NSNO was in cheerful mood this morning, with on-loan Argentine Denis Stracqualursi the object of many an effusive post, such as that left by the pointedly named nomorechang: “If players have competition amongst the squad to prove to the manager that they deserve a place in the team then it makes the players do that little bit more, not just to earn a place but to keep it.
“This could not be exemplified more than the example shown by Straquilursi [sic]. He’s not only earned his place, he’s made himself a cult hero in the way he’s gone about it. I personally don’t know a Blue who doesn’t love the bones of him and if anyone wants his place in the team they are going to have to play out of their skin to get it!
“He’s the type of player we’ve all loved since we were able to kick a ball ourselves. To paraphrase one of our Legends (slightly): ‘One Denis Straquilursi [sic] is worth twenty Andy Carrolls’.”
Darron Gibson, even newer to the Toffees, continued to attract mixed reports. “I agree that he seems to bring out the best in Fellaini,” mulled chris350, swirling a glass of brandy in contemplation. “Felli has bossed every game so far with Gibson alongside him. However, especially today he seems to disappear in the game for long periods of time.
“I’m not sure if that’s a testament to just how effective he is, but I find that hard to believe. His vision seems good but his passing is poor, maybe he just needs more first team football? Overall, I didn’t think he’d be a good signing at first but he’s surprised me and I quite like him.”
In amongst all the wholly merited praise for the contributions of Fellaini, Landon Pienaar and returning hero/opening goal-scorer Steven Pienaar, Johnny Heitinga seemed to be winning over his doubters with another sterling performance at centre-half during the continued absence of Phil Jagielka. “A captains performance from him today,” surmised Sir Stealth, “and in all our games recently. Great the way he is the last off the field applauding the fans. Seems well up for it at the moment.”
Risky concurred: “I do think that Heitinga has been fantastic over the past month or so. Quietly being an excellent defender, and he’s cut out any daft tendencies which for whatever reason had tended to creep in to his game whilst he wasn’t getting a regular run at CB.
“I think he could be captain material, but I just have this nagging doubt as to whether Moyes considers him highly enough in comparison to some of the other players in the frame. Which is a shame, especially if you think back to Heitinga’s first season when Moyes was constantly using him to take instructions on to the pitch during stoppages in play.”
Johnny Heitinga, Everton captain? Stranger things have happened, and other such mind-numbing clichés…
Thirst for left-field captain suggestions thoroughly quenched, I then hotfooted it over to Grand Old Team just in time for the Fellaini-praising, this morning at fever pitch after another midfield master class from the Belgian. “Everytime I see him in a tight spot,” enthused Kneeg, “I know he will get out of it, or if he gets next to the opposition who has the ball you know he will win it. He is my favourite player.”
Having spent the last 36 hours sitting cross-legged in a chair watching reruns of the match, chriswho startled everyone by suddenly swinging round and announcing: “I noticed something else. When Fellaini is in the thick of it, he hunches down giving him more power and balance. But as soon as he controls the situation, he stands tall again.
“As soon as you see him stand, you can see the whole team breathe a sigh of relief and transition from defense to offense. You can see the team trusts him once he has possession and stands tall again. Pretty cool to see.”
On a less encouraging note, Donovan’s imminent return to the States was causing an outbreak of melancholic proclamations. “I’m going to cry real tears when he leaves,” said Bryan. “Honest to god, this is like staying over at a boss cousins and being demanded to go ‘home’ by your parents.” johnnydawg68 was similarly enamoured: “Seriously, he’s like the girlfriend you always loved coming back to town for a visit, having a three-day weekend of shagging and good times, and then you have to take her to the airport. For the love of God, can’t we find a way to buy him?”
All of a sudden, Kay20 leapt out of his chair, sending it tumbling over backwards, to exclaim: “It’s amazing how much more balanced the right side looks when he’s here. And his defensive efforts are underrated. Today he once again put Ashley Cole in his back pocket and left him there.
“I hope Drenthe can give us the balance LD does. Beause if not, Pienaar will be bright, but we’ll be missing our right sided maestro giving us a stellar team.”
Yep, that there feel-good factor is back once again at Goodison! (Or some such trite segue into Chelsea’s woes…)
With just two wins to speak of from the last ten league games, The Shed End was embroiled in a good old-fashioned, angst-ridden post-mortem. “I think we had the smallest frontline in the premiership today (neither 3 are reknown for heading ability),” posited Kalou Time, “yet the plan was to blindly lump it into the box for 90 minutes.
“Bertrand and Lukaku aren’t good enough to start a game, yet when we are 2-0 down away from home, we bring them on! Why not? Let’s destroy their confidence too. They aren’t good enough to start (or even come off the bench usually) but expect them to come on and pull off a miracle.
Ashley & Bosingwa can’t cross, they can’t defend either. They can run a lot though, just not after the player they are marking. Ivan & Luiz – so much passion, so much urgency, they must be pulling their hair out when they play it to the midfield and watch the slow boring passing begin.
He added: “I’m not even going to bother with the rest of them.”
Zeta Orionis then marched up in silence, looked Kalou Time up and down as if to say “You call THAT a post-mortem?”, unravelled a comedically lengthy scrap of paper, whipped out a megaphone and let rip with:
“Our squad really isn’t “better than most”. Maybe if all the players were at the peak of their powers, but a lot of them are past it.
Cech – Quality keeper, but getting worse and I think we need to recall Courtois next season to give him a real challenge. Turnbull and Hilario are never going to oust him as #1, so there is no pressure on him.
Cole – In his day, best in the world probably. But he’s beaten by a lot of players nowadays and his pace which used to see him catch pretty much anyone is waning. We have an able deputy in Bertrand, but the poor guy never gets a game.
Terry – Lost some pace, but never really had any to start with. I still think he’s a top quality CB, and his reading of the game can be exceptional. Though quite what’s going on in his head nowadays with the whole media circus constantly surrounding him, who knows.
Luiz – Skillful, lacks concentration, exciting, infuritating…unpredictable. Great if you’re a striker, but not really what you want from a CB. Still, he’s got time to improve and learn, and he’s been more solid in the last few months, though is still prone to at least 1 stupid decision in a game.
Cahill – Seems to be a good player from what little we’ve seen. I think he should be rotating with Terry and Luiz to form the 2 out of 3 CBs.
Ivanovic – Plays much better at RB and is somewhat wasted at CB, because it’s no longer his natural position.
Bosingwa – If you believe most pundits, they’ll say he’s poor defensively, but “great going forward”. Apparently 1 successful cross out of 20 is “great” nowadays. He costs us goals every time he plays, he makes stupid decisions and he shouldn’t be anywhere near the starting 11.
Mikel – Maybe Man Utd still want him? He’s not as horrifically bad as the criticism he gets suggests, but he’s not good either. Very sloy player, always looks like he’s about to lose possession unless he sticks out a long leg to just about keep the ball. Backwards and sideways is the only way he knows how to pass.
Merieles – Squad player, nothing more. Works reasonably hard, but can’t tackle, can’t intercept and often blazes his shots over the bar when he decides to have one from way too far out considering his level of ability.
Lampard – Still contributes a lot of goals and assists, but it’s very noticable how slow he has become on the ball, and often loses possession after taking too long to decide what to do. Still has a part to play with us, but a reduced role.
Ramires – Incredibly fast, never stops running, but little technical ability. His passing is often wasteful, his shooting is generally poor (although he has managed a few goals this season to his credit). A player that confuses me. Because he’s the only one we have with any engine and any tempo about his play, but if everyone else wasn’t so sh*t, I think his lack of ability would be far more obvious.
Essien – Too soon to tell if he’ll never be the player he once was, but if he does get back to that level then he must be a starting 11 player.
Romeu – Looked bright when he first broke into the team, seems to have gone off the boil a bit recently and has been relegated to the bench/not playing at all. I think he does much better when he starts a game, rather than when he’s brought on later and has to quickly adapt to the “pace” (lol) of our play.
Malouda – He will actually occasionally run at players, which is something no-one else apart from Sturridge really attempts to any degree of success, but his overall play and his work ethic is so poor I just cannot understand why he’s still being picked.
Mata – The only glimmer of light in an otherwise dark and painful season. Will probably leave in the summer now I’ve said that.
Kalou – Wasteful, poor decision making, tries to beat everyone all the time, pops up with the occasional goal though and compared to Malouda on the wing, he’d be a breath of fresh air at this point… That’s how far we’ve fallen.
Sturridge – Started so well this season, banging the goals in for fun and terrorising defenders, but like everyone else has gone off the boil. He is getting more and more selfish every game, choosing to stop, turn, stop turn, run, stop, turn, stop, run, turn, shoot. Rather than just pass to someone in a better position. It’s becoming all about Daniel Sturridge to him, rather than all about Chelsea, which is not good. We had a similar situation with Joe Cole, and Mourinho beat the arrogance out of him and he became a quality player for it. Does AVB have the ability to do the same? I doubt it.
Drogba – When he decides to turn up, he can still be a match winner (Valencia for example), but those days are becoming fewer and fewer and I feel like he’s decided that he is Chelsea’s striker, and anyone else who comes in (e.g. Torres) doesn’t deserve to start ahead of him, so he sulks about the pitch.
Torres – Depending on who you ask, the time of day, how we’ve played and the alignment of Jupiter’s moons, he’s either the worst striker ever to have graced the pitch, or a quality player who gets no service. Either way he never scores, and if you’re a striker who can’t score, you’re out the door.
Lukaku – To say he is “raw” is a bit of an understatement. We all know the Belgian league is terrible compared to the English one, and it was obvious Lukaku relied heavily on his power in that league, as opposed to skill, but I don’t think many of us realised quite how much he’s relied on it. In his first couple of appearances he was embarrasing and could barely control the ball. He’s improved since then, and I’m certianly not going to write him off, because he’s only 18. I would simply say this.. if the exact same player with the exact same level of ability had come up through our youth team rather than having been bought for £12-18m .. would he have even made his debut yet?
We have good youngsters coming through, like McEachran, Bertrand (he’s 22, but at Chelsea you seem to be an inexperienced youngster until about 24, unless we paid big money for you), Piazon, Lalkovic, Chalobah, etc… Not to mention the ones we bought like Courtois, De Bruyne, etc…
So, no, we don’t have a team that is better than most. We have a team that is in serious need to being taken outside and banged against the floor to get rid of the crap clinging to it. We have a team that has potential to be good, but only if the man in charge is willing to take a risk, rather than playing the same under performing players week after week. But above all else, we have a team that no longer resembles the Chelsea I know and love, and that disappoints me more than anything else.”
This was followed by general murmurings of assent, and at least one person yelling out “Hey, that guy’s right!”
I then made a beeline for Talk Chelsea, handing my rain-sodden jacket to the cloakroom just in time to catch LDN Blue’s application of blame to the fading powers of Team England’s Frank Lampard: “He’s not a total dimwit now on the pitch, his experience counts for a lot and when you’re challenging at the top you need players like this.
“Because you can’t just have new players all the time, guys like Lampard should be kept around if they’re willing to accept they are going to be a bit-part player. He seems like he’s not willing to do this, because he still holds England ambitions and still believes he’s a top-player who should be starting. Therein lies a problem.
“We respect his legendary status & all, but it’s a problem at the moment.”
And then Peace was all like…
“Lampard being the weak link ? Certainly not.
We don’t really have a weak link (if we were to have a weak link, I would say our passing game). But we have a multitude of liabilities/bad things – which if isolated aren’t a major problem / are a negligible problem – that are additioned together and are forming a major problem. This is exactly our problem, to my eyes. Even if we fix two or three of them, we won’t solve our Problem as we have too many of them to fix.
Indeed, our bad things in the squad, are : Cech, even if he is not poor, he doesn’t have the level he had last year, and we have dropped relatively a lot of points because of him ; Bosingwa ; Ashley Cole who isn’t as good as he used to be, and doesn’t excel ; Meireles, who has been piss poor for the past three months, and has a lots of lack in his play ; Malouda, with his below-par passing game and poor pace ; Torres ; etc… This is just to name a few, and this is just our problems within the squad. If you take them one by one, without considering any other aspects, then they look relatively easy to fix and quite minor. But when they are being additioned with problems regarding the management, the board, the squad depth, etc… They are forming a whole difficult to analyse and to fix.
As for Lampard is far from his best level, and he probably shouldn’t have a starting role if we were a team competing for the title. But he is not that bad. And when you get a look to our other option in midfield, he is still being one of our best midfielder and should be in the starting eleven, in my honest opinion. If you ask me, he should be played instead of Meireles. The later man offer us nothing for a long time, now, and even if Lampard doesn’t offer much more than the portuguese in the building of the game and in a defensive aspect, he still manages to get goals.
My final word, it will be an hard task to solve our Problem (I speak about the whole) and it will take a lot of time. And the key to solve it isn’t to sack the coach, or to target one player in particular (in the sense of making him a scapegoat.”
…in his face.
Meanwhile, over on Chelsea FC Forums, chelseafan1 posted under the following title: “stuart pearce rascally abused Paul Ince”. Could someone please explain in simple terms what exactly constitutes rascal abuse?