In or Out of the Top 6?

The chase for Top 6 will be closer than ever this year. Whether that be the downfall of 3 of the supposed ‘Big 6’ but also the improvement and potential from a handful of teams waiting in the wings with a huge opportunity during the 2019/2020 season.

So who is that handful? Without a doubt, Leicester City. The potential in that squad, nurtured by Brendan Rogers and transfers of Tielemans and Perez with more rumoured to be incoming should they get a World Record Fee (for a defender) for Harry Maguire. Wolverhampton Wanderers were very strong last year and caused a number of ‘upsets’ especially at Molineux against the big boys – so with more consistency, bit more investment and now more experience in the PL, why not? Everton have a huge chance this year but they still haven’t filled the most important position on the pitch, the striker, the 20+ goals a season needed to be up there and pushing to break into the top 6.

Who else? Outsiders would be West Ham – after all the moaning from the fans, demonstrations on the pitch, embarrassing scenes really, David Gold and David Sullivan are HEAVILY investing into the club with some huge signings. It will be interesting to see how they do now without the excuses of the new stadium, lack of investment and management not being good enough (under Moyes). Lastly, I think Bournemouth will be a very solid team this season – if they keep the core together for this transfer window and make some more savvy investments.

In all seriousness, I don’t think the 5 above teams will have a better chance in breaking into the Top 6 for years to come.

Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea are all in disarray. Whether that be due to bad management from the top down, lack of transfer budget or just having a transfer ban altogether, these teams are going to be struggling big time to win week in, week out as expected to be able to get a top 4 spot but also Top 6 too.

 

Manchester United

The situation at Man United is precarious. The club is more divided than ever and the general atmosphere stinks at the moment. The Glazer Family have angered the majority of fans by taking billions out of the club but failing to reinvest or pump money in to keep the biggest club in the world competing on the highest stage. Ed Woodward, the businessman, has somehow ended up running the transfer business and as previous managers have stated, the whole structure of the club is toxic. Unfortunately for Ole, his hands are tied and in my opinion, he is walking the plank in this current position.. why? He has this ‘vision’ or the ‘United way’ as many like to think it.. invest in youth and get players that want to play for the shirt. I get that philosophy, this is something I want at Chelsea BUT the players they are currently attracting aren’t of the world class nature that will enable them to compete against the big boys and after last season’s calamity, they find themselves back in the Europa League.

I could be wrong and Dan James, Aaron Wan Bissaka and Harry Maguire for about £150m could be incredible business in the future, it’s certainly an investment in players that could play for United for the next 10 years and then the fees paid would be justified.

However, these players aren’t going to transform what I and others would consider to be a terrible aging squad but also one that seems to be low on confidence and a strange atmosphere from within. Players such as Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Alexis Sanchez, Rojo etc should not be in a Manchester United squad that wants to move forward and transform. Mix that with Players who seem to want to be elsewhere – Paul Pogba publicly getting his agent to try and force through a move, Sanchez looking to move on, David De Gea unable to force a move but stalling on a new HUGE contract – nothing shouts out to me that this team are going to go and have a good season. I don’t want to exaggerate too much but I can see United 8/9th by Christmas and people may slowly begin to turn on Solskjaer who’s managerial experience will start to become questioned.

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Arsenal

Banter FC as some may call them. When their biggest game for a decade was against Chelsea in the Europa League Final and they turned up and lost 4-1 it was never going to signal good things.. and since then they have failed to properly investment and signify any intent that they are going to try and compete. The fans are protesting against the owners, they’ve lost their best player to Juventus and they offered £45m for Wilfred Zaha’s left foot and got laughed out of the door. Club Captain Laurent Koscielny has refused to go on the pre-season tour to try and get out of the Emirates. How are they going to transform this? One positive Arsenal have is that they have kept Lacazette and Aubameyang together and that means goals.. but the core of the team behind that? Still terrible. Why have they not bought a top class Centre Back? Why haven’t they got a world class CM? Relying on Granit Xhaka or Sokratis in defence means that they are settling for being average in my opinion. Rumours coming out of the club is that Emery only has £45m to play with.. yet teams such as Leicester are spending that on players like Tielemans who will go into that midfield and run the show.

If Kroenke really wants to be at Arsenal then they need to stop using the excuse of this new stadium (which opened 13 years ago now) and balancing the books. Arsenal got nearly £200m in TV money last season.. that on top of huge sponsorship deals for the stadium, kit, shirt sponsors.. so where is this money going? They have lost players and never replaced them but also, the youngsters that have come through are yet to set the world alight. I am excited to see what Reiss Nelson can offer this season after his loan, Maitland-Niles needs to push on and cement his spot too. But with a squad still consisting of average players such as Bellerin, Monreal, Mustafi, Jenkinson, Elneny and OZIL – best thing they could do is get rid of him. Poor relationship with the manager, the fans and his wage bill is a drain for his return on Investment.

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Chelsea

Ultimately this season is going to be a rollercoaster for Chelsea and the fans. I may be a Chelsea fan but I am also a pessimist and I am not going to expect a lot to come from this season. This transfer ban couldn’t have come at a worse time for Chelsea with the current state of the squad and also the transition between managers. The appointment of Frank Lampard has already sparked some life back into the club. The positivity is back and the connection between players and fans has improved HOWEVER living in the past off Frank’s playing legacy will not mean much if we are losing games more weeks than not.

As I said earlier with United, the youth policy is about to change at the club and the saying of ‘this transfer ban may be a blessing in disguise’ could be true or these players may still not be ready for top level Premier League football.. Mason Mount looks like a player who will benefit automatically from the ban. Reece James will slowly be transitioned into the team, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will become HUGE members of the team when back from Injury. All this is good but with Champions League football, all the Cups and an aging squad then we still need to aim to knick that Top 4 spot to ensure when we do get our transfer ban out of the way, we will be able to attract the top talent in Europe by having CL football readily available..

Players such as Willian, Pedro, Giroud, Alonso and even going as far as saying Azpilicueta are possibly not good enough to be in a Chelsea team now but these are likely to be regular starters throughout this season and I am worried that many teams will find them out and without that piece of magic that we relied on last season from Eden Hazard then we may struggle to break teams down.

The fans will back Frank and Jody 100% but I hope we can sneak 4th for the long term ambition of their project.

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Best of the rest??

My favourite to break into the top 6 would have to be Leicester. The way they ended last season under Brendan Rodgers was a little sneak peek into what is potentially about to come out of the King Power stadium this season. Buying Tielemans who was huge for them last year was a great signing, keeping Maddison and allowing him to grow in the Premier League playing week in, week out and then also keeping Chilwell would be a great bit of business too.

If they let Harry Maguire go, they will do so reluctantly but I think £80m for a centre back who is good but not amazing is a great bit of business. With that money they could potentially reinvest in 2 £40m+ players who can push them again to the next level and allow them to catch up and possibly overtake teams like the above.

 

Early season prediction

  1. Manchester City
  2. Liverpool
  3. Tottenham Hotspurs
  4. Chelsea
  5. Manchester United
  6. Leicester City
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What is happening at Chelsea FC?

Now this blog is going to go deep into some of the issues surrounding Chelsea and I have to point out, although being a fan of Chelsea, I am also going to be a pessimist and possibly even negative about the current position Chelsea find themselves in. These are my opinion but I’m trying to weigh up both sides of the story..

The club is in a strange place at the moment, nobody knows what direction we are going in, what is happening on and off the pitch and who is even calling the shots anymore.. as fans it’s becoming frustrating and even demoralising. It’s only football, I get it.. but it’s still a passion and something that we want to enjoy!

Let’s start off the pitch..

Roman Abramovich is the boss, the owner who has created history with Chelsea, transform the club and everything that comes with it. We are the most successful English club in terms of trophies in the last 10 years. ‘We’ve won it all’ and a lot of that credit goes to Roman. He’s done more than meets the eye to an outsider looking in. He’s created a culture within Chelsea and has gone back to the roots of this club. Providing World Class facilities and investing in the infrastructure has been key. A trip to Cobham is eye opening and something that every player in the world would want. The academy on the back of this has become the best in the world. Winning Trophy after trophy every year and not just domestically but also winning the equivalent to Champions Leagues. This winning mentality breeds some of the best players in English football and although the youth has barely broken into the First Team 11, the fans are hoping the culture is beginning to change.

This is all well and good, but now Abramovich is effectively banned from working on his football club, the government have stopped this from happening and whilst this politics is ongoing, the worse this gets for Chelsea as a club. Why would you continue to pump money into your business if you’re not allowed to work for it? It’s like having a car but not being allowed to put fuel in it. What’s the point in owning it? We’ve seen the impact of this already with the dropping of plans to transform Stamford Bridge into an incredible venue for CFC.

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The board now enter into discussion. Whilst working for the brand of Chelsea FC, promoting the ethics and the ethos that the club is built on, this is all positive and we are now becoming a huge business winning massive sponsorship deals with worldwide companies such as Nike and Yokohama. However, the football knowledge and the connection between fans has never been wider. They just simply do not get it. It’s becoming laughable..

We have no Sporting Director to work between the business side and the football management side. Petr Cech has been rumoured but even that has still not been sorted after nearly 2 weeks. Other clubs have sporting/footballing directors in place and it is vital to success. A key example is Txiki Begiristain former Barcelona and now Manchester City sporting director has a huge relationship between business and Pep Guardiola. Pep scopes out what/who he wants, goes to Txiki and then Txiki approaches the board around money and then does the negotiation. This approach is very successful, he is a popular man with agents and players and gets the job done. Chelsea? Well they don’t have that in place, instead they have Marina Granovskaia who is described as a bulldog in negotiations and drives a hard bargain. Inexperience maybe on the football side of things does not help when trying to sign and convince a player to join Chelsea FC. Businesswoman she is fantastic and key to some of the big deals we have made with sponsors but looking at Chelsea history of signing players over the last 4/5 years, I am not convinced.

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On the pitch..

Management  – hot topic or what! With Sarri on his way by the looks of it, the Manager merry-go-round starts again. Another season Chelsea win a European trophy, finish top 4 and another year a manager is sacked. To be fair, I was never convinced by him let alone thrilled by the football we played. I lost count the amount of times I saw Chelsea live last year and the frustration was ridiculous. From losing 6-0 away at City to the dull 0-0 draw at the last game of the season. We scraped into 3rd due to other teams bottling it and being awful around us. One thing that I must say is that Sarri has inherited an awful squad and had no pre-season to engrain his philosophy into the team and you can’t play the way he wants too in England with players like Marcus Alonso and Willian. However, what I do find unforgivable from Sarri was the fact he turns round to his own fans and says ‘I don’t care what they think’.. not going to be here long if you say that about us, Maurizio. The stubbornness to not change his style of play even when we are losing and being dominated. The stubbornness to not try Kante in CDM. The stubbornness to not give Callum Hudson-Odoi a real chance when the fan base were praying for him to be played.. and when he played, he scored or was involved most of the time. By the sounds of it, he wants to leave Chelsea too and is ready to take the Juve job and good luck to him, it maybe wasn’t meant to be and to be fair, I’m not sure any manager that comes into Chelsea at the moment has much chance to do better than he did with the current state we are in.

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We have a lot of deadwood at Chelsea in this squad. Honestly, only a real handful of players could be kept in my opinion. We need a huge rebuild and be rid of players such as Alonso, Willian, Pedro, Higuain (send him back, awful player), Zappacosta etc etc.. the list could go on. But we can’t do this can we.. we have landed ourselves with a transfer ban and with no pre-planning apart from Pulisic, we are stuck with this squad of players and hope the youth we have can somehow adapt to the Premier League and we can get Top 4 again? A massive ask in my opinion.

We need 2 new full backs, Azpi just hasn’t cut it this season and Alonso/Emerson aren’t exactly World Class which is what we need at this club. Reece James has huge potential but has now got seriously Injured and he may still need some time to be given games right at the very top. He had an awesome first season with Wigan in the Championship, maybe 1 more season with a lower Prem team would help him..

We need wingers and good ones.. We have Hudson-Odoi (possibly out for the year) and Pulisic.. I am not even counting Willian or Pedro, they’ve had their time at Chelsea but we need to move on. Both in their 30s and ultimately they stunted CHO growth into the 1st team this year, even Sarri said he didn’t know who to drop for him because they are supposed ‘Superstars’. Pulisic I hope will be good but he won’t fill the boots of Hazard. We need to get more, if Sane is available, why can’t we hijack that? What about James Rodriguez or Ziyech from Ajax. It’s not football manager I know but we need an upgrade.

We need a Striker, please get a world class striker. We have gone from Didier Drogba and Diego Costa, Born winners who bully and torment teams so much that they don’t want to play us to Giroud who is good in Cups or Higuain who to put it frank is overweight, lazy and not good enough for the Premier League. If only we had broken the bank for a player like Jovic..

The old Chelsea would of gone for these big deals but now we don’t? Is that because of all the reasons above? An owner restricting his spending, no sporting director to convince players to come, no manager currently in place, an aging poor team that can no longer compete to win the Premier League and the Champions League?