What next; hopes, fears and lessons learned

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A personal intro and overview for the pre season ahead

I will try to keep this as brief as possible. It is really intended to provide a panoramic view rather than any specifics.

irst I must apologize that I have essentially been out of circulation for a little over a month..it is one of those episodes related to unexpected incidents at work.

By the time this article come ups the Euros will have been decided. I just wanted to give a brief intro of myself as I join the editorial board and speak very briefly about my hopes and fears for our beloved Chelsea as we stand on the threshold of a season when we enter as defending Champions league Champions as well as what lessons I have learnt from the Euros spectacle.

First a little about myself; as alarming as it is for me to acknowledge; I am no longer a young pup..by most accounts I am probably now facing middle age and despite a life that has seen me move through many parts of the world from my days as a kid one constant has been my love and passion for football ..a tradition I inherited from my dad who played at a high level up to his university days. My dads great passion had always been National football with a passionate love for the Selecao and the Mannscraft which I also inherited. As a growing youngster while our family moved through Europe from England through Denmark, Holland and Germany before a short spell in Kuwait before finally settling in the United States my alliegiances for National sides switched but I learnt to appreciate the continental game and followed national competitions like the Copa America, the Euros, the African Nations Cups as well as the World cup with near religious fervor. My attachment to club football began with a love for the Bayern Munich sides of the mid 70s to 80s, the Ajax sides of on overlapping period and then the great AC Milan teams of the 80s. I had always had a soft spot for the dutch and absolutely adored the trio of Van Basten, Gullitt and Rijkaard for the “oranje” and AC Milan. During their ascendancy I had also began watching the English premier league with growing interest but with no allegiance other than detesting the domination of ManU. When Gullitt came to Chelsea I took immediate interest in the club which I had only peripherally followed prior to that. Before long with the arrival of Gianfranco Zola my interest became a devotion that has endured since then.

Hopes for the new season; The coming season is in many ways a watershed one as we all know ..the achievement of our side this past season has brought us to the table to now dine with the football royalty of Europe. My hope as I suspect is the same with all true Blues fans is that we remain a relevant player in this rarified company..we must learn from history to ensure that we do not become like other clubs that declined to relative obscurity after winning the champions league..Some of us still remember clubs like Monaco, Ajax, Porto and even in recent times Liverpool..winning the champions league can be a great blessing or an epitath from which things then subsequently go south. Our being aggressive this coming transfer window; our willingness to take calculated risks on youths from our academy and making sure we maintain ruthless efficiency and competence in every phase of the game; in goal, in defence, in the midfield and in attack. These themes and more we will all doubtless discuss ad nauseaum as the pre season for next season opens definitively from tomorrow.

Fears for the season; The greatest fears I have for the season ahead are ; overconfidence, forgetfulness and impatience. Overconfidence that gives our team, owners and fans an impression that a top 4 league finish is a birth right..it is not..we will have to earn it and it will not be easy. We need to remember the top 4 to 5 other teams vying for these spots and make sure we match up favorably against them in every phase of squad build up. Every game of the 38 game season will be crucial?we must win the games we are expected to..we need to return Stamford bridge to being the fortress it once was..we need to take points of our top 5 competitors when we come up against them.

Forgetfullness can be suicidal?we must never forget we were 6th in the last season and that position does not lie..we literally faced the abyss this last season as far as being ushered out of the Champions league..we must never forget because the fortunate circumstances that saw us escape last season may never arise again.

mpatience is literally part of the Chelsea DNA especially in the Roman era and we have not done too badly despite it but how we handle the times of adversity we will face in the coming season may make or break the side. Our team desperately needs some run of consistency and continuity as far as management and philosophy of play. We cannot afford to once again simply respond to our first sign of adversity by sacking our coach. Patience is a virture..our goals are clear but it will take some time to get those lofty results. Football historians will tell you that the glory of Spain, Brazil and Germany on the national level and the traditions of teams like Real, Barca, Bayern and even ManU at the club level did not happen overnight..they all worked hard at their craft and playing philosophy for years..even generations..start, stop staccato steps will not get it done for us.

Finally what have the Euros taught us that is of relevance for us?This is another issue that will require and engender vigorous discussion and more indepth articles but a few highlights I would put out there are 1) El nino has engendered so little confidence in Vincente Del Bosque that once the tournament reached its business end the coach who is like a second father to him would not trust him with any starts and barely any substantive playing times. This is despite El Nino becoming the tournaments golden boot winner. For me it reinforces my feelings that it would be unwise for Chelsea to pin our hopes on his being our leading striker without a reliable back up?Sorry el Ninio but we need to get one quality striker to add to the group of El nino, Lukaku and Sturridge none of whom right now strike fear in a defensive set up when compared to the likes of ManU, City and even Arsenal`s strike forces. 2) The Spaniards have shown how effective possession is as the ultimate means of defense. Whatever your take on tika taka…possession dominance has made the Spaniards appear invincible..To score against them is nigh impossible simply because you can barely get the ball and they have matched through the Euros this year playing most of the time without even any true striker in their staring line up. Their mode of play will now become what virtually every team will try to emulate. I personally feel it is critical that while we maintain our versatility in ways we can play we do need to improve significantly in our efficiency and ability at passing and ball possession. 3) Sides that will achieve on the highest scale need to have some high quality players..look at all the teams in the semifinals..while team mechanics, heart, courage and togetherness is important without some high quality talent you cannot compete with the big boys and this is why while we must be thrifty and wise in the transfer window we cannot think that a team of all squad or even very good players will enable us compete consistently with teams like City, Real, Barca and Bayern. Eden Hazard is one such top level player?I would argue that we need to add one to two more such players to our squad..if possible through this summer and if not certainly by the January transfer window.

So then a very eventful preseason beckons..let us see what it shall bring!!!

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Editor - a forty something Canary, who has been following Norwich for 30 odd years. Family man with wife, kids, dog and a love of sport. Fan of Boxing, Vale 46, F1 and Rock.