Chelsea FC Need Long-Term Players, Not A Long-Term Manager


With Chelsea FC’s tumultuous season and Jose Mourinho’s sacking, many have claimed that a long-term manager is needed. However, the Blues should be focused on long-term players instead.

Chelsea FC registered a win against Crystal Palace on Sunday in their best display so far in this campaign. But the various on-and-off-the-field developments over the current season have been such that this win – an impressive one nevertheless – has been celebrated in a manner that normally does not befit this fixture.

Various reports have attributed this to a new found team-spirit that apparently was absent under Jose Mourinho earlier this season. Well, let’s not open a can of worms by going there now, but having mentioned Mourinho, I’d like to get into one aspect which all of us know but still need reminding of (namely Michael Emenalo and Co) – that the Chelsea team of the past decade was every bit Mourinho’s, even in his absence.

Though an Apples vs Oranges debate, the Sir Alex Ferguson Era (1986-2013) at Manchester United brought them 38 trophies at 1.4 trophies per year, whereas the Chelsea decade (2005-15) saw us winning 15 trophies at 1.5 trophies per year. The only point of this rather simplistic comparison being that despite managerial turbulence (vis-à-vis a stable Man United), we were winning regularly.

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That can clearly be attributed to the presence of a strong spine to the team, put in place by none other than Mourinho, in a manner akin to Wolverine’s Adamantium retrofit. This spine is why our interim managers (of which we have had more than a few) have all had a unique record of winning trophies at Chelsea.

This core, as we know, was made up of people like John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and probably, to an extent, even John Obi Mikel. And this is the reason why we have been blessed to witness the highs of Munich 2012 (and the journey to Munich as well) and Amsterdam 2013, among many others, despite being unfancied, ridiculed at and dismissed many times.

Amidst all the tasteless talks of “parking the bus”, of being “nouveau riche” or “history-less”, these guys had turned up on every single occasion to fight on the field where it really mattered and more importantly, deliver the results.

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So pushing all the managerial talk aside, when I look at our current team, I painfully have to admit that I do not see a new spine on the field. Lampard and Cech have moved on while Drogba, when he returns, will go straight into the dugout. Terry is, quite literally, on his last legs while Mikel is the only one who’d possibly stick around a little longer, like a loyal soldier. But, with all due respect, he is just that – a soldier, a Lieutenant or a Captain at best. And what we need are a handful of Generals, Brigadiers and Colonels.

While we have loved and supported our team through thick and thin over the last few years, most of us have been reduced to pondering a “what-if” scenario. Across the league we see a Romelu Lukaku at Goodison Park, a Kevin De Bruyne at the Etihad, a Juan Mata at Old Trafford and even a Ruben Loftus-Cheek warming our own bench.

The Eden Hazard predicament alongside the mercenary horde of young players plying their trade on loan only add to our concerns of where the future of this team is or will emerge from.

Adding salt to our wounds is the fact that the likes of Arsenal and Spurs are now in the title race (largely because we have tanked miserably and most of the others have been inconsistent). Meanwhile, the romanticism surrounding Leicester City’s run to the top, though good for the league and viewers, does no good to us.

A 14th position in the table is not where we belong and even if we manage a spectacular comeback this season, there is much to be done to ensure that we avoid the fate of a Premier League-era Liverpool or a post-Sir Alex Manchester United from next season onwards.

It is precisely for the above-mentioned reason that we need a Mourinho again, or at least someone who can bring a similar long-term vision and acumen. We may not have had a managerial dynasty like that of Manchester United but, make no mistake, we did have a player dynasty over the last decade thanks to this wonderful spine. And only a new spine can lead us into the future, long-term manager or not.

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Hopefully the Blues officials will not lose track of this crucial aspect amidst all the brouhaha over Guus Hiddink or Pep Guardiola or Diego Simeone or whoever will take over at Stamford Bridge come this summer. The time is ripe for another Adamantium retrofit.