5 reasons why Chelsea won’t win the Premier League

by Charlie Coffey

Friday, November 26th, 2010

1. The tampering of Roman Abramovich

Just when all seemed to be going so well at Stamford Bridge, Roman Abramovich sacks Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant manager Ray Wilkins apparently without his consent or even knowledge, and Chelsea go on to lose their next two league games. However promising Wilkins’ replacement, Michael Emenalo, may be Abramovich has replaced a former England captain with a man whose previous coaching job was with an under-12 girls side in the USA.

Ancelotti has already, understandably, distanced himself from the appointment by saying it was not his choice. Abramovich has every right to make such decisions as owner, but team spirit is paramount, and maybe if he insists on making such an unconventional change in personnel the time to do so is in the off-season, not midway through a title race.

Abramovich has already forced the most successful manager in Chelsea’s history, Jose Mourinho, out of the club after failing to give the Special One the absolute control over a club he so craves. Carlo Ancelotti is used to working to the European model of owners having a greater amount of influence on the team than in England, particularly in transfer dealings. However, it is one thing to buy a player the manager doesn’t want (as was rumoured to be the case with Michael Ballack and Andrei Shevchenko), and another to chop and change his assistant manager, the main he has to trust and to work so closely with on a daily basis.

Of course the loss to Liverpool or the injuries the squad has suffered could both have contributed to Chelsea’s recent slump, but dressing room harmony, even with a squad with as many strong characters as Chelsea’s, must start with the manager. If this is the beginning of the end for Ancelotti at Chelsea, a change of manager at this crucial stage in the season could well lead to the club losing out on the title.

2. Over-reliance on Frank Lampard

One of Lampard’s main attributes, apart from his unbelievable contribution to the team in terms of goals and assists, is his injury record. The team could almost always rely on his metronomic qualities from central midfield around which their attacking game is so often built.

Liverpool have a similar reliance on Steven Gerrard. I’m not saying Chelsea are as reliant on Lampard as Liverpool are on Gerrard, but we have seen in this example how much a team struggle when their main creative midfield source struggles for fitness or form.

Chelsea managed to cope without Michael Essien’s vigour and drive from deeper in midfield last season, but it seems that it is easier to replace such qualities than it is to replace attacking creativity. However admirably Essien has been in pushing forward during Lampard’s injury, he will never match Frank Lampard’s ability to create or score a goal from nowhere (in a Chelsea shirt at least!). In fact most of Essien’s goals in this position have surprisingly been from set-pieces.

3. Lack of cover in central defence

Having serious injuries to your two centre-backs at the same time is as unlucky as it is unlikely, but managers have to cater for all eventualities. A squad with as many highly-paid players as Chelsea having too many players in each position is obviously a risk in terms of harmony, but it is now obvious that Ancelotti (/Abramovich) should have brought in a replacement centre-back after they allowed Ricardo Carvalho to join Real Madrid.

Alex had earned his place in the first XI, so to sign a world-renowned player for the first team in that position may have sent out the wrong signal to those pushing for places. Instead, a young promising central defender who would have been grateful for his chance when injuries permitted, rather than feeling aggrieved at being third or even forth choice, would have been ideal. As it is he has to play Paulo Ferreira out of position, a player that many have doubts about in his preferred position of full-back.

4. January transfer policy

Last season there was much monotonous press hype about whether Chelsea would strengthen their squad in January. This year looks to be no different given the problems Ancelotti has endured with the fitness of key players. This time, however, Chelsea genuinely need to spend, and as mentioned above the priority is the centre of defence. If they again fail to strengthen their squad with Abramovich instructing Ancelotti to make the most of his existing squad, they may well relinquish their title this time.

Whether they opt for the mooted domestic targets of Brede Hangeland or Gary Cahill, or look further afield at the likes of Philippe Mexes or a lesser-known foreign player, Chelsea’s ability to defend their title depends on finding a player worthy of standing in for John Terry and Alex. A young player might have been ideal at the start of the season, but as a replacement bought in January is probably going to be asked to play some crucial first-team matches this season, experience may now be the key.

Similarly Chelsea need a replacement for Lampard, who is now 32, in the long-term but also the short in terms of the title race this season should his injury problems persist. Although this is not something that the club would ideally rush into, the rumoured availability of Kaka from Real Madrid would surely be too tempting to ignore, and Chelsea would have to move quickly to see off the almost guaranteed competition from Manchester City, among others. Waiting until the end of the season may allow City to throw money at Kaka until he gives in.

5. The resurgence of Wayne Rooney

OK, it hasn’t happened yet, far from it. But with most of the demons in the young Scouser’s simple mind now all but exorcised, it would not be a surprise if Rooney was able to rediscover at least a semblance of the form that saw him almost single-handedly drag Manchester United to within a whisker of the title last season.

United, of course, are still unbeaten but have lacked the spark between midfield and attack to turn their multitude of draws into wins; their many strikers have been performing poorly without a link man to feed off. With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic finally able to play together regularly, Rooney can again be the man to finish teams off.

Didier Drogba has struggled with Malaria this season, as Rooney has with mental and ‘ankle’ problems. The difference Chelsea or Manchester United winning the Premier League title could well be down to another head-to-head battle between the two formidable strikers, and which one can reach and maintain peak form and fitness this time around. Drobga started this season strongly and has tapered off. If Rooney can do the opposite he could be the man to wrestle the Premier League trophy away from Stamford Bridge.

Read Charlie Coffey’s brilliant blog at my11.com.

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  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Mystical Mike

    I’m sorry Charlie, but I totally disagree. A fully fit Chelsea side will steam roller any Premier League team with ease. What is it Alan Hansen always says? Pace, Power, Technique! They’ve got the lot.

    What’s interesting is this is the first time they’ve been without the whole spine of their side. Terry, Lampard and a half fit Drogba. Any team would struggle, just look at Arsenal, they spent half of last season without RVP & Fabregas, this season they have been without Thomas Vermalen, people seem to forget that of course.

    Chelsea will come good, all teams have a bad run, they are on one, but have also been unlucky, they murdered Birmingham at St Andrews and came away empty handed.

    When they get their players back, plus a few signings they will be back to their best.

    As for point 5, that’s the best joke of the day. Rooney is a little fat greedy shit who of should left United when he had the chance.

  • Oggyboy

    Mystical Mike : SPOT ON !

  • Luke

    Complete and uter crap tis article is, , you say we’re over reliant on Lampard, then go on to talk about the resurgance of Rooney? Bit contradictory don’t you think..

  • ZZ

    I think point 5 is just plain desperate, he’s obviously a Manure fan.

    Judge us after 38 games. Then we’ll see my idiotic friend!

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