Chelsea FC: 10 Things Blues Must Do This Summer to Defend Champions League Title
It's important that Chelsea celebrate the Champions League trophy, but it's also time to look toward next year.
The 2011-12 season is in the books, and Chelsea lifted two trophies. Against all odds, Chelsea have climbed the European mountaintop, and they will be back in next year's competition.
With a title defense looming, Chelsea need to start planning how they will get the job done. They only finished sixth in the English Premier League, and that is just unacceptable. Yes, two trophies are great, but the league performance needs to be more consistent.
Obviously, it's nitpicking to talk about the Premier League for Chelsea this year, and it's important to appreciate how great Saturday's victory was. However, as the old saying goes, "My favorite title is the next one."
Make Roberto Di Matteo Manager
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This isn't official yet?
Seriously, this man came into the job during a broken season. Chelsea looked lost; the dressing room was in shambles; the season seemed to be over.
Soon enough, Chelsea looked like the old club, in a good way. They were firing on all cylinders, and the team was winning matches consistently. Suddenly, things were looking up.
Just over two months later, Di Matteo turned Chelsea's season into a success. They won two trophies, and Di Matteo's tactics and trust in his players was a major reason why.
Please, Roman Abramovich, give Di Matteo the job.
Keep Didier Drogba Around
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Two months ago, Didier Drogba was practically forgotten. Now, he's a Champions League hero.
He equalized in the 88th minute, and he converted the final penalty that helped Chelsea lift the biggest trophy in their history. With his spectacular performance, Drogba has solidified himself as a Chelsea legend.
At this point of his career, Drogba will not play 40-plus matches in a season. He won't net 20 goals, and he won't be able to play a full 90 minutes game after game.
However, he can come up big when needed. He holds the ball up as well as anyone in the world. Additionally, his passion and poise is a reassuring presence in the locker room.
Drogba won't play as much next year. He probably shouldn't. Regardless, he's a club legend, and he should retire a Blue. If Chelsea do what's right, Drogba will be back for as long as he can play.
Talk About It
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You have to beat the champs to be the champs.
Chelsea knocked off Barcelona, and the Blues captured the trophy.
Next year, it will be their trophy until they are knocked out of the tournament. As long as people look at Chelsea as European champions, they will have an intimidation factor looming.
Additionally, as Chelsea try to lure the best players, they can show off the biggest club trophy in the world. Considering the Blues can also pay players a hefty salary, Chelsea might be the best destination for the world's top players.
If Chelsea keep talking about this trophy, they could bring in great players. As a result, they would be in great shape to defend their title next year.
Get Rid of Jose Bosingwa
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By all accounts, Jose Bosingwa is a good guy.
He doesn't get in too much trouble off the field. He was as happy as anyone during the trophy presentation. And, he has a spectacular unibrow.
As great as those things are, his play on the field is horrible. He can't defend quicker players or stronger players. He can't pass well, and he commits bone-headed giveaways on a regular basis.
With him on the back line, Chelsea will always struggle to hold clean sheets. If they strengthen the right-back position (whether it's Branislav Ivanovic or someone else), Chelsea will be in great position to defend their title.
Bring in a Creative Midfielder
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It doesn't matter whom Chelsea bring in, they just need a creative midfielder.
Juan Mata is capable of playing the creative midfield role, but he is better served out wide. When he starts there and wanders inside, he is one of the most dynamic players in England.
With a new creative midfielder (say, Luka Modric), Chelsea would be able to strengthen an attack that looked stagnant at points. With someone like Modric, Chelsea would be able to attack more consistently, and they would not have to commit to defending so often.
Chelsea need a more dynamic attack, and a new midfielder is the answer. Bring one in, and Chelsea will be in great position to become a more attacking team next year.
Keep Old Guard Happy
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Once Roberto Di Matteo committed to the old guard, Chelsea's season turned around.
That's no coincidence.
While no one expects great production from players in their mid-30s, it is important to appreciate their value. Next year, they could provide great depth and guidance for Chelsea.
Andre Villas-Boas alienated the old guard, and the team fell apart. As long as Chelsea respect the players in their declining age, the Blues will be just fine.
Figure out Lineup Quickly
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While Chelsea must appreciate the old guard, they need to slowly move on.
There are plenty of young players ready to contribute at Chelsea. However, there are still plenty of "older" guys capable of getting the job done. Accordingly, Chelsea need to figure out the right balance. Quickly.
Should Josh McEachran be given a chance, or should he spend a season on loan? Is Kevin De Bruyne ready to be a full-time starter? Can Ashley Cole and Ryan Bertrand share time? Will Romelu Lukaku ever get playing time?
Those are just a few of the questions Chelsea need to answer. There's no reason to wait until August to figure them out. Chelsea need to solve these issues early in the summer and have a lineup set before any matches start.
Find a Position for David Luiz
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David Luiz has the raw skills and fitness to become one of the best defensive players in the world.
However, Chelsea need to figure out where he fits in.
With Gary Cahill as a more traditional defender, he has been regarded as the heir apparent to John Terry. Luiz should be his partner. However, some have speculated that Luiz would be better suited for the defensive midfield.
With his pace and fitness, maybe Luiz could be more dynamic on the outside. If he learns to play full-back, Luiz could be a nightmare for opposing teams.
Nevertheless, Luiz has played well in the middle this year. Maybe that's a sign of things to come. To me, it doesn't really matter where Luiz plays; he just needs to get time on the pitch, and he will do damage.
Make Noise in Transfer Market
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Roman Abramovich has always wanted to win the Champions League.
Now that his side has lifted the trophy, he will want to do it again. He won't just stand pat and not improve the team. Instead, Chelsea should (and most likely, will) bring in some big-name players to improve the side.
Chelsea are a good team that became great on Saturday. If they want to maintain that greatness, they will need to bring in more players. In doing so, the club will be revitalized.
If nothing else, Chelsea need to get its name out there. For every star on the move, Chelsea needs to be brought up. Chelsea have the chance to become a household name in Europe (if it isn't already). It needs to be the No. 1 destination for players looking to transfer to a big club.
If Abramovich wants that to happen, he needs to get Chelsea's name in the news as often as possible.
Enjoy Being Champions
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Chelsea just won its first Champions League title ever.
The Blues have finally reached the mountaintop, and they need to enjoy it.
Not many clubs reach this position. Chelsea have, and they need to enjoy it.
The club knows how it feels to lift the most prestigious trophy in Europe. They'll want that feeling again.
If the Blues appreciate how great this title is, they will be hungry to obtain this trophy again. Chelsea have attained greatness, and they deserve to enjoy it.