Chelsea: 5 Things the Blues Need to Improve in 2013
2012 brought great success to Chelsea FC. They became the first London club to win the Champions League and made some excellent signings in the summer transfer window.
After an exciting start to the 2012/13 season, it became apparent that there was still room for improvement in several key areas.
Here are the five problems that Chelsea need to address to make sure that 2013 is as successful as 2012 was.
1. Managerial Consistency
Interim Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez with David Moyes, who has been in charge of Everton since 2002.
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It has become customary for Chelsea to have at least two different managers in a calendar year, and 2012 was no different. Andre Villas-Boas was sacked in March, his replacement Roberto Di Matteo won the Champions League and was given a two-year deal, before being replaced by former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez in November.
That's three different managers in 12 months. Compare that with Everton's David Moyes.
Whilst the Toffees haven't won the Premier League or the European Cup in his 10 years in charge, Moyes is respected throughout the game for getting the very best out of the players he has at his disposal. With a total transfer budget roughly equalling what Chelsea would spend on one or two players, Everton have consistently finished in the top eight of the Premier League for the past six years.
The key word there is "consistently."
Chelsea's policy of sacking a manager as soon as they hit a bad run of form is so short term that it is harming the club. They have become a laughingstock throughout the football world and will not achieve the kind of success that Manchester United have enjoyed over the past 20 years until they start seeing the bigger picture.
2. Rotating the Squad
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With a new manager comes a new philosophy, and Benitez's plan seems to involve playing Fernando Torres and Juan Mata to the point that both of them are exhausted. This would be understandable if there were no options available to cover them, but Chelsea have attacking players in abundance.
With Didier Drogba's departure in the summer, and having lost Nicolas Anelka in January 2012, Chelsea are lacking in the outright striker department. However, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Victor Moses are all capable of scoring goals, and with Torres looking on the brink of collapse, starting one of them up front until another striker is brought it would be a good plan.
Much was made of the Mata-Hazard-Oscar trio at the start of the 2012/13 season, and with Marko Marin injured it seemed as though there was no other option than starting those three players every game. This meant that Juan Mata had not had a real rest since the end of the 2010/11 season.
Now Marin has recovered and with Moses finding himself in excellent form, it would be eminently sensible for Benitez to start with those two players out wide, with Oscar or Hazard through the middle.
That would allow the team to continue in their preferred 4-2-3-1 formation and would give Chelsea an extra dimension in their attack. Their fixture list is becoming more and more congested as the months go by, and without a break it is highly likely that two or three players will burn out.
3. Getting Goals from Their Striker
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Fernando Torres has already improved on his goal-scoring tally from 2011/12, but he is still not as prolific as the likes of Robin van Persie and other strikers who have played the same number of minutes. Chelsea are fortunate that they have players across the pitch who are capable of scoring, but in an ideal world, the majority of their goals should be coming from their front man.
With the January transfer window now open, the Blues will need to move quickly to secure the services of a striker who can score at a more consistent rate than the ever more mercurial Torres.
4. Their Defensive Record
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For many years, Chelsea were known for having one of the best defences in the Premier League; however, since the start of the 2012/13 season, Chelsea have conceded 18 goals in 19 games. Whilst they have been prolific in attack, without the leadership of John Terry the defence has been shaky at best.
This has been improving in recent weeks as David Luiz's move to midfield has lessened the threat of his forward forays to his defensive duties, but Cesar Azpilicueta has been caught out on the right several times.
Chelsea will need to work on their cohesion at the back to ensure that they take maximum points from games against counterattacking sides like Swansea City, whom they face in the semifinals of the Capital One Cup.
5. The Autocracy of the Ownership
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Since Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003, he has spent over £1 billion on the club. From making marquee signings to building a state-of-the-art training ground at Cobham, he has invested a lot of cash, which has returned success and silverware.
However, Abramovich has his flaws, namely that he is incredibly short-sighted and that he will not listen to advice. His stubbornness in sticking to a policy that states that players over 30 can only be offered one-year deals looks likely to see stalwarts such as Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole depart the club.
It is because of the oligarch's ego that Fernando Torres was brought in for a fee of £50 million, and it was his friendship with Andriy Shevchenko that saw the Blues shell out £30 million for the striker at the end of his career.
Whilst he is undoubtedly a clever businessman—and you don't amass the amount of cash he has by being stupid—his field of expertise is not football.
If he could just find someone who has experience within the game and an understanding of the ins and outs of running a successful club and if he could put his ego aside enough to listen to them, that would be the greatest improvement to Chelsea FC in the last 10 years.