did Lampard thrive – achieving the now common double figures in his annual goal tally.

Of course I acknowledge his success, he’s been a virtual ever-present in today’s Chelsea side, holding the record for consecutive Premier League appearances. He hits double figures in goals every season, sits seventh in Chelsea’s all time goalscorer’s list and is the only midfielder to score 4 goals in one Premier League game. In his seven seasons with us, we’ve won two Premier League titles, two Carling Cups, an FA Cup and a Charity Shield. He’s also been nominated several times for European and World Footballer of the Year. Yet, he commands anything but respect outside of Stamford Bridge, with opposition supporters mocking everything from his weight, to his shooting and ‘deflected’ goals. And whilst I’ve never had issues with his game, indeed it’s something I’ve defended many times, his behaviour over a new contract threatens to wipe out whatever respect he earned inside Stamford Bridge over the past seven years.

And this is where the differences in class really show up, because when Zola made the decision to leave, he went about it in the right way, for the right reasons and he stuck by that decision. Had Lampard been a big enough man to say he wanted to leave this summer, he could’ve walked away with whatever status the supporters bestowed on him intact. Instead, whilst making out with his badge on a weekly basis, he chose to insist negotiations would be a mere formality, before showing the club as much commitment as his pictures with European lovelies show his missus.

In their desperation to keep him, the club made a very generous offer guaranteeing Lampard £140,000 a week for the next 4 years. But whilst a true legend would’ve had the club’s hand off for that sort of deal at 30 years of age, Lampard sent his agent out to suggest this simply wasn’t good enough. In fact, such is his loyalty that ‘Super Frank’ feels £150,000 for the next five years is the least he deserves apparently. Oh, and if he doesn’t get what he wants, he’ll join former boss Jose Mourinho at Inter.
And for the duration of the summer, a summer in which Frank Lampard himself had promised “his people” he’d pledge his future to them, what has the man himself had to say? Nothing for fear of losing that ‘status’ he’d been so wrongly rewarded by the club he “loves”. He continues to disrespect those who pay his wages and call him a ‘legend’, whilst seemingly looking for excuses to get out.

So forgive me for not granting Lampard the same status that some of you believe he deserves, but for me, the true legend is the man applauded not only by his own; the man I felt honoured to call a Chelsea player; a man who carried himself as a role model for all those who followed him; who made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck then and still does now when I watch him; a man who truly put the club before himself. In short, a man who really epitomised and deserved the title of a true ‘Chelsea Legend.’






Chelsea’s Right-back Dilemma

With the announcement that our new £16.3million right-back, Jose Bosingwa, looks set to miss the start of the new campaign with a torn thigh muscle, it’s had me asking a question I seem to have asked way too many times: What is it about Chelsea and right-backs? Left-backs, no problem – we’ve got England’s finest but when it comes to the other side of the pitch, it just never seems to happen.

Have we even had a decent one consistently since the days of Steve Clarke?  Maybe we were spoilt with Clarkey having such a long period in his position but we’ve certainly not been afforded anywhere near the same luxury since. I mean, it’s not as if any of the players we’ve had since have come close to his 421 appearances and they definitely haven’t reached the club’s Player of the Year status he achieved in 1994. In fact, ever since our Cup Winner’s Cup final victory against Stuttgart in 1998, filling the right-back position has been pretty hit and miss.

Albert Ferrer, arriving in June 1998 definitely established himself in the position, for a while at least. This hard tackling, pacy right-back won a few friends and also helped us qualify for our first ever Champions League campaign in his first season. However, despite playing in 14 of our 16 games in the competition the following year, which saw us reach the quarter finals, he missed out on our FA Cup final victory through injury and his steady run in the side came to a halt. Injuries and rotation saw Chapi make a mere 14 appearances the following season and this reduced further still to 7 appearances in his final two years at the club. So, his 113 games for Chelsea was never going to rival Clarke.

In the summer of 1999 whilst Ferrer was still in favour, we brought in Mario Melchiot. Now here was a player you could really take to. Not only because it was great to see his athletic runs down the wing but also because he had a great character. I remember him saying before a game against Arsenal in 2003, we should “grab them by the throats and kill them”. Unfortunately, Mourinho’s arrival and subsequent clear-out saw Melchiot off to Birmingham City in July 2004 after a 5 year stay and 130 appearances.

2003 saw the arrival of both Geremi and Glenn Johnson. Johnson looked a pretty bright prospect during his first season and even though ruled out at the start of the following season through injury, still played a role within the squad. However, a combination of poor form and even poorer discipline at the start of the next season saw Johnson fall out of favour. Sent home from the England under-21 squad to nurse an attitude problem, Johnson was soon punching walls to rule himself out for Chelsea as well, seeing his place as right-back slipping further away until he sent out on loan and subsequently sold to Portsmouth. A mere 42 appearances in 4 years.

Geremi, was originally brought to Chelsea as a right-winger by Claudio Ranieri in 2003 although Mourinho’s arrival pushed him almost out of contention except as a back-up for the newly installed Paulo Ferreira. So, despite playing consistently under Ranieri, Geremi eventually left Chelsea for Newcastle after a four year period with 72 games to his credit.

Of course, it should also be mentioned that William Gallas thoroughly enjoyed the odd game filling in at right-back around this time as well, although since he’d tell us all he was employed as a centre-back at Chelsea, we’ll gloss over that one.

So, moving closer to the present day, and the beginning of the 2004-2005 season saw the £13.2million arrival of Paulo Ferreira. A very consistent performer initially, playing 29 games in the Premier League before being ruled out injured. The 2005-2006 season was pretty solid from Ferreira again but by 2006-2007 he was struggling for both confidence and form and dropped down the pecking order behind first Boulahrouz, then Geremi and even midfielder Lassana Diarra. Last season saw Ferreira again second or even third choice at times, behind Essien and Belletti, although that didn’t stop him signing a new 5-year deal keeping him at the club until 2013. 92 generally consistent although pretty unspectacular performances from him so far then.

Khalid Boulahrouz made a promising start for us in 2006, most notably having Ronaldinho in his pocket against Barca. However, dodgy performances and injuries saw him drop out of contention and he spent last season on loan at Sevilla before recently being sold to Stuttgart after a pretty pointless 13 appearances for us.

Juliano Belletti arrived shortly before Mourinho’s departure last summer, although at 32, we already knew he wasn’t going to notch up that many games for the club. Not a bad 23 in his first season for us with a couple of wicked goals to go with it, but his performances haven’t always been that consistent and at his age, he won’t be troubling Clarkey’s record either.

So, with Essien being totally wasted as right-back cover, the announcement of Jose Bosingwa’s signing came as a great relief. Here was a pretty decent right-back to kick our season with every position well and truly covered. Or not as the case may be?

Chelsea Departures Begin

\"sidwell villa\"Like many Chelsea supporters, I never really understood the signing of Steve Sidwell. Not that I didn’t have complete faith in Mourinho at the time. Whilst raising my eyebrows, I felt sure he must’ve known what he was doing – he was TSO after all. Now though, a year on, I’m still none the wiser.

Having joined us on a free transfer last July, the ex-Arsenal and Reading man assured us he had not come to Chelsea simply to “make up the numbers” and yet it appears that’s exactly what he’s done. Granted, he had limited opportunities in an over populated Chelsea midfield, although even during the depletion of that midfield through ACON and injuries, we saw very little of him. But then to be fair, the brief appearances he did make did nothing to suggest this should be any different. Let’s be honest, Steve Sidwell was never going to look at home at Chelsea. And so, having finally given up hope of playing alongside the likes of Essien, Ballack and co on a regular basis, Sidwell’s signed a 3 year deal with Aston Villa.

Now whatever reason Mourinho had for signing him, it clearly didn’t do Sidwell any favours, with his spell at Chelsea looking no more than a career break. Sidwell himself, despite recent reports of ‘pay off’ demands, doesn’t appear to hold any malice. Following his signing for Villa, the midfielder described his time at Chelsea as “short but sweet” but then how else would you describe earning £65,000 a week for a year with your feet up?

So, having made Chelsea a tidy £5million profit and with his own salary more than halved, today Sidwell pulled on a Villa shirt whilst smiling for the press. Whether the kiss-and-tell story is yet to come, I guess we’ll find out in the coming days but for today at least, Sidwell was expressing no regrets at having his career interrupted as a result of listening to whatever promises TSO made him last July. And with Villa manager Martin O’Neill firmly of the opinion that Sidwell has “the right quality to take Aston Villa forward”, it looks as if next season will see Sidwell having to earn his money by once again playing regular first team football. Good luck to him.