Posts tagged: chelsea football club

Chelsea Football Club: The Next Fallen Giant?

By , February 18, 2011 3:50 pm

According to Frank Lampard, “It would be a disaster” if Chelsea don’t qualify for the Champions League. At this point in time, there is a fairly decent sized question mark over whether the West London club will indeed capture fourth place. With Tottenham grabbing fourth spot by securing a win last weekend while Chelsea could only manage a draw at Fulham, and Liverpool insistent on nipping at both their heels, nothing is a guarantee. Such is the shock of how far they’ve fallen that Lampard now insists it’s hugely important to reach the finals of the cup competitions they remain in, as well as keep their eye on the ball when it comes to finishing in the top four at the end of the season.

Champions No More - Frank Lampard Laments Chelsea's Downward Spiral

It is no surprise that the Chelsea and England midfielder is concerned about his team’s position. At the start of the season, Chelsea looked to run away with the title leaving the rest of the pack to chase after the remaining three spots for the Champions League. A massive shift in the last few months has seen Chelsea go from first to fifth. They have remained strong in the cup competitions, but their league form has taken a massive nosedive.

It may be a bit cheeky as a Liverpool supporter to say that Chelsea’s downward spiral began when Liverpool (with Fernando Torres) beat them 2-0 back in November. But since then, their record has been Won: 5, Drawn: 6, and Lost: 6. The dropping of 30 points in the matter of three months is enormous and has left Chelsea floundering for a Champions League place with twelve games left to play.

For all the talk this season of just how bad Liverpool have been, they are six points behind Chelsea in sixth place. Granted, Chelsea have a game in hand, but the gap is not as wide as it may seem based on Liverpool’s performance in the first half of the season.

It remains to be seen where each team will finish come May; such is the nature of this up and down season. And Chelsea may well surprise everyone and climb their way back to the top. Not to the top of the league, but at least into the top four.

Just a year ago, finishing seventh was a new low for Liverpool, and being out of the Champions League for the first time in years was a huge blow. It never occurred to most Liverpool fans that that was even a possibility until it happened. It signaled the end of a successful era, as well as the end of Rafael Benitez.

There seems to be a longstanding view from rival teams that Liverpool has an attitude of entitlement, and that the club feels its rightful place is firmly in the top four. Whether or not that’s true, that belief was shattered after finishing seventh.

But if other clubs can paint Liverpool with this entitlement brush, than surely they must be painted as well? For Frank Lampard to say it would be a disaster if Chelsea finished outside the top four, than it was undoubtedly a disaster for Liverpool when they did.

It was a tough season to endure, compounded by the following six months of negative transfer dealings, Roy Hodgson, and the worst run of games in over 50 years. That season truly set Liverpool back further than just being out the Champions League. The owners’ and manager’s relationship became untenable, the club sold one of their best players in Javier Mascherano, and they brought in players not nearly up to the level that Liverpool normally requires. All this combined with Roy Hodgson’s clueless undertaking at the helm eventually lead Fernando Torres to his Liverpool exit, under very acrimonious circumstances.

Fernando Torres Has So Far Failed To Live Up To Expectations In Chelsea Blue

The attitude toward Liverpool has remained one of “they deserve it,” “they’re not good enough,” “their players are rubbish.” In the span of a year and a half when the team barely missed out on a first placed finish, they went from hero to zero. Yet somehow you don’t get the same feeling when it comes to Chelsea. All you ever seem to hear is how Chelsea have the quality needed and shouldn’t be finishing outside the top four, it just wouldn’t be right if they did.

The press and Chelsea fans seem to think that because of having one of the most expensive and successful squads in recent years, they can do no wrong and that they too are now “entitled” to finish in at least the top four. Well Chelsea, welcome to Liverpool’s world, where nothing is a guarantee when it comes to football.

That’s not to say that Chelsea aren’t capable of finishing fourth. They are more than capable. But then, you could say, so were Liverpool.

Chelsea need to face facts just as Liverpool were forced to. They have a squad with multiple players perhaps having had their best days behind them, and this includes Fernando Torres. Whatever he’s done, £50 million was still an enormous amount for a striker about to turn 27 and with a massive history of injury problems. Chelsea were definitely looking to him to salvage their season with a cup win, but you have to say that outside the FA Cup, it’s not looking likely with the strength of teams in the Champions League this year.

Liverpool have had to endure a very difficult eighteen months, and with Fernando Torres leaving in January, things only seemed more bleak. But now there’s a new sense of renewed pride in the team that has been instilled by Kenny Dalglish. With new owners taking over in the fall, two new strikers signed in the January transfer window, and the youth team looking frighteningly good, the future seems quite bright for Liverpool and the hard times look to finally be over.

For Chelsea, the future is a little less certain. Ancelotti has the massive weight of expectations on his shoulders to deliver Chelsea back into the Champions League while he keeps one eye looking over his shoulder to see if Abramovich is ready to wield his axe. And with more financial losses announced, plus the gargantuan £70 million plus outlaid for players last month, it’s a wonder how Chelsea will cope with the Financial Fair Play rules. Without the bottomless bank account to recruit players for a team on the precipice of an immense overhaul, you wonder just how they will handle the seasons to come.

As Liverpool have had to put up with the disappointment that came with not being in the Champions League, so too will Chelsea if they don’t manage to finish fourth. Perhaps it is what they need to be reminded that no club is entitled to anything in football.

Liverpool Transfer Saga 2011: Adios Torres, Hello Carroll And Suarez

By , February 1, 2011 12:06 am

It’s amazing what can happen in football in the span of a few days. As I sit and reflect on what turned into a turbulent weekend for Liverpool Football Club, it’s hard to decipher through all the mixed emotions. There have been ups, there have been downs, and there has been a lot of anxiety in between waiting to find out which one was coming next. In the end, the January transfer window closed with us saying goodbye to a player who disappointed many with the manner of his departure, creating a gaping hole in our collective heart where the love for him used to be. And while this pain may be the legacy he has left behind, it’s much more important to now look to the future.

Cue Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez. Don’t worry; I will get back to Fernando Torres, as his becoming an official Chelsea player does not mean he’s nothing to do with Liverpool at all anymore. But for now, I’m going to focus on the positive, and for the first time in a long time, there is a lot to be positive about.

This is the first transfer window in eons that Liverpool has been truly involved in. Let’s just step back for a minute and appreciate this. I know many fans (especially those at other clubs that don’t quite understand LFC or know what we’ve gone through) are quick to point out the massive transfer fees splashed out by club owners FSG in the last few days. Many are saying the £55 million or so was a ridiculous amount spent on two largely unproven strikers, one who last played in Holland, and one who just entered his maiden year in the Premier League. But when studied a little more closely, they may just prove correct and perhaps in time, a bargain.

Let’s first look at Luis Suarez. He’s a young (24), versatile striker who can play off a central striker, on the wing, or in a partnership. Anyone who has watched videos of his goals on YouTube can attest to his natural and predatory striking ability. He’s quick, he’s feisty, and he has a hunger to play at Liverpool. He arrived at the club thrilled to be there and has since been caught on film at Melwood with an enormous smile plastered on his face.

A Beaming Luis Suarez Can't Wait To Play For Liverpool

He is quoted as saying in his first official interview as a player, “I’m very happy to be here, to me this is the most important club not just in England, but in the whole world.” He claims to have watched Liverpool as a boy and followed the English league, while also pointing out that the Liverpool fans are the greatest in England. He says it’s a dream to play there. There’s not much more you can want from a new star signing, and Luis has endeared himself to the fans almost immediately with his warmth and excitement for the club. His goal scoring record speaks for itself with 49 goals in all competitions for Ajax in the 2009-10 season. It remains to be seen whether he can replicate this sort of form in England, but he looks to be a fearsome and electrifying prospect.

Andy Carroll, the other new addition about to don the famous number nine shirt, came as a bit of a surprise to Liverpool and its fans. With Torres so abruptly putting in a transfer request at the end of the window, it left Dalglish and Co. scrambling. In the circumstances, you might expect some rash and silly decisions to be made. Liverpool needed a replacement striker fast with Torres on his way out, but FSG was not about to throw away all their plans on building for the future simply because they had little time to make a snap decision. They were never going to buy just anyone, even if it was with one eye on the summer to make the real purchase. Bringing in the right player was paramount, but FSG also had an opportunity to make a real statement of intent.

When the name Carroll was first mentioned, I was skeptical. Although he has shown a lot of skill over the first few months of the season, this was still Carroll’s first time in the Premier League. And immediately the colossal transfer fee Liverpool offered for him took me aback. But once I had some time to look past the inflated fee (some of which is due to the Man City effect, some due to the fact he is English), I was able to see the potential of the player. For starters, he is a mere 22-years-old, and only just turned 22 this month. He has the ability to play well for a number of years to come and if successful, could potentially offer Liverpool a sizable return on their investment should they wish to sell in the future.

Dalglish Welcomes Liverpool's New Number Nine

According to Kevin Keegan, Carroll is one of the three best headers of the ball he’s ever seen. He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s also technically sound with his feet. Watching him earlier this season, you could see the way he was able to use his strength to power into the box, challenge extremely well for headers, and score some lovely goals, of which he already has 11. From the initial evidence, you get the feeling that he has a lot of the skill Torres has, combined with dominant heading prowess, and most of all, the ability to hold the ball and link up play. For all Torres’ strengths, the latter was never his cup of tea.

What could also prove quite exciting is something else Torres lacked: the ability to play as part of a strike partnership. With the attributes of both new strikers, it seems clear they have the opportunity to compliment each other very well. Carroll could play up on his own with Suarez on one side and Maxi, Kuyt, Cole, Jovanovic, or Gerrard flanking the other, but the pair could be lethal with Suarez playing just in behind. With Carroll’s ability to hold up play and create around the box, coupled with Suarez’s finishing and ability to join in the play, the partnership is starting to seem mouthwatering.

And how it all comes full circle is the partnership of Torres and Suarez was also looking quite tasty before Torres’ oddly timed decision to leave was thrust onto the club. Upon more reflection, it’s key to remember that Torres was never very good at playing in a partnership. All the times it was tried with him at Liverpool, nothing ever seemed to work. And for those that say the surrounding players at Liverpool just aren’t good enough, then what excuse can be made when Torres plays with Spain, up front with David Villa, and always looks out of place and ineffective?

This begs the question of how the Spaniard will fit into the Chelsea system. With Drogba, a player who is also used to playing up front on his own, it will be interesting to see how the two combine. And this means of course that Anelka will have to be dropped to make way for the new striker. Or perhaps Drogba will be dropped. Or maybe even one of the coveted midfielders of Lampard, Essien, or Malouda. Abramovich may have been keen to finally get the prize he’s always wanted, but Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti may not be thanking him anytime soon for the re-think he will have to do with his squad.

As was mentioned in the previous post regarding Torres’ poorly timed (and possibly ill-advised) decision to leave Liverpool, Chelsea are an aging team looking more on the verge of a slide rather than an ascent. While they may continue to have an inordinate amount of funds to invest, they will need to replace the most important positions on the team, all at the same time, very soon.

This is compounded by the fact that Torres will turn 27 before long and could very well have played his best days at Liverpool. Take Michael Owen as an example of a striker who has looked a shadow of the player he once was. His speed was exhilarating to watch, and while his finishing skills have never really waned, the consistent injuries and time on the sidelines has affected him mentally and physically. Speedy players tend to burn out younger as their hamstrings continue to give way more easily. The evidence of this was clear the last 18 months or so with Torres, and Liverpool fans had to put up with a number of spells of him injured or lacking in confidence due to his injuries. This was always something that should be a concern for Chelsea, and one they might be worried about sooner rather than later.

It’s with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to Fernando Torres, and at this moment in time, I’m not quite ready to forgive and move on. I believe the way he handled his departure from the club was unprofessional and disrespectful to everyone at Liverpool, especially the fans. The timing, the motivation, and the exact reasons for his desire to leave a team that idolized him are still not clear, and it will be an interesting few weeks ahead as some of the truth comes out.

At the end of the day, it’s a shame that Torres couldn’t see to give Dalglish and the new owners until at least the end of the season to prove him wrong about Liverpool moving in the right direction. That is of course if we are to believe his main reason for joining Chelsea is to win trophies. He tarnished what could have been legendary status at the club, similar to the one the current manager still has. In my opinion, I feel he will one day regret the decision he has made (if he hasn’t already), and he will have no one to blame but himself.

Even Ryan Babel, a much maligned and indifferent player to most of the fans left with parting words of appreciation and gratitude for his time at Liverpool, even going so far as to say he wishes everyone at Liverpool luck and hopes they end up in the top four where they belong. Torres’ parting words, as he joins Chelsea tonight, so far have been, ”This is the target for every footballer. To try to play at one of the top-level clubs in the world and I can do it now.” Make of that what you will, but as his respectability amongst Liverpool fans is currently rock bottom, not even mentioning the club and his time there strikes yet another cruel blow.

It’s difficult to say when I’ll be able to look at Torres with appreciation and respect once more. I’m sure it will happen one day, but the way in which he deserted the team when it had a bright future to offer him is still fresh in my mind.

But what is important now are the two new players that have joined Liverpool today. Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez are the future of the football club. And as Kenny Dalglish said in his laconic comment today regarding players, “The most important people at Liverpool Football Club are the people who want to be here.” And right now, those people are two young lads named Luis and Andy. Welcome to Liverpool.

Fernando Torres: Timing Is Everything

By , January 29, 2011 10:57 am

Upon hearing the unthinkable news that Fernando Torres desired to leave Liverpool and go to one of their Premier League rivals, Chelsea, the one and only question running through my mind was: Why? While clubs have made their admiration for Torres obvious over the three plus years he’s excelled at Liverpool, there was never any indication the forward ever wanted to leave. He’s made statements in the press professing his love for Liverpool Football Club, and his most important statement has always been on the pitch where he’s been prolific as a goal scorer. Despite a recent drop in form, which most believe had more to do with his lack of respect for former manager Roy Hodgson, Torres has been given a new lease of life under Kenny Dalglish and has looked the player we all knew he was. So why leave now? With new owners already showing they mean business, a new manager whom the Spaniard respects, and a clear indication that the club’s ambitions are to get back to the top with the additions of Luis Suarez, Damien Comolli, and Steve Clarke, then his desire to leave only seems more bizarre at this moment in time.

It’s very difficult to know where to begin, primarily because it’s a strange feeling to be hurt by a football player. This person doesn’t know me, and I don’t know them, but somehow we’ve cultivated a relationship together that is hard to explain. This is the case with Liverpool’s (or perhaps soon to be Chelsea’s) Fernando Torres. He’s a player that has produced moments of magic over the years. He endeared himself to the fans almost immediately upon his arrival, and he’s never failed to set Anfield alight on more than one occasion. And the fans love him for it.

In this way, the relationship between the fans and their football club can be compared to a marriage. When a player signs a contract, they are committing to the team, through thick and thin, in sickness and in health. If the team does poorly, the player doesn’t jump ship, and the opposite is true (not always, but more often than not, especially at Liverpool). What hurts is that through all Torres’ injuries and bouts of low confidence, the club and its fans have stuck by his side, through thick and thin, in sickness and in health. We’ve watched as he’s had recurring knee and hamstring injuries leaving him out of the side for weeks and months at a time. Did the fans demand that he be sold? Did they turn their back on him after all he had done for them? Never. And yet with this transfer request, Torres has blatantly treated the fans with such a lack of respect for all their support through the years. He’s basically put two fingers up to the Kop, the ferocious fan base that has sung his name hundreds of times, in favor of a move to another team.

Why Leave The Club Now? Liverpool Fans Dismayed At Torres' Desire To Leave LFC

Don’t get me wrong; I completely understand a player’s desire to move on at some point. There’s nothing that says, no matter what, a player has to or will want to stay at one club for most of his career. I believe that if Torres had made the decision to complete the season, playing his best for the club and the club ended the season relatively well, he might still feel the same way he does now. If that was the case, the fans and club would be disappointed to lose him, but it would make more sense to move on when the club has adequate time to utilize the enormous amount of money from his transfer to buy two or three replacements. £40-£50 million is great, but only when given the time to use it. This is the issue I think some people, fans and media alike, are missing. It’s not about the money, but the timing of Torres wanting to leave.

Sadly, Torres’ sudden change of heart to leave the club that made him the world-class player he is may not have been as sudden as it seems. Jason Burt at the Telegraph reported after the news broke that Abramovich had flown to South Africa during the World Cup specifically to have a word in Torres’ ear about a potential move to Stamford Bridge. And while Torres remained loyal, stating numerous times in the summer, and as recently as January 9th that his desire was to stay with Liverpool and honor his contract, Abramovich continued his pursuit. Apparently, Ancelotti is not convinced about signing Torres, but of course, what Abramovich wants, Abramovich gets (Shevchenko anyone?). Supposedly the Russian has promised Torres shelves of silverware, but what makes Torres think this is possible?

Once again, here come the questions. Despite still being contenders for the Champions League this season, Chelsea are a team perhaps more in decline than Liverpool are at this current time. Their squad is seriously aging and most point to this as a direct reason for their slide down the table this season. With Terry, 30, Lampard, 32, Ashley Cole, 30, Anelka, 31, Drogba, 32, Malouda, 30, and Petr Cech becoming a shadow of his former self, this team needs a massive rebuild and it may take a couple years before they start seriously challenging for trophies again, especially with the Financial Fair Play rules coming into effect after this transfer window. No longer can the Russian oligarch throw his checkbook around without abandon. They will have to be shrewd, and may not get everyone they want anymore.

So why join a team that is aging and in need of many replacements, while also not looking to challenge for any honors this season? I honestly can’t believe that Torres thinks they can win the Champions League. This apparently is said to be the reason he wants to leave in January, rather than the summer. If that’s the case, then he must be more disillusioned than when Liverpool fans were told Roy Hodgson would improve Liverpool Football Club.

The feelings of fear, followed closely by hurt, disappointment, and sadness are what has engulfed Liverpool fans in the past 24 hours. January 28th was supposed to be the day that the team celebrated the signing of Luis Suarez, an extremely promising young goal scorer who’s potential partnership with Torres was mouth watering. Instead, it turned into one of the most disheartening and dispiriting days in the club’s history. This isn’t about a player wanting to leave; it’s about the player picking the absolute worst time to do it. That, coupled with the fact that only three weeks earlier, he once again stated his commitment to the club only makes the situation so much more unbelievable.

Players leaving for other clubs have become as much a part of modern football as billionaires buying titles. But what was so hurtful about Fernando Torres was the way in which he made it clear he wanted to go. Why leave mid-season when you know the club needs you? Why leave for one of our biggest rivals? Why go to a team that looks like it’s on its way down in the mid to long term rather than up? Why break the hearts of the fans that have stood by your side through all the highs and lows of the last three years? Liverpool fans know that when a player comes to Liverpool it’s because they want to play for the club, and love to do it. Liverpool, no matter its current station, is a special place and special players will be deified. As fans, we always felt the love was mutual.

No matter what happens now, Fernando Torres has rather foolishly broken the unique bond he built with Liverpool. The situation may change and Torres may stay a Liverpool player, and the fans may yet come around in some time if that happens, á la Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney. But it’s not looking good. Nothing about his character ever suggested he would leave in this manner. It’s a sad day for Liverpool Football Club. Not because they might be losing one of their best players, but because that player decided to leave at the worst time, in the worst circumstances, and for all the wrong reasons. Liverpool was willing to love you through thick and thin, it’s a shame you didn’t feel the same.

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