If someone told me at the beginning of the season we would be crowned Europa League Champions, I’d probably have laughed at them and tried to book them into a nursing home for the mentally unstable… how wrong would I have been!
Was I one of those Chelsea fans who thought we could become the first team to defend the Champions League title? Definitely not. Does this mean I’m not, or should not be happy with being the first team to hold both major European trophies at the same time? No.
Failing to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League is nothing to be proud of. Going into the Europa League with our heads held high and gunning for it 100% to win it for the first time ever, in our first attempt, is. Some of the Chelsea players said it best: we had fun and we’re proud to have played in it and to have won it but we hope we never have to play in the Europa League again.
Now, with that behind me, let’s continue.
This is how I predicted the top of the league at the beginning of the season:
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
- Tottenham Hotspur
After City’s win in the final minute of the 2011/12 season, I thought they’d go from strength to strength and take the title again. Roberto Di Matteo was to inspire the transitional Chelsea squad into 2nd and United’s fairly weak squad on paper, would only make 3rd spot. Needless to say, I was a tad bit off course and hats off to Fergie – in my opinion, no other manager in the world can win the league with that squad.
What went wrong?
Obviously the sacking of Roberto was a big blow to both the players and the fans. Could he have done better than Rafa? Most Chelsea fans would say so but I am not too sure to be honest – riding a wave of confidence can only take you so far and the jury is still out on this one.
What I really feel went wrong this season is us, the Chelsea Football Club fans. Yes, I said it. We let our club down and we let our players down. And those who follow me on Twitter will vouch for me when I say that I’ve been backing Rafa from the start – I never believed that he should be hated about what he said years ago, while standing up for his club at the time.
Rafa was hated by most of our fans, just for the sake of hating. Most of the hate was unfounded and I’ll put money on the fact that most Chelsea fans never even knew he said what he did about the club, before the media pointed it out. Rafa’s little mid-season rant said it best: It does not matter to him if he gets booed at home games but we are letting the players down and some players like Mikel even admitted the booing had a negative effect on team morale when we started dropping silly points. So, well done there Chelsea fans.
Rafa was charged with the task of taking a very thin squad through a record breaking 69 games (some before he took over) in 2 continents while being booed in most of the games. He took us to a League Cup Semi-Final and a FA Cup semi-final where we were cheated out of a second half comeback and he watched us beat the League Champions thrice in four games and then went on to lift the Europa League for the first time in our club’s history. Also, he turned our failing striker into Batman, not something easily achieved. I for one, thank him for what he did and I won’t even be too pissed off if he stuck around.
What we can improve
Yeah, I know what you’re expecting…FALCAO…and no, you’re not getting it.
I believe we have the striking power to go without the ‘big name striker’ that all Chelsea fans are pre-cumming about.
Torres – Fernando scored 23 goals in all comps this season, more than enough for him to stick around. He has 6 from 6 in Europe and just to prove you wrong, even scored in the League on the final day. He has also showed he can be used as a wide player, which is more reason to hold onto him. (Many also forget that before Ba came, Torres played 90mins, game in, game out – something that’s not easy to do as a lone striker – a very hectic workload)
Demba Ba – in all honesty, Ba has been disappointing since he signed in January. I expected more from him given the midfield he has behind him. Having said that, he has looked better with Torres next to him and I do feel with him being cup-tied in Europe, the pair of them were rotated out of form.
Once our midfield starts finding him, he’ll be a revelation.
Romelu Lukaku – The 20 year old Belgian has had the season of his life, scoring 17 league goals for West Brom. There is no doubt in my mind that the club will bring him back from loan for the upcoming season.
What I propose is rotating the three of them up front, playing 2 forwards with the other coming on from the bench for whoever is having an off day or needs a rest. Most people who is calling for a ‘big name striker’ forget that we have a very high scoring midfield. Mata, Lampard and Hazard will get 15+ goals a season and so should Oscar once he settles in. Even our defenders like Luiz and Ivanovic score more than most and this is why I think we could save 50mil on a player up front and rather bring in one more Centre Back, which will allow us to Play Luiz in defensive midfield.
I would also propose a 4-4-2 formation, with a diamond midfield. Like this:
The diamond will allow us to push 5 players up in attack (Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Ba and Torres) while we’ll have 5 back in the event of a counter attack. In defense, Hazard and Oscar will work back and we’ll be defending with 7 men in front of Cech.
Up front, the fire power of Torres and Ba will be more than enough and we’ll have Lukaku coming on regularly to provide extra strength up front. One more big centre back and maybe a left back in January, depending how Cole is doing and we should be good to go.
As for the manager, I would love to see either Fabio Capello or Jurgen Klopp take over at the club and I would pick both above Mourinho – it does however seem that the Special One is coming back and he’ll have the mammoth task of transforming the likes of Hazard, Oscar, Bertrand, Moses and Luiz into winners as he did with Terry, Lampard, Cech and Cole – no matter the turmoils we’ve had over the years, you have to take your hat off as Jose created a mindset in these players to keep winning trophies season in, season out.
Player of the season
Juan Mata. No argument here. I would however extend an honourable mention to David Luiz – he has improved so, so much and his versatility in playing in defense and in the midfield has proved invaluable! Everyone still sees him as the harsh, impulsive tackler being controlled by a 10-year old with a Playstation remote… what they didn’t see is that the kid holding the remote just won the FIFA 13 World Cup.
Cock of the season:
Branislav Ivanovic – for not punching Suarez in the nuts after that bite.
Jokes aside, this award will go to Marko Marin. Having said that, it should probably go to the board for buying the youngster – he was piped to be the next German Wunderkind a couple years back but never really got going… while he was busy not getting going, Chelsea signed him so I never really expected him to do much.
All in all, I am really looking forward to next season and I think most of us are keen to see the maturation of Mata, Hazard and Oscar – I back them to become the most dangerous midfield combo in the League within two years and with 3 of this season’s top 4 already getting new bosses, we are in for one amazing season.
Until then, KTBFFH.
Other Season Reviews
Written for The Pundits by @thatWallace