Why Chelsea Deserve to Miss out on the Premier League Top Four

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Why Chelsea Deserve to Miss out on the Premier League Top Four
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Chelsea missed out on finishing in the top four of the Premier League last season, and they deserve to miss out again after another poor campaign both on and off the pitch.

The Blues' performances this season have fluctuated between the sublime and the ridiculous. Their management set-up is a complete and utter mess. Their transfer policy is shambolic. Players control the dressing room. The list goes on.

When these significant elements are put together, you realize that the Blues are a shambles when compared to clubs of a similar ilk. This is made worse when you add in the fact that Chelsea are the current holders of the Champions League and as such they are seen by many as being one of the standard bearers of European football.

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Chelsea, as a club, have stumbled since Carlo Ancelotti was sacked within an hour of the final-day defeat to Everton in 2011. The loss left the Blues a lowly second to champions Manchester United. The sacking, after finishing second in the Premier League, is made all the harder to understand when you look back at the history books. 

Chelsea, under Ancelotti, now the manager of Paris St. Germain, won the Premier League and FA Cup double in 2010.

Since 1905, Chelsea have had 33 managers. Since Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich took ownership of the club in June 2003, the club have had 10 managers including three since Ancelotti was dismissed in 2011.

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August 17, 2003: Roman Abramovich's first game at Chelsea

Despite a lucky Champions League win in 2012, the club has never recovered from losing the highly rated and influential Italian.

There are, of course, major factors that have influenced the sacking of the previous two incumbents to Rafael Benitez. There can be little doubt that the Blues' dressing room has far too much influence on team and management selection, despite the protestations of John Terry.

The club's transfer policy has no real plan and just seems to focus upon buying en-vogue players or players that the owner wants. These purchases rarely repair where the team is weakest and as such the squad becomes over-balanced with attacking players of defensive players.

Last season Chelsea finished outside the top four with 64 points and conceded a massive 46 goals from 38 games. In 2005, when Jose Mourinho was managing the team, Chelsea conceded just 15 goals all season. In 2010, they conceded 32, with more or less the same back four, and scored a whopping 103 goals.

With their defence failing before everyone's eyes, and with John Terry's influence on the pitch waning by the game, Chelsea chose not to strengthen their weakest point during either transfer window. Instead they spent £86 million on six players.

Demba Ba was brought in to challenge Fernando Torres in January; Marko Marin, Oscar, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses were all bought to play in wide attacking roles; and only Cesar Azpilicueta at £6.5 million, a squad player, was brought in to bolster defence.

This transfer policy beggars belief, as John Terry has been a shadow of his former self for the past 12 months. He has only managed nine appearances all season and has contributed just seven tackles to the cause.

The salt in the wound is the fact that Terry is easily Chelsea's best central defender.

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
John Terry: Chelsea's most influential player—on and off the pitch?

David Luiz is haphazard at the back and makes far too many mistakes for him to be considered Terry's successor in the long term. Luiz has made 13 important defensive errors this term alone. That's an average of one major mistake every two games.

Behind Luiz is Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic. Neither player is blessed with pace, man-marking skills or defensive solidity. But they do provide goals and assists which paper over the cracks of their defensive frailties.

With this area of the team so vulnerable, it is almost a crime against football that centre-defence was not strengthened last summer. How Chelsea thought a back five that had conceded 46 goals last year would improve with an aging and injury-prone best defender is beyond any coaching manual.

The next area of the pitch that requires major surgery is central midfield. Chelsea's most effective players in this area are Ramires and the also-aging Frank Lampard. To his credit, Lampard has performed well when asked and has popped up with a number of important goals.

He is, however, slowing with every game, and the days of Frank Lampard, now 34, being able to patrol a midfield containing only two central players are long gone, especially at the highest level. This can be seen in the reduction of his superhuman stamina levels. In days gone by Lampard could play 50-70 games a season for club and country. This term he has managed 29 with six of those as substitute.

The club's faith in Fernando Torres was refreshing to see. However, despite this trust, they failed to build a team around the ex-Liverpool striker's strengths. It comes as no surprise, therefore, to see Torres with a miserable seven goals from 28 games. This tally leaves him as Chelsea's fourth highest goal-getter behind Lampard who has 11 from 20 games.

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Fernando Torres: A victim of a poor transfer policy?

With fires erupting all over the pitch it is anathema to any football thinking man that the areas they chose to strengthen were out wide and not the all-important spine of the team. Without a strong spine of goalkeeper, centre-half, central midfield and centre-forward, the team will do well to win games at the highest level never mind trophies.

That brings us nicely on to the management side of the game. When you realise that no right football man would spend almost £100 million and neglect the two most important positions on the pitch, centre-half and central midfield, you begin to understand that the managers are just coaches.

Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez, and probably going all the way back to Jose Mourinho, have no real say in the transfer policy of the club. It is controlled by men who do not understand how the game works and how important the structure of a team really is.

They seem to see players who are en-vogue like Torres, Andrei Shevchenko and Eden Hazard to some extent and buy these players whilst neglecting the areas of problem in the team.

Di Matteo, despite guiding the team to the Champions League and FA Cup victories in 2012, was never anything more than the interim manager that is Rafael Benitez.

For all the good Di Matteo did in winning the Champions League last year, he then presided over their failure to make it out of the group just five months later. His time in charge was very much a swings-and-roundabouts style era in that the team won as many games as they lost. In other words, they were inconsistent.

That inconsistency has been carried over into the doomed Rafael Benitez reign. Except this time the Spaniard and the team also have the added distraction of having to deal with irate fans who do not want Benitez at the club.

The fans have no God-given right to demand a say in the running of the club, especially when they have never protested against the owner's sacking policy before.

So when you add everything together: a team who failed in the Premier League last season, an aging side, a defensively weak team that are unimproved upon last year, a madcap transfer policy and a manager who is little more than a coach, you understand why the Blues are a walking mess.

Chelsea missed out on finishing in the top four of the Premier League last season, and they deserve to miss out again after another poor campaign both on and off the pitch.

 

Statistics provided by www.soccerbase.com, www.premierleague.com, www.eplindex.com and www.chelseafc.com

You can follow me on Twitter @WillieGannon

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