A Special Invitation from Chelsea* to Drogba…
How’s life in China? How’s the food? The weather? How’s your Chinese coming along? Hope all is well.
Here’s the deal, Didier, we miss you at Stamford Bridge. We really need you to come back. Like this week. I know we parted ways on great terms, with you having just won the Champions League for us and all. If you were going to leave the club, it was the perfect time to do so. We were all very understanding, but let’s face it, our Champions League-winning high clouded our judgment. Now that we’ve had time to ponder… we think we made a big mistake.
Did you see our draw today against a very beatable Liverpool? Their striker Suarez saved the day for them again – a lot like you used to for Chelsea. We need a big time lethal striker again. That’s where you come in. We’ve got some great new guys this season we think you’ll really dig – guys like Hazard and Oscar. They’ve been creating great ball movement with Mata, but the problem is they need a real strongman in the box to feed the ball to. No one wreaks havoc in the box like you do. We really miss your ability to hold the ball and invent crazy-angled shots out of nothing. In case you’re wondering about Torres, well, we’re not exactly sure what to do about that yet. But it probably involves selling him for as much cash as possible come January. Look, Fernando’s a great guy and we wish him well, but he’s no Drogba.
Now we know you left Chelsea primarily because Shanghai-whatchamacallit offered you a bazillion dollars. Very understandable. We didn’t think we could match their bazillions. But this week we found out we actually made a profit for the first time in something like a decade (thanks to the Champions League riches you helped us get), so, since we’re not used to operating in the black anyway, we thought we’d just give you all that excess profit if you come back.
By the way, in case it’s not all about money, you saw where Chelsea fans recently voted you one of the greatest Blues players in club history, right? That’s pretty sweet. The fans would welcome you back in a heartbeat. Just sayin’. We know you have a soft spot for Chelsea in that lion heart of yours, so we want to remind you that John Terry got knocked out of the Liverpool match today with a potentially season-ending injury, Lampard is still out with a calf thing, and we loaned Michael Essien to Real Madrid for reasons we’re still not entirely sure about (okay, we brought that last one on ourselves, but we’re just pointing out the dearth of Blues vets currently on hand).
Just in case you feel a little weird about the idea of coming back to Chelsea so soon after leaving, it’s not unprecedented. Paul Scholes returned to Man U after retiring for a while last season. Thierry Henry even went back to Arsenal on loan earlier this year. It’s obviously not our first choice, but we’d settle for you returning to Chelsea on loan whenever the Chinese league’s over (sorry, we’re not sure when their season ends – until you went there we didn’t even know China had a pro league). Whatever it takes, Didier, that’s what we’re saying.
Admit it, you miss the Premier League. The high-pressure matches. The packed, historic stadiums. Cup finals. Champions League nights around Europe. Eccentric gazillionaire Russian owners. Causing Sir Alex heartburn. Democracy.
We don’t want to pressure you too much, but we have slipped from first to third in the table within a couple weeks, so we kind of need an answer ASAP. Only you can help prevent one of the Manchesters winning the league again. Chelsea’s fate is in your hands. Okay, that may be overstating it a bit, but come on man you’re playing in China for goodness sakes! No one watches Chinese soccer!
Come home, Didier, come home. You know you want to. We can have a jet there in a matter of hours.
Chelsea Football Club
P.S. Say hello to Anelka for us.
*Unfortunately this letter does not represent an actual invitation from Chelsea Football Club to Didier Drogba.
Villas-Boas defends Blues veterans
I saw a few stories this morning about Sir Alex Ferguson’s jabs at Chelsea, basically saying the Blues haven’t done much to alleviate their ageing problem this summer. Andre Villas-Boas responded by pointing to the squad’s past success and reiterating his belief that they are still strong contenders.
First of all, Fergie is a master of the mind game sound bite (covert trash-talking). Man U’s currently rolling across America, full of confidence, toppling MLS teams left and right. So with the EPL season just a few weeks away, Fergie figures it’s time to launch a strategic barb, aimed at the club he must know will be Man U’s primary title competition next season. With all the talk of Chelsea’s “struggles” last season, it’s easy to forget that they finished a not-too-distant second (and that was with all their supposed geezers in the lineup).
Secondly, Fergie is hardly one to talk about ageing players. Ryan Giggs is still a regular starter for goodness sake. And what about the recently retired Neville and Scholes? I guess they weren’t playing as regularly as Chelsea’s core group of vets, but still. Sir Alex seems to believe in keeping vintage players around and the past few seasons I’ve thought him wise to do so.
Andre Villas-Boas is taking the right approach with the Chelsea roster. People are too quick to write off players over 30. Any other EPL team in their right mind would start Terry, Lampard, or Drogba as often as possible. And those who say Chelsea is just relying on the same old squad haven’t been paying much attention. What about Luiz, Ramires, Mikel, Kalou? And this preseason has shown significant youth promise for the club with McEachran, Bertrand, Van Aanholt, Sturridge, and Chalobah.
Don’t be fooled by Fergie’s mind tricks, Chelsea fans – AVB’s got a strong mix of veterans and youngsters brewing. In the end, I think it will make an exciting, winning combination.
Do you think Chelsea needs more youth in the starting eleven?
This week’s transfer rumors and signing realities
I’ve followed the daily transfer rumors more closely this summer than I have in past years and it has been quite amusing. The latest example being Sir Alex Ferguson’s denial that Manchester United are deal-making to acquire Wesley Sneijder from Inter Milan. It was a pretty firm denial in the face of supposedly serious reports all week that a deal is imminent. The moral of the story is you don’t really know what’s going on with a player during transfer season until they show up in a new uniform.
I’ve kept tabs on the transfer rumors just to keep up with which Chelsea players are coming and going. Of course, all the attention has been on Chelsea’s attempt to get Modric from Tottenham. That deal is apparently deader than it’s been all summer after Tottenham nixed two Chelsea offers and denied Modric’s transfer request. This mini-circus will likely continue until the season starts and I wouldn’t be surprised if Modric ends up in a Chelsea uniform during the January transfer window.
I think Chelsea should abandon the Modric pursuit in favor of another of this week’s rumors: trying to get Scott Parker on loan from West Ham. The times I’ve seen Parker play the past couple seasons, he has displayed the kind of relentless hustle and passion that was missing from much of the Chelsea squad last year. Because of his age, he may not be a long-term addition, but if one of the primary personnel needs at the moment is a replacement for Essien at midfield, Parker could be just the shot in the arm the team needs. Currently Aston Villa seems to be the frontrunner to acquire Parker’s services.
The other prominent transfer rumor of the week was Chelsea’s pursuit of Bolton defender Gary Cahill. Interesting, though Chelsea’s defense seems to be in pretty good shape right now. If this deal happened, I can’t see Cahill starting over any of the current group very often.
Other quieter rumors this week include Nicolas Anelka possibly returning to Paris St. Germain and Alex maybe heading to Bayern Munich or Real Madrid. I like both players a lot, but of the two, transferring Anelka might be the shrewder move because of his age (32) and the fact that things are a little crowded at the Chelsea forward position. It’s time for Daniel Sturridge to see more minutes at forward and transferring Anelka would help facilitate that.
I would hate to see Alex go. When all the Chelsea defenders are healthy, they have a deep, quality bench, which is vital to the long EPL season. If Alex left, adding someone like a Gary Cahill would be essential to maintaining that bench depth. Anelka played in the second half of Chelsea’s first preseason game against Wycombe Wanderers Tuesday, but Alex did not.
Finally, two young Blues received welcome contract extensions today. Twenty-two-year-old left-back Ryan Bertrand signed a four-year deal. Eighteen-year-old midfielder Josh McEachran signed a five-year-deal. Both signings seem very promising, though I only saw Bertrand for a few minutes in one game last season, so I don’t know much about him yet. The McEachran signing is great for Chelsea. Ancelotti worked him into several games last season and despite his beanpole build, McEachran was extremely impressive with his poise, patience, placement, and passing prowess (I got on a roll with the p’s and had to keep it going). If McEachran can avoid burnout and develop some upper body bulk, he could very well be Chelsea’s Lampard of the future.
Which of these Chelsea transfer rumors is most exciting? Most disappointing?