The second of this week’s Inside the Opposition: Chelsea is with Sam, a Chelsea fan who writes for the Plains of Almeria site. We wanted his opinion on Sunday’s game, Chelsea’s revolving manager’s door, and the Rafa Benitez situation.
Chelsea’s tendency to change their manager seems really odd from the outside. How is it for the fans?
It’s all very strange, seeing as it defies all logic to veer from one manager to another and constantly change things yet still win trophies season after season. The obvious comparison is with Arsenal, who have stuck with Arsene Wenger for so long yet have now gone almost eight years without silverware. In the same time I think we’ve had about nine managers and won nine major trophies.
However, the constant changes and knee-jerk reactions obviously have real negative impacts as well that run throughout the club. Our squad this season is probably as unbalanced as it has ever been in the Abramovich era, despite continual investment that have seen us get hold of some of the most exciting young players in the world in Mata, Oscar and Hazard. I think most fans would love to see us make a solid, long-term appointment in the summer but that really isn’t the owner’s way and, on the one occasion he gave it a try with Villas-Boas, he pulled the plug pretty swiftly once things began to go awry.
It’s clear that Rafa Benitez being in charge isn’t working because the fans are so fiercely against him. How would you like to see the situation resolved?
I would say Rafa Benitez being in charge isn’t working because he’s not a very good manager, more than anything else. There’s only one way it can be resolved now and that will see us sticking with him until the end of the season. The Benitez appointment was the straw that broke the camel’s back for a lot of fans, to see the club appoint somebody they knew full well the supporters despised.
From a purely footballing perspective, it’s clear he’s taken us backwards since November. The gap between United and ourselves in the league has quadrupled, we’ve exited various other competitions with a whimper, he’s tactically inept and most fans honestly feel we would have been much better off sticking with Robbie Di Matteo.
If you could sign one player this summer from any team in the world, who would it be?
I think the one position we really need to strengthen this summer is obviously centre forward, and the obvious names like Falcao and Neymar spring quickly to mind, although I am quite interested in seeing what the club decides to do with Lukaku next season. He probably needs another year out on loan in the top flight before coming back to fight for a place at Chelsea but spending upwards of £40m on a new striker this summer is hardly sending positive messages to him, is it?
We also probably need to bring in another central midfielder and the one everybody seems to be talking about is Fellaini, although I have a few reservations that he is the answer in that deeper position myself.
Would you give Frank Lampard a new contract?
Absolutely. I think most people would say the same. I understand there are a few arguments as to why the club haven’t yet signed him up – we aren’t in the know as to how these negotiations have taken place, the PR war that is currently waging between Frank’s representatives and the club is only further muddying the waters, and certainly paying £100k-a-week+ for somebody who is likely to become more and more of a squad player in the coming months makes little sense. However, Lampard has shown this season just how important he is to Chelsea and I’ve no doubts he can continue doing a very good job for us for a couple more years to come yet.
Where do you see Chelsea finishing this season?
It’s a difficult one to answer as we’ve been so inconsistent. Part of me wants to believe we can catch you in 2nd, and we certainly have the ability to do that, but I’m really not convinced we can put such a run of results together. The other part of me is looking back at Tottenham and, to a lesser extent, Arsenal, and the battle for a top-four finish. I think we’ll end up fighting Spurs for 3rd.
Who’s been your best player so far this term?
Juan Mata has been excellent this season for us. 17 goals already is a great return and he’s so often been at the centre of everything positive we manage to conjure up. I honestly feel he’s been one the best players in the league this year. Notable mentions also to Oscar, Hazard and Azpilicueta, who have had very strong first seasons in English football.
A lot of people outside of City think Mancini is a poor manager who has been lucky, yet City fans pretty much unanimously like him. What’s your view?
I’d happily do you a swap, let’s put it that way! I think Mancini is decent enough but I don’t rate him in the top bracket of managers either. There’s a fairly long list of names I could put together before coming to him. His management style seems needlessly antagonistic at times and he’s obviously been found out very easily in Europe too.
Which City player would you most like to sign?
I was disappointed when we missed out on Aguero and he signed for you, after we seemingly spent years chasing him when he was at Atletico. I think he’s a fantastic player and, seeing as we’re crying out for a top striker, he’d slot right into our side. The thought of him feeding off the service of Mata, Hazard and Oscar is too much to bear. I’ve also always been a big fan of David Silva, even though I think he’s had a disappointing season by all accounts this year.
I’m not usually one for pre-match predictions but I’ll go for a vague score draw.
For more from Sam, follow him on Twitter